WHAT IS HEMA?
HEMA stands for Historical European Martial Arts. This broad umbrella spans a period between ca. 1300-1800, and is rooted in the written and illustrated teachings of various masters from many european nations. The traditions within that umbrella are a rich tapestry of weapon-sets and contexts.
In the late Middle ages and Early Renaissance (14th to 16th centuries) distinct German and Italian schools of thought were formalized from older regional martial arts styles in the thirteenth and fourteenth century and were written down by masters such as Johannes Liechtenauer and Fiore de’i Liberi. Later, in the early modern period (17th and 18th centuries) Spanish, French, English and Scottish schools of fencing appeared. Arts of the 19th century such as classical fencing, and even early hybrid styles such as Bartitsu may also be included in the term HEMA in a wider sense, as may traditional or folkloristic styles attested in the 19th and early 20th centuries, including forms of folk wrestling and traditional stick fighting methods. By the mid 20th century nearly all of these traditions had died out completely or had evolved into modern sport fencing.
In the late 1990’s and early 2000’s scans, translations and interpretations of historical fencing treatises became available and modern HEMA was born. Now there are clubs and groups across the world. Study tends to focus on the Medieval & Renaissance German Tradition of die Kunst des Fechtens (German: the Art of Fighting) and Italian tradition of L’Arte dell’Armizare (Italian: the Art of Arms), particularly on unarmored longsword fighting in a dueling context.