The gladiator fighting techniques therefore varied from one gladiator to another.
Gladiator Techniques allowed an element of 'Fair Play'
The pairing of gladiators in the arenas were important and ironically the Romans expected to see 'fair play' in gladiatorial combat. Matched pairs of gladiators of would ensure that one fighter was hampered by heavy armor whilst the other Gladiator had only minimal armor which allowed freedom of movement.
Gladiator Techniques - Common Combat Styles, Armor and Weapons
Gladiator Techniques focussed on different fighting styles and weapons used by specific types of gladiators. The majority of Gladiators fell into two different types of fighters - lightly or heavily armored. The gladiator techniques therefore varied according to their armor, weapons and fighting techniques, all of which are are described via the links on this page.
Lightly Armed Gladiator Techniques
The lightly armed Gladiator Techniques were used by one of the most famous types of gladiators - the Retiarii (Net Fighters). A Retiarius (pl. Retiarii meaning "net-man" or "net-fighter") was a Roman gladiator who fought with equipment styled on that of a fisherman. The Retiarius (Retiarii) were lightly armored, wore no helmet, carried no shield so they had the advantage of agility, mobility and speed. These factors were all taken into account when adopting his combat technique. The Retiarius fought with the heavily armed gladiators such as the Mirmillones. His fighting technique was evasive and his tactics were to entangle his opponent with his net and then skewer him as a fisherman with his trident.
Heavily Armed Gladiator Techniques
A heavily armed gladiator like a Myrmillo (Murmillo) often fought with a Retiarius. The Gladiator Techniques of the Murmillo were very different from his opponent. This type of gladiator fought with a sword (first the the gladius which was eventually replaced by the Spatha). He wore armor consisting of an Ocrea, or metal greave, on the lower left leg and his right arm and wrist was protected by a manica of tied linen or leather. The Murmillones carried a large, rectangular, semi-cylindrical body shield called a scutum and wore a helmet with a stylized fish on the crest (the mormylos or sea fish). The helmet featured small eye-holes to prevent the narrow prongs of the Retiarius' trident from penetrating to the eyes. His fighting technique was to avoid being entangled in the net and his tactics were to barge his opponent with his shield and thrust with his short sword.
Gladiator Techniques - Specialised Combat Styles
There were also additional gladiators who specialised in many different combat styles and Gladiator Techniques. Some gladiators fought on horseback, others from chariots. Other gladiators specialised in fighting wild animals called Bestiarii (Beast Fighters) others specialised in participating in wild animal hunts. Bows and arrows and lances might be used together with a range of other weapons all requiring different forms of gladiator techniques. For a complete list click Types of Gladiators.
Gladiator Techniques for all of the different types of gladiators can be assessed by understanding the weapons and armor used. His techniques would also vary according to the armor and weapons of his opponents.