A Historical Fencing School in Central PA
Sala Della Spada (the school of the sword) is a historical fencing school in Carlisle, PA.
We focus on Italian military sabre, rapier and dagger, and dueling/smallsword.
We also do work with the great sword (spadone/montante), sword and buckler, and other historical Italian weapons of the Renaissance to early modern period (1500-1900).
We are located near Harrisburg, Mechanicsburg, and York. If you are interested in historical fencing -- sometimes also referred to as Historical European Martial Arts (HEMA), or Western Martial Arts (WMA) -- and are in Central Pennsylvania, come by and try it out!
Classes and Courses
Start Sword Fighting Today!
In 2022, we are doing rapier both Tuesdays and Fridays.
We will bring back sabre later into the spring or summer.
$45/month for once a week, $65/month for twice a week.
Twice a month, we do montante/great sword classes on the weekends.
Update: Due to Covid-19, please contact us for further details before coming to a class.
40 N. Hanover St
(at the Kung fu Center)
Patrick Bratton is an Instructor of Arms in classical Italian fencing from the Sonoma State University Fencing Masters Program, an Istruttore d'Arme I° lv, from the Associazione Italiana Maestri d'Arme (Italy), and a Moniteur d'Épée from the United States Fencing Coaches Association.
He is a student of Chris Holzman and Andrew Bullock, both from the Santelli lineage of fencing. He has also trained with leading European instructors and competitors -- Maestro Francesco Lodà, Maestro Ton Puey, Maestro Jacopo Penso, and Maître Pinel de la Taule -- and American instructors like Colin Chock, Maestro John Sullins, Maestro Frank Lurz, Professor Mark Donnelly, Provost William Byrne, and Prévôt de Sabre Tony Alvarez.
Patrick specializes in Northern Italian military sabre and Southern/Neapolitan rapier and dueling sword. He also has an interest in all the Renaissance and early modern Italian weapons. He is an active visiting instructor and competitor at various Historical Fencing and HEMA events. In 2018, he won 1st place in both the sabre and smallsword tournaments at the Brass Frog Assault of Arms, and 1st place in the tournament at the American Smallsword Symposium. In 2019, he won the technical award in the Second Indes Sabre Invitational, and a technical award for smallsword at the Brass Frog Assault of Arms. In 2022, he won 1st place in sabre at the Cambridge Assault of Arms. He is one of the organizers and instructors at the annual American Smallsword Symposium.
Minimum Equipment Requirements
- Fencing mask
- Lightweight fencing jacket
- Protective cup
and/or chest protector
For sabre and rapier: a rigid forearm and elbow protector, gorget, and a mask overlay are recommended.
We have limited club gear for beginning students.
After the first month, you should get a starter kit from Absolute Fencing/Force (AF), Blue Gauntlet, Zen Warrior, Leon Paul, etc.
Ordering through the school can get you a discount on AF gear.
We can give you advice on getting training weapons.
One of our primary weapons is the 19th century Italian sabre. This was a curved weapon for both cut and thrust. It was both a military weapon used by the cavalry, and a civilian weapon used in dueling all the way to the 1920s.
Our style is based upon the system of Settimo del Frate and Giuseppe Radaelli as passed down by Italo and Giorgio Santelli and their students. The blade averaged about 32-34" inches in length, and weighed about 1.65bs.
The Sword (Spada)
Our other primary weapon, the spada (Italian for sword) takes two forms.
The first form is the later dueling sword of the 18th-19th centuries. This was a lighter weapon that is mostly thrust oriented, with a blade of 32-37" long. Primary texts include both Roman-Neapolitan works like Rosaroll-Scorza and Pietro Grisetti, and Masaniello Parise, and Northern works like Luigi Barbasetti.
The second form is the rapier of the late 17th century. This was a larger, cup hilt rapier with a 38-42" blade, that while a thrust oriented weapon, retained some cutting ability. For rapier, our focus is on the Roman-Neapolitan school of Francesco Marcelli.
American Smallsword Symposium
Every year, we work with other great instructors and fencers to organize and teach at the American Smallsword Symposium. This event draws together national and international instructors and students of small and dueling sword for a weekend event.
The event was founded by the late Victor Markland and modeled after the Smallsword Symposium that takes place annually in Scotland.
Since 2021, we have been holding this at Carlyle House an 18th century mansion in historic Old Town Alexandria. This is a wonderful event that should not be missed!
Associated Clubs and Friends
There is great community of fencing in our region, across the country, and internationally.
Here is a list of clubs, schools and other organizations that we have connections with and recommend:
Carlisle Fencing Club: Our dynamic local Olympic fencing club run by Tony Alvarez
Keystone Academy of Dueling and Swordsmanship: The school of the renowned Professor Mark Donnelly covers a wide variety of historical weapons
State College Association of Rapier Scholars (SCARS): Great group of people working both Spanish and Italian rapier
The American Smallsword Symposium: Annual event founded by the late Victor Markland, we participate annually in his wonderful event
Mid-Atlantic Society of Historical Swordsmanship (MASHS): Dynamic group of fencers and scholars in Annapolis, MD
Sword School Wichita (Kansas): The school of Chris Holzman, who teaches our instructor
Salle Honolulu (Hawaii): Run by Colin Chock, who got our instructor back into fencing
Academia Romana d'Armi (Italy): The school of top international competitor Maestro Francesco Lodà. We study his style of Roman-Neapolitan rapier.
Academie da Espada (Spain): The School of Maestro Ton Puey. We follow his interpretation of the montante/spadone.
La Sala delle Armi (Italy): The hard training Marozzo school of Jacopo Penso
Salle Coudurier (France): Oldest fencing school in Paris. Our instructor has fond memories of lessons with Maître Pinel de la Taule.
Code of Conduct
Fencing Safely and with Respect
Conduct and Positive Environment
Address your training partners and coaches in a respectful way.
Respect Carlisle Kung Fu Center's space, staff and students by staying off their equipment and out of restricted areas.
Show respect and kindness to everyone in the building. Avoid swearing or foul language. We are here to train and fence and not argue about matters not related to fencing.
Listen to and respect your instructors. Avoid crosstalk when they are speaking.
Examples of behavior that are not respectful: interrupting or talking over instructors, interrupting or over-explaining during drills with training partners, using club gear inappropriately, borrowing gear without permission.
No form of harassment, discrimination, or bullying will be tolerated at Sala della Spada.