HEMA: An Introduction to Historical Sword Fighting

Historical European Martial Arts or HEMA was the rediscovery of the ancient art of medieval fighting using swords and in early Renaissance European sword fighting techniques and methods. Hema is an old military tradition that dates back 2400 years ago in western civilization. This ancient martial art about sword fighting was developed to increase close combat proficiency. Unfortunately, historians neglect this historical academic martial art of Western Europe, but today a growing number of modern researchers have brought back this tradition by recreating various types of sword techniques and weaponry of the medieval and renaissance periods.

The study of HEMA emerges as an intriguing method of sword art and a fascinating combination of literature, art, archaeology, sword techniques, military history, and fencing history. Generally speaking, except for modern-day swordplay and techniques like fencing, HEMA was the older sword fighting method that originated in medieval and renaissance in western Europe that died out hundreds of years ago, but its techniques and sword art are being rediscovered and can be seen in many eastern sword arts. Despite the lack of information, HEMA is not dead and being rediscovered by many researchers using certain manuscripts and skeletal information of the remains of war gears and dusty manuscripts. Old manuscripts and gears reveal a handful of information, thus leading a way to recreate the past and bring it to the present. As a result, the medieval sword techniques brought back HEMA.

No doubt that researchers are making progress by connecting the dots (pieces of information) using old materials or cryptic sources. Scholars who have been dedicating their life to study and revive this lost art did a great job. However, there are a lot of things to be done before this art can rose again in modern-day martial arts. Medieval and renaissance sword martial arts is a highly effective technique that raises a soldier’s ability in close-quarter combat. In addition, watching sword fights is incomparable and very beautiful. Swinging a sword in majestic motion can be both beautiful and deadly.

What is HEMA?

Hema is an acronym for Historical European Martial arts. This sword art is generally regarded as martial arts to improve close quarter combat and increase the survival rate by employing intricate sword art techniques. This historical martial art was dated to the late middle age or medieval age, renaissance, and early period. HEMA consist of martial arts variation such roman soldier tactics, Greek wrestling and much more.

HEMA Popularity

Today HEMA is being practiced by many people worldwide, not just European, and American countries. The internet made it easy to spread information about these majestic martial arts and HEMA got easily circulated in other countries like Asian countries. Sports like fencing are well known in European and American countries, but its popularity in other continents is also on the rise.

Many HEMA clubs in Asia, African, Europe, and South America practice medieval martial arts however, the vast majority of clubs are based in North America and Europe, with members belonging to organizations connected with HEMA. The popularity of HEMA continues to grow around the globe. There are 300,000 people or more who conducts HEMA activities and recruiting more people to join using the world wide web. With that said, the population who practice HEMA will surely grow in the future years to come. Many people would find HEMA as a worthwhile hobby because many individuals and organizations have established workshops and shops to support the needs of equipment and services to people.

HEMA Practice Essentials

Some HEMA clubs require you to buy gear and equipment to use and other HEMA clubs have loaner gear and equipment, so you don’t need to buy anything. However, the condition and the quality of loaner gear and equipment might be poor because of overtime use. You might want to buy your gear and equipment to prevent certain injuries as loaner gear and equipment can affect your performance and experience.

These are the following gear you need to protect yourself from injury. Before buying anything else you should consult your HEMA practitioner.

  • Cup Shorts
  • Plastic Chest Protector
  • Padded Pants
  • Padded Shirts
  • Synthetic Sword (wood, plastic, fiber glass)