To ensure a safe and fair learning experience for everyone, there are three tracks for participation.  Each level of participation requires a higher level of protection for fencers.  They are as follows: drilling/general learning (‘drilling only’), fencing with plastic swords (‘class ready’), fencing with steel swords (‘tournament ready’):

Drilling only‘ requirements:
Athletic clothing and shoes

‘Class ready’ requirements:
Gloves (preferably with hard shell protection over the fingers)
Elbow guards
Knee guards
Athletic cup for men

‘Tournament ready’ requirements:
Fencing jacket designed for HEMA or otherwise suitable puncture resistant jacket with padding
HEMA-specific gloves (lacrosse gloves will not pass in most cases)
Elbow guards
Knee guards
Athletic cup for men and plastron for women
Mask with back of the head protection
Rigid throat protection (gorget)

Participation in HEMA intrinsically involves being hit by another person; no one starts out as a guru. It is therefore the school’s recommendation to buy the best gear available to limit potential injuries which can occur in fencing. The most common sparring injury occurs on the hands. Therefore, any gloves purchased will be a direct reflection of how likely a hand injury may occur. Cheaper non-HEMA specific gloves are not as protective, unless sufficiently modified. That being said, no glove or protective equipment in general can completely prevent injuries. Participation in non-cooperative fencing is willful knowledgement and acceptance that injuries may occur as a direct result of willing participation. All beginning students therefore can only fence with senior instructors to limit risk to both you and other students.  The ability to fence with other students will be determined by the instructors on a case by case basis.

Because of the high costs of training equipment, we do have some loaner gear available.

1) Training weapon: It is strongly recommended each student purchase their own sword for use in class and at home. Purpleheart’s plastic swords are the most economical option (~$115) for beginning students to you intend to start fencing. Experienced students primarily use steel swords, but they are too expensive (~$300) for most beginners. (To see recommended tournament feders, see below.)

Recommended Nylon Trainers:

Purpleheart Synthetic Longsword Type III w/schildt ($115) 



Blackfencer Longsword Feder ($93.00)

We spar with all of these, but we begin with the white longswords below:

2) Torso protection

‘Drilling only’ – Not required

‘Class ready’ – Motocross armor generally comes with elbow protection is will be considered as suitable for sparring with plastic swords. No jacket is required if other requirements are met, however.

‘Tournament ready’ – The jacket must be puncture-resistant. There are several brands which sell HEMA-specific jackets.

The most recommended jacket is the SPES Axel Pettersson Jacket ($239/$310.70 for a custom fit). There is also a Ladies’ AP Jacket available. 

Other suitable HEMA specific jackets are carried at the following sites:
Absolute Force International

Others are subject to Instructor review.  Individuals wearing motorcycle armor will be restricted from using steel weapons due to inefficient puncture resistance.

3) Hard elbow pads

Recommended: SPES Elbow Guards ($24.70):

Acceptable: Roller blade/stake board pads with hard plastic plates

4) Hard knee pads

Recommended: Preferred: Knee Pro III ($29.95) or other well-articulated knee protection that fully protects the knee cap.

Acceptable: Roller blade/stake board pads with hard plastic plates


5) Mask

Recommended: Absolute Force HEMA Mask with Back of Head Protector ($109.99 – $105 including shipping if you order through the club through our wholesaler discount. Contact us if you want to order one directly from the club.) 


NOTE: Leon Paul masks of any type are NOT recommended for HEMA or acceptable as club masks. We’ve seen too many cave and cause concussions/head injuries at tournaments. 

6) Padded gloves – Because gloves are expensive and choosing what type you want is a highly personal decision, we recommend trying the different loaner gloves we have available in the club before purchasing a pair of tournament ready gloves. 

‘Class ready’ example: Lacrosse Gloves (with modifications)

‘Tournament ready’:
Black Lance HEMA gloves ($175 for non-custom/$225 for custom)  NOTE -NOT CURRENTLY IN PRODUCTION
Sparring Gloves (€150-180 – conversion rates may vary)
SPES HEMA Gloves ($199.00)

7) Leg protection – Fencing knickers and hard shin guards are recommended but not required for fighting with steel. 

Recommended: SPES Historical Fencing Pants ($134.00/$174.00 custom fit):\



8) For men, a cup.

We don’t care what brand, but you must have a hard shell cup.

9) For women, a chest protector is recommended but not required. 

10) Throat protection – Gorget – required for steel sparring.  

Recommended: PBT Throat Protector ($68.00) 


Acceptable: Absolute Force Neck Protector  ($26.00) Not recommended if you have a short or small neck, as it is rather tall and stiff.

11) Feders – Steel Training Weapons 

Below are a list of steel feders of good quality that are generally accepted at larger BYOS (‘Bring Your Own Sword) HEMA tournaments, as well as being acceptable for steel sparring in the club. 

Regenyei Feder ($320 + S/H) 

Ensifer Long/Heavy ($480 + S/H) 



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