HEMA is the study and practice of Historical European Martial Arts.  We are rekindling a tradition through the study of ancient manuscripts left by Medieval and Renaissance era sword masters.  Eastern Martial artists have the benefit of an uninterrupted line of masters passing down their knowledge.  HEMA, on the other hand, died out with manuscripts forgotten in libraries or collections around the world.


Rekindling a tradition

Over the years people began rediscovering these lost manuscripts from the old masters.  Some were in a codified form of poetry to guard their secrets, while later manuals explained things in a more open fashion.  After translating these manuscripts, the next challenge is interpreting their exact meaning, something that we do by studying, discussing, and practicing the techniques as we believe them to be described.  In short, we read so that we can play with swords in a more fluent manner!

Both women and men participate in study, sparring, and tournaments in clubs throughout the country and across the world.  Fighters are judged on their skill and ability, as well as proper technique and form.  


To learn more about HEMA and find clubs around the country, check out the HEMA Alliance!

Wrestle well and wield lance, spear, sword, and dagger [masterfully], whose use in others’ hands is wasted.
— Johannes Lichtrenauer

Weapons and fighting styles of HEMA

  • Longsword
  • Sword and Buckler
  • Saber
  • Rapier
  • Wrestling
  • Side sword
  • Quarterstaff
  • Messer
  • Cutlass
  • Dagger
  • Armored combat
  • Mounted combat

And many more!