Welcome to the Gladiator Fights!

Posted on November 2, 2013 by



Submitted by: Scott Schultz of Parkview High School

A teenager lets loose a battle-cry as he charges, his sword swinging into his opponent’s torso with a satisfying thump. The other teen drops his weapons and falls to the padded mat below. “Dead!” a third student calls from the sidelines. The fallen gladiator stands back up and returns to the center of the mat for round two. “Unus! Duo! Tres! ITE!” the judge calls out, and the second round begins. This is a regular occurrence on Wednesdays at Parkview High School.

Last year, Josh Sanders and I decided that our Latin Club needed something besides the infrequent holiday socials to bond and celebrate our Roman heritage. Luckily, I knew exactly what we could do. I was a regular fighter at Dagorhir, a combat-intensive Lord-of-the-Rings-style live-action roleplaying game with a local Atlanta chapter. We fight with foam-padded weapons, designed not to injure even when swung at someone with full force. I could easily adapt these to school-friendly gladiatorial combat games, arguably one of the most exciting (albeit gruesome) aspects of Roman culture. We made shields, swords, spears, and daggers, and with the help of some of the students and our Latin teachers, the games have become a reality. Last April, the gladiator games even made their way to the GJCL State Convention at Rock Eagle, where students from all over the state enjoyed the games. Several students seemed interested in setting up gladiator games at their own schools. We will be offering this activity at Fall Forum on October 19 as well.

The rules, as they stand, are simple: hit people only with weapons and parts of weapons deemed ok to use; do not hit people in the head or neck; a strike in the arm means you cannot use that arm; a strike in the leg means you drop to a knee; and a strike in the torso or the loss of two limbs means you are dead. With this basic set-up, anything is possible. We have one-on-one tournaments, free-for-alls, and larger team battles. We have swords short and long, shields big and small, and even a seven-foot long padded spear. Latin students (and even many non-Latin-student combat enthusiasts) look forward to playing or just spectating every other Wednesday, always interested in what combinations of players, weapons, and rules might pop up. So far, though, we have not been able to get the administration to allow us to flood the cafeteria for mock naval battles.

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