Stephen Hand was born in Hobart, Tasmania in 1964. In 1979 he joined a medieval re-enactment group and soon came to the conclusion that medieval swordsmanship must have been more sophisticated than the made up style being used by re-enactors. For several years he studied modern fencing and kendo before discovering that there were surviving historical fencing manuals. Moving to Sydney in 1989 Stephen joined an Early Modern re-enactment society where several members had been following the same path.

Coming to the conclusion that there were no worthwhile secondary sources Stephen decided to analyse two historical manuals, George Silver’s Bref Instruction Upon my Paradoxes of Defence and Vincentio Saviolo His Practise line by line.

A series of articles by Stephen, analysing the latter manual was published in the magazine Hammerterz Forum between 1997 and 1999. In 1998 Stephen founded the Stoccata School of Defence along with Andrew Brew and Peter Radvan. Since 2000 Stephen has travelled internationally on a regular basis to teach historical fencing where he has been a popular teacher at swordplay symposia and in his own seminars. Stephen was the editor of two volumes of SPADA, collections of papers on various historical fencing topics and has published Medieval Sword and Shield (with Paul Wagner), an analysis of the combat system of MSS. I.33, the world’s oldest fencing manual and English Swordsmanship, an analysis of George Silver’s works. Stephen has also published a number of other articles and book chapters (see the Stoccata publications page). 

In 2004 Stephen returned to his native Tasmania where he runs a branch of Stoccata and choreographs swordfights in local stage and film productions.