The sword is the stuff of legend, jousting knights and the fabled Round Table of King Arthur.

In medieval times, no weapon was as clinically deadly as the sharpened longsword. But many centuries-old fighting styles were forgotten with the invention of gunpowder, which left swords obsolete.

Now, Bradford group Scola Gladiatoria is reviving some of the lost styles of European martial arts in a movement which is rapidly growing in popularity.

Thousands of martial arts enthusiasts are now practising medieval sword-fighting in countries including the USA, Sweden, Germany, France, Belgium and Italy.

Instructor Paul Bennett, 27, from Saltaire, set up the Bradford group earlier this year after learning skills at a similar club at the Royal Armouries in Leeds.

“I have been doing various martial arts since I was 13 but I desperately wanted to do something that was European,” said Paul, an archaeological consultant at Bradford University. “I didn’t even know this stuff existed as it had died out.

“Luckily for us, people wrote this down in manuscripts.”

Sparring members use modified metal and wooden long-swords, the sword and buckler (a small shield), daggers, Langes-messers (three-foot long knives) and shinai (weighted sticks).

Plate armour is used, although the fighting style using armour is very different, with combatants aiming at chinks in the armour.

Paul has accepted a duel against Michael Thomas of the Academy of Historical Fencing in Bristol. It will be held in the Malvern Hills at a date to be arranged.

Scola Gladiatoria Bradford meets at Shipley United Reformed Church hall in Bradford Road on Wednesdays at 7pm. For further information, visit