What does Fechtkunst mean? It sounds kind of rude!
Fechtkunst is simply the German word for the ‘Art of Fencing’ or ‘swordsmanship’. It was chosen as our focus is on historical sources from, what is now, Germany.
What is HEMA/WMA?
Historical European Martial Arts is a subset of Western Martial Arts- Martial arts that have originated in Europe and related cultures (as opposed to Asia and Eastern Martial Arts, for example). The ‘historical’ part relates to the fact that many of these arts are recreated and interpreted through the combination of historical document study (commonly known as ‘fightbooks’), artefacts (such as period swords) and a knowledge of biomechanics. This does not mean they are any less effective than modern martial arts, just that their given context is no longer relevant to today’s society and are thus not appropriate as primary means of self defence or warfighting (e.g. we no longer carry swords around). Fechtkunst focuses on the martial arts of latter medieval Germany.
Why study old books to learn how to fight?
Many authors of these books were professional fencing masters, witnessing and participating in, mortal duels and battle. They knew what worked and what didn’t- their lives and livelihoods depended on it. These books are our only link to these fighting systems, as there is no longer a living lineage to teach them. As such, we only have our interpretations of these systems today. We have, however, found these interpretations to be the most effective in pressure testing with historical weaponry, compared to systems created with no historical backing. Furthermore, many of us enjoy the research aspect these old manuals provide.
Are Asian Martial Arts better?
No. European and Asian martial arts are just as effective as each other for their given contexts.
Aren’t medieval swords really heavy?
No, this is a common misconception. The weight of a medieval sword depends on the type, but the ‘longsword’ type primarily used by Fechtkunst weighs between 1.2-1.5 kg. Good medieval swords were well balanced and expertly crafted.
Are there modern applications for HEMA?
Whilst aspects of HEMA can be used for self defence, it is primarily a hobby done for fun. Our chosen systems are meant for a context of their respective medieval society. As such, many techniques are not appropriate in a modern context, both legally and practically. HEMA would certainly complement any modern self defence study, as many principals of fighting are timeless. But, we primarily practice HEMA for fun. It is also a great way to stay in shape and meet new friends.
What equipment do I need?
At first, you just need yourself. If you have a pair of gloves, then bring them. Eventually you will want at least a fencing mask, padded gloves, jacket and sword. Please contact us before buying any equipment if you are new to HEMA- not all equipment on sale is up to scratch and safety is paramount.
What systems do you study?
We primarily study unarmoured Longsword, and branch out into Messer (single hand sword), dagger, wrestling, spear (armoured), pole-axe (armoured) and sword and buckler from the Liechtenauer tradition.