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Två män i modern skyddsutrustning som tränar kamp med dolk

What is HEMA?

HEMA is short for Historical European Martial Arts and refers to various traditions of european fighting styles.

HEMA is a collective name for the older European traditions of extinct or nearly extinct fighting forms that are documented from historical times. In this sense the word historical often refers to martial arts that originated before the year 1950. For a martial art to be included under the designation HEMA, there must be some kind of preserved source material that can be studied, interpreted and reconstructed. As an example it's

not possible to pick up a weapon and figure out how to fight with it yourself in order for it to be counted as HEMA.

Manuskriptbild ur MS Ludwig XV som visar de olika dygderna
Manuskriptbild ur walpurgis fechtbuch 1,33 som visar tekniker med svärd och bucklare.jpg

Today we have access to hundreds of different manuals and

manuscripts written by different fencing masters. Many of the older manuscripts contain descriptions of both individual techniques

and entire systems. In the various sources, one can see examples of

both unarmed combat and fighting styles with a variety of weapons

such as daggers, swords, spears and polearms. There's even descriptions of armored fighting and mounted combat. The various manuscripts

and manuals span through a period of about 660 years with the

oldest possible to study to a greater extent being Walpurgis Fechtbuch (MS I.33). It is dated to the early 14th century and describes how to

fight with a sword and a buckler (small shield).

Despite there being quite a few people who haven been practicing

HEMA for several decades already, there's no one who possesses a full knowledge of the entire martial art. It's an ongoing process and the various techniques are still open for interpretation. This is where we, the ones who practice the martial art today, are just as important in the development of HEMA as those who first began the work of recreating the various parts many years back.

Manuskriptbild från joachim meyer där två män med historiska kläder utför tekniker med långsvärd.jpg
Två medlemmar i modern hema sutrustning från sällskapet living hema norrköping sparras med långsvärd mot varandra

Over the years, HEMA has developed into the martial art that we see today. Modern protective equipment is used and swords are adapted to the requirements and standards of today to cause as little damage as possible. Within the sport, as previously mentioned, there are many different branches or weapon choices to make. If you are keen to compete, the longsword, rapier and saber as well as sword and buckler are valid at the moment, but in a lot of clubs it is possible to familiarize yourself with other parts of the manuscripts and other weapon classes during training such as dagger, spear and polearms just to name a few.

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