GETTING STARTED ON YOUR JOURNEY
Historical European Martial Arts (HEMA) covers a lot of different weapon systems, source materials and eras. Because there is so much information involved it can be overwhelming for a beginner to figure out how to start learning. The material you need to learn is scattered around the internet and you generally don't know what to look for unless you already know it exists. This is one of the biggest hurdles for beginners to overcome.
This website is intended to help beginners locate this information about Historical European martial arts and how to get involved in this hobby. It has been organized to serve as a portal to other websites, video channels, books and equipment vendors, guiding a beginner on their journey into the world of HEMA.
By scrolling down and reading this page you will find all of the information you require to start your adventure.
CHOOSE A WEAPON
Generally a person's interest in Historical European martial arts begins with a desire to learn how to use a specific type of sword. This page has been designed to make it easier for a new person to quickly figure out the best way for them to find the information they are seeking.
Choose a weapon that you are interested in learning how to use by selecting an option below. This will lead you to learning about what kind of source material is available for this weapon.
Path of the Long Sword
Learn how to use a longsword, a type of weapon characterized as having a cruciform hilt with a grip for two-handed use. The long sword is a continuum of the medieval knightly sword (also called an arming sword) and is able to utilize the same techniques. This type of sword was prevalent during the late medieval and Renaissance periods.
The long sword is the most popular type of weapon studied by the HEMA community, with most clubs focused exclusively on it.
Path of the Rapier
Learn how to use a rapier, a type of sword with a slender and sharply-pointed two-edged blade that was popular in Western Europe, both for civilian use (dueling and self-defense) and as a military side arm, throughout the 16th and 17th centuries.
Path of the Smallsword
Learn how to use a smallsword, also known as a court sword. The small sword is a light one-handed sword designed for thrusting which evolved out of the longer and heavier rapier of the late Renaissance. The height of the small sword’s popularity was between mid 17th and late 18th century. It is thought to have appeared in France and spread quickly across the rest of Europe.
Path of the Sabre
Learn how to use a military sabre (also spelled as saber in American English).
The sabre is a type of backsword with a curved blade associated with the light cavalry of the early modern and Napoleonic periods. Originally associated with Central-Eastern European cavalry such as the Hussars, the sabre became widespread in Western Europe in the Thirty Years’ War. Lighter sabres also became popular with infantry of the late 17th century and in the 19th century models with less curving blades became common and were also used by heavy cavalry.
Path of the Sword and Buckler
Path of the Sword and Buckler
Learn how to use a sword and buckler, a small shield gripped in the fist with a central handle behind the boss. Bucklers have been used in Europe since antiquity, and were a common companion weapon in hand-to-hand combat during the Medieval and Renaissance periods. This page covers usage of arming sword and buckler, as well as sidesword and buckler from the Bolgonese tradition.
Path of the Great Sword
Learn how to use a Great sword, also known as a montante or zweihänder.
The Great sword developed from the long swords of the Late Middle Ages and became the hallmark weapon of the German Landsknechte from the time of Maximilian I (d. 1519) and during the Italian Wars of 1494–1559.
Path of the Cavalier
Horseback riding is an important aspect of the knightly arts of combat, as well as later cavalry traditions. In this section learn about mounted combat.
The Path Forward
There is much to learn. We've written some guides to provide useful information to help you on your journey.
FIND A CLUB
There are many study groups, clubs and schools around the world that provide instruction in Historical European martial arts. We have put together a list to assist newly interested people in locating a club near you.
Chat with Others
Community is important and one of the most critical things for the growth of Historical European martial arts. Our forums are new but as people join them we hope to host worthwhile conversations and advice from our community.
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