How We Study

As in most martial arts, we consider skill and proper technique more important than any other trait. Consequently, beginner training is focused on developing muscle memory, coordination and awareness of the dynamics of the weapons involved, and your own body. More specific information about what’s involved in each portion of our training is described below, but the majority of HEMA practice consists of:

  • Footwork drills form a cornerstone of very early training.
  • Physical training is included at the intermediate level and above, but not enough to replace your own fitness regimen.
  • Individual movements, perfecting form in offensive and defensive motions.
  • Series of movements, such as in a cutting drill with the sword, to build coordination and flow between individual movements.
  • Drills with or without a partner that build awareness of positioning, distance, form, and body mechanics.
  • Plays, or a predetermined exchange between partners, applying a technique in a planned way.
  • Sequence drills, which combine plays in steps to build awareness of how techniques fit together and the decisions that can be made.
  • Slow sparring, where a very light sparring match is kept at low intensity to safely observe and learn.
  • Free play, or sparring, between two practitioners in appropriate protective gear, when they have developed sufficient control and technique.

A helpful analogy is that these arts can be taught as a language. Individual movements are the alphabet, plays are sentences, and free play is a dialogue.

i.33 Sword & Buckler

The i.33 manuscript is not attributed to any particular author, but many theorize that it was written by a secular priest in the 1320’s. German in origin, it depicts fencers fighting unarmored with sword and buckler.  It is the oldest treatise in common practice today, but also one of the most enduring, in that sword and buckler combat remained relevant among the common people for centuries afterword. It contains both pictures and mnemonic verses intended to aid in memorization, and it has proven one of the most robust and complete combat arts available to modern HEMA enthusiasts.

Armizare (Wrestling, Dagger, Longsword, Spear, Poleaxe)

More information on Fiore d’ei Liberi and his Armizare can be found here.

The Italian art of Armizare, as recorded in the treatise “Il Fior di Battaglia”, is a combat system written in Northern Italy in the 15th century, by Italian fencing master Fiore d’ei Liberi. This art is one of the most extensively studied among HEMA practitioners because there are several copies of the same handwritten manuscript in existence, with differences that allow cross-referencing, as well as a built-in code among the pictures that aids student in understanding what’s happening. It is also one of the most broad arts available, including material on unarmed, dagger, sword in one hand, sword in two hands, spear, poleaxe, and mounted combat techniques. As a true combat system, the techniques used with one weapon directly intertwine with the others, resulting in a versatile and adaptable martial artist.