Chris Halpin (He/Him) Head Coach / Club Owner

Chris studied a variety of martial arts arts such as karate, jujutsu, iaido, iaijutsu and kobudo before discovering European martial arts, eventually leading him to found the York School of Defence in 2013. The YSD is Chris’s full time profession, as such he has a diverse range of interrelated research interests including catch wrestling, pugilism, English longsword, broadsword/backsword, rapier, smallsword, quarterstaff, and KDF. He also very much enjoys Filipino martial arts and also teaches a small eskrima class at the YSD.

Lauren Ireland (She/Her) Assistant & Youth Coach

Via the York School of Defence Lauren has discovered a love for Kunst Des Fechtens, especially the use of the langes messer, alongside a passion for wrestling and Victorian and Edwardian martial systems. Lauren is available for private lessons in Bartitsu, Suffrajitsu and related arts, and is steadily progressing with her research into the langes messer and other aspects of KDF. Lauren currently does an amazing job running up our youth and children’s classes at the YSD.

Ella Banken (She/Her) Teaching Assistant

Ella has been a student at the YSD since 2015, and in 2023 she taught her first full workshop to students from across the world and has since taken on the mantle of teaching assistant for wrestling and unarmed related disciplines. Ella is a huge fan of grappling, especially catch wrestling, and enjoys some old-school bare knuckle boxing in the pugilism class when time allows. Ella is an excellent coach, teacher, and a great wrestler, and loves spending one-on-one time with students.

Claire Rowland (She/Her) Safeguarding Officer

Claire joined the York School of Defence in 2020 during one of the brief respites from COVID. Claire loves swords, especially big swords, and is a regular fixture in our English longsword, KDF and Cut & Thrust classes. In 2023 Claire stepped up to the role of safeguarding officer, she works tirelessly to ensure that that all the necessary steps are being taken to protect the people in the YSD should the need arise, and that we are fully compliant with safeguarding codes of conduct.

Mollie Dog (Good Dog/Best Dog) Morale Officer

Mollie the Wonder Sprollie is a spaniel-collie cross rescue who lives with us at our home in York. She sometimes pops down to our training venue to say hello, but if you visit for private lessons you will undoubtedly, if you so wish, get to meet her and give her pats, cuddles and shower her with affection for being a very good dog.