Students with an interest in learning the history and basic techniques of sword fighting formed the new Historical Sword Fighting Club this semester.

“We have a stage combat class next semester, but there are no HEMA organizations in town,” says Erick Wolfe, chair of the Theatre Department.

The Historical European Martial Arts Alliance focues on the study and practice of historical fighting techniques, though Wolfe isn’t partial to the “European” label, which sounds exclusionary. Sword fighting is an art form that had no gender or ethnic barriers as it developed, he said.

“I thought a HEMA club would be an activity where students can have a socially distanced activity,” he says. “You’ve got a big, six-foot weapon in your hand, so no one’s getting closer to you than six feet; and, it’s something different.”

The first meeting found 10 students on hand for an overview that touched on some of the “great stories and stupid incidents” throughout the history of sword fighting. They then were able to get their hands on Wolfe’s collection of stage swords and historically accurate practice weapons to begin learning some basic techniques.

Those interested in participating are free to come and go as they please throughout the two-hour meetings. If weather permits, the club will get outdoors for practice sessions. And Wolfe is quick to remind participants that safety is paramount.

“You will never go fast, and you will never hit each other,” he says. “Just show up and have a good time.”