Gladiator Training

Roman Colosseum

'The Roman Colosseum'

History, Facts and Information about Gladiator Training
It has been estimated  that there were more than 100 Gladiator Schools (ludus pl. ludi) throughout the Roman Empire. New Gladiators were formed into troupes called 'Familia gladiatorium' which were under the overall control of a manager (lanista) who recruited, arranged for training and made the decisions of where and when the gladiators fought. 

Gladiator Schools
Gladiator Schools in Rome

Gladiator Training - The Trainers
When a new recruit (novicius) entered one of the gladiators schools to commence gladiator training he was assessed by the lanista, a doctor and the gladiator's trainers. He would be checked by a medici (a doctor, not to be confused with the doctores) for any medical problems and whether he was physically suitable to train as a gladiator and equipped to withstand the rigours of training and combat. The Gladiator's trainers who worked in the school were often retired gladiators who specialised in specific combat styles and weapons. The trainers were called Doctores. A Doctor who trained the types of gladiator called a Retiariuswould be called Doctores Retiarii or one who trained Secutores, Doctores secutorum.

Gladiator Training - Learning How to Die
Gladiator Training was not just about acquiring physical combat skills. Trained Gladiators were expected to behave in a certain way. They also had to be taught how to die. Their were specific death rituals in the arenas of the Roman Colosseum. Roman spectators expected gladiators to die bravely, showing no fear, offering themselves to cold blooded murder by their opponents. Gladiator training therefore included how to die gracefully and with honor. Wooden training sword for gladiators, not to be confused with the rudus given as a symbol of freedom.

Gladiator Training - Initial Training
Gladiator Training commenced with getting the new gladiator to the peak of fitness. Their training did not initially involve using real weapons, as this would be dangerous for the trainers and staff of the schools. Wooden training swords called the  the rudus were used (lusoria arma). A rudus was also given in the arena to a successful gladiator. In this context the rudis as given as a symbol of freedom. When new recruits entered the gladiator schools they were first referred to as novicius and when they had completed their initial training, and were ready to fight in the arena, they were called Tirones gladiatores or Tiro.

Gladiator Training - Fighting Styles, Armor and Weapons
Gladiator Training focussed on different fighting styles and weapons used by specific types of gladiators. Gladiators who fought in heavy armor were slower and required different techniques and skills than those of gladiators who were lightly armed who were fast and light. The different types of fighters required customised training according to their armor, weapons and fighting techniques, all of which are are described in the links on this page.

Gladiator Training - Fighting Styles, Armor and Weapons
Gladiator Training therefore reflected the armor and weapons used. Skill in using ancient Roman weapons was dependent on weapon practise. The weapons included swords, lances, tridents and nets and bows and arrows. Gladiator training was designed around fitness and acquiring skills with different types of weapons.

Gladiator Training Techniques
A wooden pole called a palus was first used as a target to practise moves with a sword. The wooden swords used during training on the palus were often double the weight of the actual weapon ensuring that the gladiators would built up their upper body and arm strength. Palus training allowed a gladiator to practise various vicious strokes and manoeuvres such as thrusting, cutting, and slicing without imposing an injury on an opponent. Then other training equipment was used such as shield and dummy which were suspended from a swinging pole. When the shield was hit the whole apparatus would rotate. The gladiators's task was to avoid the rotating arms which sometimes had a heavy sandbag attached to them. Hilt and shield strikes were also practised.

Cataphractarius (Heavily protected gladiator)
Gallus (Heavily armed Gladiator )
Hoplomachi (Armed Fighters)
Provocatores (Challengers Protected by a Breastplate)
Samnites: (Large Shields and Plumed Helmets)
Secutores (Slashers / Carvers)
Scissores (Carvers - Short Swords)
Murmillones (Gladius and Shield Gladiator)
Dimachaeri (Gladiators With Two Swords)
Thracian (Thrax - Curved Swords)
Eques (Horseback And Sword Gladiator)
Essedari (War-Chariot Fighters)
Laquerarii (Lasso Fighters)
Paegniarius: (Whip, Club and Shield Gladiator)
Retiarii (Net Fighters)
Velites (Fought in groups with Spears)
Roman Colosseum

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