What are Historical European Martial Arts?

Historical European Martial Arts (also known as HEMA) are the martial arts that were practiced in Europe in the past. Throughout European history, many fighting and fencing styles developed, adapted to the weapons, armour and fashion of their time. These styles, ranging from unarmed grappling to fencing with the pike, both in and out of armour, have been preserved in treatises written by fencing masters from the 14th century onwards.

While in the 20th century, Asian martial arts have become well known in the western world, their indigenous counter parts have been almost forgotten. Since the 1990's, however, research has been ongoing into rediscovering the Western martial arts through the interpretation fighting and fencing treatises written by historical masters. Uniquely, this approach allows us not only to revive the martial arts of the past, but also to study how these arts evolved in time. Our ongoing research has shown that the European fighting styles were just as varied, and both as complex and as deceptively simple as martial arts styles from Asia.