Session 1

12 week HEMA program



  1. Need to register on HEMA Alliance ($26/year): https://hemaa.tidyhq.com/public/membership_levels/YgTAVA
  2. Sign up for IFC HEMA Classes:
    – If you are not IFC member, please, click “JOIN” in menu and fill-up the registration form under “HEMA Study Group”
    – If you are IFC member please add the “HEMA Study Group Program” in your Basic Membership options.


–          Longsword (synthetic or metal). Club can provide a spare longsword.

Protection gear:

–          A pair of protective gloves (it can be lacrosse or ice hockey gloves)

–          Fencing mask. If you don’t have any, it can be provided by the club

–          Body protection gear (can be of lacrosse or ice hockey, but not required for beginning)


Price of HEMA Membership = $16 per month (< $4 per week), walk-in price = $5 per session

Bit of history:

–          Why do we know so much about Italian and German Fencing schools of medieval times but nothing about English and French? Because it was illegal to run a fencing school in the cities of England and France. However, Italian and German kingdoms had a rise of fencing master’s guilds and many nobles used to travel there to get an education.

–          European Martial Arts included a lot of wrestling with or without weapons.

–          Before learning Martial Arts, nobles were to learn languages, writing, arts, history, dancing, economics, and ethics. Also, they would exercise every day fully armored, train in archery and the care of horses.

–          There is no “correct” or “incorrect” historical fencing, there is only “what works best for you.”

What is HEMA?

Many people are surprised to learn that Europe had complex martial arts systems. Historical European martial arts (HEMA), also known as western martial arts (WMA), is the study and practice of Europe’s indigenous hand-to-hand combat. Historical fencing refers to that part of HEMA where the use of swords and longer weapons is taught.

Some of the European arts are continuous living traditions, while most have died as continuously-taught lineages (some evolved into sports, like modern boxing or sport fencing). Luckily, many of the old masters wrote detailed books about their fighting arts, and some of these have survived. We use these books and our experience as martial artists/fencers, with pressure-testing, to breathe life back into the old arts. The end results are martial arts systems that can stand up against any other.
HEMA is growing fast.

HEMA brings a lot to the world of martial arts and offers students a very broad range of weapons and styles that have distinct regional differences, from the Scandinavian/Viking Ulfberht sword, to the Spanish rapier, the French small sword, the German longsword, the Scottish backsword, and the English sabre.

Lessons structure:

–          Basic warm-up – 10 minutes

–          Game warm-ups – 10 minutes

–          Learning workout – 1 hour:

  • During workouts we will have 1 or 2 five-minute physical exercises (variety of sit-ups, planks, pushups etc.)

–          Drills or sparring – 20 minutes

–          Analyzing your training day (20 minutes):

  • Working on mistakes, sharing ideas, questions and answers etc.
  • What my “homework” should be in order to be ready for next lesson?

Lesson 1:

–          Safety and responsibilities: let’s build a safe HEMA group culture!:

  • Importance or the mask and gloves.
  • Control of your strikes.
  • Don’t hit the back of the head.
  • Be careful around the neck and hands of your partner.
  • Be watchful: point out to your partner about thumb position, mask absence, etc.

–          Equipment: minimum and fundamental

–          Understanding yourself: how to be successful:

  • Learn to breathe correctly.
  • Need some rest? Keep moving!
  • Got hurt or feel pain (noncontact)? What to do tips.
  • Develop your physical capabilities.
  • Recognize your age, height and weight.

–          Understanding the longsword:

  • What can you do with it?
  • What type of people used it throughout history?
  • Why do we learn longsword but not katana, for example:
    • Length, reach, cross guard and grip.
    • Defense and offense.
    • Cutting, thrusting and other techniques.
    • Left or right hand?

–          Grips and strikes: hard or soft?

–          Stances/guards:

  • Learn to relax: how to control your own body?
  • Changing stances & maneuvering. Pay attention to the position of the thumb and sword.
  • Shifting weight.
  • Primary postures: Tag, Ochs, Pflug & Alber and switching between them.

Lesson 2:

–          Basic attacks:

  • Slicing vs. cutting.
  • Stabbing and thrust.
  • Striking with guard and pummel.

–          Secondary postures: Zornhut, Langort, Nebenhut & Wechsel and attacks.

–          Understanding pros and cons of each posture and attack.

–          Work on sparring: what is the target?

–          Homework: 6 cuts.

Lesson 3:

–          Secondary postures: Schlüssel, Einhorn, Eisenport & Hengetort.

–          Understanding the flow of relationships between postures/guards.

–          In depth: attack movements:

  • Binding.
  • Pushing through.

–          Basic defense movements:

  • Parry – repost.
  • Avoiding and sliding.

–          Working on sparring: pick your best start position and stick to it.

–          Homework: Flow drills.

Lesson 4:

–          How to move? Retreating, following, threatening, and walking around the opponent:

  • Recognizing opponent’s “character of play.”
  • Adopting to opponent’s plan or imposing your own game.

–          In depth: learn to relax during combat.

–          Work on sparring: recognizing opponent’s movements.

Lesson 5:

–          In depth: defense and attack tactics – changing between defensive and offensive movements.

–          How and what to exercise at home or in the gym?

–          Working on sparring: let’s try to confuse your opponent.

Lesson 6:

–          Basics of wrestling:

  • Understanding body balance.
  • Throwing and falling.
  • How to grab your opponent’s sword and not to lose yours.
  • Closeup situations for short and tall people.
  • Common mistakes and the best way to work around them.

–          In depth:

  • Understanding one-to-one battle vs wall-to-wall battles.
  • Understanding difference between types of swords and weapons in a duel.
  • Studying your opponent’s preferences.
  • Setting up traps and luring based on your opponent’s preferences.

Lesson 7:

–          In depth: defense:

  • Defense against low attacks.
  • Defense against thrust attacks.
  • Defense against “vertical” and “horizontal” types of attacks.
  • Luring your opponent into making a certain type of attack.
  • Parrying and covering with a blade.
  • Understanding distance.

 Lesson 8:

–          In depth: offence:

  • Blocking: sliding, pushing, and bouncing blocks.
  • Exploring opportunities during sparring.
  • Second intention and multiple attacks.
  • Tempo and distance.

–          Drills: Exercises in maneuvering.

Lesson 9:

–          Using the longsword against different type of weapons, let’s learn to deal with them:

  • Vs. Polearm.
  • Vs. Rapier.
  • Vs. Sword and shield.

Lesson 10:

–          Disarming tactics: understanding the weaknesses of your arms’ grips:

  • By striking and pushing.
  • By binding.
  • By locking.
  • Using both hands (drop your sword and gain control over the opponent’s weapon).

–          Understanding hand contact: “follow me” game:

  • Watching your opponent.
  • Looking away – feel it!
  • Looking at third person – teach your body to respond automatically.

–          Before and after position:

  • You’ve got an opponent’s weapon, don’t let him/her to get it back:
    • Clinches and locks.
    • Throwing.
  • Your opponent gets you sword, should you give up?:
    • Grab from behind techniques.
    • Using your body weight.
    • Trapping and other wrestling moves.
  • Changing your grip to avoid losing your sword.

Lesson 11:

–          Tournaments:

  • Rules and equipment: which one to participate in?
  • How to prepare for specific tournaments?
  • “Contact” or “noncontact” sparring.
  • Drills based on HEMA rules.

Lesson 12:

–          Reenactment of the sword fight:

  • Principles behind “staged” sword fighting.
  • What excites you:
    • Theatrical fencing (inside):
      • Dealing with small spaces.
      • Stairs and tables.
      • Making a video/movie (outside):
        • Obstacles on the ground.
        • Trees and buildings.