HEMA, which stands for Historical European Martial Arts, comprises martial arts that originated in Europe around the period of 1300 to 1800. Many have since died out and are now being revived. The primary historical "tool" associated with HEMA is the longsword, but the system also includes rapier, sword and buckler, rondel dagger, messer, ringen (grappling), saber, polearm, and even bayonet, among others.
Researchers in the 1980s began translating and reconstructing techniques from historical manuals, which were written and illustrated by European masters as early as the 1300s. These modern efforts have recreated centuries-old martial practices and contributed to the rapid growth of HEMA in the U.S., Europe, and around the world over the past few decades.
Modern HEMA continues to evolve as the community uncovers new historical materials, reinterprets existing ones, and modifies our practice of the martial art accordingly. With a little training, even newcomers to the sport can offer valuable new perspectives that alter our understanding or techniques. With decades of research and modern training creating a solid foundation, but new techniques still to be discovered or refined, it’s an exciting time to start HEMA!
Check out our FAQ for more about starting HEMA, classes, and gear.