Although it sometimes seems like a controversial idea for many people, I believe firmly that different HEMA systems are in fact quite different from each other, and that the differences are more important than the similarities.
If our focus is trying to recreate historical martial arts, then we must follow the source material and not just make stuff up. This means learning to fence within the parameters of the system we study – which might, in turn, mean that we have to avoid pulling in too many ideas from elsewhere, as these may deviate us quite far from the intent of the original sources.
As I have developed my thoughts on the matter, I have written a number of articles about different aspects of systems and how they apply to our study and teaching of historical fencing. On this page, I have collected all these various articles about systems, so that they can all be found neatly in one place.
I have also written a summary of my philosophy for training and teaching, that I plan to keep updated and relevant as I write further articles on more topics. It is probably worth reading, as well as the following individual articles.
2013 video presentation: “Style” in HEMA
HEMA – A Systematic Approach (guest article by Nial Prince)
The importance of observing details
Tricks and systems
Some thoughts about tricks and systems in HEMA
More thoughts about tricks and systems (in real life too!)
Good fencing, bad fencing, and incorrect fencing
The problem of attribute fencing
Age of the source and intent of the activity
How old does something have to be to consider it HEMA?
Modern fencing, classical fencing, and historical fencing
Comparing different systems
A framework for describing and comparing systems of martial arts
Thinking about your system’s doctrine
The basic strikes of different longsword systems
Feinting with the longsword, according to Ringeck
How to start training 16th century Germanic common fencing
Curved Swords and “Polish Sabre”
What sabre system should you study?
Questioning the masters and sources
When can we question the masters?