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.

Goliath Fechtbuch Folio


At True Edge Academy, we primarily study and practice the Liechtenauer, or German, tradition of the unarmored longsword combat. Sometime in the first half of the fifteenth century, Johannes Liechtenauer’s teachings were compiled into a poem of rhyming couplets called the Zettel, or, The Recital. This compilation was intentionally written with “obscure and disguised words” to prevent the uninitiated from understanding them. This core teaching was elaborated on by his students and later masters such as Sigmund Schining ain Ringeck, Peter von Danzig, and Jud lew who wrote extensive commentaries, or glosses, on The Recital. These glosses, and other treatises based on The Recital, such as Joachim Meyer’s Art of Combat, provide the main basis for our interpretations and curriculum for the longsword. 


Full-contact sparring is a fun and important part of learning the art of swordsmanship. It allows us to pressure test our interpretations and fence safely. We use historical blunt steel training swords called federschwert and modern protective gear to spar safely in class and in tournaments.


True Edge Academy of Swordsmanship is an affiliate group of the HEMA Alliance (HEMAA). The HEMA Alliance is an international non-profit martial arts federation dedicated to the study of Historical European Martial Arts. Comprised of dozens of independent martial arts schools and clubs throughout the world, the Alliance provides its affiliates with liability insurance, curriculum assistance, educational accreditation, and other services.

Wiktenauer is an online Wiki database dedicated to the masters, manuals, and techniques of Historical European Martial Arts. The Wiktenauer is an open-source service provided by the HEMA Alliance for its members and the general public.

Sword STEM is a website dedicated to applying scientific principles to the study of sword martial arts.

HEMA Scorecard is a free online tournament management software used to run and publish the results from HEMA tournaments.

HROARR is a HEMA community and resource site, which contains news and articles from across the international HEMA community.