Post Mon, 12/07/10, 22:00

History - The Company of Maisters of the Science of Defence

The earliest known references to the Company of Maisters of the Science of Defence comes from the 16th century. The Company was an affiliation of martial arts instructors (Maisters of Defence) who ran their own academies, known to the English as Scholes of Fence [Roger Ascham/1545]. In fact, scholes of fence were mentioned in legislation as early as the 12th century (circa 1180).

The Company operated along similar lines to the trade guilds and was responsible for such things as quality control, pricing, discipline, examinations, etc. In effect, the training of martial arts students was the equivalent of serving a trade apprenticeship.

In 1540 King Henry VIII issued Letters Patent to the Company, making it an official and legally constituted company or corporation. This legal recognition effectively gave them the monopoly for teaching martial arts in England. Unfortunately, around the 1620's they lost royal favor. Then in 1630 the Privy Council passed a ban on certain public gatherings, which prevented the maisters from holding their prizes and challenges (contests and tests) in public. This may have been a part of what caused a decline in the Company's membership. Whatever the causes were, the Company faded away until Mr. Terry Brown unearthed them in his researches.

In 1997 Ancient Maister Terry Brown legally reformed the Company of Maisters so he could reintroduce, and teach, the traditional English fighting systems to modern martial artists. He is based in Mill Hill, London, England. The Company currently has schools of fence and clubs in Mill Hill (London), Brentwood (Essex), the USA and Cambridge (teaching EMA & Escrima). Members learn the principles of the True Fight and train in numerous weapons including swords, quarterstaff, hand to hand combat, sword and buckler, and the bill, just to name a few.


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