Historical Fencing is also broadly known as HEMA (Historical European Martial Arts), and generally refers to any non-modern armed hand-to-hand martial art or combat sport from Europe or related countries. This means that Olympic fencing, boxing, and modern wrestling aren’t generally considered HEMA, and neither are activities such as archery.
While HEMA is often synonymous with historical swordsmanship and fencing it actually includes many arts such as fighting with staffs, daggers, polearms, swords, spears, and unarmed techniques.
One of the distinguishing features of HEMA is that it is usually based on historical fencing texts from the period. This differentiates HEMA from some schools which teach modern composite sword arts without a single underlying historical body of knowledge.
Do you wear armour or dress in period costume?
While some styles of HEMA do teach armoured fighting, most schools focus specifically on unarmoured fencing. Likewise Historical Fencing is typically not assiciated with historical reenactment.
This means that for the most part Historicsl Fencers don’t wear armour, and neither do they dress up in period costume – their art is taught as a martial art and combat sport, and not as a re-enactment activity. If you are part of a re-enactment group or LARP (Live Action Role Playing) organisation though we certainly encourage you to expand your art by including a historical underpinning to your combat skills.
Is it dangerous?
HEMA is typically a very safe activity, especially in the kind of friendly, controlled class environment we encourage our affiliate clubs to promote. However, as with all martial arts and contact sports there is a risk of injury, so we encourage all instructors and students to take care in classes and look after each other, as well as to take good care of their own safety by wearing appropriate equipment. This is further amplified by our safe operating policies (see the Policies section in the main menu).
Are there any physical fitness requirements?
Absolutely not! HEMA is generally suitable to all levels of fitness, age, and ability. Clubs typically work with students within their individual capabilities and needs so that they can become the best possible fencers that they can be.
Are there HEMA tournaments or competitions?
Absolutely! While competition isn’t for everyone there is a vibrant competitive scene both in Australia and worldwide. Australia has many Historical Fencing tournaments and HFA fencers are some of the most highly ranked and competitive fencers within their respective divisions.