Injuries in HEMA, like in any martial art or contact sport, are always possible. However, training injuries are relatively rare and are usually limited to bruises. We use blunted swords and protective gear (a full-face fencing mask, padded jacket, specially designed gloves, and often more) to minimize risk while training and sparring. At SCS, we also do our best to adjust our striking force and speed to the skill and comfort level of each student. Tournaments have a higher risk, with the most common issues being broken fingers, bruises, and knee or ankle injuries.
No. We use synthetic (plastic) or blunt steel swords for training and fighting. We only use sharp swords when practicing or competing in cutting.
General HEMA Questions
LARPing (Live Action Role Playing): LARPers dress in character, often including padded or foam swords and armor, then re-enact fantasy scenarios—a little like a real-life videogame. Some HEMA practitioners may dress in period clothing (this is personal preference), but HEMA is still a martial art recreated from historical manuscripts. By contrast, LARPers fight in any style they choose and enjoy the experience as a game rather than a martial art or sport.
Fencing: Like HEMA, fencing grew out of historical European sword fighting, but it has since developed as a sport instead of a martial art. While HEMA sparring rulesets treat strikes as life or death injuries and focus on defense during or immediately after attacks, fencing competitors can receive full points for hitting their opponent first even if they are hit themselves a moment later. Rules like this allow fencers to fight in ways that wouldn’t make martial sense in a real sword fight or, therefore, in HEMA. Additionally, fencing is limited to three disciplines, whereas HEMA encompasses dozens or hundreds.
They’re not as heavy as you may think. Modern swords are designed to replicate period ones as closely as possible, including their weight of about 2 to 4 pounds. This is similar to lifting a baseball bat, but with a sword’s balance placing most of the weight near your hands, the sword actually feels even lighter.
Anyone who can hold a sword and follow basic instructions can do HEMA. Kids’ classes typically start around 9 years old (with parent/guardian permission), and there’s no upper age limit for adult classes. We can also adapt our training to accommodate many disabilities.
Absolutely! SCS provides all the equipment you’ll need for our classes until you’re ready to start purchasing your own. Our instructors can also work with you regardless of your starting skill level. While previous martial arts or sports experience may help you progress faster at first, not having that experience means you won’t need to unlearn any habits.
Most classes start off with a physical warm-up followed by a longsword or other drill. The majority of the class time then focuses on the technique(s) being taught, ending with a free sparring session between students and/or instructors. Children’s classes also often incorporate some type of game that builds on the skills covered during the class. Besides normal training sessions, SCS also holds cutting classes and workshops taught by guest instructors.
SCS offer several different pricing options for Adults and Teens: Punchcard: $150 for 10 classes Monthly Membership: $100 per month Quarterly Membership: $250 per 3 months Private lessons, workshops, and events may be an additional charge. For more information and kids' pricing, see our Classes page.
It’s best to wear comfortable workout clothing with closed-toe shoes, and to bring a water bottle. If you have your own fencing mask or other HEMA gear, you’re welcome to use it. If not, no problem—we’ll provide everything you need in class.
Yes, we offer child-sized swords as well as protective gear in a range of sizes. We’re also happy to special-order gear to your specifications.
SoCal Swords is the exclusive U.S. distributor for BlackFencer. We also carry Ensifer (high-end Polish steel swords), Grommets Leathercraft (leather protective gear), Superior Fencing (protective gear), Absolute Fencing (fencing masks), Ochs and Plow (HEMA apparel), and more. We hand-select all of our products to ensure that they’re high quality, durable, and affordable.
All new swords and protective gear carry a warranty according to their manufacturer. BlackFencer and Superior Fencing products have a 1-year warranty against defects. If there’s an issue with your item, let us know and we’ll bring your case to the manufacturer.
For U.S. orders, our standard shipping is by USPS Priority Mail. Some oversized items may be shipped by USPS Ground or UPS Ground. For international orders, please select the appropriate shipping prompt and be aware that there may be an additional cost when we finalize the shipping. In general, your order will be shipped within 3 business days after we receive payment. Please keep in mind that we’re a small business and will ship your order as quickly as possible.
Depending on the item, you may be able to request faster shipping. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll do our best to meet your needs.
Unless otherwise noted, you may return a product for a full refund if the product is still in new condition and is sent back within two weeks of receiving it. SCS measures the two weeks from the time that you received your item (according to tracking) until the time that we receive your return tracking. If there was a problem with your order (for example, we sent you an incorrect item or the product was damaged), SCS will refund your purchase, credit your shipping cost, and pay for return shipping.
SCS regularly places orders with our manufacturers to restock our store. Many items are handcrafted and sourced from around the world, so it may take time for us to receive certain items. Sign up to be notified right away when a product becomes available by clicking the “Notify when available” button on the product page and entering your email or phone number.