The Many Arts of HEMA

The many arts of HEMA are known by a lot of martial arts practitioners and these individuals engage in training and practice to perfect the art’s techniques. HEMA stands for Historical European Martial Arts and specifically, this means that HEMA is the study, as well as the practice of the many historical European fighting forms and techniques that were traditionally taught and practiced in countless European countries and its colonies.

HEMA is generally a broad term that comprises of a variety of combat arts that were heavily practiced by the European cultures that somehow occurred around the thirteenth to the eighteenth centuries. It was common for source material and HEMA training to involve the utilization of one or more hand to hand weapons: from daggers to the poleaxes, as well as different forms of wrestling. When it comes to Western Martial Arts – or more commonly referred to as WMA – the term can also be applied to numerous HEMA practices but involves a broader and highly extensive range of sources that have been recorded throughout history.

Techniques of the Many Arts of HEMA

These techniques of the many arts of HEMA include but are not limited to the following:

  • Unarmored combat utilizing a variety of weapons such as the rapier, longsword, sword & shield, polearms, the dagger, and a lot more.
  • Armored combat while utilizing a variety of weapons
  • Mounted combat – both armored and unarmored – mainly utilizing the lance and the sword.
  • Unarmed combat that includes grappling, wrestling, and punching.

Unlike other forms of martial arts that are known to have living traditions, HEMA is mainly focused on the study of the numerous surviving manuscripts, books, and records that were written a long time ago in history – all coming from the ancient European masters of wrestling and fencing. HEMA has been continuously practiced systematically since the middle of the year 1990 although numerous attempts at reconstructing and developing this have already occurred as early as the Victorian era.

The European fighting arts have continued to evolve and develop throughout history where each of the periods has their own flavor and focus:

Medieval Period

The medieval period specifically focused on the use of the longsword as every practitioner followed the teachings of notable masters such as Fiore dei Liberi and Johannes Liechtenauer.

Renaissance Period

For the renaissance period, it focused mainly on using the rapier systems that were present during the late sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.

The Espada Ropera - An Introduction to the Rapier

The Early Modern Period

The early modern period focused primarily on weapons such as the military saber systems, small swords, as well as the stick-fighting systems.

The Many Arts of HEMA

Here is a list of the many arts of HEMA that a lot of individuals have learned and practiced:

The Baroque Style

The Baroque Style was focused on during the said period and arts such as wrestling became one of the most popular among the upper class – today, however, it is a sporting activity that is seen as being rustic and unrefined. Fencing has also been practiced and the styles for this martial art required every practitioner to conform to all the contemporary ideals of harmony and elegance.

Rococo Style

The Rococo Style was practiced during the eighteenth century and practitioners commonly utilized the small sword then later, the foil was used for practice and duels.

Modern Sports

Modern sports came into being throughout the course of the nineteenth century where Western martial arts were eventually categorized into modern sports and applications that retained any form of military significance. In the latter group, such methods include close quarter battle using the bayonet aside from the utilization of the lance and saber.