How to Get Into Hema


How to Get Into HEMA: A Beginner’s Guide

Historical European Martial Arts (HEMA) has gained popularity in recent years as people seek to explore and revive the martial arts practices of medieval and Renaissance Europe. If you are intrigued by the idea of wielding a sword, donning armor, and engaging in historical combat, getting into HEMA might be the perfect fit for you. Here is a beginner’s guide on how to embark on your HEMA journey.

1. Research and Understand HEMA

Before diving into HEMA, it is crucial to understand what it entails. HEMA encompasses a wide range of historical martial arts disciplines, such as longsword, rapier, and dagger. Take the time to research different HEMA systems, their historical context, and the associated weapons. This will help you choose the discipline that piques your interest the most.

2. Find a Local HEMA Club or School

Locating a HEMA club or school in your area is essential for proper training and guidance. Online forums, social media groups, or websites dedicated to HEMA can be excellent resources for discovering local clubs. Reach out to them, inquire about their training programs, and visit their training sessions to get a feel for the atmosphere and teaching style.

3. Start with Basic Gear

To participate in HEMA, you will need some essential protective gear. At the beginning, start with basic equipment like a fencing mask, gloves, and a throat protector. As you progress, you can invest in additional protective gear like a padded jacket, knee and elbow pads, and a fencing jacket or gambeson.

4. Seek Proper Training

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HEMA is a martial art that requires proper training and guidance to ensure your safety and progress. Joining a reputable club or school will grant you access to knowledgeable instructors who can teach you the necessary techniques, footwork, and sparring principles. Regular attendance and consistent practice are key to improving your skills.

5. Attend Workshops and Seminars

In addition to regular club training, attending workshops and seminars can provide valuable insights and expose you to different HEMA styles and instructors. These events often invite renowned HEMA practitioners as guest instructors, offering a unique opportunity to learn from the best in the field.

6. Engage in Sparring and Competitions

One of the most exciting aspects of HEMA is the opportunity to engage in sparring and compete against other practitioners. Once you have acquired the necessary skills and experience, participating in friendly sparring sessions within your club can enhance your understanding of the art. If you feel ready, consider joining local or regional competitions to test your skills against other HEMA enthusiasts.

7. Embrace the Community

HEMA has a vibrant and supportive community of practitioners. Engaging with this community can be highly beneficial to your journey. Attend HEMA events and gatherings, join online forums and social media groups, and connect with experienced practitioners. Sharing knowledge, receiving feedback, and discussing techniques with fellow enthusiasts will greatly enhance your growth and development in HEMA.


1. Is HEMA suitable for beginners?
Absolutely! HEMA welcomes beginners of all ages and fitness levels. It is a martial art that can be adapted to accommodate individual needs and capabilities.

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2. Do I need any previous martial arts experience to start HEMA?
No prior martial arts experience is required to start HEMA. The training and techniques are taught from the ground up, making it accessible to newcomers.

3. Is HEMA dangerous?
HEMA can be physically demanding and involves contact with weapons. However, with proper protective gear and training, the risk of injury is minimized. Safety is a top priority in HEMA clubs and schools.

4. How long does it take to become proficient in HEMA?
Becoming proficient in HEMA varies from person to person. Consistent training and practice will gradually improve your skills, but it may take several months or even years to reach a high level of proficiency.

5. Can I practice HEMA alone?
While some techniques can be practiced individually, HEMA is primarily a partner-based martial art. Training with others is crucial for learning proper timing, distance, and sparring techniques.

6. What weapons are commonly used in HEMA?
Longsword, rapier, dagger, and polearms are some of the most commonly practiced weapons in HEMA. However, there are numerous other weapons and disciplines to explore.

7. Can I participate in HEMA if I don’t want to compete?
Absolutely! Competition is not mandatory in HEMA. Many practitioners enjoy the art purely for its historical and recreational aspects, without ever participating in formal competitions.

In conclusion, getting into HEMA requires research, finding a local club, obtaining basic gear, seeking proper training, attending events, and engaging with the HEMA community. With dedication, practice, and a passion for historical martial arts, you can embark on an exciting and fulfilling journey in HEMA.

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