What is HEMA?

HEMA, or Historical European Martial Arts, is a broad term encompassing the movement to reconstruct Europe’s martial heritage by studying surviving sources, like fighting manuals and other literature, and then applying what we learn to non-cooperative sparring. HEMA can include anything from sword fighting, archery, daggers, wrestling, and even jousting. HEMA has a lively community of scholars constantly debating the historical sources, as well as being a thriving sport with dozens of tournaments and events held worldwide each year.

This recent video from the New York Times provides a good summary of the modern HEMA movement.

Where do you practice?

Please check our Classes page to see where your local club holds meetings.

Do you use real, sharp swords to fight with?

No. We do not use sharp swords for fighting, as this would make for a very short and unfortunate fencing career. We use a variety of blunted swords called wasters (plastic or wood) or feders (steel) in conjunction with protective gear made of a variety of materials.

When do you use sharp swords?

Sharps are used only for cutting practice, which is both fun and necessary for learning to apply the techniques we learn drilling and sparring to doing what a sword was designed to do–cutting something. Krieg School periodically holds cutting practices, and our primary targets are water jugs and soaked tatami mats. Check out our first cutting party here.

Is it safe?

As with any contact sport, if you spar, there is always a chance of injury. Bruises are fairly inevitable. However, we place a great emphasis on using proper safety equipment at all times while sparring.

Do you compete? Can I compete?

Krieg School instructors and students have competed in (and won!) national and international open tournaments all over the U.S. and in Europe since 2009. Krieg School students are always welcome and encouraged to compete in as many tournaments as they would like to. You can see our student achievements here.

Can I do HEMA if I’m young/old/fat/thin/male/female/etc?

Weapons are a great equalizer. You do not have to be a certain size,shape, or age to start studying HEMA. Krieg School’s students range in age from early 20’s to 60+. Any adult can pick up a sword and start learning HEMA. It’s a great workout, as well.

Do you have a children’s class?

No, neither of our clubs currently offer’s children’s classes. However if you are local to Boulder, CO you can contact Tom Matthews at swordcamp@gmail.com or check out Sword Camp to inquire about children’s longsword classes and summer adventure day camps.

How old do you have to be?

The Denver location’s classes are limited to 18+. Tampa classes are limited to 16+. Because HEMA is a contact activity, in order to engage in sparring, a student must be aged at least 16 years old (with a parent’s permission). Students aged 16-18 will be able to engage in limited sparring with an instructor or senior student using nylon wasters and dussacks only. Students 18+ may spar with nylon wasters, dussacks, and steel  once they have achieved a sufficient level of training to spar safely.

What gear do I need to bring to get started?

For your first class, just yourself! We have loaner masks, helmets, and wasters for first-timers. Ultimately for long-term practice a student will have to purchase at least a mask, a waster, and a good pair of gloves. In order to fully spar, a student must fulfill the required equipment list.

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