Historical European Martial Arts (HEMA) includes both living and recreated martial arts traditions that were born or defined in Europe. The martial arts that died out have been recreated using martial arts manuals that were written in the Middle Ages and onwards and which have been preserved in detailed manuscripts from the late medieval period.
HEMA involves both the study and practice of historical European fighting techniques. As a community, we are reviving the martial arts of old European masters.
In Eastern martial traditions, there are direct lineages of masters: present day masters learned from a master who learned from a master, etc. In Europe, many martial traditions disappeared or evolved into purely sporting forms (sport fencing, boxing, wrestling).
Many European masters left behind manuals, sometimes coded in poetry. The HEMA community has been discovering, translating, and interpreting these manuals to reconstruct these martial arts, so that what you are learning in HEMA isn't simply our interpretation from some old books alone, but the accumulated interpretation of historians, linguists, scholars, martial artists, and combat veterans who share a passion for Historical European Martial Arts.
For more information, we encourage you to visit the New to HEMA page at the HEMA Alliance.
If you're in Southern California and are interested in attending a class, we invite you to join us at our South Coast Swords School.
If you are not in Southern California, you can utilize the HEMA Alliance club finder page to visit the club nearest you.