A Novice’s Guide to HEMA: One Year Anniversary Update Post on Historical European Martial Arts

The first page of the Codex Wallerstein shows the typical arms of 15th-century individual combat, including the longsword, rondel dagger, messer, sword-and-buckler, halberd, spear, and staff.

I thought it would be useful to update the Original Post I made last year with some of the knowledge and links that I’ve learned since then. One year into learning about HEMA (Historical European Martial Arts) and I’m looking forward to much more up ahead.

My goal with this and other posts is to make it easier for someone who is like me and wants to find more information but is just getting started. It can be really difficult to try and navigate and understand what you don’t know to look for and what not to look for when trying to learn about martial arts. I’ve seen a lot of people doing like myself over the past year try and help newcomers get past the steep learning curve of getting started in a very new (but old) endeavor and this is good news for HEMA in general.

I recommend reading a very new post by Richard Marsden over at Tyrant Industries called Starting out in HEMA.

After that for a list of resources put together by the HEMAA or HEMA Alliance head over to New to HEMA.

If you prefer an audio source then have a listen to different perspectives on What is HEMA?

Depending on your trust with the accuracy of encyclopedias you may or may not have already read the Wikipedia post on Historical European Martial Arts but just in case feel free to give it a quick read. The featured image for this post is Public Domain from there.

Now that you’ve read a bit about HEMA I would recommend that you find out if and where the nearest clubs or gatherings you can learn and practice at. This Club Finding Tool provided by HEMAA is an incredible tool and a vast improvement over previous iterations.

Now before you go to a club you might check out a few videos or read some in-depth material so you are a little more confident and competent when you arrive. As far as equipment goes I greatly recommend that you wait to buy anything until after you’ve been to practice and had a chance to talk face to face with a few experienced fencers and the instructor. Even if you’re far away if you can try and make a trip out to a club or start correspondence with an experienced HEMA practitioner.

A quick video by Matt Easton of Schola Gladiatora on getting into HEMA when you’re not near a club:

There is an amazing variety of information to learn about HEMA and about the history and culture that frames these martial arts so I’ve included a helpful and very simple link to The Feynman Technique (How to master a subject) to help with the process.

A really valuable take on the stages of ignorance when attempting to master a skill was recently posted on Duello.tv’s blog that applies very well to me during the process of getting acquainted with HEMA.

To put the sport versus the reality of fighting with deadly weapons in contrast I recommend reading this Blogpost on the reality of Duelling with Swords.

It is important with an athletic activity to have an eye on your safety and the safety of others you interact with. The HEMAA Alliance has a Safety Policy covering a wide range of conditions and requirements for tournaments and other activities. Take a look so you are prepared before you have a problem. On a parallel note covering safety, it is part of your responsibility to take care of your opponent and not cause injury. I highly recommend reading Shanee Nishry’s article here.

As for myself with HEMA I currently study Early German Longsword primarily which even though we have protective gear is oriented toward unarmored or Blossfechten combat. Life, unfortunately, interferes far too much since my boy started kindergarten and our schedules are all out of whack so I have not been getting whacked with swords as much as I’d prefer. Luckily I can do some solo practicing at home and a lot of reading when insomnia strikes.

Here are some of my previous posts which cover a few key things that it can be helpful to know about HEMA that were a little hard to glean at first. If you want to watch some clips of tournament fighters duking it out at locations all across the world check out the tournaments post below my long-winded intro. To see what I own personally including books check out the first link below. When you’re ready to buy your own gear check out my Websites guide below for merchants and general info on gear to get.

A Novice’s Guide to HEMA: Websites to Buy Swords and Equipment

A Novice’s Guide to HEMA: Tournaments

A Novice’s Guide to HEMA: Historical European Martial Arts

A Novice’s Guide to HEMA: One Year Anniversary Update Post on Historical European Martial Arts

A Novice’s Guide to HEMA: Novel Exercises and Solo Drills for Historical European Martial Arts

A Novice’s Guide to HEMA: My HEMA Loadout and Wishlist

A Novice’s Guide to HEMA: Cat’s Nine Lives Halloween Tournament

A Documentary on HEMA called Back to the Source gives a good introduction to the impetus behind HEMA and its origins:

Online HEMA Manuals and Treatises

It can be very hard to know how to interpret the manuals so I’ve linked to this post at the Hema forums by Richard Marsden which I think helped illuminate to me at least part of the process.

As an update to this post, I also recommend reading How to begin working with a HEMA source on Keith Farrel’s blog.

Wiktenauer This for many HEMA practitioners is the foremost resource for learning through reading and research. Every year they keep adding prodigious amounts of information on historical European martial arts available for everyone to peruse. This is probably your most important website to check out.

English Martial Arts Treatise Database (middleages.hu)

The Flower of Battle of Master Fiore Friulano de’i Liberi One of the foundational treatises in pdf form by a Who’s Who of HEMA’s scholars produced by the website Wiktenauer.

Pocket Armizare (Android App) This application is a free portable reference for the early 15th-century fencing manual ‘The Flower of Battle’ as created by fencing master Fiore de’i Liberi.

The Recital of the Chivalric Art of Fencing of the Grand Master Johannes Liechtenauer

One of the foundational treatises in pdf form by a Who’s Who of HEMA’s scholars produced by the website Wikteneaur.

Brief Instructions upon my Paradox of Defense by George Silver A popular pair of pdf’s by an English master Paradoxes of Defense by George Silver.

Joachim Meyer Resource created by Shanee Nishry A wonderful site for learning Meyer.

Great Representation of the Art and Use of Fencing by Ridolofo Capo Ferro (English Translation) An important resource for studying Italian “rapier” from one of the great masters of the art.

Books by Sir William Hope (Hosted by Linacre School of Defense) and other Masters including Fewtrell, Godfrey, Hale, Liancour, Machrie, Mendoza, Page and Miller

Resources provided by the Academy of Historical Fencing on Roworth and Angelo with workbooks on Messer, Longsword, and Sabre

Sources Hosted by Schola Gladiatoria including Waite, Hutton, Fiore, and Angelo.

Electronic Journals of Martial Arts and Sciences

Provisional Regulations for Saber Exercise US Army 1907

Highland Broadsword Posters from 1799

New Work by Antonio Manciolino of the Bolognese translated by W. Jherek Swanger and hosted by HROARR

Marozzo’s Arte dell’ Armi (Copyright William E Wilson)

ColdSteel by Alfred Hutton pdf

Old Sword Play by Alfred Hutton pdf

Resources to study smallsword at the Smallsword Project

History,  interpretations, and tools for studying the manuals:

Training theory of longsword fencing (HEMAC)

The Liechtenauer Playbook (an attempt at modernization with Lessons)

A BRIEF SURVEY OF THE TERMINOLOGY AND TAXONOMY OF STICK WEAPONS IN HISTORICAL EUROPEAN MARTIAL ARTS

 

Facebook Pages and other Forums:

HEMA Forums

Schola Forums (Fencing and Martial Treatises Page)

Sword Forum

SBG Sword Forum

Western Martial Arts on Reddit

The Armour Archive (very useful for Armored/Harness Fighters and smiths)

Bladesmith’s Forum

Esfinges Facebook Page (First International Female Network)

Esfinges Forum for Women Facebook Page

Capital KDF Facebook Page

Rapierists Facebook Page

HEMA Alliance Facebook Page

HEMA International Discussion Facebook Page

XVI century European Armour Facebook Page

HEMA Professional Retail Facebook Page

USA HEMA Marketplace Facebook Page

Sword & Buckler Swordsmanship Facebook Page

Fighters Against Racism Forum Facebook Page

HEMA Council Facebook Page

HEMA Armor/Harness Fencers Facebook Page

HEMA Marketplace Facebook Page

HEMA Hacks Facebook Page

 

Schools, Clubs, and HEMA Organizations:

I recommend checking out these sites below as many of them host blogs, advice, and Hema related resources like pdf translations of manuals that can be hard to find.

HEMA Alliance

HROARR is an independent, neutral meeting ground and resource site dedicated to the Historical European Martial Arts community.

HEMAC (European Martial Artists and Researchers)

Nova Scrimia (Research Group on Italian Martial Arts)

xKDF (KUNST DES FECHTENS NETWORK)

Sala d’Arme Achille Marozzo (Largest HEMA organization in Italy)

M.E.M.A.G. The Medieval Martial Arts Guild

Chivalric Fighting Arts Association (International Organization)

ARMA

AEMMA

Swiss HEMA

Sword Carolina (Train Online)

Virginia Academy of Fencing

Academie Duello

Lonin (Modum milites habemus)

Maryland KDF

Phoenix Society of Historical Swordsmanship

Linacre School of Defense

New York Historical Fencing Association

London Longsword

Stoccata School of Defense

Krieg School of Fencing

Chicago Swordplay Guild

Martinez Academy of Arms

Sword to Sword

Blood and Iron Martial Arts

Triangle Sword Guild

Iron Gate Swordfighting

Academy of Historical Fencing at Swordfight.uk

School for Historical Fencing Arts (17th Century Dutch rapier)

The Renaissance Sword Club (UK)

Spanish Swordsmanship Society of St. Louis

The Bratislavský šermiarsky spolok (a civic association)

Dimicator Roland Warzecha’s School

Auckland Sword and Shield

The Academy of European Swordsmanship (Canada)

Hotspur School of Defense

AHFI

Omaha Kunst Des Fechtens

Musketeer Fencing Club (Omaha)

 

Blogs and Specialized Sites:

The Oakeshott Institute

Swording Blog (Check out all the different framing of the Absetzen by some of the luminaries of HEMA)

HEMA Ratings (A site which rates tournament fighters worldwide)

HEMA Scorecard by HEMAA and Sean Franklin

Sword Buyer’s Guide

The Coblog

The HEMA Scholar Awards

Antrim Bata Irish stick fighting

The World’s Largest Resource for Early English Pugilism at Pugilism.org

Graunwolf Blog:

Shanee Nishry’s Blog

Bolognese Swordsmanship

HEMA News (All Swords All the Time)

The World’s Largest Sword Museum

Guy Windsor’s Blog

The Fencing Hindquarters (Tumblr Blog)

I don’t do long sword

The HEMA-Tome Tumbler Blog with Micro Translations of Fencing Treatises

Historical Fighting Guide Tumblr Blog

FINDING SWETNAM:

Swetnam: 17th Century English Fencing

My Armoury a Resource site on modern replicas

A Meyer’s Enthusiast Historical Fencing Blog

Hemaphilia Tumblr Blog

Guy Windsor Blog

Bartitsu: a 19th Century Art of Self Defense

Ritterkunst Blog

Keith Farrell Blog

Victorian Sword Tumblr Blog

Martial Arts New York

Journal of Western Martial Art

The Hemaists Blog

Measure and Weigh (Reviews and Opinions on HEMA)

Afterblow: Hema Competition News

Out of This Century blogs (everything from clothing to essays on roman gladiator style arena fights in San Francisco)

Nova Fechtbuch (Collection of HEMA videos and Blogs)

Ensis Sub Caelo (Weapon Physics)

Meyer Free Scholar Syllabus Wiki

Renaissance Fence (linked to an interpretation of Antonio Manciolino’s Opera Nova of 1531)

Lochac Fencing (An SCA website that has a tremendous amount of links to manuals)

Bruchius (Reinier van Noort)

A Fencer’s Ramblings

The Teachings of Marozzo and Camillo Agrippa’s ‘Trattato Di Scienzia d’Armes’

HEMA Study

Swords of the White Rose

Aidan Blake’s HEMA Blog

Jamie Maciver Blog on Phillipo Vadi

Just a girl and her sword

Hans Talhoffer ~ A Historical Martial Arts blog by Jens P. Kleinau

Sword STEM (Sean Franklin’s Science Applied to Swords Blog)

 

Miscellaneous Extra Content:

Since not everything has to be scholarly or serious below are two of my favorite choreographed videos. I am currently working on a post for video resources that I will hopefully complete in the next few weeks.

I adore the visceral action in this longsword battle which includes grappling and unarmed attacks that most movies and tv shows minimize by Adorea Olomouc:

Akademia Szermierzy Youtube Channel has several exemplary choreographed videos on Fiore:

One of many useful Seminars by Jake Norwood from xKDF:

Sword Anatomy from one of the German perspectives:

sa

Below is Meyer’s Square used in the later German Tradition as a practice tool for basic cuts.

meyersquare_small

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A Novice’s Guide to HEMA: Websites to Buy Swords and Equipment

Websites that sell equipment are listed below by continent and by the nation. If you’re a merchant, maker, or smith please make a comment below so I can add you to the list and if you have a specialty I would be happy to notate it next to your site.

My original post A Novice’s Guide to HEMA: Historical European Martial Arts kept on growing so I decided to break it up into smaller more focused posts such as this one. In the year since I started, I’ve updated things further with a One Year Anniversary Update Post.

A Novice’s Guide to HEMA: Tournaments has some advice for buying equipment appropriate for tournament bouts along with the actual requirements that each of the tournaments has for sword and equipment quality. As always your best bet is to ask questions either to instructors or clubmates or on the WMA Reddit or HEMA Forums for the suitability of a given retailer or manufacturer.

This blog post is now listed here and at the Reddit Online HEMA Resources (r/HEMA) page which has an excellent collection of links for the HEMA and WMA enthusiast.

Aidan Blake’s HEMA blog has several great google docs to use as a resource when looking at buying gear: HEMA Protective Gear Research and HEMA Training Weapon Research.

If you’re into medieval garb Aidan also has a Document for that as well.

For sabres, this Collection of Saber Measurements may help you out in deciding what kind of sabre you want to get and what options you might have available depending on the style of sabre you want to practice and compete with.

For sideswords, I found this on the Giovanni Dall’Agocchie Facebook group page: Sidesword Trainers.

When buying your gear you’re going to want to look at whether you’re getting it for self-practice, training with mates at various levels of intensity, the type of weapon you’re training with, and/or if you’re planning to eventually go to a tournament with that weapon.

The approved protective gear you will need for longsword will need to have sterner protections than that of other blossfechten weapon types such as rapier or sabre then singlestick with unarmed Ringen, glima, or pugilism needing the least.

For a look at my gear and books check out: A Novice’s Guide to HEMA: My HEMA Loadout and Wishlist.

Typical tournaments look at having a 3 weapon mask with back of the head protection, a heavy jacket or gambeson for longsword or lighter one for other weapons, heavy gloves for longsword like Spes Clamshells, Koning, Sparring Gloves, and Neyman to name a few or for lighter weapons the Red Dragons are popular or various padded leather gloves, some sort of hard or padded elbow protection, hard knee protection, groin for men, plastron for women, and a gorget or throat protector. I would highly recommend shin and forearm protection regardless of weapon but some tournaments don’t require them.

Commonly for practice steel longswords/feders, you will see approval based on the maker such as Regenyei, Danelli, Castille Armoury, Darkwood Armory, Ensifer, Chlebowski, Albion, Arms and Armor, SGT Blades, Black Horse, and Pavel Moc.

For steel rapier and sabre Danelli is highly regarded and in America, Darkwood Armory and Castille Armoury are probably most popular of the high-end market with Del Tin and Arms And Armor. Hanwei has a approval as an okay entry level but as of writing this the longsword/feders are not considered safe for tournament level intensity.

Synthetics tend to be dominated by Purpleheart Armoury in America and Black Fencer in Europe for the higher end and the Red Dragon/Hema Shop Rawlings in the UK as bargain weapons. For singlestick in the states, most people get Purplehearts leather baskets or make their own SCA style.

I honestly don’t know much about harness fighting though if you want to learn more I highly recommend checking out Pursuing the Knightly Arts Youtube Channel or the Knyght Errant Youtube Channel.

This site is an Amazon affiliate site that can help you find HEMA Gear on Amazon and I believe in the future other sites and in your country if possible HEMA4U.

A popular website for buying sharp swords and various re-enactor gear that ships all over the world is Kult of Athena.

Shoes are an ever reoccurring topic in HEMA with most people using wrestling shoes, running shoes, Olympic fencing shoes, or leather low profile designs to match historical sources with varying degrees of accuracy.

Europe:

UK and Ireland:

Danelli Armouries (Beautiful swords with long wait list)

Leon Paul

The HEMA Shop

The Knight Shop

Corsairs Wares

Paul Binns Swords

James G Elmslie Custom Replicas

Feestspada Armoury

Tod’s Stuff

Old Shillelagh

Hematees (Hema shirts) Facebook Page

Easton Antique Arms Ltd

Germany:

Trainingsschwerter

Allstar International

Sword Experts

VB Sword Shop

Die Seelenschmie (Swords)

Poland:

Sparring Gloves Sparring Gloves Facebook

SPES Historical Fencing Gear

Neyman Fencing

Comfort Fencing

Silk Fencing (Synthetics)

PBT Polska

Szymonchlebowski (Swords)

Ensifer (Swords)

Art of Swordmaking by Maciej Koupciuch

Mateusz Sulowski Swords

Bloss for Hemaists

Aureuss Swords

Czech:

Mac Arms (Swords)

Swords (C.K. Kowarna)

Elgur (Swords)

Kovex Ars

Lutel Armoury

Armory Marek

Fabri Armorum

Switzerland:

Fechtwaffen Shop (Pretty much everything is here)

Spain:

Black Fencer One of the three major synthetic trainer manfucturers.

The Time Seller

Grant Esgrima

Arcensis

Costumbres Medievales

Geasoles (historical HEMA influenced shoes)

Hungary:

PBT Historical Fencing

Regenyei (Swords!)

Viktor Berbekucz (Swords)

Austria:

Swordbag

France:

Black Armoury (Full selection of feders and gear)

Faits d’Armes

Le Colporteur de l’histoire (Jackets, masks, rawlings, and regenyei’s)

South Fencing

Sport 7

Gael Fabre (Swordsmith)

Italy:

Gajardoni (Lajalo) (Air Masks and fine quality jackets and breeches. Ships internationally) Disclosure: I am a customer.

Negrini

Del Tin (Tin Ancient Weapon)

Thokk WeaponMaster Gauntlets (indiegogo)

Sweden:

Saint Mark (Koning Gloves)

Denmark:

Gladius

Finland:

Miekkailutarvike

Netherlands:

Zwaard En Volk

Pro Gauntlet (HEMA Gauntlet in Alpha Stage of Production)

Russia:

Hema Fencing

FoxTail Equipment

Kvetun (large selection of hema weapons and protective gear) In the USA contact kvetun.sales.usa@gmail.com for USD prices.

Slovenia:

Krsticic Swords

North America:

Canada:

Darksword Armory

Dark Age Creations

SGT Blades

USA:

HEMA Supplies (We currently import Regenyei Armoury swords and Sparring Gloves.)

Arms n Armor

Albion Swords

Southcoastswords (Blackfencer Synthetics in USA)

SPES Historical Fencing Gear (USA)

Leon Paul (USA)

Absolute Force

Baltimore Knife and Sword

Wild Geese Fencing (Steel Swords)

Horsebows (Archery and Masks)

Blade Fencing Equipment (fencingnewyork.com)

Freelance Academy Press (Books!)

Woodenswords: Purpleheart Armoury (Pentii Synthetics and Ensifer Feders)

South Coast Swords

Wasson Artistry Fine Armor

That Guy’s (Beautiful looking Gorgets)

Destroyer Modz (Gorget and Mask Mods)

Winter Tree Crafts (Gorget)

Valiant Armoury

Black Horse Blades

Castille Armory

Alchem (Swords Wholesaler)

Benjamin Arms (Swords)

Zen Warrior Armory (SCA and Fencing)

Arms & Armor (Swords)

Swordsman’s Shop (smallsword)

Rockwell Classical Fencing (Foil, Saber, and Epee)

Triplette Competition Arms (Sports Fencing)

Hanwei (Swords)

Darkwood Armory

Piranha Gear (Fencing Gloves and Gorget)

CAS Iberia

New Stirling Arms (Wooden Wasters)

Little Raven (Wooden Wasters)

Sword Equip (HEMA Gear and swords by Szymon Chlebowski)

Therion Arms (Export and Import Globally Weapons and Armor)

Armstreet (a multinational garb and armor seller)

Revival (Medieval Garb and HEMA Gear)

Windrose Armoury

Age of Craft

Armour And Castings

Cold Steel

Swords of Might HEMA Gear

Asia:

China:

Wukusi

Australia:

Medieval Fight Club

WMA Shop

Leon Paul Australia

Eureka HEMA Supplies

Manning Imperial

 

Miscellaneous:

HEMA Leather Crafts on Facebook (gorget, baldrics, and belts)

HEMA Professional Market on Facebook

USA HEMA Marketplace on Facebook

HEMA Marketplace on Facebook

Peter Johnsson on Facebook (Swordsmith) Personal website is down.

Cavalier Attitude (The Rapier Bag)

High Hill Pants (Fancy hema fencing pants)

Wild Armoury (Armor)

Lukas Maestlegoer Swordmaker

FEESTSPADA (custom made swords and daggers)

 

A Novice’s Guide to HEMA blog series:

A Novice’s Guide to HEMA: Websites to Buy Swords and Equipment

A Novice’s Guide to HEMA: Tournaments

A Novice’s Guide to HEMA: Historical European Martial Arts

A Novice’s Guide to HEMA: One Year Anniversary Update Post on Historical European Martial Arts

A Novice’s Guide to HEMA: Novel Exercises and Solo Drills for Historical European Martial Arts

A Novice’s Guide to HEMA: My HEMA Loadout and Wishlist

A Novice’s Guide to HEMA: Cat’s Nine Lives Halloween Tournament