What is HEMA?

What is HEMA?

HEMA is the collection of martial arts typical for the Indo-European people throughout history. They all share similar principles, strategies, tactics and techniques. Minimal differences exist between language subgroups and isolated geographical locations. Weapons and armour change throughout time but, barring equipment specific pro's and cons the style itself is very similar as well. Throughout all the great migrations of the Indo-European people conflict within and without was common due to the central position of its path in the world and simply put: human nature.

During the twelfth century book production changed from monasteries to universities for theology and liberal arts followed by a demand for specialized and general texts by commerce and the bourgeoisie. In the centuries that followed a lot of martial arts knowledge was written down and a lot of these manuscripts and books are still available in libraries and private collections around the world. They provide us with the knowledge of that time when HEMA was still used on the battle field and in other scenarios of conflict. Specific aspects of the Historical Martial Arts have been further proven by archaeological evidence such as weapons, armour, equipment and even bones and the injuries inflicted upon them.

Throughout the sixteenth century city states and nations in Europe established standing armies and even the early precursors of the police. More and more people lived in cities where arms in a highly dense population don't contribute to personal safety as much as they used too. With standing armies outside  and constables within cities there was simply a much smaller need for personal arms. Add the rise of firearms to this situation and it is easy to see why the martial arts transformed to a less lethal form resulting in the martial sports we know nowadays such as fencing, boxing, savate and wrestling.

The modern HEMA revival researches the historical evidence and practices and tests these out in different situations. The modern uses of HEMA range from tournament duels to self-defence and from armoured group battle to professional use by law enforcement. Whatever your goal and need for Martial Arts, HEMA is very diverse and practical. Find the right teacher within your interest group and you are sure to have a great time while learning a highly practical and useful martial art.
HEMA stands for Historical European Martial Arts.
The origins of the Historical European Martial Arts are lost in history as they follow the migrations of the Indo-European people. Additionally it was influenced by the people that they encountered in combat so it was always in a continuous motion that still goes on today.

The modern revival started in the late 19th century with the soldier, writer, antiquarian and swordsman, Alfred Hutton. Hutton wanted to recreate the old arts based on the information available at the time. Since then numerous historical manuscripts have been rediscovered, and research and translation projects have been under taken. In the 80's and 90's of the previous century people started  to group up more commonly to practice together leading to a worldwide community that is going strong today and increasing by the day.
It is the most fun you can have with your clothes on.
No, not by itself. The practice of martial arts yields a lot less injuries than sports like soccer. You practice together with your training partners, not against them. And you and your training partners share the responsibility to not injure yourself and others.

If you decide to practice HEMA competitively the risk of injury increases due to the added stress. However remember that back in the day, when this was used on the battlefield, people wanted to go home to their families in one piece. If done correctly you can come away uninjured, even in self-defence.

Over the years the equipment for weaponized sparring has greatly improved. Weapons and armour are continuously improved upon to make them safer and more effective for training and sparring purposes. For questions and information on HEMA weapons and armour check out the 'HEMA equipment' forum

If you like to hurt people than HEMA is not for you, go away.