Frequently Asked Questions

- What is it that you do?
- Why do you do that?
- Is that not dangerous?
- Do you do LARP (live action role play)?
- Do you do historical re-enactment?
- What is HEMA?
- Do you do full contact armoured combat?
- What is the difference between LARP and re-enactment?
- Why is HEMA different from LARP or re-enactment?
- Do martial arts not come from the far eastern countries like China and Japan?
- How can I join your group?
- What if there are no groups close to where I live?
- How do I set up my own group within the Academy?
- I would like to join your organisation, but I have no experience with this sort of thing; is this going to be a problem?
- I would like to join your organisation, and I have had a lot of previous experience in martial arts and/or re-enactment. Can I skip some of the basic steps of training?
- What makes your instructors qualified to teach?


What is it that you do?

We teach a number of different styles of indigenous European martial arts, and we also teach a vast array of different traditional crafting skills from throughout the centuries in Europe.


Why do you do that?

We find it very interesting to learn about the how people actually fought in Europe in centuries past, and also why these fighting styles developed as they did. For example, the advent of plate armour caused people to use their weapons in a different way to defeat the armour and also heralded a change in the design of weapons. The knowledge of crafting skills is important to help us understand the historical context of the fighting styles. Above all, we find this to be a very enjoyable and challenging hobby!


Is that not dangerous?

Not any more than any other martial art. In fact, our members generally suffer fewer injuries than members of many football and rugby teams, so HEMA is one of the safer contact hobbies!


Do you do LARP (live action role play)?

No. We do not role play in this group, we do our best to study the historical arts seriously and develop the Academy's reputation as a serious research and teaching institution.


Do you do historical re-enactment?

No. We are not a historical re-enactment group, we do not dress in historical clothing, nor do we exist for the purpose of putting on public demonstrations. We study historical arts for our own personal interest and enjoyment, and we tend to prefer to do so without an audience.


What is HEMA?

HEMA is an acronym for Historical European Martial Arts. These are fighting styles that involve a range of different weapons such as longsword, dagger, quarterstaff, spear or backsword. For a visual answer to this question, please look at the following Encased in Steel article: An Updated Visual Definition of HEMA


Do you do full contact armoured combat?

Not really, and certainly not in the same fashion as the SCA or Battle of the Nations.


What is the different between LARP and re-enactment?

LARP is live action role play, where people dress up in fantasy clothing and role play adventures that are often against monsters such as orcs or goblins. LARPers fight with foam weapons and have excessively restricting rules on how combat can be fought.

Historical re-enactment is where groups of re-enactors dress in historically accurate and authentic clothing and put on public demonstrations of historical fighting and various forms of living history, usually in a period encampment of tents. However, a lot of re-enactment is about showmanship and stage combat, and the two main goals of a re-enactor are to acquire fully authentic style clothing and to try to educate members of the public about historical life through the medium of shows and public demonstrations.


Why is HEMA different from LARP or re-enactment?

HEMA is about the Historical European Martial Arts, where people meet in clubs and practice the indigenous martial traditions of Europe. HEMA practitioners research their fighting styles from the medieval manuscripts and early modern manuals that have survived in museums and collections across the world, and are in the process of reconstructing the fighting styles from the information we have available to us. This is often a much more academic discipline than re-enactment (although there are some superb re-enactment academics) and we seek to be as realistic as possible with our combat. For this reason (along with many others), HEMA is completely different from LARP.


Don't martial arts only come from the far eastern countries like China and Japan?

No. Every country in the world has either developed its own martial art at some point in history or has adopted and modified another martial art for its own purposes. A martial art is just a fighting system, there is nothing mystical about it. If the only weapons available are short sticks then a fighting style like the Filipino system of escrima may be developed; if the only weapons available are axes then a fighting style similar to that of the Vikings may be developed; if the only weapons available are halberds then a fighting style similar to that of the European system described in the manuscript Le Jeu de la Hache may be developed. If you believe that martial arts are a purely eastern phenomenon, then it is time to find out about the rich heritage of martial traditions found in countries outside the Orient.


How can I join your group?

Please have a look at our Join Us page.


What if there are no groups close to where I live?

Then please contact us by email and we will be more than happy to offer advice on how to get started. Alternatively we can provide advice and help if you want to set up your own group where you live and affiliate it to the Academy of Historical Arts.


How do I set up my own group within the Academy?

The Academy is currently in the process of developing teaching aids and information packs so that people in more remote regions can set up a new group and use "long distance learning" until an Academy instructor can make some kind of visit. If you would like more information then please contact us by email and we will be happy to answer any questions you have.


I would like to join your organisation, but I have no experience with this sort of thing; is this going to be a problem?

Not at all. We are used to teaching people who have never held a sword before or who have never tried any sort of fighting style before. All you need is a willingness to learn and you will be more than welcome in our organisation.


I would like to join your organisation, and I have had a lot of previous experience in martial arts and/or re-enactment. Can I skip some of the basic steps of training?

No. For safety reasons we find it imperative that every single member of the organisation goes through our whole training system; we do not offer shortcuts to anybody. All of the instructors and founding members of the organisation started at the most basic level, even though some joined the organisation with years of experience - this has led to a group of instructors who are familiar with our own training system and who do not expect students to undertake tasks that the instructors themselves have not undertaken. By not offering any shortcuts in training we can ensure a high standard of skill and control in all of our members.


What makes your instructors qualified to teach?

Please see our instructors page for more information about this.