Under the term HEMA (Historical European Martial Arts, also “Historical European Martial Arts”, shorter “Historical fencing”) Since the 1990s a new kind of martial art or. -sport developed. It is about the reconstruction and revival of the historical traditions and schools of armed and unarmed struggle, that are extinct, d.h. have not been practiced for a long time. That means: Even in cases, where at most there is a continuous tradition, such as. modern fencing without interruption emerged from late medieval fencing, the current tradition is not taken into account, rather, the state of a particular epoch is reconstructed from sources.

The addition “European” provides mainly. a demarcation from the schools of East Asian origin, the under martial arts were widely understood during the 1960s to 1980s. In fact, Engl. martial arts (and from it dt. Martial arts) a loan translation from Japanese bujutsu. The corresponding native German term is Fencing (nb. with the old one, general meaning of fencing = engl. fight). HEMA is also differentiated from mere “historisierenden” presentation of fights: By definition, HEMA deals with the reconstruction, and as far as possible the regaining of the historical arts. In contrast, their representation in choreographies is (“Exhibition fights” or. “Theater parties”) often dominated by the goal of public impact or. Dramatic. Behind such performances can, but doesn't have to, a training of historical techniques in the sense of HEMA stand.

In principle, this opens up an unpredictable wealth of possible disciplines, from every country in Europe and from every historical epoch. De facto, however, a relatively manageable number of disciplines is distinguished under the term HEMA. The focus is on the German and Italian Fencing books from the late Middle Ages and the Renaissance and the rapier fencing styles of the Baroque period:

  1. frühe Kampfkünste vor 1300 (Antike und früheres Mittelalter): darunter fallen alle ‘indirekt’ rekonstruierten Traditionen, für die keine eigentlichen Lehrtexte überliefert sind (Rekonstruktion aus Archäologie, darstellender Kunst und literarischen Texten). Praktiziert werden v.a. Gladiatorenkampf und wikingerzeitlicher Kampf mit Schwert und Schild.
  2. Spätmittelalter und Renaissance (14., 15. und 16. Jh.)
    • Schwert und Buckler (hier ausnahmsweise Quellen seit dem Ende des Hochmittelalters)
    • langes Schwert (zweihändig geführtes Schwert)
    • andere Klingenwaffen: Dolch, langes Messer, Dussack, u.a.
    • Stangenwaffen
    • unbewaffneter Kampf (Ringen)
    • Kampf in Plattenrüstung (Harnischfechten)
    • Fechten zu Pferd (unbewaffnet oder bewaffnet, inkl. Tjost)
  3. Frühmoderne (16., 17. und 18. Jh.):
    • Rapier (spanische und italienische Schulen)
    • Säbel, basket-hilted sword (backsword, Pallasch, Highland broadsword)
    • Smallsword (Stossdegen). Aus dem Duellfechten des 18. Jh. entwickelt sich schliesslich im 19. Jh. das moderne Sportfechten.

All of the aforementioned disciplines are being practiced again today in a reconstructed form. The most popular are the long sword, Sword and buckler as the rapier.

This struggle is different- or. Fencing styles of modern fencing not only and not primarily through the use of historical weapons, but above all. through the wider range of allowable techniques: the free footwork allows circling around the opponent and side attacks (in contrast to the modern fencing piste) and the (historical, intendierte) Applicability to self-defense situations (or. Duels) allows not only attacks with the blade but also disarming, Blows with the barrel of the weapon or. with bare hands as well as ring techniques such as levers and throws.