Posts about Historical European Martial Arts (HEMA)

Our HEMA video picks playlist

Rapier and Dagger sparringIn our most recent HEMA class, I was asked for a playlist of good material. While Google and YouTube will give you an avalanche of material, the Internet is notoriously filled with garbage and it’s often difficult to know who has sound technical provenance and who is just making stuff up. What follows is my first draft playlist of material that I unashamedly mine for interpretation and occasional teaching material. …

Juniors and Adults Fencing for 2018

New for January 2018

Junior fencing sabreJuniors’ Introduction to Olympic Foil

Juniors’ fencing returns to Parklands Leisure centre:

  • Tuesdays, 5-6pm
  • Commencing Jan. 16th
  • Parklands Sports Hall
  • 4-week short course
  • Ages 8-14yrs
  • Equipment provided
  • £20
  • Contact: Robin Catling 07956 409818 or westdevonswords@gmail.com

Adults Introduction to Epée – the Spirit of the Duel!Hants epee final

  • Tuesdays, 7-8pm
  • Commencing Jan. 16th
  • Okehampton College Drama Studio
  • 4-week short course
  • Ages 15yrs+
  • Equipment provided
  • £20
  • Contact: Robin Catling 07956 409818 or westdevonswords@gmail.com

Historical SwordplayRapier and Dagger sparring

  • Thursdays 8-9.30pm
  • Re-commencing Jan. 11th
  • Okehampton Baptist Church
  • Continuing rapier, longsword, sword and buckler
  • Ages 16yrs+
  • Equipment provided
  • £6 per session
  • See more at westdevonswords.info
  • Contact: Robin Catling 07956 409818 or westdevonswords@gmail.com


Fiore’s longsword guards

By: Robin Catling.

Fiore longsword gaurdsFrom our Historical Swordplay class, our starting point is the twelve guard positions taken from Fiore’s treatise.

The four high, four middle and four low guards are:


1) Posta di Donna (guard of the lady)
2) Posti di Donna la soprana (High guard of the lady)
3) Posta di fenestra (Window Guard)
4) Posta di Donna la sinestra (Guard of the Lady on the left)


5) Posta Breve (Short Guard)
6) Posta Longa (Long Guard)
7) Posta Frontale (Front Guard)
8) Posta di Bicorne (Two-horned Guard)


9) Posta di Dente di cinghiale (Boar’s Tooth Guard)
10) Mezzo Porta di Ferro (Middle Iron Gate)
11) Tutta Porta di Ferro (Whole Iron Gate)
12) Posta di Coda Longa d’esteso (extended Long Tail Guard)

Florio’s Italian to English dictionary of 1611 translates:

Pulsare – to smite
Pulsativa therefore translates as something like ‘great smiting’.

Instabile – ‘fickle, wavering, unstable’
Stabile – ‘stable, firm, permanent, steadfast, fixed, immovable, durable’.


HEMA: Protective Gear

HEMA fighter in full sparring kitYou may be familiar with the all-white kit worn by sports fencers. Historical combat, however, demands greater protection against hits from heavier metal or nylon weapons.

HEMA clubs and competitions will each set their own standards for protective gear; the amount of protection worn in classes, and training sessions will also vary according to the intensity and the weapons used. …

HEMA: Safe conduct of classes

Catling and Pritchard practising sword and bucler at May Melee 2014Historical European Martial Arts (HEMA) is the serious study and live application of combat techniques from the early Medieval period, through the Renaissance, to the late Nineteenth century.

HEMA is not a fantasy activity like LARP (Live Action Role-playing), it is not historical re-enactment, nor is it choreographed stage fighting. It should be treated the same as other martial arts such as boxing, karate, ju-jitsu and the like. This means a constant and strict regard for the risk of injury, with appropriate steps (instruction, donning protective gear) to mitigate and minimise such risk. …