The HEMA Alliance (HEMAA) is a martial arts federation dedicated to the study of Historical European Martial Arts. It is organized as a United States nonprofit organization incorporated under the laws of the State of Utah. As of 2014, the HEMA Alliance represents more than 40 distinct HEMA groups (many of which contain multiple study groups) as well as numerous independent practitioners, making it the largest HEMA federation in the Americas.
One of the alliance's stated goals is to connect HEMA groups from all over the country.
Programs and services
Programs and Services provided by the HEMA Alliance include:
- Mentoring new HEMA clubs.
- Certifying instructors of HEMA.
- Sponsoring HEMA-related training events and symposia.
- Developing and publishing curricula and original research.
- Forging bonds with educational institutions.
- Providing an optional ranking and instructor certification system.
- Development of HEMA training equipment.
- Support of HEMA research, teaching, and equipment services as professions.
- Services for teachers and clubs, including insurance.
The Wiktenauer is a Wiki database dedicated to the masters, manuals, and techniques of Historical European Martial Arts. The Wiktenauer is an open-source service provided by the HEMA Alliance for its members and the general public; contributors need not be members of the HEMA Alliance. The wiki's mission is to collect all of the primary source literature that makes up HEMA text, as well as all related research, and to organize and present it in an accessible format. Currently there are the following basic categories of pages:
- Master Pages host biographical information about each master, as well as the transcription and translation of his complete works. In cases of multiple copies of a master's work, the transcriptions are laid out side-by-side to facilitate the most accurate master translation possible.
- Manual Pages host all relevant data on a book or manuscript, including description, provenance, table of contents (with links to the appropriate master pages), gallery of page scans, and bibliography of additional print resources.
- Technique Pages compile all of the relevant information from all of the relevant manuals on a particular technique, including transcriptions, translations, and images. There is also a section at the end of each page where groups may embed videos of their interpretations.
- Weapon Pages provide information about how a specific weapon form is described and used in the treatises, data on surviving artifacts, an overview of archaeological research pertinent to a given weapon, and a comprehensive index of the treatises and writers that discuss each weapon.
The wiki also features pages for HEMA groups, notable practitioners, pages for HEMA events, general information pages.
“Where we lack the oral tradition of Asian martial arts, handed down from teacher to teacher over centuries, what the original masters left us might be more valuable: their original words and instructions,” says Jake Norwood, former president of the HEMA Alliance.
Michael Chidester has provided extensive concordances of a number of manual groups on the Wiktenauer.
The Alliance is directed by three counterbalanced bodies: a Board of Directors, a Governing Council, and a Curriculum Council. The Board of Directors is responsible for oversight and strategic direction, the Governing Council manages the daily operations, and the Curriculum Council is responsible for research and training programs. The Governing Council is democratically elected by the Alliance membership while the Curriculum Council appoints its own councilors. The Governing Council has veto power over Curriculum Council appointments, and also recommends nominees to the Board of Directors.
As stated on the Alliance website, "The Alliance is dedicated to excellence as well as freedom and variety in the pursuit of Historical European Martial Arts. The Freedom of Study Policy built into the bylaws guarantees that the membership will always have freedom of association in their training and that the product of the Curriculum Council will never be presented as a mandate. The Financial Policies guarantee that member dues will serve the full membership and not select individuals or clubs. The HEMAA is an all-volunteer organization..."
Each year, the HEMA Alliance sponsors and co-sponsors a number of regional HEMA events for members, as well as non-members. The largest of these events is Longpoint, an international event held each year in Ellicott City, Maryland. Longpoint is home to North America's largest open international tournaments. Events include open steel longsword, women's steel longsword, invitational/counted blows steel longsword, open synthetic longsword, open steel messer, paired technique demonstrations, single stick, longsword cutting, and ringen (grappling).
The Purpleheart Open (formerly "Fechtschule America") is another popular event held in Houston, Texas. In previous years Fechtschule America has helped break new competitive ground by hosting the first open international dussack tournament, and the first fully realized Franco-Belgian Guild rules longsword tournament in several hundred years. Fechtschule America features instructors and attendees from all over the world. “They come here to learn martial arts that are not practiced today,” said instructor Maxime Chouinard. “They learn how to fence, fight with a walking stick, a dagger and even wrestle.”
Affiliate clubs of the HEMA Alliance also hold regional events, such as Iron Crown KDF's sponsorship of the Pacific Northwest HEMA Gathering.
HEMA Alliance member-written literature
The following is a partial list of books written or contributed to by members of the HEMA Alliance.
- Knight, David James & Brian Hunt. Polearms of Paulus Hector Mair. Paladin Press, 2008. ISBN 978-1-58160-644-7
- Reich, Steven. Docciolini Transcription Lulu, 2009.
- Reich, Steven. Falloppia Transcription Lulu, 2009.
- Reich, Steven. Manciolino Transcription Lulu, 2009.
- Vail, Jason. Medieval and Renaissance Dagger Combat. Paladin Press, 2006. ISBN 978-1-58160-517-4
- "Black Belt magazine Feb. 2010". Archived from the original on January 14, 2010.
- The HEMA Alliance
- "Learning European Traditions", Houston Chronicle, 18 March 2012, Sunday Edition.
- "Valley Club Studies Old World Martial Arts", by Sandra Babcock, The Spokesman-Review, 14 July 2012, Washington Voices.