Gladiatin’ Germans

From the Australian:

ACCOUNTANTS and bank clerks in Germany’s oldest city have decided to forsake their familiar beer and sausages for tunics and swords instead and have joined the country’s latest sports craze: gladiator duelling.

This is no mere re-enactment. Many of those joining in the fun in Trier’s 2000-year-old Roman arena end up with bruises and some with a broken nose.

Courses at the city’s gladiator school have been devised with the help of historians to mirror the practices of ancient Rome. They combine martial arts training with the wielding of battle axes, swords, spears and casting nets.

At the beginner’s level, the participants use wooden weapons. These are replaced with real, albeit blunt, ones when the participants have acquired enough skill.

“We want to re-create the authentic gladiator experience by honing the same skills and using authentic props,” said Jan Kruger, an actor and kick-boxer who discovered his passion for what he called a “borderline sport” while playing the role of a gladiator.

The school provides the basic equipment but a full version of gladiator kit weighs 25kg and costs more than $3800.

Although some of the gladiators may appear slightly overweight in their tight Roman tunics, they attract great interest from tourists and locals alike when they train in the arena.

“We are sometimes laughed at,” said Mr Kruger, whose nickname is Animus. “Bruises and bloody noses are part of the deal. But we fight honourably, just like the real gladiators did.”