MEMAG Medieval European Martial Arts Guild

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What is MEMAG?

MEMAG is a flow-off-the-tongue acronym for the Medieval European Martial Arts Guild.

MEMAG is an association of clubs devoted to the study, training, and reconstruction of HEMA.

What is HEMA?

HEMA is an acronym for Historical European Martial Arts. They are a collection of systems that are of European origin which declined with the development of modernized warfare, until their living traditions were eventually lost.

Through the diligent study and efforts of modern practitioners and researchers around the world these arts are being resurrected from original period sources into living systems that we can again practice today.

Where do you get the material that you teach?

Most of what we teach is pulled from medieval manuscripts that date from the 14th to the 16th centuries. The manuscripts were written as fechtbücher (fight books) by Meisters of the time period. They are filled with descriptions and illustrations of how to fight with various weapons.

Most of the material we use can be found on the Wiktenauer website which we have listed in our links section.

Is historical fighting like what we see in movies today?

Historical fighting would have been much less dramatic than you see in movies today. Modern bouts using historical techniques are generally over in less than 10 seconds.

When using the specific techniques described in the manuals it results in very artful, quick, clean, and precise fighting that lacks the crude bashing of swords that most movies tend to depict.

What kind of equipment do you use?

For safety purposes we use mostly blunt steel, plastic or wood weapon simulators for training. Historically most fighting would have been done with sharp bladed weapons, so we also do limited training with sharps in order to learn how to properly test cut.

For personal protection, we generally use fencing masks and gloves in class. When doing intense sparring we also require students to wear a gambeson (padded fencing jacket), elbow and knee protection, cups (for men), and chest protectors (for women).

Do I need my own equipment?

No. We have all necessary equipment for students to use in class. We do however encourage all students to eventually invest in their own personal safety gear for tournaments and their own personal use.

What kind of classes can I take?

Our guild has a ranking system that students have the option of progressing through as they train. This enables them to build an overall understanding of how to fight with multiple weapons.

New students normally start off learning Longsword, which is the primary weapon we teach. Upon completion of the first Longsword level they then learn the basics of Messer and Staff. These are the core weapons we teach, but we also give instruction on a variety of other weapons.

These other weapons include, but are not limited to: Ringen (wrestling), Dagger, Sword and Buckler, Peasant Staff, Sickle, Halberd, Scythe, Rapier, Poll-Ax, Armored Combat and various Dueling Rites. Private classes may also be arranged by students request.

How much do classes cost?

Class costs vary with each branch of MEMAG. Usually, classes run from $10-$15 for each two hour session. You should contact the branch of MEMAG you are interested in training under to find out what their current rates are.

Do I need a uniform?

MEMAG does not require the wearing of uniforms. We do however, have t-shirts that we encourage to be worn in class and at events.

Under the links section of our links page you will find a listing for Café This is where students can buy shirts at any point in time. We also occasionally take special orders for athletic training shirts when there is enough of a class demand for them.

What fitness level is required?

You do not have to be in good physical shape to begin training, although it will definitely help. HEMA training is an excellent way to lose weight, build endurance and to learn what you are capable of.

We have found that it is up to the student to put as much or as little into training as they choose. The more you train the more fit you will become and the easier it will be for you to progress through the curriculum.

How old do you have to be to take classes?

We take all ages from 12 years old and up. Children younger than 12 years will most likely find training to be too intense or strenuous for their abilities. On the other end of the spectrum there are many HEMA practitioners who train and compete in tournaments into their 60s, so don’t think you are too old to join!

Is it safe?

Yes, HEMA training is usually safe. We take as many precautions as possible to reduce the possibility of injuries. However, this is a martial art so the possibility for serious injury is there.

Normally all students need only worry about sore muscles, bruises and abrasions, which are fairly common. In all the years that MEMAG has been running we have never had a broken bone or a hospital visit and we plan to keep it that way!

Do you compete?

Yes, but it is not required for a student to compete unless he wishes to achieve upper ranks within the Guild. The HEMA community hosts many local, regional, national, and international events each year which all have various tournament options for any and all HEMA practitioners.

Open Longsword, women's Longsword, sword and buckler, Dussack and cutting tournaments along with form competitions are all common. Depending on where the tournament is held there are generally slightly different rule sets for which the student can prepare himself.

MEMAG has yearly inter-guild tournaments where students can learn to feel comfortable with a small tournament setting. We also co-host an annual event called Fechtschule New York, with our affiliates at the New York Historical Fencing Association every year in May, where a student would have the opportunity to participate in a larger tournament setting.

What is a form competition?

Form competitions allow students to train in pairs to perform historical techniques as accurately and perfectly as they can in front of a panel of judges. Students who register in advance for an event’s form competition are given specific sets of techniques to practice months in advance.

What is the HEMA Alliance?

Hema AllianceThe HEMA Alliance (HEMAA) is a service organization for the Historical European Martial Arts community. It is incorporated as an educational non-profit in order to provide a wide range of services from a stable core whose educational mission is legally bound by open bylaws and democracy. Full MEMAG members are encouraged to join so that they can enjoy the many benefits and help support the larger HEMA community.

When can I take classes?

You can take classes whenever you like! We keep our class sizes small, normally anywhere from 1-10 students per class. This means that each student is given a substantial amount of one on one training with their instructor.

This allows students to jump in and begin classes whenever best suites them. Our teaching approach allows students to occasionally miss classes and to pick up where they left off the next time they return.

The student in turn does not need to worry about keeping up with a group and can comfortably train at his or her own pace. Students attend classes once a week and the times for each of our branches are posted in the contact information of this website.

Please note: that class times can change so be sure to contact us before your first class so that we can verify when your classes will be.

How do I get started?

Students need only to contact the branch of MEMAG they are interested in joining through email or by phone. After agreeing on a class time with us all you need to bring to your first class is a water bottle, a good pair of shoes and clothing that you feel comfortable in. Your first class is free! When you arrive for your second class then you need to bring the dues your branch requires for that class.

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