What is HEMA?
Historical European Martial Arts is a broad term - it encompasses any fighting, fencing or grappling arts developed in Europe, originating anywhere from 1200-1800.
HEMA typically focuses on arts documented in manuscripts/manuals. This is because it is virtually impossible to reconstruct a martial art without any documentation. It's hard enough reconstructing one with a detailed manuscript.
Fencing culture and other martial arts were deeply embedded into european life - these were not the slow, clunky brutes you see in movies. They were artful, graceful, and deadly.
How did HEMA start?
Previously, fightbooks/fencing manuals were kept mostly in private collections - objects to be admired, but not to be studied. Eventually these books were translated, and once you have that - hey, why not try out a few moves?
HEMA exploded at the dawn of the internet - finally manuscripts could be scanned and shared, and translation efforts could be shared across countries.
Skill levels began to increase as fencing knowledge increased. Some took parts from sport fencing to give context to historical manuals, others still looked to eastern arts for analogous but living fencing/martial systems.
Where is HEMA Now?
HEMA as been growing at a face pace, especially the past 3 years. This is due to increased media coverage, and the growing trend of fantasy fiction in pop culture.
Tournaments, and their appeal, have also played a key role in growing HEMA. Being able to test your skill against a non-compliant opponent isn't just critical to being a good martial artist...it's also fun as hell.
Where is HEMA Going?
HEMA has become an official sport & martial art all across Europe, and is recognized by many existing modern fencing organizations. Most clubs in the USA are seeing triple digit growth, and our tournaments are regularly seeing 100-300 participants from all across the world.
HEMA is now starting to see full-time fencing & martial arts schools popping up all over the world. Finally, you can call yourself a real sword fighter.