HEMA(S): Food for Thought

Though this started with a video by Matt Easton, I’m sharing the one from the Exiles as it more succinctly summarizes some of my own thoughts on this issue, to whit, whether HEMA has “lost its way” etc. It was also gratifying to hear, finally, someone else say that they believe that much of Fiore’s technique won’t work in tournament/bouting settings. It was not designed for agonistic combat, and so arguments about its usefulness in tournaments are nonsensical.

As to the question of HEMA “losing its way,” from where I stand this question was more appropriate ten to fifteen years ago, which is to say that the fragmentation Mark and others allude to already happened. We have those who are more source-based in their interpretation, those who just want to fight with period weapons, and a spectrum of people in between these poles. As Mark says here, and as I’ve made a broken-record of on this site among other platforms, one problem is failure to consider the contexts in which we work, and, the ways in which these contexts inform–or do not inform–the others. I have no wish to raise the dead, not this particular dead anyway, but the debacle over the attempted reinterpretation of Silver illustrates this well. If nothing else it put a spotlight on how different HEMA camps view one topic.

Like Mark, and contrary to local opinion anyway, I don’t give a fig what sort of HEMA one chooses to do. I really don’t. Do what makes you happy and speaks to you. Where I draw the line is someone claiming to speak with authority when they lack that authority–returning to the previous example, tournament experience, a few seminars, and over-confidence in one’s intelligence and skill do not mean one is qualified to speak about historical source analysis. For my part, I spent years acquiring and practicing those skills. Moreover, I spent some ten years in various tournament settings (an almost even split between TKD and fencing), so I know how they work, what they mean and what they don’t mean. I’m older than most, so yeah, I’ve had time to do all that.

The key, I think, is to know who you are and what it is you’re doing, to know that context. If you want to win tourneys, great, go do that; if you want to work from the sources, great. But unless you do or have done both, and can demonstrate that, it’s the better part of valor to stick to your bailiwick.


Author: jemmons0611

Vis enim vincitur Arte.

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