How to become a gladiator ;-)

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How to become a gladiator ;-)

Postby Cleopatra Aelia on Fri May 02, 2008 8:10 pm

Salvete Omnes,

I start a new thread because several posted question about me doing gladiatura so I'll try to answer Valerius Claudius' questions which he posted in the Ludus Nemesis First Gig thread here as good as possible:

This is an interesting question - how, where, with whom does one study Roman swordplay? Cleopatra Aelia, where did you start?

I started in 2005 with a group which was doing mainly doing legionaries and the gladiators only as a side kick. I already had some Martial Arts knowledge because my Sifu (Kung Fu Master) is teaching us once a week his own style of Escrima, he does not stick to the way it is done by the head organization. But with that group I learned the basics how to handle a scutum and a gladius. But it didn't work out on the personal level so I decided after some bad quarrels to found my own group.

In contrary to Medieval sword fight there are no instruction how to fight with the Roman weaponry, there is no Thalhofer like the Medieval fighter could refer to. The only written source from Roman time concerning training of legionaries is Vegetius Epitoma Rei where he describes roughly the basic training against the palus. The scholars assume that it must have been similar for gladiator recruits. But how a retiarius threw his net or how a thraex wielded his sica these things you could try to see from depictions of gladiators. The rest is experimenting. Our retiarius was trying various methods of picking up the net and how to throw it before he was satisfied.

The topic takes me back to when my love of things ancient and my fantasy-world love of swords and combat prompted me to take fencing lessons for a while. Sheesh, utterly unaggressive and uncompetitive, utterly lacking in boldness, I was a total washout.

I, too always loved swords and had plastic ones as a kid. I wasn't the typical girl anyhow, my other passion as a kid were Matchbox cars.

Yet the preoccupation persists. My youth gone and my present life one of a paterfamilias minor, and little time or money to spare, why am I still drawn to the idea of armoring up, drawing gladius, and hazarding life and limb?

Yes, it does take up a lot of time when training and working on the kid of a gladiator. But if your family supports you and you are still sportive then why not go for it. The most expensive parts are the helmets, gladii and greaves, pectorale because these are items which you usually don't know how to make yourself unless you are a smith. But the rest, like the manica (arm protection), the belt and the subligaculum (loin cloth) and in my case also the strophium (breast band) are made by ourselves. For the sucta we bought the Deepeeka ones and just painted them over. At the moment I'm in the process of building a parmula for a thraex.

Atque etiam, Cleopatra Aelia, if I might ask, why are you drawn to combat/competition? What forms your desire for it?

Like I said above I was always fascinated by swords and started my Martial Art carreer as a nine year old going to a Judo class. For seven years I'm doing Wing Tsun now. To be honest, I don't know why I'm always drawn more to Martial Arts than e.g. dancing. Anyhow, since I'm doing gladiatura I of course also read tons of book on gladiators and I have to admit that it's a very fascinating topic.
Cleopatra Aelia
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Postby Marcus Tullius Ioannes on Sat May 03, 2008 2:54 am

Ave, Cleopatra Aelia

There is something fascinating about the martial arts, and it may be that what attracts you to them also attracts you to the Via Romana--what more martial people have existed than the ancient Romans?

I took escrima lessons for a time, until I found a club at which I could take up my old passion of sabre fencing, and learned the Yang short form of tai chi. The martial arts may satisfy a need some have to pit themselves against others in a physical contest in which they must rely entirely on themselves, as chess and, I have heard, Go do at a mental level. They are completely absorbing. Imagine, though, the discipline required to fight, with swords, as a unit as the legionnaires did.
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