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Q. What does H.E.M.A Stand for?

A. Historical European Martial Arts.

Q. What is H.E.M.A?
A. The interpretation, study and practice of Historical European Martial Arts using surviving treatises and manuals in conjunction with the study of biomechanics and combat theory in order to replicate historical and cultural martial arts in the most realistic and martially functional manner possible.


Q. Is H.E.M.A a sport or a martial art?
A. Neither and both.
H.E.M.A is not one art or system, it is an umbrella term which includes Martial Arts (war arts) Dueling Arts, Martial Sports (combat sports) and Self defence systems.
Each needs to be represented in its own context to be a realistic and functional interpretation and therefor H.E.M.A.

As an example a sportive version of an actual martial art or dueling art is a training tool to apply the art within safe parameters so there must be a distinction between the two similar to what you see in Japanese martial arts with Kenjitsu and Kendo.

Where are an art which is sportive in nature but may be applied to self defence situations like pugilism as more easily accurately portrayed in a sportive setting.

Q. Is re-enactment H.E.M.A?
A. No, H.E.M.A has more in common with Jujitsu, Karate or Krav Maga than it has with re-enactment as it is the study and practice of one or more martial arts.

While some H.E.M.A practitioners are also re-enactors not all re-enactors are H.E.M.A practitioners or martial artists of any discipline for that matter.

Re-enactment is the practice of re-enacting battles in historical uniform or armour, in most cases re-enactors will not engage in realistic combat or apply functional techniques due to safety concerns, so their combat tends to have more in common with stage fighting or choreographed combat.
Also not all groups associated with re-enactment actually re-enact battles but this also does not mean that they practice any form of historical martial arts.

Q. Is Historical Medieval Battle H.E.M.A?

A. No, Ironically Historical Medieval battle also known as Buhurt or Battle of the nations is not H.E.M.A as its rule set and practices are not based on historical martial arts and a large number of techniques for both unarmoured and armoured arts left to us in medieval manuals would be banned under their rule set.

Again much like re-enactment some practitioners of H.E.M.A are also involved in H.M.B but these are very different hobbies with different aims, the two can have some cross over and can indeed help to flesh out the other but they are working in many respects to crossed purposes.

Q. Is H.E.M.A all sword play?
A. No H.E.M.A includes a large range of systems from multiple centuries and countries, even the medieval Knightly arts include unarmed fighting but H.E.M.A also includes folk wrestling, self defence systems such as D.D.L.R Savate, Pugilism (bare knuckle boxing)  along with self defence and martial arts which use spear, bayonet, knife, walking stick, umbrella, quarter-staff etc.

Q. Is H.E.M.A okay for children?

A. Yes - aslong as they have the maturity and discipline to wear the safety equipment and stay within the drill H.E.M.A systems can be taught to children the same as many other popular martial arts.
We will be running our first ever Junior classes 13-17 year olds class in September 2022 located in Panmure.
Traditionally knightly arts included in H.E.M.A would have been taught to some degree to children at the age of 12 or possibly even earlier. 

Children need to be aware of the seriousness of these arts however as we are not teaching stage combat or sword tiggy.

Q.Could H.E.M.A be used in M.M.A?
A. Some H.E.M.A arts such as Abrazare, Kampf-Ringen, Pugilism and Savate will have transferable skills which can be applied to M.M.A, some techniques will not be legal or will not be applicable i.e Savate uses shoes as a weapon during kicks where M.M.A is shoe-less.

(for more details see W.M.A below)

Q. Why do some H.E.M.A groups not wear historical armour?
A. Because H.E.M.A is the study of historical martial arts and has nothing to do with historical dress or historical armour.

Our school allows learners to wear either historical armour or modern armour but we prefer to avoid a mix of both at once wherever possible.

We value the experience of fighting in historical armour and believe it deepens the appreciation and experience of Historical Martial Arts, so we will never disallow it in events but it's not in everyone's budget or even appealing to all learners, not to mention it may not suit multiple arts/periods.

Q. Could H.E.M.A be used in self defence?

A. Yes, There are multiple unarmed H.E.M.A arts which can be immensely effective in self defence situations, so those looking for something functional we suggest the grappling arts along with pugilism, Savate and possible cane/umbrella for situational self defence.

Q. What's the most effective H.E.M.A system?
A. The one you study and practice the most in the most realistic conditions.
A learners growth in skill and capability are a shared responsibility between trainer or instructor and learner/practitioner, to become skilled and effective in any martial art requires dedication, discipline and practice.

Q. Is H.E.M.A just for Europeans?
A. No, that would be the same as saying Karate is only for Okinawans, Brazilian Jujitsu is only for Brazilians etc.
There are H.E.M.A schools all over the world with students, instructors and practitioners from all cultures, ethnicities etc.

Some instructors will be drawn to arts and systems from their own culture or heritage others may be drawn to specific periods, weapons or arts for completely different reasons. 




Q.What is W.M.A?
A. W.M.A stands for Western Martial Arts 

Q. What is the difference between H.E.M.A and W.M.A?
A. W.M.A covers living traditions such as Jogo Do Pau, Classical fencing, Sportive Savate, Catch as Catch Wrestling, Greco-Wrestling etc. 

Q.Could W.M.A be used in M.M.A?
A. Some W.M.A arts such as catch as catch wrestling, greco-roman wrestling, freestyle wrestling, boxing etc are very effective bases for M.M.A but not all techniques will be legal or functional due to difference in rule set etc.
Other systems simply wouldn't transfer to the m.m.a well such as D.D.L.R form of savate as it is designed around the use of shoes so the kicks would not be functional in bare feet.


Q. Could W.M.A be used in self defence?

A. Yes, multiple W.M.A arts are self defence systems, others are combative or martial arts, even the sportive arts such as wrestling and boxing can be immensely effective in self defence situations.

Q. What's the most effective W.M.A art?
A. The one you study and practice the most in the most realistic conditions.
A learners growth in skill and capability are a shared responsibility between trainer or instructor and learner/practitioner, to become skilled and effective in any martial art requires dedication, discipline and practice.





Q.Do you train Children?
A. As of September 2022 yes, we will be running two classes a week for three months as a trial run of A.S.E.M.A's "Knight School" teaching 13-17 year olds the art of Liechtenauer's Longsword. 

Q. Since you focus on arts traditionally taught to men will you teach women?
A. Yes we will, we do not discriminate against our students as our school is solely  focused on and dedicated to martial arts and nothing else.

Also historically some martial arts were taught to women, specifically Savate in France was well known for womens' classes which would include self defence both unarmed and with umbrella which at the time was a common item carried by females.

Q.Do you run Womens Self defence classes?
A. No, we teach D.D.L.R Savate which is a brilliant system for self defence but we do not presently have any classes designed specifically for women only.
If we had enough interested parties to make this financially viable we would consider it.

Q. How often do you see injuries?
A. Rarely, however due to the nature of the arts we teach injuries are always a concern which is why before we allow an attendee to assault/spar they must provide their own safety equipment and must be able to protect themselves in dynamic drilling.

Q. Do you do belts or grading?
A. Presently no, attendees are coached through several levels of technique before moving to dynamic drills and eventually to the assault.
We hope to reintroduce a more formal grading structure for this along with the development of students towards interpretation and instruction but wish to avoid any kind of hierarchy or pecking order.





Q. What is the channel running down the sword?
A. To dispel a myth held by the willingly ignorant it is not a "blood groove" and has nothing to do with the way blood exits the body after a sword is thrust.
The fuller is a grove shaped into the flat of the blade which reduces the weight of the sword and affects the balance and weight of the blade.
Anyone calling it a blood groove deserves to be called out as a bloody idiot propagating stupidity and false information.

Q. Can I safely grip a sword by the blade?
A. Yes, just please don't copy the movies and run your finger or thumb down the edge.
Historical treatises and manuals show examples of blades being checked by the off hand after a parry or in a bind and also techniques where you grip your own sword by the blade especially when dealing with an armoured assailant.

Q. What are the priority targets in swordplay?
A. This really depends on the period and the art form.
As an example in Cod.HS.1389 we are told on Eleven occasions to target the head and the body, making these the priority and are only given three instances where the hands are target as a attack of opportunity.

Where as later period masters dealing with civilian and military training will sometimes advise the hand or forearm should be targeted when dealing with forward and exposed guards.

For the most part the priority is staying alive, targets depend on the art form which is reflective of the period and the skill level of the class traditionally associated with the art.

Q. What if I'm interested in swordplay but want to do an art you don't teach?
A. We will try to find you a local club or school with some focus on the weapon or art you are interested in.

However for existing students we hope to encourage those with an academic bent to begin their own study and interpretation of the art while we will assist with mechanics and fundamental concepts.

Our eventual aim is to expand well beyond our present curriculum but any art we pick up requires an investment of time, money and effort on both the instructors part and a minimum number of attendees.

Q. How realistic is the swordplay that you would see on tv, movies or live performances ?
A. It's not
Sadly due the health and safety concerns and skills required to accurately portray historical forms of sword play you will not see it in modern performances as stage combat is designed around the safety of the practitioners and provides a poor and inaccurate representation of the art form.
This is much easier to show than explain and we use examples from these forms of media as teaching aids for what not to do.

Compare fight scenes from old Kung Fu movies to actual ma
rtial arts and this should give you an idea of the gulf between the two.


Q. Why is grappling important in swordplay ?

A. Grappling is fundamental to knightly sword arts and is included in the historical masters texts in everything from Medieval knightly arts through to Rapier and Small Sword.
Grappling includes everything from disarms and blade checking to kicks, punches, trips, throws, takedowns and even limited ground work techniques.

Any removal of grappling in a rule set means participants are no longer reconstructing a knightly art or in most cases can no longer be honestly said to be reconstructing a H.E.M.A system at all, but performing a modern fencing system with historical weapons, where should they find themselves with correct range or situation to apply grappling they must instead use something less functional.
This also allows practitioners to make use of faulty techniques and poor structure which would easily be compromised by someone with the skill and knowledge of the grappling applications within that art.

We do not debate the skill level of many modern practitioners when it comes to this form of modern fencing, we simply do not acknowledge it as H.E.M.A.

Compare this to pugilism for instance, historical pre-marquis of queensbury rules allowed for limited grappling above the belt, the modern sport of BkB does not.
Therefor the modern sport is more akin to modern boxing without gloves, rather than any attempt to reconstruct a H.E.M.A system of pugilism.

Our attendees are welcome to compete in any external rule sets they choose to but while participating in internal contests grappling will always be legal within systems that included it to ensure what we are doing is truly H.E.M.A and not a modern form of sports fencing. 


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