Starting a HEMA club on a tight budget

sparring with singlesticks
Stuart Beattie and Keith Farrell sparring with singlesticks at FightCamp 2018. Photo by Jonathan Spouge, 2018 (edited by Keith Farrell).

Many HEMA clubs have a very tight budget when starting out. This can make it quite difficult to get a club off the ground if you don’t have the spare money to invest in equipment, or if you aren’t sure that enough people will join for it to make sense financially.

However, there are some things that you can do to start a HEMA club on a tight budget! Of course, having a higher budget means you can perhaps skip straight to doing exactly what system you want, with exactly the equipment you want, in exactly the way you want; but even without having lots of spare cash, you can still get started quite easily.

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My goals for 2019

sparring with singlesticks
Keith Farrell and Thomas Sylvester sparring with singlesticks. Photo by Daria Izdebska, 2018.

Since the new year is upon us, I’d like to set myself some goals for 2019. I could do that quietly and privately, but I want to try and give myself a little public accountability, to make sure I actually get these things done!

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Is your art really “a killing art”?

Liverpool HEMA lesson
Ben and Marc performing an exercise during a lesson at Liverpool HEMA. Photo by Keith Farrell, 2018.

Back in September, Kaja Sadowski posted quite an interesting question to Facebook for discussion by her friends and colleagues:

Honest question for my HEMA friends: if you consider the totality of the sources you work from, to what extent is the art you practice really “a killing art”? 100%? 75%? 50%? Less?

Follow-up: what do we gain/lose by framing it exclusively (or primarily) as such?

This is an excellent question, and I’m grateful to Kaja for posing it and giving me the opportunity to consider my thoughts. I think it is a rather important question for practitioners of any martial art (especially those with swords) to ask themselves, so that our practice is framed properly and is placed firmly within its proper context, as best we can understand it.

What follows is an edited and improved version of my original response to her question on Facebook.

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Review: Stryker singlestick from Purpleheart Armoury

The Stryker singlestick by Purpleheart Armoury.

The Stryker singlestick is a rattan stick with a plastic basket for fencers who want to train with singlesticks. Leather baskets, although traditional, can be prohibitively expensive, and don’t always provide enough protection against impacts to the hands. Similarly, ash sticks are traditional, but require much more maintenance than rattan.

This singlestick from Purpleheart Armoury is a good solution. With a 3D printed plastic basket, it is easy to produce and keep in stock without the difficulties that come with working with leather: a good thing both for producers and for customers!

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