When to counterattack?

By Kristian Ruokonen

Counterattacks are a major part of Kunst des Fechtens, and one could even argue that they form the core of it.  However, we do not often see people execute them when fencing. I believe that this is because people don’t understand how they work and in which situations, and how one should set up one’s actions. (more…)


Who will be King in the North?

10570608_10152301042662843_151269730_nBy Matias Parmala

Next weekend, the epic final of the first Nordic Historical Fencing League tournament circuit will be fought in Bergen. Fencers from five countries will be fencing in the last leg of the first international HEMA tournament league ever to settle who is the foremost longsword fencer in Northern Europe.  (more…)

Results of the women’s tournament surveys

By Eliisa Keskinen

Below are selected results from the two-part women’s tournament survey conducted in the spring of 2014.
The raw data with the open text answers removed is available at here.

There were 92 responses in the first survey, and 104 in second. Respondents were located in 18 different countries. Most answers came from USA, United Kingdoms, The Netherlands and Sweden. (more…)

Why the weighted afterblow?

By Matias Parmala

Tournament rules get a lot of attention, and for good reason. While tournament prowess is not the only goal in HEMA, successful tournament strategies do influence the way people train, and thus the direction the movement as a whole takes. In this text, I wish to present some arguments in favour of the fully scored, weighted afterblow, and applying similar rules in double hit situations.

To begin with, I should state that I do not think using a tournament as a simulation of a swordfight is realistic. We have no way of knowing the damage each strike would do in reality, and the psychological situation is likely to be wildly different. Likewise, no reasonable modern ruleset can even begin to simulate the risk-reward profile of mortal combat. Hence, my premise in this post is that tournaments should be seen as a training game, designed to hone and test the skills of the participants. It can be a very open-ended and relatively high-stakes training game, sure, but fundamentally a game. (more…)

Women’s tournaments: Meaningful challenges

By Eliisa Keskinen
Author’s note: The following text is already published elsewhere , but I wanted to publish it also here. Many thanks to Matias Parmala who helped me editing the article. 

As long as I have been involved in competitive HEMA, the discussion on whether there is a need or if it is even ethical to hold women’s competitions has continued. I wish to bring up some of the practical reasons to have women’s tournaments, both for women’s sake and for HEMA’s popularity’s sake. I am aware that some people have ideological objections, but I will not discuss them here. I will also approach tournaments as an integral part of HEMA, and so will not directly discuss the more general reasons for or against tournaments.

It is often said that this is a martial art, and you should be able to fight anyone. However, tournaments are by nature an artificial game, not a fight, and that the best way to learn to fight anyone is not necessarily to fight everyone. If one sees tournaments as training, as many do, it is important that this training offers meaningful challenges (more…)