Gladiator School: Battle of the Bloggers

gladiator school rome meAnd they say travel bloggers are a friendly bunch – and we usually are…that is until you put us into a gladiator ring to fight until our deaths!  OK, we didn’t really fight until our deaths, but pride was at stake and there was a title to be won.
gladiator school rome instructorOur gladiator guide, Marcus was intimating – shouting at us and pointing a finger in our face for any slight indiscretion by one of our group of wannabe gladiators.  He simmered down as he dove into nearly an hour of Gladiator history, peppered with some interesting facts about gladiators, but a bit too long.  Among the most memorable was learning that the sheath that a gladiator’s sword is held in is also the same name for a female body part. To follow where the foreseeable and predictable jokes that a teenage boy would find amusing.  Despite the fact that none of us were teenage boys, we cracked up anyway – I blame it on the gladiator costumes.

gladiator school rome sword sheath

Learning about gladiator history. Dave and Deb from The Planet D pictured above.

Finally it was time to get into the gladiator ring. I took my stance as we learned 10 moves, 5 for offense and 5 for defense which I practiced against my opponent Ryan from HouseTrip.

gladiator school rome me ryan

Practicing my 10 gladiator moves against Ryan.  Check out my gladiator stance.

Despite the simplicity of the moves they were decidedly complicated when sequenced together – or perhaps it was just my lack of coordination.  Reminding myself that if I was in the ring several thousand years ago, my life would have been at stake, I stepped up my game.

gladiator school rome andrea

Andrea from Destination Europe showing off her gladiator moves.

Everyone had their own unique style.  Andrea from Destination Europe smiled as she threw blow after blow.
rome gladiator school - dressed up like a gladiatorDave and Deb from The Planet D looked downright fierce, while I tried to use my silver earrings to distract my opponent.  Ryan was very competitive, but hid it well appearing almost serene.

In Roman times gladiators were often prisoners that were given the chance to fight for their life or face execution.  Most choose to fight since at least the odds were better than the latter alternative.  Eventually a prisoner would be freed once he had won enough times, but ironically not knowing any other life,  would like become a professional gladiator.

gladiator school rome arena

The Rome Gladiator School Arena – scene of the battle of the bloggers.  Pictured are Heather, Andrea, Kirsten, Angie, Dave, Deb, Ryan and myself.

The preliminary rounds began.  Deb cleans up in the first few rounds.  Then it was my turn.  I took a deep breath and stepped into the ring, ready to face Ryan – for real this time, no more practice.  My life depended on applying the gladiator skills I had learned.  I was ready for this I could do this.  First swipe to my leg.  Ryan appeared to be faster now that he was in the ring than  he had during practice.  Focus.  Next swipe to my leg.   Note to self, block leg or ideally touch his shoulder first before he touches my leg.  Remember to breath.  Next swipe and what proved to be the fatal swipe to my leg.  It was over, I was knocked out in the first round.  Sigh, I really thought I would have made a good gladiator.

Next it was the finale.  Ryan vs Dave.  It was intense.  It was close, but in the end Dave was the victor.  Dave had won the battle of the bloggers – this time.  Battle of the Bloggers 2 anyone?

Know Before You Go to Gladiator School

  • Rome Gladiator School is cheesy, but it’s also good fun and you will learn basic combat moves and a lot about gladiator history
  • Gladiator School lasts 2 hours and can be booked at various times throughout the day
  • The cost is €55/person (4-9 people).  Individuals and smaller groups can also book, but the cost is more per person
  • Rome Gladiator School is located ~2.5km from the Colosseum
  • You can book your own Rome Gladiator Adventure through Viator


Laurel Robbins is the founder of Monkeys and Mountains, an adventure travel blog and company that helps people plan their active holidays in a sustainable way. Although Canadian, she lives in Germany. You can find her in the mountains on most weekends.



  1. Andrea May 7, 2012 at 11:20 am - Reply

    Hilarious! I love the photo of Marcus pointing and giving you the death stare!

  2. Laurel May 7, 2012 at 12:27 pm - Reply

    @Andrea – Marcus was very intimidating at times wasn’t he? So much fun!

  3. Cathy Sweeney May 7, 2012 at 4:18 pm - Reply

    I’ve been waiting for this post and a chance to see you blogger gladiators in action. Looks like lot of fun (and fairly safe). Thanks for the tips about gladiator moves.

  4. Michael May 7, 2012 at 4:39 pm - Reply

    What a fun school activity you all had, I see. Shall I be at the graduation at the Roman Coliseum soon?

  5. Laurel May 7, 2012 at 5:40 pm - Reply

    @Cathy – It was fun, even if I didn’t win. At least I got to dress up 🙂

    @Michael – Unfortunately you missed it, they already handed out our diplomas 🙂

  6. Lisa May 7, 2012 at 6:11 pm - Reply

    It looks like so much fun! I wanted my daughters to go to gladiator school when we were in Rome and they wouldn’t have anything to do with it!

  7. Laurel May 7, 2012 at 8:27 pm - Reply

    @Lisa – Really? That’s too bad, the combat part was a lot of fun – even if I wasn’t very good at it.

  8. Leigh May 7, 2012 at 8:34 pm - Reply

    I would have loved to try gladiator school – and I think I’d be very competitive once you got down to the real deal. I’m up for round 2. Looks like great fun when your life isn’t at stake.

  9. D.J. - The World of Deej May 8, 2012 at 2:53 am - Reply

    Awesome day!..looks like loads of fun:)

  10. Zhu May 8, 2012 at 3:19 am - Reply

    That’s kind of cool and original! Looks like you were a natural 😆

    I wonder if there are snowball fighting schools in Canada??

  11. Angie Away May 8, 2012 at 8:59 am - Reply

    I love that shot of our instructor – captures his demeanor perfectly!

  12. Sophie May 8, 2012 at 12:16 pm - Reply

    Don’t suppose you spotted Russell Crowe, did you?

  13. Laurel May 8, 2012 at 1:58 pm - Reply

    @Leigh – I’m normally competitive as well, so was disappointed that I got knocked out so early, but I’m ready for round 2!

    @D.J. – Yes we had a great time.

    @Zhu – Unfortunately I was not a natural, but I had fun – just need to work on my combat moves.

    @Angie – Yeah, he was more than a little bit intimidating in the beginning 🙂

  14. eileen ludwig May 8, 2012 at 3:00 pm - Reply

    wow what fun you had and if my life depended on my skills, oh well, see you in the next life

  15. fotoeins | Henry May 8, 2012 at 4:35 pm - Reply

    Bread and circuses, baby! 😉

  16. Gladiator school sounds fun! What a great adventure to experience.

  17. Arti May 9, 2012 at 1:01 pm - Reply

    Sounds and looks like fun!! The pics are amazing and show us what to expect there!!

  18. Steve May 9, 2012 at 5:24 pm - Reply

    I don’t remember the Gladiators using their silver earrings to distract the opponents. They should mention things like that in the movies.

  19. InsideJourneys May 9, 2012 at 8:27 pm - Reply

    Hard to imagine those old Roman warriors going to school to learn to fight.
    You guys look like you had a lot of fun.

  20. Christina May 10, 2012 at 10:08 pm - Reply

    Looks like you had a fab time!

  21. Christy @ Technosyncratic May 11, 2012 at 11:51 pm - Reply

    This looks like SO. MUCH. FUN. So who was the most intense gladiator?

  22. Christy May 16, 2012 at 3:53 pm - Reply

    Aww.. this looks like fun. I’m bummed we missed TBU.

  23. Adri February 24, 2013 at 5:06 pm - Reply

    What fun! I would love to try it Thanks!

    • Laurel April 7, 2013 at 7:29 pm - Reply

      @Adri – Highly recommend it, it’s great stress relief 🙂

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