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: My HEMA Loadout and Wishlist

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: Novel Exercises for Historical European Martial Arts

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.

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)

Cold Steel by Alfred Hutton

Old Sword Play by Alfred Hutton

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 (My club)

 

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)

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:

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

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

I am a newbie to HEMA so I’m no expert but sometimes experts can forget to mention basic things they no longer are even conscious of which is the point of my blog. Hopefully, my posts will help a newcomer to Historical European Martial Arts navigate starting up this awesome activity.

This post is dealing with my equipment that I own or that I am waiting for delivery with an addendum for maybe buys in the future. I will also include some exercise gear and my books.

I would like to thank the reviews people like Matt Easton at Schola Gladiatora, David Rawlings at London Longsword, the gentleman at Hema Reviews, Skallagrim, Aidan Blake, the review teams at Blood and Iron, the guys at R/Hema who made the gear list, and the fine folks at Measure and Weigh. I have replaced a few bits of gear that weren’t working out for items they reviewed with a high opinion particularly the Measure and Weigh reviews. You guys really make it a lot easier for all of us when you share your insights with us beginners so we can avoid at least some of the pitfalls of starting Hema. If people don’t say thank you often enough I’ll just say thank you for a second time just in case.

Don’t forget to clean and care for your gear. Sometimes that means a visit to a competent dry cleaner or a bit of Febreze or clear gear or hand washing in lukewarm water with mild detergent. Odor Gladiator is a good addon for your gear bag.

Speaking of gear bags I find that I get good mileage out of a cheap snowboarding bag. If I was traveling on a plane I would probably get a hard “Sportube” as I’ve heard they are great.

Don’t leave your gear in direct sunlight or damp area for too long. Baby wipes are great for plastic bits. Proper care of steel is important to avoid rust. Always ask your smith for the best care for your blade if you can as they should know best practices and tricks for longer life and aesthetics.

My previous articles on Hema:

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 for Historical European Martial Arts

My boy is wearing my mask in the featured image.

The most precious piece of gear to have for HEMA are books! So, that is what I’m going to start off with. For freely available pdf’s and links to books on the net check up my One Year Anniversary Post above for links to hundreds of articles, books, and other resources for the budding Hema student.

Books:

Cutting with the Medieval Sword: Theory and Application: by Michael Edelson Amazon

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A very valuable resource for anyone wanting to learn how to cut properly with the correct biomechanics with a sword. I’m not done reading it yet and I’m only about a quarter into it and have already learned quite a lot. It is hard to resist the temptation to bounce around and all the pretty sword pictures by Albion are distracting. Get it.

<Edit> From my Amazon review after completing the book: A very valuable resource for anyone wanting to learn how to cut properly with the correct biomechanics with a sword. When reading It is hard to resist the temptation to bounce around and gaze upon all the pretty sword pictures. One thing that I really like is the clear and concise advice and insights that bleed over into your fencing regardless of tradition or school. I bought it so I could be better at cutting but I think I am a better martial artist after reading this book. Get it. </Edit>

Treatise on the Subject of Fencing: Marco Docciolini’s 1601 Fencing Treatise: by Marco Docciolini (Author),‎ Piermarco Terminiello (Translator),‎ Steven Reich (Translator) Amazon

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Only about halfway through but I am enjoying reading it. It reminds me of Liechtenauer in that it is very straightforward and focuses on being simple without flourishes or fanciness. Very matter of fact. It would be nice if the book had a longer foreward that went a bit more into history on the period and maybe an index with some insight from the authors on how the treatise could be used in a modern HEMA context. I did find this on HROARR which was interesting to read about dual sword use. I will probably look for videos to help me understand the author better.

<Edit> I did finish the book and it was enjoyable though I might not recommend it as the first book for a beginner with a rapier as the lack of pictures and the lack of resources online to find extra info or to answer questions makes it problematic compared to a treatise by a more well-known author. Alfieri would be my first read, then Giganti, and then Docciolini would be a better reading order I think.</Edit>

La Scherma: The Art of Fencing, Francesco Ferdinando Alfieri: by Piermarco Terminiello (Author),‎ Phil Marshall (Author),‎ Caroline Stewart (Author) Amazon

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Very clear and easy to understand treatise. Loved it and the overall layout. Definitely a good value if you’re new to rapier and want to get some good fundamentals. Alfieri focuses on a single rapier for most of the book and then gives some good advice on expanding that with a parrying dagger and some really interesting plays with a cloak.

 

Self-Defense for Gentlemen and Ladies: A Nineteenth-Century Treatise on Boxing, Kicking, Grappling, and Fencing with the Cane and Quarterstaff: by Colonel Thomas Hoyer Monstery (Author),‎ Ben Miller (Editor)  Amazon

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I love the history and story of the first half of the book. Colonel Thomas Hoyer Monstery seems like such an interesting individual and his students include some surprisingly famous individuals. If a competent tv team took him or Jaguerina on as a tv show that would be amazing. The second half is the Colonel’s actual treatise which is worth reading from my limited understanding of the material. I would’ve liked an addendum with a modern practitioner’s point of view and perspective on using the techniques, learning them, teaching them, and applying the lessons of the book in a modern Hema context and perspective.

Nicoletto Giganti’s The School of the Sword: A New Translation: by Nicoletto Giganti (Author),‎ Yvonne Rogers (Illustrator),‎ Aaron Taylor Miedema (Translator),‎ Tara Lynn England (Translator),‎ Kim Reynolds (Translator)  Amazon

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Seems well made but I have to say that I didn’t enjoy the book as much as reading Alfieri and if Docciolini had pictures I would rate it much higher. It is nice that it has so many plays shown and good artwork so you can see what is going on clearly and it is a good solid book to build on your skill.

 

 

 

The ‘Lost’ Second Book of Nicoletto Giganti(1608): A Rapier Fencing Treatise by Piermarco Tierminielo (Translator) and Joshua Pendragon (Translator) Amazon

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Clear and concise instructions on how to fence well in the Italian style. Covers more weapons and off-hand defensives than his first book such as rotellas, targas, and cloaks. I particularly like the extensive footnotes at the end of the book.

 

GEAR:

Gajardoni Ancient Air Mask

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This mask is very protective and comfortable. It has a cool gimmick that does militate a hit to the upper head a small amount by pumping air into little bladders built into the padding like those old basketball shoes in the 80s. The main benefit is in helping the fit better match your head and mold a little bit better to your head in my opinion versus actually protecting you in a significant fashion. The ridge the splits the face bilaterally does a great job at dispersing the kinetic energy from certain types of hewing hits and helps make a full on thrust to the center of the face skitter off either to the left or right rather than sending the energy full on pushing the head and neck back.

I have a giant head so they were nice enough to provide a double sided velcro strip to act as an extender to the back straps to fit both my huge head and the included back of neck protection.

You can buy it here: Ancient Air Mask

Gajardoni Challenge Jacket

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The jacket is extremely protective and comes with a ton of modular padding you can choose to use or not for even more protection. The jacket has a built-in gorget (not sufficient for tournaments but a good supplement and it can be replaced with rigid material that probably would be tournament ready), shoulder pads, and elbow pads. Mine is tailored which is very worth it unless you’re very close to an actual size. I personally don’t use most of the padding but as I have a lot of padding built in it isn’t necessary. Very breathable compared to other jackets and it is surprisingly heavy to people who aren’t used to Hema jackets. Construction is excellent. My only nitpick is that there was a small error on the sewing of the pin side of the zipper pulling the pin closer to the fabric. This makes it surprisingly harder to hook to the zipper when your hands are behind your back to get the zipper started. Other than that the behind the back zipper works fine and the collar is great.

Since a commenter had a question about why there is no plastron I should mention again that it comes with basically enough modular padding/armor that can be velcroed directly to the jacket that there is no need for a plastron because it basically is a plastron. However, so far just the bare minimum padding is very substantial so I haven’t really used the modular padding. You can cut the padding as well to shape it into what you really want like if you have a lower left rib you are worried about you could cut out a section and stick it onto the velcro of the jacket and have a little extra protection in that spot.

You can buy it here: Challenge Jacket

Destroyer Modz Gorget

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Speaking of built-in gorget in the challenge jacket here is my main gorget (\ ˈgȯr-jət \). This is a very lightweight and simple gorget mainly to be tournament ready or for low gear sparring without the jacket or for singlestick. Many of the different gorget designs can be quite large and substantial which can require modifications for guards when your arms are above your shoulders otherwise they can be restrictive. Since the Challenge Jacket already is very substantial in its protection I chose simple and to be honest relatively inexpensive. One problem I can see is if you have a very large neck the fit is tenuous and I think they would be well served to have a large size. Purpleheart was amazingly fast to deliver this to my door. I expected I’d be lucky to get it in a month or two but it was less than a week. If you’re a Hema Alliance member don’t forget to add your promo code when ordering for a discount.

You can buy it here: Purpleheart Armory Destroyer Modz Gorget.

Gajardoni Custom 800 Newton Breeches

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These breeches offer a lot of extra protection most of which I took out like I did with the Jacket. These are custom sized because of my stature but I would recommend bespoke gear in general as the extra cost is worth it even if you aren’t a giant. I supplemented the suspenders that come built-in with Holdup Suspenders as I am a giant and the suspenders are insufficient for the weight of the pants. They are no doubt just fine for your typical Hema enthusiast. The back pocket works well for a wallet or if you’re an Apple Pay/Android Pay type you can carry your phone instead so you don’t have to worry about people “lifting” it while you’re at a tournament. The material is incredibly well made and substantial without the extra modular padding. Some of the padding has a very soft velvet feel which is nice if you need the extra padding because of a wallowing buffel at a tournament.

You can buy them here: Gajardoni Breeches.

K-P Knee Pro Ultra Flex III Knee Pads

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This knee protection works great and is readily available for quick delivery or at many brick and mortar stores. It should fit just about anyone. It covers the side of the knee and is light. It is probably close to indestructible and protects amazingly well. It may be the cheapest, best, and accessible piece of gear in the Hema arsenal.

You can buy it here: Amazon.

Harrow Probot Shin Guard

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These shin guards work so well with the knee pro that it is magic. They are so much better than my previous set of shin guards. They have soft ends at the bottom to help defend the top of your ankle and not be painful. Once you pull up your socks they stay where they need to be and help anchor your knee protection which should fit and rest at the top of the shins. They don’t need straps or a wrap around which made me wary at first. One negative is that they don’t provide any protection to the back of your calf but they do great on the side of the calf as even with a giant like myself it wraps around pretty far. After use, it should kind of mold to your leg a bit which is nice.

You can buy it here: Amazon.

Compression Socks

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There is very little price difference between getting good compression socks and just normal fencing socks so I recommend compression socks. They also tend to be better constructed and better able to keep shin guards in place. I find they help me last longer on my feet and are great when you have to sit for a long time like a plane trip or road trip to the tournament. They also are supposed to help with a lower recovery time after the event or practice and are good for diabetics. You can buy them pretty much everywhere though I am sure there are quality differences depending on the place.

You can buy one of the types I use here: Amazon.

Forearm and Elbow Protection

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These are solid protections that I received from Gajardoni mainly because it was easy and convenient to just add it to the cart with the rest of the gear but there are plenty of different designs available. These are nice because they fit well over the jacket or without the jacket and my forearms are very large. The built-in elbow protection to the Challenge jacket actually works well to anchor the elbow part of this protector making it very safe from harm. Or since the elbow piece is separate you can undo the velcro and go without the elbow pad. The other good thing is that there are no gaps like a lot of designs running up the inside of the arm. So, good for longsword and good for low gear practice or singlestick.

You can buy it here: Gajardoni Forearm and elbow.

Koning Gloves

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These gloves are very well constructed with a very soft inner leather glove so you can get a good grip and feeling through the glove to your weapon. On the outer part of the glove, the leather is harder and more durable seeming as that is where you’re going to get hit. It has a band around the wrist for extra protection without restricting wrist movement. Sandwiched between layers are rigid plates to protect the hand and in particular the fingers from direct hits by blunt steel blades. These plates can be maneuvered around while you use the gloves and get it prepped for you so the glove gets more tailored to your particular hand as you use it. When you first get the glove it can be hard to even fit your fingers in it but as you stretch it and get it used to your specific hand it becomes quite comfortable. It is very much like getting a baseball glove ready for the season.

It took me about a month of just working the gloves while watching Netflix or Youtube videos on HEMA to get the gloves comfortable.

These gloves are primarily for longsword but unlike most longsword gloves can be used with different weapons making them a good backup for even some rapiers or sideswords should something go wrong with your lite gloves. The wait time from Sweden is substantial though it is improving and now you have the option if you’re in America to get them quickly from Purpleheart Armoury.

You can buy them internationally from here: St Mark.

Kombat Gloves

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These are very well protecting lightweight gloves good for historical fencing with lighter weapons like sabres, rapiers, singlestick, or daggers. One thing to keep in mind that the extra knuckle protection can with some designs of rapiers make it a bit cramped if your hand is large and space is small. I also have very large forearms so with my jacket it can be difficult for the forearm velcro to fit around but that shouldn’t be a problem for most people. With the Challenge jacket having built-in elbow protection you can use these and not worry about forearm and elbow protection. If wearing without the jacket you can take the elbow part of the forearm protectors I showed above and use them in conjunction with the gloves if you want and if you have the little leather jutting out the end outside of the elbow cup.

You can buy it here: Gajardoni.

Type III Pentti Synthetic Longsword

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Quick delivery as a surprise Christmas present for me. Well constructed and capable of taking a lot of punishment it is a great practice tool at home. If I had a real pell I wouldn’t worry about harming the pell or the weapon like I would with a steel weapon. But, it works well enough on my makeshift pole in my backyard and at practice with other synthetics. Don’t forget to use your Hema Alliance membership promo code when ordering.

You can buy it here: Purpleheart Armoury.

Purpleheart SingleStick

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This singlestick is very well made with a leather basket and for a little extra over the standard rattan I chose the hickory model with the oval shape. It has a nice shape for grip to help with edge alignment so you don’t get in bad habits and has a taper making it feel more alive and responsive in the hand.

You can buy it here: Purpleheart Armoury

Cold Steel Synthetic Buckler

 

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Solid and practically indestructible this buckler is inexpensive and does the job whether using a synthetic or steel blade.

You can buy it here: Amazon.

Cold Steel Rondel Rubber Training Dagger

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Good and simple practice dagger that has good flex so you can safely stab your friends. Inexpensive and with easy accessibility it is a good addition to your loadout.

You can buy it here: Amazon.

Sisu Mouth Guard

 

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Good to have if you’re going to be doing some boxing, bartitsu, ringen, glima, or just common fencing grappling or wrestling. Don’t want to get your teeth knocked out on accident if you can help it.

You can buy it here: Amazon.

NuttyBuddy Cup and Compression Shorts

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Gotta protect your “nutty” and this combo of shorts and cup works very well. It must take a ridiculous amount of force to break this.

You can buy it here: Amazon.

 

 

Alera Wire Garment Rack

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It is nice to have something to hang up your gear to dry it out and just keep it organized. This holds my Purpleheart longsword and singlestick on the left side there very well so it is also a sword rack to add to the convenience. I got it for $55 at Costco.

 

Exercise Gear:

I get a lot of mileage with my NSD spinner which is fun to do and I think helps build up finer muscle control for strammazone type cuts as you’re making very tight circular motions to get it to spin. If you check out my previous post on exercises you’ll see a link to the one I have.

From Iron Mind I have a Captain’s of Crush Trainer and #1 grippers, a Blue Iron Egg, and the elastic bands. The Trainer is good for reps a couple of times a day for building your grip strength which is important for sword work and for things like the bench press. If you want to push your grip strength get an additional gripper of higher tension like the #1 or go with the #.5 if you have difficulty with the Trainer and use that to step up the difficulty. The Iron Egg I squeeze while reading a book or watching a video and same with the elastic bands which are fun for building your forearm and fingers and can help with an injury.

The Gripmasters I use at work though I have destroyed them pretty badly. I have the 9 pound and the 11 pound and if you do the pinch grip it will give you a good workout for your fingers. Great for building your bass playing skills especially the pinkie and of course your grip for Hema.

The Theraband blue is good for if you get tennis elbow and for your grip do a pickup grip on the tips of the band and twist and that will get your whole forearm and fingers working.

Resistance bands are good for increasing your leg strength and are really interesting to use when practicing careful short lunges, voids, and traverses while you have them at your ankles.

Battle ropes are fun and I get double use out of my makeshift pole/pell.

I have a Valeo medicine ball which is good for working out your core and I like to lay down and throw it up with my right arm like I am punching out or making an oberhau. Exercising the lazy way while listening to a podcast or youtube video drone on is a-ok with me.

Balance pads and agility ladders are good to help get your feet moving and your balance better which is a huge part of any martial art and will help you get better at dancing too!

 

Wishlist/Waitlist:

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For my steel longsword, I am looking at the smith Logan Black of Black Horse Blades. He now has three Hema training blades the Arbeitsferd, the Eisen Pferd, and the Grosse Pferd. I like the Eisen Pferd design the most which is the blade above. I have communicated with Logan on Facebook and he has been extraordinarily pleasant and if money had allowed I would already have his work in my home just for their customer service soft skills. His site is Black Horse Blades.

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For my steel rapier and dagger, I am on the waitlist for a Danelli Armouries until Christmas of 2018. So many beautiful works of art on the site you can get distracted very easily if you’re a sword enthusiast. The rapier above is one of his most beautiful though way out of my price range. His website: Danelli Armouries.

Over at Castille Armory, there are a lot of good looking blades. The link is to an inexpensive clamshell rapier with a lot of good reviews. For Hema, I recommend from my research that you get the F3 blade and a lobed tip. Length of the blade is, of course, a contentious issue and depends somewhat on the master or tradition you’re studying though in general the taller you are the longer the blade. Keep in mind that some tournaments have length maximums and most of the lengths on bladesmith sites for rapiers include the ricasso. The bronzed work looks great in my opinion too. Over at Blood and Iron, they recently did a review of a custom blade Sam made that the lead instructor gushed over. They have some amazing sabres that are tempting.

For sword and buckler, I am looking at just a basic arming sword by VB available at Purpleheart.

For sabre not from Castille I am thinking about just snagging a cheap Hanwei Hutton from Amazon because I get bonuses from work each month in Amazon gyft cards so that would make it easy to get and the Hanwei’s are okay.

If I get more into the lighter weapons I will probably eventually get a Diamond Jacket from Gajardoni as it is just amazing looking and better suited for lower impact weapons.

 

 

 

 

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

I made this article since there is more to HEMA than reading treatises and book learning and one of those is to get your body into shape so you can apply your academic learning in a martial fashion. I won’t go into widely available basics but instead, I will go into a few suggestions that are a bit unusual with the primary goal to be to increase grip and arm strength while being a bit lazy or while doing other activities for the busy among us.

At the end I have some suggestions provided on Facebook and HEMA specific drills and exercises from youtube.

Starting off with one of my favorite tools is the spinner:

NSD Power AutoStart Spinner is the “Featured image” for this post because it is super cool and it is what I have. There are more expensive versions and cheaper ones than the one I linked to but this is the best bang for your buck. This is an exercising tool utilized heavily by golfers who want to build dense and dextrous forearm muscles just like we do. It is fun and easy to use. It is also used by people to help with carpal tunnel and tendonitis. There are many different brands and versions. Below is a “Powerball” model review from a hockey player but the basic concepts apply.

Kettlebells are can be very useful. Be careful getting started and don’t buy a cheap one unless you’re ready for a heavy metal ball go flying in a random direction should a handle break. Get one that is all one piece without any welding or anything that might hide any welding marks. If you can get started with an instructor at least one time before you do anything crazy or weird with this as you can injure yourself if your form stinks. I don’t have one myself but messed around with one back in high school.

The Gripmaster Hand Exerciser is useful for building individual finger, hand, and wrist strength and is another thing you can do maybe at work or while reading. There are many different variations and brands to choose from. Most have a set level of resistance but a few have resistance that is variable which is useful if you are using this to recover from a hand injury and building back up your strength. The video below is for guitar and bass players that I used many years ago when I played both. He has some suggestions on different exercises.

Agility Ladders are really useful for building up your lower legs and helping you become more cognizant of your footwork. Some allow you to move the bars to different lengths and hook up extra ladders or miscellaneous items to make a little obstacle course. This can help when you are trying to do solo drills and need to force yourself to think outside of the linear box common to kendo and modern olympic fencing. Taking advantage of traversing and sidesteps are an important part of your martial art toolset.

Resistance bars are great for recovery and are designed to help with tennis elbow which can plague a swordsman as well. The brand I linked to rates the resistance by color so be careful picking one that is appropriate for you. They also are very good at improving grip strength. There are a lot of different exercises out there that use these flexbars for different issues so be sure to look up different exercises or invent your own just don’t break your wrist.

Battle Ropes are a lot of fun and help out with building both your arms but also your core and is a very inexpensive way to get a full body workout. It will wear you out as muscles you rarely use flare up and make sure you’re paying attention. Start with a few basics and build your way up. I recommend starting at 1.5 inch and 40 feet if you’re not in fantastic shape which is what I have.

Balance Pads are very good for improving your balance and building your lower leg strength and tone. They will help your footwork and if you’re anything like me you probably need the help.

Gravity Fitness Stretch Strap is good for helping increase your flexibility and range of motion. If you’re going to be practicing lunges a lot this might be useful for you.

Medicine Balls allow for a whole series of great exercises that you can do while watching your favorite show lying on the couch. There are more movements you can do in a more serious fashion such as using a medicine ball like it was a sword or a basketball and making a motion as close to as you can to an oberhau and sending the ball to a wall for example if it is the type that bounces. This can build up your explosive “punch-like” force you need for martial arts. There are many types and weights to choose from. The link above goes to my medicine ball which is a middling size and weight and great value for the price. Most gyms these days have medicine balls so you can try them out and find one that works for you.

Resistance bands are great for practicing lunges and footwork as well as increasing leg and hip strength while you’re sitting at your desk if you have them on your feet.

Forearm Exerciser is great for building strength while binge-watching your favorite show.

Captains of Crush Grippers are expensive for grippers but are well made and will push your hand strength probably more than anything else if you use two or three models. I have a Trainer which is easy to close and a #1 which takes some work to close. Traditionally you’d have a third gripper which you can’t close that you work on occasionally. Give yourself breaks with this as you can push yourself too far very easily.

Suggestions from Facebook:

Shanee Nishry’s website showcases her exercise regime of about 30 minutes a day of Meÿer Square / Cutting Diagram Longsword drills. Check it out.

Susan Kirk mentioned that Indian Clubs can really help with both strengthening arms and shoulders as well as helping flexibility of wrists, elbows, and shoulders. It is great for both balancing out muscles on the left and right sides as well as improving coordination.

Indian Clubs at Purpleheart Armoury.

Incline Steel Club is on sale and it is nice for doing exercises when inside though I find I use my kettlebells far more.

Solo HEMA Drills and Exercises:

If this doesn’t get your newbie muscles burning quickly you’re either in great shape or doing it wrong!

This drill gives you something extra to do by forcing you to change directions while swinging your sword. Footwork is my greatest weakness I think so try this or variations of this out.

Blood and Iron is a great resource.

Matt has quite a few different solo drills on his site. I like this one and the ones he made when his right hand was injured.

This flow exercise has some direction changes and good practice for attacks from the Italian Longsword perspective.

 

 

 

When I got my buckler I instantly thought that it might be a great tool for low weight reps while watching videos on my PC. I do punches, moulinets (using the handle like it is a hilt), and windshield wiping wrist rotations. You easily do hundreds of reps while being a couch potato and if you already have the buckler it doesn’t cost anything extra. Below are some great exercises the guys at Sword Carolina made to use your buckler with.

 

My other essays:

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: My HEMA Loadout and Wishlist

A Novice’s Guide to HEMA: Tournament Ready and Training Ready Standards

 

(Edit) It seems that this topic is unpopular. I approached this topic as someone familiar with patents, copyright, and creating standards.

From that pov I see issues like Combatcon’s equipment recommendations allowing modified lacrosse gloves, no shin protection, and with the only stated requirement of a mask being behind the head protection. I have read a lot of equipment rules for tournaments and they are often vague and ambiguous. Also, looking at equipment on retailer websites there is a dearth of info. Most clubs seem to be very insular using the same stuff they’ve been using from the start rather than a mix of goods. Part of this is a reluctance to lay down good money on something they aren’t sure of or confident in.

I would suggest an approach to making these standards as something like this:

I would test protective gear with a broken feder that has splintered leaving a sharp edge or for standardization sake three or four different thrusting and cutting sharps using a machine with a test dummy with the protective gear in question. This machine would hit the gear with an ever increasing amount of force let’s say start at 100N and go up a 100N each time noting the point when damage begins and the point when the protection is penetrated.

Then I would go through all the different major makers of the gear in question. I would then compare them and plot out the standard deviations and compare that quantized information to qualitative information from actual HEMA experts.

I would then try and measure the typical amount of force used by a trainee during practice using the typical weapons in HEMA and compare that to the piercing point/breaking point/cutting point of the gear. I would then get a set of average strikes from a dozen random tournament contestants. Then I would get the hardest hitters and try and guestimate the maximum force a HEMA defender is likely to ever get hit with and correlate that with the different tested gear.

By combining the quantitative analysis of how the gear handles piercing, blunt, and slashing hits from sharp weapons and maybe even a mace or staff along with broken weapons with expert qualitative advice you can get a rough idea of training quality, tournament ready, and tournament approved gear.

That way you can also rate gear for Longsword, Staff, rapier, arming sword etc. A Longsword training level jacket might be tough enough to be tournament ready for a saber for example.

Once you have those standards than the makers of the gear can then go back and beef up their gear or drop it down a bit to provide a cheaper but still quality product. If a jacket maker could make a safe but minimal product for entry level at a low price point without sacrificing too much quality than they make money and more new people get into HEMA.

Then once the enthusiast gets some practice and wants to go compete they can make the choice of getting gear that is very good and ready for tournament level play or they can go to the max and get gear that is overkill and very high quality meeting the highest standards in the industry because there will now be standards.

(/edit)

So, as a novice I’ve been reading a lot about HEMA and coming from an outside viewpoint it is a bit confusing and a lot of things are ambiguous with a lot of regional variation. This naturally emerges from a bottom up structure run by a number of very individualistic people who can bonk you on the head with steel if they disagree with you!
If my ideas have already been beaten around to death I apologize. I’m sure the elders of the tribe keep seeing the newbies saying the same thing over and over.

Anyway, it occurred to me that a way to both help the merchants who sell and the people who make gear for the HEMA enthusiast and to help people make informed decisions when buying gear it seems obvious to me that there should be set/s of standards for different types of activities for training and tournaments.

When I buy a video game I see a set of minimum requirements and recommended requirements which give me a rough idea what kind of PC I need to have to run the game. They usually err on the side of caution for minimum requirements and overkill for the recommended.

Rather than having a deeply piecemeal and haphazard approach to each tournament having different gear accepted and having the fear that your gear which was good enough for a tournament in Chicago but not accepted in Denver it seems to me that there are many organizations in HEMA and more importantly many Tournament Leagues.

Imagine if you will a swordmaker able to put on his website “Midwest Historical Fencing League Tournament Ready Feder” and\or “HEMA Alliance Tournament Ready Sidesword.”

Another approach is for the manufacturer’s to get together to make a standard. This placates those who prefer to avoid any appearance of an overarching “federation”.

If the dozen or so makers of masks for example made a tournament ready and a tournament recommended standard for HEMA and all followed it than the buyer would know better what they are getting versus relying on Cen 1 and 2 which help but aren’t perfect with most of the other gear lacking even that nebulous quantifiable standard.

Imagine a poor quality gorget NOT being able to have any official HEMA stamp of approval so some new person doesn’t buy it trying to save money and get hurt badly.

The customer (us) could be confident that the gear they are buying is not only good for their league but it is also tested and approved by their HEMA organization. This would make makers of quality equipment have an easier time selling gear as doubt would be removed. Your only choice now is to ask around your club and look up the occasional youtube review, blog,  or the handful of reviews at Measure and Weigh.

Also, having standards would make it easier for new makers to enter the market. If a feder needs to be between x length and y length, use m through g quality metal, have x flex, and weigh between c and g weight to be tournament approved than having clear standards would improve the quality of our gear and help the manufacturers know what they need to provide to hit any HEMA requirements.

You could have let’s say the red dragon gloves be “Longsword Training Ready for Prairies Historical Fencing League” which tells the buyer that the gloves are okay for practicing or training but in the long run they will need to get better gear or just skip them to gear that is approved.

A pair of fencing gloves could be “Rapier and Saber Training Ready for HEMAA” and a jacket could be the same letting the buyer know that the jacket isn’t approved or ready for Longsword Training so they don’t hurt themselves through ignorance and are educated about what works for one type of HEMA practice or tournament.

You could even have “Ready” and “Approved” as tiers of quality as well. So, a new Regenyei Feder could be “HEMA Ireland Tournament Approved” while a low end feder that is still solid but not great could get “HEMA Ireland Tournament Ready” while a truly mediocre feder but not a bad or dangerous one could get “HEMA Ireland Training Ready” tag. Take the guesswork out of buying the goods. Take the guesswork for the poor people who have to look through all this gear and be the jerk that tells someone that they can’t participate or even worse feel sorry for them and let them participate in an event in which they get hurt!

Take the guesswork out of buying the goods. Take the guesswork for the poor people working or volunteering at HEMA tournaments who have to look through all this gear and be the jerk that tells someone that they can’t participate or even worse feel sorry for them and let them participate in an event in which they end up hurt!

A way this could really benefit is in gear that we appropriate from other sports like arm or shin protection. If we could go to Adidas and say “your shin protection is great so we would like you to market it as a soccer AND HEMA shinguard.” That way if they did that a soccer player could come across a shin guard and sees the HEMA logo and wonders “What’s that?” and looks us up. If they do that and see it is approved to take sword strikes that puts a lot of confidence that it will take a set of cleats. This would increase attention to HEMA and make it easier to find quality gear.

And by having each league and each member of the HEMA Alliance make decisions on gear approval it might help move regional products into the global market while protecting each leagues autonomy. Say you’re a jacket manufacturer with great quality and fair price but you’re in X country and you want to get some exposure you could send a jacket to each league you’re interested in for them to test it out. If you have a good product not only are you going to get your jacket listed by that league or group as approved you could have them review the gear and word of mouth means a lot. If an instructor says “this jacket is amazing” how many students who respect them might think about picking up that jacket that wouldn’t otherwise look for a foreign made and formerly unknown product?

Say you’re a jacket manufacturer with great quality and fair price but you’re in X country and you want to get some exposure you could send a jacket to a couple of leagues you’re interested in for them to test it out. If you have a good product not only are you going to get your jacket listed by that league or group as approved you could have them review the gear online and word of mouth is a very powerful tool. If an instructor says “this jacket is amazing” how many students who respect them might think about picking up that jacket that wouldn’t otherwise look for a foreign made and formerly unknown product? We get better gear and more choices in that gear and the merchant sells more. Win-win in my book.

It also might be useful to have a model or version number on gear. Say a 800N Jacket type Y v2 2015 by X. That way if there happens to be a bad version or model than the league and the manufacturer can alert its customers about it and there can be a caveat and it is clear what type of jacket is being discussed for those manufacturers who make more than one type of the same product.

By having a version history and easy tracking of how that product has performed we can take a more scientific approach to safety and quality control. I know that the Konig Gloves have gone through different permutations so it would be nice if for example a tag said version 4 2016 just in case there was a safety issue with one version anyone who had the glove could just take a look and see if they needed to worry.

Check out my other blog posts in this series with more to come:

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: Websites to Buy Swords and Equipment

Websites that sell equipment are listed below by continent and by the nation. Feel free to comment to add more sites that I’ve missed.

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 Google Docs is a primary resource to use when looking at buying gear: HEMA Protective Gear Research and HEMA Training Weapon Research.

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.

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.

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

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

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

The Time Seller

Grant Esgrima

Arcensis

Costumbres Medievales

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)

 

Other Blog posts by me:

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 for Historical European Martial Arts

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

A Novice’s Guide to HEMA: Tournaments

This is a work in progress built from my original A Novice’s Guide to HEMA: Historical European Martial Arts post that I decided to spinoff into its own page as the Guide is far larger now than I had initially intended and has become a little unwieldy like a Montante in the hands of a five year old.

As a novice I have decided to try my best to make these guides to help people learn more about HEMA who don’t have the time or inclination to search and research for hours on the web and to try and distill what I’ve read into something easy to understand. Often things get lost in translation when dealing with topics outside of your understanding and experience. The experts know everything basic so will often use shorthand or gloss over things that you as the newbie have no clue about leading to misunderstandings and frustration.

If you would like me to add your Tournament just add a comment below.

Tournaments are a chance to test your mettle against opponents from outside your club. This is very important in order to avoid and detect weaknesses that might have developed unnoticed by your fellow fencers you practice with and to become exposed to different styles and ways of fencing.

A new site called HEMA Ratings has setup rankings and scores for over a thousand fighters from all over the world with different weapons including Longsword, rapier, sabre, singlestick, sword and buckler, and sidesword. So, after you compete at your first acceptable tournament you can watch your score and rank change as you become a better fighter and get more experience fighting new people.

Afterblow (HEMA Competition News) is starting in 2017 and will have a whole slew of useful information about Tournaments which will be something to look forward to next year.

This HEMA Alliance Events Page just soft launched which is wonderful.

It is also worth knowing that there are Leagues of HEMA which can make going to multiple tournaments in a region have a new dimension of complexity.

Historical Fencing Event Notification Page on Facebook is another resource.

Tournaments are different in that the rules are more formal than bouts at your club or with friends and each one will have different equipment requirements depending on the type of bout from Longsword to Ringen. This is important to keep in mind as swords and gear preferred or allowed at one tournament may be forbidden at another. So make sure you consider this when you are making your expensive choices on gear. These requirements may also hint at the quality or lack of quality of different equipment.

They may also have different rules in adjudicating a bout so it would be wise before a tournament to have some practice bouts using those rules in the weeks proceeding a tournament. This applies even if you are not planning to go as it is good to be flexible in your fighting. Different rules may encourage different optimized behavior by a fencer. If the tournament penalizes heavily double hits than you will want to prepared for that while sports fencing often encourages unhealthy defensive habits because of the rules of engagement.

An article worth reading If You Practice HEMA, You Should Be Competing in Tournaments.

General takeways applicable to many tournaments for equipment needed for Longsword are a Fencing Mask with back of the head protection, Gorget, Padded Fencing Jacket, Heavy HEMA Gloves, Arm and Elbow Protection, Knee and Shin Protection, shoes, and a cup for men. Some require a plastron and padded breaches as well.

There also must be no bare skin shown when Fencing with weapons and some explicitly state that if they can see skin if you raise your arms than that is unacceptable. I would recommend skipping the basic mask and go to CEN 2 at the very start as there really isn’t that much of a price difference and it makes a big deal for durability and longevity. Vasaslaget explicitly states CEN 2 or 1600N at least as a requirement to compete and forbids hockey gear.

Feders from Ensifer, Regenyei, Danilli Armouries, Comfort Fencing, Darkwood, Chlebowski, Pavel Moc, SGT Blades, Mac Arms, and Castille are usually accepted. For some other manufacturers only certain models are allowed but in general feders with rolled, ‘nail like’, or widened tips with well rounded cross guards are accepted. I would also recommend models with rounded pommels because some have wickedly dangerous styles.

Few tournaments allow Hanwei or Red Dragon Feders. Many don’t allow Darksword Armory as well.

Check out A Novice’s Guide to HEMA: Websites to Buy Swords and Equipment to see where and what websites you can look at to buy your gear.

Very importantly make sure you have safe and appropriate luggage/bags to carry your goods for your method of travel. Don’t skimp on a cheap and poorly made bag if flying or taking a bus and it can be useful to think of how to secure your gear if it is going to be out of your sight.

If you enjoy watching bouts in older tournaments check out HEMA LiveStream Series on Facebook. It hasn’t been updated in a while but is worth checking out.

Tournaments:

Europe:

Swordfish

Swordfish in Gothenburg Sweden

Swordfish Equipment Requirements

Swordfish 2016 Livestream and a fantastic match illustrating a less commented type of bout with unarmed combat using Ringen below.

Fight Camp

Fight Camp in Coventry England

Fight Camp Rules and Gear Requirements

Helsinki Longsword

Helsinki Longsword in Helsinki Finland

Helsinki Open Longsword Equipment Requirements

Astolat Open

Astolat Open in Godalming England

Astolat Equipment Requirements

Vasaslaget

Vasaslaget in Uppsala Sweden

Longsword Rules Vasaslaget 2016

Dreynevent

Dreynevent in Vienna Austria

Martail Arts Historical Italian (XVII was 2016)

National HEMA Tournament in Faenza Italy

North America:

Longpoint

Long Point in Baltimore Maryland

Longpoint Rules (Page 4 Gear)

Longpoint Youtube Subscription Page

Longpoint South in Orlando Florida

CombatCon

CombatCon in Las Vegas Nevada

CombatCon Rules

Iron Gate

Iron Gate Exhibition in Danvers Massachusetts

Iron Gate Equipment Requirements

Capitol Clash

Capitol Clash in Washington D.C

Capitol Clash Longsword Requirements

HEMA-Cornhusker State Games

HEMA-Cornhusker State Games in Bellevue Nebraska

Rules for State Games at Musketeer Fencing Club Site

Icebreaker 2017

Icebreaker 2017 in Fort Snelling Minnesota

Icebreaker Equipment Requirements

The Deed of Arms Event

Armored and Unarmored HEMA Event

Australia:

World Broadsword Championship

World Broadsword Championship in Sydney Australia

World Broadsword Championship Rules

Swordplay Australia

Swordplay Australia in Brisbane Australia

Swordplay Australia Approved Gear

 

More of my Novice’s Guide posts:

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 for Historical European Martial Arts

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

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

This post has been updated A Novice’s Guide to HEMA: One Year Anniversary Update Post on Historical European Martial Arts.

As a novice, I’ve had to do a lot of searching to find basic information about HEMA.

Recently the HEMA Alliance posted a fantastic page (New to HEMA) which should be your first site you visit. If I had access to this page it would’ve spared me a lot of time and effort so enjoy!

(Edit: I am continually adding new content as I find it so check back regularly)

Additional more focused posts that are part of my Novice’s Guide.

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: Novel Exercises for Historical European Martial Arts

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

Sections include Starting HEMA, Tournaments, Youtube subscriptions relating to HEMA, Equipment requirements, Websites by Continent/Nation that sell HEMA Gear, Gear reviews, Hacks and Customizations, and educational and entertaining videos that I found interesting.

Starting HEMA:

New to HEMA

Find a local club here

Wiktenauer (Free Library!)

HEMA Forums

Western Martial Arts on Reddit

HEMA News Blog

HROARR is an independent, neutral meeting ground and resource site

Historical European Martial Arts Coalition

xKDF (KUNST DES FECHTENS NETWORK)

HEMAA (HEMA Alliance)

Johannes Liechtenauer’s Recital (PDF)

Fiore de’i Liberi (The Flower of Battle PDF)

Long Sword Techniques and History (PDF)

Longsword Study Aid

What is HEMA? (podcast)

Starting with HEMA: A Personal View (Encased in Steel Blog)

Sword Carolina (Online HEMA School)

Medieval European Martial Arts Guild

Schola Forum

Esfinges Facebook group for Women in HEMA Ask here for gear advice for women.

Afterblow: Hema Competition News (Brand new site for HEMA Events/Calendar)

Tournaments:

[Edit: I’ve spun off the Tournament related information into its own post below:] 

A Novice’s Guide to HEMA Tournaments

HEMA Ratings (Tracks wins and losses from Tournaments)

Swordfish

Long Point

CombatCon

SoCal Swordfight (Facebook group as the website is dead)

Fight Camp

World Broadsword Championship

Astolat Open

Swordplay Australia

Helsinki Longsword

Iron Gate Exhibition

HEMA-Cornhusker Nebraska State Games (Facebook Event Page)

Capitol Clash (Washington D.C)

Youtube Videos Subscriptions:

Schola Gladiatoria

Duello Learning

Blood and Iron

London Longsword

Learn Swordfighting

Septem Custodie

HEMA Reviews

Swordfish 2016 Livestream

Swordfish 2016 Ringen Match

Equipment:

One of the big things novices such as myself want to know is what do we need to start practicing HEMA as far as basic beginning gear and what to look for in the long term should you progress to tournament level expertise. For some equipment it might be better to just skip all the way to the best for both protection and to avoid having to upgrade later at greater expense. This is where asking questions of experts really pays off. What equipment does your instructor recommend?

Absolutely make sure that you get a cup like a Nutty buddy, Diamond, or Shock Doctor if you’re a guy and the ladies have their own version which is generally suggested equipment.

Don’t skip or skimp on a gorget (pronounce the ‘t’ as in \ˈgȯr-jət\) from the french gorgette in the 15th century C.E.

Explaining Mask Standards (Read this before you get your mask)

GLOVES FOR LONGSWORD FENCING (APRIL 2016) (Read before you buy Gloves)

HEMA Gloves Facebook Group

Reddit HEMA Gear List (May 2016)

THE STATE OF THE ART: Current gear and weapon options as of 12/2016

HEMA Training Longswords Compendium (List of training Longswords by HEMA Reviews Blogspot)

Feder Market Table (Shows stats/costs on many feders)

Aidan Blake’s Feder and Simulator Research

Tips on HEMA sparring swords (Schola Gladiatoria)

Informal Survey on Ordering from a HEMA manfacturer

Protective Gear Research

Tournament Gear Requirements: (Read this for an idea on what you might need for your local and regional tournaments and for a guide to quality to future proof your gear.)

Swordfish Equipment Requirements

Longpoint Rules (Page 4 Gear)

CombatCon Rules

Fight Camp Rules and Gear Requirements

London Open 2015 Equipment Standards

World Broadsword Championship Rules

Astolat Equipment Requirements

Swordplay Australia Approved Gear

Helsinki Open Longsword Equipment Requirements

Capitol Clash Longsword Requirements

Websites that sell equipment are listed below by continent and by nation. Feel free to comment to add more sites that I’ve missed.

Europe:

UK:

Danelli Armouries (Beautiful swords with long wait list)

Leon Paul

The HEMA Shop

The Knight Shop

Corsairs Wares

Paul Binns Swords

Germany:

Trainingsschwerter

Allstar International

Sword Experts

VB Sword Shop

Die Seelenschmie (Swords)

Poland:

Sparring Gloves  Sparring Gloves Facebook

Historical Fencing Gear (Spes)

Neyman Fencing

Comfort Fencing

Silk Fencing (Synthetics)

PBT Polska

Szymonchlebowski (Swords)

Ensifer (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

The Time Seller

Grant Esgrima

Arcensis

Costumbres Medievales

Hungary:

PBT Historical Fencing

Regenyei (Swords!)

Viktor Berbekucz (Swords)

Austria:

Swordbag

France:

Black Armoury

Faits d’Armes

South Fencing

Sport 7

Italy:

Gajardoni (Lajalo) (Air Masks and fine quality jackets and breeches. Ships internationally)

Negrini

Del Tin (Tin Ancient Weapon)

Thokk WeaponMaster Gauntlets (indiegogo)

Sweden:

Saint Mark (Koning Gloves)

Denmark:

Gladius

Finland:

Miekkailutarvike

Netherlands:

Zwaardenvolk

Pro Gauntlet (HEMA Gauntlet in Alpha Stage of Production)

Russia:

Hema Fencing

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.)

Southcoastswords (Blackfencer Synthetics in USA)

Historical Fencing Gear (USA) (Spes)

Leon Paul (USA)

Absolute Force

Wild Geese Fencing (Steel Swords)

Horsebows (Archery and Masks)

Woodenswords: Purpleheart Armoury (Pentii Synthetics and Ensifer Feders)

That Guy’s (Beautiful looking Gorgets)

Destroyer Modz (Gorget and Mask Mods)

Winter Tree Crafts (Gorget)

Albion Swords

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)

Asia:

China:

Wukusi

Australia:

Medieval Fight Club

WMA Shop

Leon Paul Australia

Eureka HEMA Supplies

Equipment Reviews

As I find reviews for products while surfing the web I will collect them here for people to use as a resource.

GEAR:

Masks:

PBT HEMA Warrior Reinforced Mask (Schola Gladiatoria)

PBT 1600n HEMA Mask (Dolans Review)

Leon Paul Titan and Gajardoni Kombat Air (Schola Gladiatoria)

Destroyermodz Custom 82nd Mod HEMA Fencing Mask (NYHFA)

Mask Overlay:

Destroyer Mod Head Protection (HEMA News)

Gajardoni Kombat Air, Leon Paul Titan, and Spes Unity Overlay (London Longsword)

Jackets:

Spes Hussar Jacket (HEMA Review)

Gajardoni Challenge Jacket and Breeches (London Longsword)

Gajardoni Challenge Jacket (HEMA News)

SPES Axel Pettersson (Schola Gladiatoria)

SPES Axel Pettersson Fencing Jacket (Aidan Blake)

Neyman Augmented (HEMA Reviews)

Neyman HEMA Fencing Jacket (Schola Gladiatora)

Superior Fencing Jacket (Blood and Iron)

Black Armoury HEMA Jacket (Schola Gladiatora)

Steel Mastery Gambeson (Jon Burke of Lionheart Historical European Swordsmanship) (Taiwan)

Breeches:

Neyman Standard Trousers (HEMA Review)

PBT 350n Fencing Pants (Measure and Weigh)

Gorget: There really doesn’t seem to be very many reviews on throat protection gear relating to HEMA. This is important so hopefully some experienced fencers can let us know the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly when it comes to this.

Winter Tree Brigandine (Aidan Blake)

Absolute Force Neck Guard (Skallagrim)

Medieval Fight Club Gorget (HEMA Collective)

Gloves:

A Look at Many Gloves (Skallagrim)

3 Fingered Sparring Gloves (Aidan Blake)

Neyman Thokk (KAB Fencing)

Koning Glove (Sacramento Frei Fechter)

5 Fingered Sparring Gloves (Francesca Terminiello)

Absolute Force Hema Deluxe (Aidan Blake)

Absolute Force HEMA Gloves (Matthew Brown)

Neyman Inigo Montoya (Oliver Goras)

Neyman Inigo Montoya (Bellows Freifechter)

SPES Heavy sparring gloves (Schola Gladiatoria)

Gajardoni Lajolo Kombat Gloves (tehBar0n)

Red Dragon Gloves (Schola Gladiatoria)

Elbows and Forearms:

SPES Forearm and Elbow Protector V2.0 (Aidan Blake)

Neyman Fencing forearm and elbow (Poll Mak)

Knees and Shins:

Red Dragon Leg Guards (Schola Gladiatoria)

Red Dragon and Baseball Knee/Shin (Skallagrim)

Knee Pro Ultra (Measure and Weigh)

Swords:

Non-Steel Practice Swords (Skallagrim)

Messers:

Purple Heart and Black Fencer Synthetics (Aidan Blake)

Scottish Basket hilt Broadsword:

Black Fencer Synthetic (Academy of Historical Fencing)

Synthetic Feder:

Blackfencer V4 Federschwert (Blood and Iron)

Black Fencer Feder (HEMA Review)

Steel Feder: (Check out above the Longsword Compendium link and the Feder Market Table for more info)

Comfort Fencing Dobringer feder (HEMA Reviews)

SGT Blades 3 models of Steel Feders (Blood and Iron)

Szymon Chlebowski Feder (NYFHA)

Castille Armoury and Regenyei Feders (Sacromento Frei Fechter)

Regenyei Standard Steel Feder (Aidan Blake)

Regenyei Standard Steel Feder (Medieval Review)

Regenyei Steel Feder (Schola Gladiatora)

Regenyei Steel Feder (HEMA Reviews)

Darksword Armoury Steel Feder (Skallagrim)

Moc Steel Feder (HEMA Reviews)

Steel Sidesword:

Regenyei steel sidesword (Stoccata Historical Fencing)

Danelli Steel Sidesword (Il Segno)

Rapier:

Danelli Steel A588 Wallace Rapier (London Longsword)

Steel Arming Sword:

Fabri Armorum Training Steel Arming Sword (Schola Gladiatora)

Hacks and Customizations:

Painting a Fencing Mask (Medieval Review)

Back of Head Gajardoni Ancient Air Mask hack (Poll Mak)

Educational and Entertainment:

The Feynman Technique (How to master a subject)

Defense for the Throat: A Layered Approach ‘History of Throat Protection’ (Knyght Errant)

Nova Fechtbuch (Collection of HEMA videos and Blogs)

Highland Broadsword Posters from 1799

Back to the source – Historical European Martial Arts documentary

Seminar with Jake Norwood (cutting mechanics)

Fior di Battaglia: medieval longsword techniques (Akademia Szermierzy)

Longsword Duel Scene (Adorea Olomouc)

Magna Moosey Scene (Adorea Olomouc)

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