Keith Farrell and Colin Farrell
Keith and his brother Colin fencing with longswords during a demonstration at Glasgow University. Photo by Rene Bauer, 2012.

Historical European martial arts, often abbreviated to HEMA, are a fascinating set of martial arts. The fencing masters of medieval and renaissance Europe wrote textbooks on the subject of fencing with the different weapons of their days, and many of these printed books and handwritten manuscripts survive in libraries and museums around the world.

By reading these sources, we can reconstruct these old martial arts, which has led to the emergence of a community practising these arts worldwide. There are translators, researchers, and teachers; there are experts on body mechanics and physiology, there are historians and linguists; there are athletes and competitors and people who just want to play with swords. It is a wide and varied community, and everyone is welcome.