Weapon of Choice

Welcome to the world’s elite “combat schools”

By Kirk Miller

Gladiator School Seeks Students. Inquire Within.
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05 August 2016

It’s a scary world out there.

But guns are not always the answer.

Ninjas, on the other hand ...

 We combed the globe to find seven combat schools — part cultural immersion, part ancient fighting tutorial — ripped straight out of the history books.

Ready? Here’s where to learn to fight like a ....

Ninja
On weekends until the end of summer, guests at the Nagoya Castle in Japan can learn the history, fighting skills and strategies of ninjas, like how best to use a kusarigama (Japanese sickle) and shuriken (throwing star).

Tomahawk Warrior
Any half-wit can shoot a gun or swing a sword. A tomahawk, however, takes a special kind of man. The UK-based Self Defense and Martial Arts Institute (S.A.M.I.) offers training courses with one of mankind’s oldest weapons — and if you can’t get to England, they’ll teach you online.

Viking
At this year-round “Viking Combat Training Facility” in Massachusetts, you’ll learn how to cut with a sword, defend/bash/bind with a shield and grapple using combat techniques favored by the ancient Norse warriors. New England too far? The school has nearly a dozen affiliates (current fave: the “Thegns of Vesturland” in Lake Isabella, CA).

Jedi
Learn the ways of the Force — or, really, how to swing and defend with a fake light saber — on the Midichlorian-strewn grounds of Central Park. They have extras, but really, it’s BYOLS (bring your own lightsaber).

Gladiator
Are you not entertained?! As part of Waldorf Astoria’s “Unforgettable Experiences” package, guests at the Rome Cavalieri Hotel learn ancient combat techniques from instructors assigned by Rome's Gladiatorial School. Included in the package: A gladiator kit with traditional tunic, Roman sandals, belt, protective gloves and wooden training sword.

Mounted Knight
Dress up in Medieval garb on the grounds of an ancient castle while the Knights of Middle England teach you basic jousting skills and how to play “authentic mounted games,” such as collecting rings off the tilt with a lance and ... pig sticking.

MacGyver
While martial artist Jared Kirby only offers combat classes for stage and screen (meaning: not much use in a real fight), his “Anything is a Weapon!” seminar helps you choreograph a fight scene using pretty much anything, be it a broom, pool noodle or banana. Anyone who once taught Steve Guttenberg how to fight is OK by us.

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