Historical Fencing, a.k.a. Historical European Martial Arts

Our Historical Fencing programme sees qualified instructors teaching the historical European martial arts. Many people believe that "martial arts" are mystical fighting traditions from the far east, yet Europe has just as rich and well developed a martial background as any of the eastern countries, if not more so. Anyone who believes that martial arts are a purely eastern phenomenon is sadly unaware of the rich heritage of martial traditions found in countries outside the Orient.

The medieval European martial arts were recorded in manuscripts, carefully written and often illustrated, preserved over the centuries in museums and libraries across the world. From these fighting manuscripts our members research, practice and revive the skills, concepts and fighting styles. In later centuries, manuals were printed with more specific information about how to wield the renaissance and Victorian era weapons, and again these are studied and practiced by our members. Across the world there is a growing interest in the various European martial arts, and in several areas, the Academy of Historical Arts is recognised as a major contributor to the international community.

What do people learn from this programme?

Participants become fitter and healthier, coordination and balance are improved, and people learn important life skills such as tolerance, patience and self-discipline. There are also hidden benefits, such as improvements in language skills (translating from medieval texts, for example), learning about historical contexts and evaluation of a source's reliability (does any one manuscript hold the key to a martial art or might the author have been biased?), improving social and interpersonal skills (social bonding happens quickly over sword-point!) and one's ability to act as a coach and mentor to other people. For these reasons, this programme is very beneficial to society and to all of its participants.

Further information

For further information about the disciplines and systems studied in this programme, please see our disciplines page.