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3 Reasons to Pick Up HEMA as a Student Hobby

There are many physical activities out there people use to stay fit and healthy. For a student that spends most of their time in front of the computer, these are especially important. Some play football or basketball, some practice martial arts, and some simply hit the gym once in a while. But if these don’t fit your style – there are far more unusual alternatives out there for you.

One of such alternatives is to practice historical European martial arts – HEMA. An ancient craft that was created and perfected by humans over the centuries by whacking each other with sticks.

You might think it’s not popular enough for you to be able to find a dedicated HEMA group in your locale. But a quick search might surprise you. 

While an essay service may be dealing with some of your assignments delegated to an essay writer on EssayWritingService, you can use your free time to find a place to get familiar with this type of sport.

In the end, physical exercises of any kind work as a good distraction from your workload. Your mind can have some rest and later, you’ll be able to get back to your studies feeling much better.

So, here are the reasons why you should give HEMA a try.


Just like any sport out there – HEMA can make for a great workout. Regular training sessions will help you keep yourself in top notch physical shape. Even a training sword can weigh a lot. And swinging it around can easily make you break a sweat. It will help you shape your arm and back muscles. And as your fitness grows – so does your control of the blade.

HEMA can also help you with coordination.

Especially when it comes to dual-wielding styles like rapier and dagger. And regardless of your weapon of choice, you will have to improve your footwork. Combining fencing with correct movement can be tricky at first. But once you figure it out, you will feel a lot more confident both with a blade and in your daily life.

You may feel a bit sore after your first training session. Especially around the shoulders. Even a training sword can be pretty heavy. And waving it around for an hour can be rather difficult for the uninitiated. Don’t give up, pain is gain. Your body will adapt in just a few weeks.

You don’t need any additional equipment to start practicing. Most HEMA groups have all the necessary equipment available. The only thing you might want to purchase for your first lesson is a pair of construction gloves. They will protect your hands from blisters (yes, these are very common among beginners) and your fingers from a direct hit.

However, once you graduate from fighting on wooden weapons to full metal – you’ll have to invest in your own armor and sword.

Make sure to save some money, as it can be a significant purchase for someone on a student’s budget. But the feeling of owning your very own sword and set of armor is definitely worth it. The cost of all your childhood dreams is about $600. Make sure to talk to your HEMA instructor about the recommended gear first.

There are plenty of different styles you can choose to practice:

  • Longsword
  • Sword and shield
  • Rapier
  • Rapier and dagger
  • Spear
  • Saber

Each of them has their own specifics and requires time to master. You can pick one or mix and match practicing any of them as you see fit. The practical application of one of these combat skills is rather questionable as you are unlikely to carry a bastard sword with you on a daily basis.

But getting your hands on a suitably sized stick in the heat of the moment might give you an edge.


Another great thing about HEMA is the type of people it attracts. It’s not just your average active hobby.

The chances of someone winding up training medieval fencing instead of playing basketball or soccer are extremely slim. So you can be sure that people you meet at your local HEMA group have a lot in common with you. And have a very good chance of creating new friendships in that environment.

There are plenty of different reasons why someone would visit HEMA classes. But each of those reasons is just as interesting as the rest. In the HEMA crowd you can find:

  • History enthusiasts
  • Blacksmiths
  • Movie geeks
  • Fight choreographers
  • LARPers
  • Competitive fencers

And it’s more than likely that any given individual there comes from a combination of those backgrounds. All these groups have a crazy amount of overlapping interests and passions. And it is a perfect setup to try to get into some of these. Talk to people, ask around, and you will surely be expanding your horizons soon enough.

And even when you are outside the circle of your fellow fencers you will find it much easier to make new friends. Medieval fencing tends to be one hell of a conversational fuel.


‘H’ in HEMA stands for ‘Historical’. And this adds a whole new layer of context to this hobby. It has more connection to its historical origins than your average sports.

And once you get past the physical basics, you will realize that connection. Weapons evolved, schools of fencing emerged, armor changed. All of these events have a historical backdrop that we today have an opportunity to study.

You will become more coordinated and physically fit. But you will also improve your knowledge of historic events, physics, and generally become a more well-rounded person.

These skills can serve you well in your daily life. Some of this knowledge can be applied to help you pass your college exams.

Final Words

College can be rather stressful. And if you don’t have a need to whack someone with a heavy stick once in a while – you can consider yourself very lucky. For those who are not so serene – HEMA can be a perfect way to unwind after a particularly difficult week in a safe and productive way.


Give it a try and you will find out that it’s just as fun as it sounds. And combined with the educational, physical, and social value of regular group practice – it is a great investment of your time and effort.

Jeff Campbell