About HEMA

HEMA (Historic European Martial Arts) is the reconstruction and study of the martial arts of European origin. These can arise from any period of history, from the earliest surviving technical source from the 14th century, through to WWI combatives manuals. The key element is that there is enough useful and viable technical evidence to allow the reoncstruction and interpretation of a fighting system. For example, we generally don't classify anything Viking era as HEMA - we simply don't have any technical material surviving from that period to say whether we'd be at all accurate in any asusmptions we then make about how the weapons were used. Some HEMA groups train a broad spectrum of disciplines, with classes ranging from 14th century sword and buckler, through 15th and 16th century longsword, 17th century rapier, to 18th and 19th century sabre and smallsword. At Medieval Combat Group we have made the decision to restrict ourselves mainly to sources from the 15th century that fall within what is often called the early Liechtenauer tradition, as such our classes generally deal with longsword and messer, with occasional forays into related material from sword & buckler, staff, dagger, or ringen to reinforce certain principles.

As technology and weaponry advanced in Europe from the medieval period onwards, old styles and weapons fell into disuse and were no longer taught. Unfortunately this means that there are no unbroken lines of teaching for the martial arts of Medieval and Rennaisance Europe, and all training must be performed using techniques reconstructed from the manuals which survive from the 14th to 18th centuries. Schools like Medieval Combat Group were formed as part of a growing attempt to revive these fighting styles, using modern protective equipment to allow the full range of techniques from the old Medieval sources to be applied.

The study of HEMA falls into three main categories, each reinforcing the other.

  • Martial Practice - Like any other martial art, HEMA training involves building skills from the basics up. At Medieval Combat Group we use solo and partnered drills and exercises to train correct technique, tactics and responses covering all aspects of the use of the longsword and messer, from entering the fight, through to ringen techniques (wrestling, locking and throwing) at close range.
  • Academic Study - HEMA would quite simply not exist without a study of the historical sources; the various texts left behind by masters and students of arms over the centuries are the basis for every technique practiced. Whilst it is entirely possible to train with us and learn the techniques in class and never touch any of the historical sources, the art stands where it is today because of constant referral and reappraisal of the historical sources, and we strongly encourage any students that are interested to look into them for themselves.
  • Tournaments - Whilst tournament rulesets never perfectly reflect the realities of combat that the period manuals address, they remain one of the best ways of pressure testing your skills by sparring against fresh opponents from different clubs and groups. For those interested in the competitive side of HEMA, Medieval Combat Group will be both attending and organising various tournaments and training events.