Documentary Takes Sword Fighting Back To The Source

October 27, 2015 by dracs

I don’t think there is a person here on this site who can say they don’t love a good sword fight. Unfortunately, many of the historical fighting forms have been lost, but a group has been working to bring them back and put them into practice, a process that can now be seen in the new documentary Back to the Source.

Longsword

HEMA (Historical European Martial Arts) is a worldwide society that focuses upon the historical research of ancient European fighting techniques.

Sword fighting, as well as other forms of weapons and unarmed combat, have always had a great deal of cultural significance and so there is a wealth of primary source material on the subject. HEMA researches these in order to rediscover these fighting techniques.

Medieval Fighting Text

They then put these techniques into practice, training with the different weapons forms. The good thing about this is that both manuscript work and training form a part of the research, with one informing the other.

Armoured Hand

The end result is that HEMA are once again able to bring these lost fighting forms to light, finding out more about ancient martial arts through their implementation and looking rather cool while they do so.

Knight Fight

The upshot of this is that HEMA are engaged in very much a living field of study, developing their martial arts as new techniques are unearthed or are even proven wrong.

While most HEMA groups reportedly focus upon the longsword, members can focus on a wide range of time periods and weapons forms. This can range from Gladiatorial combat…

Gladiator Fight

…to ways on dealing with people who are fully armoured.

Armoured Dagger Fighting

I am a martial arts fanatic and I love working with weapons. I have been a sports fencer for over five years and now I am in Japan I am studying Jodo, a traditional stick fighting form. I was actually lucky enough to take part in a HEMA longsword workshop a few years ago and it was a lot of fun, especially knowing that I was engaging in something grounded in its historical roots.

The documentary is a fascinating look into the research and training that HEMA engage in and I think it is something that many tabletop gamers, historical and otherwise, will be interested in seeing, especially as it shows how we can bring the past to the fore of modern times. Plus, who doesn’t want to go and play at sword fighting?

What are your thoughts on HEMA’s research and martial arts? Is this something you might like to try for yourself?

"HEMA are once again able to bring these lost fighting forms to light, finding out more about ancient martial arts through their implementation and looking rather cool while they do so..."

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