Tell me about Sword to Sword.

We teach historical European martial arts, which is long sword fighting. Basically martial arts with weapons rather than Eastern martial arts or conventional modern martial arts. It is also different from fencing, which is a sport. The mission to grow the awareness of European martial arts is great, but the other thing we’ve got is that working out at the gym is kind of a pain for a lot of people. You know, the people that I see in the gym are really dedicated; they’ve got some outside impetus. My customer, my people, are completely unaware [of how to train]. So how do I frame fitness that is kind to the body, kind to somebody who may not be prepared for all the fitness we’re going to do, and still gets them the gains they want? On the surface, we are a sword-fighting school, but we’re also waking people up to “Hey, this is your body, and the body is more important than the sword.”

Do you do any bootcamp-style classes?

Not really. We do some workshops. [Sword to Sword founder] Dakao has his [National Academy of Sports Medicine certification], and I’m completing [mine] so we’ve got a lot of fitness-orientation. The first thing we do are HIIT warm ups. Every class we try to have something that is presented in a way that is useful for the sword. Because when you swing a sword you have to get really “body mechanics” about it. The core the first part; using your hips to power it. Then the lats activate, then the biceps and cetera and so you know, all workouts help [with the sword training].

Sword to Sword got its start in parks, right?

Yes! So, a little background on Dakao. He graduated Rice University, he had an interesting fencing and he started–17 years ago we didn’t have any schools like this like we had the S.E.A., which is a bunch of nerds dressing up doing creative anachronism. Sources [on European martial arts] started to be translated [from] the Middle High German or old Italian and were free online. So Dakao’s background in Fitness gives him a better insight into body mechanics [alongside these guides], and he started teaching in parks. And then we got bigger and bigger and we got to space. 17 years ago we were just dudes in parks, and now [the sport is] on ESPN.

What brought you to Spring Branch?

The weighted center of Houston’s population and commerce is Dairy Ashford Road over by I-10. There’s so much development here, and we wanted to be in the center of it. It makes business sense to move to Spring Branch, with City Centre, the Energy Corridor, and Spring Branch all right here.

Is there anything coming up at Sword to Sword we should know about?

We have monthly classes for new students to come in and try sword fighting for the first time. These workshops are accessible and fun. We gamify the whole thing so that you come in and you learn like the basics in a way that is fun and not too challenging. And you get to hit your friend in the face with a sword.

Also, we have a tournament coming up on April 9th. So far we have about 60 participants from all the world. It’s called the Purple Heart Open, and it is a sword fighting tournament. We are selling spectator tickets too. We’re projecting about a hundred people fighting. All the burliest men and women you can think of swinging steel swords at each other for two days straight, plus workshops, seminars and afterparties.