European martial arts, unlike popular Asian martial arts, are not widely practiced and are unknown to most people. But, a restaurant near Washington is the center of an effort to make the ancient fighting skill more popular.
The restaurant combines a show of visual, culinary and martial arts to bring medieval history to life.
Suits of armor, sharp swords and shields can be seen at the European Martial Arts Academy, or EMAA. The school is in Alexandria, Virginia.
Grandmaster Thomas Booth is the owner of EMAA. He is introducing the martial arts to his new students. European fighters used these defense methods more than 700 years ago.
In Thomas Booth's academy, students in the beginner class use plastic swords to learn. The students do not need to wear suits of armor. Mr. Booth corrects their fighting form and tells them about the history of swordplay.
Ashley Mills is a student at EMAA. She attends the class with her friend, Belle Bredehoft.
"This is our second day here. It's been a lot of fun, something different."
Belle Bredehoft used to study the Korean martial art Taekwondo.
"Basic foot work and step is the same. It's just ((with)) one you are using your fist, and this you have a sword in your hand."
The European Martial Arts Academy says it teaches the martial arts technique and discipline to make students confident.
Thomas Booth also operates a restaurant in Old Town Alexandria. The restaurant gives students an opportunity to show what they have learned to the crowd eating and drinking there.
Mr. Booth calls his students knights. Knight Albert and Knight Conan are two of the best. The two are wearing suits of armor for their sword duel.
Albert moves smoothly and scores twice. Observers close to the action move back a little. Of course, the sword fighting is just a friendly competition. No blood is spilled.
Restaurant visitors become the judges. Tammy and Chark have visited five times.
"It's exciting. It's scary to hear the swords click, you know against each other, ((because)) they are not taking it easy on each other. They are making noises and we are loving it."
"There's literally sparks flying when they are fighting, it was awesome."
Thomas Booth designed his restaurant to represent medieval times. Every weekend, there is a dinner and show called "Medieval Madness." Visitors can order food known to be loved by King Henry the Fifth of England. And the servers, along with the owner, put on a medieval-themed play.
Mr. Booth combines all these elements to create an unusual event.
"So what we've done is to take a look at the culinary arts, the visual arts, the martial arts, the wine making arts, the brewing arts, the performing arts, modern and ancient, we've joined them all together to make a tremendous package."
The two-hour Medieval Madness ends with a storm of applause. Visitors leave feeling full and satisfied.
I’m Jim Tedder.
Lin Yang and Helen Wu reported this story from Alexandria, Virginia. Marsha James wrote it for Learning English. Mario Ritter was the editor.
Words in This Story
practice – v. to do (something) regularly or constantly as an ordinary part of your life
culinary – adj. used in or relating to cooking
armor – n. a special metal clothing designed to protect bodies from weapons
shield – n. a large piece of metal, wood, etc., carried by someone (such as a soldier or police officer) for protection
confident – adj. having a feeling or belief that you can do something well or succeed at something
duel – n. a fight between two people that includes the use of weapons (such as swords) that usually happens while other people watch
applause – n. a show of approval or pleasure at a play, speech, sporting event, etc., in which people strike their hands together over and over