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An Introduction to HEMA

Historical European Martial Arts (or HEMA) describes a broad category martial arts ranging from Victorian bare-knuckle boxing and Nordic folk wrestling, to Spanish rapier and French poleaxe fighting. While many of these traditions either died out over time or slowly morphed into more purely athletic pursuits (such as modern Olympic style fencing), we are fortunate that many of the historical masters of these arts recorded their knowledge in manuals.  In the latter half of the 20th century, scholars and martial artists from around the world began methodically studying these manuals to rebuild those once lost martial traditions. What they tended to find were not simple lists of dirty tricks and favorite techniques, but rather exquisitely thought out and brutally efficient martial systems. Understanding of these rekindled martial arts spread with the advent of the internet, resulting in the rich global community HEMA enjoys today.  These arts are now studied by tens of thousands of practitioners around the world, with ever growing popularity.

Of all the styles studied today, the most popular are arguably the ones dealing with the Longsword, a straight-bladed two-handed sword popular throughout Europe from the 14th to the 17th century. Here at DSHF, we primarily study what is commonly referred to as "German Longsword", or the Kunst des Fechtens (KdF, literally the "Fighting Arts") of Grandmaster Johannes Liechtenauer. Liechtenauer is thought to have lived in the mid-1300s, a period in which he formulated a system of fighting so effective that it would dominate the fencing schools of the continent for the next 250 years.  

In our study of KdF, we aim to practice and understand these historical techniques through the application of modern training paradigms.  To learn more about our approach and philosophy, please click the link below.

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