Bradwell class taking martial arts through the ages with Viking twist

A recently-launched martial arts class in Bradwell is offering a Nordic twist of history to the discipline.

Set up by one of the founding members of re-enactment group The Dragon Shields, the class offers the best of both the worlds of martial arts and Viking combat.

The Sunday classes combine Oriental martial arts with Viking combat, making use of wooden and metal replica swords, shields and spears as pupils study self-defence techniques.

David Holman, 58, who leads the classes, said: “There feels something really new about it - I certainly haven’t heard of something like it before.

“I have more than 20 years of experience in Viking re-enactment and have studied martial arts since I was 16, so to me, it made sense to try and combine the two somehow.”

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The classes, which are held at the Mill Lane Centre, currently have around a dozen pupils studying, but Mr Holman said there is capacity to double these numbers.

He added: “At the moment the classes are adults-only, and we are also trying to set up another class near Cromer, but I wouldn’t rule out starting a class for youngsters as well somewhere down the line.

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“The classes are one of the few opportunities out there where you get to use Viking weapons, while also learning martial arts techniques focusing on things like stance, precision movements and balance.”

As new pupils advance their skills they are given grading to track their progress, though instead of belts they are given coloured Viking beads.

Mr Holman, a former Royal Marine, added: “Over the years there must have been something similar to this to train Viking warriors for battle, so it is like a little taste of history when you take part.

“It is also a great opportunity for people to learn new skills and test themselves out - the avenue is open to get involved in the Dragon Shields as well as take part in competitions.”

The re-eanctment group was set up in 2015 and since then has grown in numbers, presenting opportunities for people to learn about different Viking customs.

The classes are held from 11am until 1pm at the Mill Lane Centre in Bradwell, with participants splitting the costs of the venue hire.

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