My first encounter with Hema happened in Toronto at the Fighting Arts Collective. I called a man named Brian McIlmoyle and asked if my colleague and I could come in and see what it’s all about and produce some articles and videos to promote their group. It was an experience that I look back fondly on and while I don’t think we were mature enough to deliver the content they should’ve received, I will forever tell the story of their generosity in showing me what they learned from Fiore’s manuscripts. Ralph was full of childish glee learning and I’m glad he was happy in the end. They are for the record, very serious and take their work of resurrecting a broken art almost religiously. Broken art? Unlike Kali, where the art has been unbrokenly passed down in a chain through families etc, European Sword Fighting or HEMA (Historical European Martial Arts) have not been unbrokenly passed down according to my knowledge, hence the need to look seriously at manuscripts by teachers like Fiore.
One encounter I’ll never forget is with the owner of 3 turrets armoury. A God fearing, Christian man met with me about making a website. He ended up giving me gauntlets for my mom and I to finish. I cherish them today still and value them at about $1000 easily. Anybody who puts them on …. is filled with power lmao #highlander #therecanonlybeone 1 joke, that’s it, I’m done.
3 Turrets, if you’re out there and need that website, I’m here!
So what’s with this title if I have so much love for HEMA, it’s schools and it’s practitioners? Well every time I say something in their forums I always get punked off. Is it my name? Is it because I’m sandy in colour rather than bleach white? I’m not unreasonable or stupid so to me, that leaves discrimination as an option. AN option.
“What did he say?” you might be wondering. Well first, lets talk about why I visited their forum in the first place. I have recently really enjoyed learning Kali with my Kalis Illustrisimo instructor Archie Luz. The pre-Magellan people that inhabited today’s Philipines were not big on armour. They beat Magellan carefully though, not easily:
For me, these clashes of culture are exciting. I don’t want a single drop of bled shed from now until the end of time, but as a martial artist I want to know about strategy and everything about battles. My friends who spar with me using silly rubber knives in Kali like to go for my eyes though. And because I own a few pieces of nice armour, such as this scale mail, I wonder if there’s something a little better than goggles that will fog up. I began thinking of metal with holes, and then realized that I can’t be the first one to think like this. Fencing masks are too bulky for Kali. You’d have to train Kali to understand if you’re a HEMA person.
Anyways I stumbled upon these Die Mensurbrillen goggles. Imperial Germany was a beautiful time, a proud time. These men would fence with REAL swords using just these to cover their heads. Clearly they favored maneuverability and speed to bulky fencing masks. They wore their scars proudly! Schmiss! That’s a strike that results in blood and scarring. The mask is silly at first, then cooler and cooler in my mind. ..
I didn’t know the name of these, nor did I know where to find them, I just at least wanted to see the price if not buy one for myself :) But as I asked harmless questions I was met with well… “what happens when you aren’t white and ask HEMA guys for answers online” - I will say that the people that were rude are obviously noobs - insensitive noobs though are the worst. Quick to judge, quick to assume, and they never qualify what they say.
I’m writing this article because I’m bothered by the online HEMA community. They are a breeding-house of alt-right types. And I have no idea to fix it. I’ve been banned from The Hema Alliance on Facebook.
Here is the entire conversation from start to finish with a few silver linings from friends made along the way. I don’t see HEMA becoming more than an old whiteman’s club and something tells me that’s exactly what they want! This isn’t a letter of hate. This is a letter of disappointment.
There are people addressing this, and I quote:
Btw I do not know, if you already know it. But to adress the issue that neonazi or right extremists could undermine the HEMA, several years ago the loose community of FAR - Fighters against Racism was founded, which many popular HEMA instructors joined or support. At least for the European community of HEMA I can say that this topic is treated very sensitive
martial arts attract often sort of radical people. The average neonazi brawler will more likely join a MMA or Boxing club, but the more secret, intelligent right extremist will more likely join a HEMA club.