Women in HEMA

Women in HEMA

Yes if your group and practice of HEMA requires gear there are a few things to take into account:

  • Most gear is sized for men, women tend to need smaller gear so make sure the gear fits. A proper store will provide a size chart and sell gear that is suitable for women. Some even offer custom fit gear;
  • However a lot of gear simple isn't suitable at the moment. There is still a lot to win here as a large amount of female HEMA practitioners create their own gear or customize existing gear;
  • In competitive play and practice with steel weapons a groin protector is advisable. Most people think this is only important for men, but a hit to the groin can be very painful no matter if you are a man or woman. This shouldn't be underestimated. Unfortunately the quality of groin protectors for women is very poor;
  • The same goes for the chest, a strike there can also be very painful, more so then for men, so a hard plate together with a properly fitted sports bra is advisable. Again quality of the available equipment is often lacking.

For more information on female equipment visit the Esfinges forum or inform about this on the Brynhildr forum here at Fightschool.
As mentioned elsewhere in the HEMA FAQ, physical attributes matter very little compared to other aspects that come in to play in the practical usage of a martial art. So being small or big of posture is of little concern in defending yourself.
Of course. There are several reasons for this:
  • The first reason is a practical one, there are usually more men than women in martial arts;
  • As mentioned elsewhere in this FAQ, HEMA is a martial art. Therefore physical attributes or sex are of very little importance for the end result. No matter in which setting you practice and use HEMA;
  • For practical self-defense it is essential that that you train with people of all shapes, sizes, men and women. This will not only help in understanding the subtle differences in size but also give you the experience that it really doesn't matter all that much and thus the confidence to defend yourself against any attacker. For these same reasons it is important for men to practice with women as well;
  • Competitively, in HEMA tournaments you will find tournaments that have gender based as well as mixed competitions.
Yes, Esfinges is a female international HEMA network, created to unite and support women martial artists, and to encourage and assist more women tot take up the practice of Historical European Martial Arts.

Eliisa Keskinen of the Nordic Fencer blog writes, among other subjects, about women's HEMA, you may find articles here that interest you.

Finally, you may ask your questions and participate on the Brynhildr forum here on Fightschool.
Not to our knowledge. If you run one let us know.
The NYT video shows people fighting in tournaments, the competitiveness and associated stress levels make it easy to get bruised or injured. While protective gear is used that is by no means a guarantee that you won't get bruised or injured. It is up to you to decide if that is something you care about and up to degree.

The easiest way to avoid it is to not participate in sparring and tournaments.

Sparring is of very little importance for real world self-defense, in fact for that purpose it is counter productive. So depending on your goals and reasons for practicing HEMA you can decide on what you want to do.