About HEMA

Fighting with European style swords and other weapons was, until relatively recently, a lost art. Martial arts that were used extensively throughout medieval and renaissance Europe gradually died out over the centuries until they were nearly forgotten. In the last few decades, Historical European Martial Arts (HEMA) has begun to reconstruct these lost arts using historical texts that detail techniques and principles for using weapons, and training and applying these techniques in a non-cooperative or competitive context.

Invirtus is set up with the goal of promoting HEMA through training, scholarship and competition and tournaments. We train using several different weapons and sword fighting styles. The historical sources which form the basis of our teaching range from the early medieval period to the renaissance.

Our Weapons

The longsword
The longsword is the most iconic and well-known weapon throughout the practice of HEMA. It is primarily used with both hands, although single-handed techniques do exist. It was used largely for single combat, judicial duels and as a secondary weapon on the battlefield.

Many of the longsword techniques described in HEMA sources deal with unarmoured combat or "Blossfechten" and these are the main techniques we focus on at Invirtus. Fighting against armoured opponents requires a different approach where you grab the blade itself with one hand, also known as half-swording. We also teach these techniques occasionally.

We focus mostly on early Italian (Fiore Dei Liberi) and German (Liechtenauer tradition) sources, though also expand to other texts when interesting (for example Meyer).

The dagger/knife is the simplest and oldest bladed weapon throughout human history. However, it is far from a simple weapon to master: Dagger combat is especially tricky, incredibly fast and deadly. “If you encounter a knife, expect to get cut”.

We teach both unarmed knife defense and dagger versus dagger. We teach historical dagger/knife mixed with modern practical knife fighting (influences from flipino martial arts and self defense systems).

Unarmed combat/wrestling
Although rarely the focus of a HEMA school, unarmed combat is still discussed in many historical treatises, and is often used as a basis for other disciplines (footwork, stance, strikes, kicks, throws and grapples) Often, this is referenced to as just ‘wrestling’, but we opt for a more total understanding of unarmed combat.

At the moment, each Invirtus training session contains Longsword work, while both dagger and unarmed combat are taught more ‘ad hoc’, as an addition rather than a fixed moment or class.

Other weapons may sometimes be taught on special occasions and during club events. (Sword and buckler, sword and shield, polearms, singlestick, rapier, etc.)