After years of sharing karate dojos, school gyms, and renting community centres — Ottawa Swordplay, a martial art school that teaches historical European combat techniques, finally has a place to call home on St. Laurent Boulevard. “We always had to pack everything up before and after a class, now that we have our own location, everything has a place,” said owner Craig Shackleton.

Shackleton got involved with swordplay when he was living in New Zealand. He returned home to Ottawa in 1999, but could not find a sword fighting club that honoured the history of the craft — so he started his own. Since then he has been inspiring novice fighters.

Ottawa Swordplay’s new location is 1760 St. Laurent Blvd. Instructors, students, and potential students celebrated the grand opening on Sept. 7. [Photo© Hamza Ali]
Students practice with longswords, which must be held in both hands. [Photo © Victoria Senetchko]
Everyone partners up and Shackleton guides them through a lesson in holding the sword correctly. Those with more experience help newcomers with their technique. [Photo © Victoria Senetchko]
Shackleton poses in front of Ottawa Swordplay’s new location. “It’s nice to finally have a permanent home,” he says. [Photo © Victoria Senetchko]
Shackley loves the history of sword fighting. He bases his teaching on what he has learned in books. “There are so many different interpretations of the craft,” he says. [Photo © Hamza Ali]
Traditional European armour is displayed. Guests have a chance to feel like knights by trying on helmets and swinging swords. [Photo © Victoria Senetchko]
After much wear and tear, these swords have been retired to the display wall. [Photo © Victoria Senetchko]
Patrick Dusablon, a long-time student of Ottawa Swordplay, is excited about slicing through some clay. “I’m used to swinging a sword, but not cutting with one,” he says. [Photo © Victoria Senetchko]
[Photo © Victoria Senetchko]
[Photo © Victoria Senetchko]
[Photo © Victoria Senetchko]

Following instructions to slice at a 45-degree angle, this student slices cleanly through clay. “Wow, that was nice,” she says.

At the end of the day, students join together and raise their swords. [Photo © Hamza Ali]