If you’re asking yourself Are there any HEMA Clubs near me?! the answer is probably yes if you’re in Europe or the USA. So if you’re looking for a HEMA club near you, you’ve come to the right place.
In this article I’m going to show you how to find a HEMA club, even if it isn’t listed in the existing club finders. And if all else fails, I’m giving you tips on how to start your own club.
HEMA Maps & Club Finders
The easiest way to find HEMA clubs near you are the various club maps and club finders.
All of them have one downside: They are seldom complete and often feature outdated information that needs to be further verified. Many list clubs that don’t exist anymore and miss other clubs completely. Nevertheless they’re a great starting point.
Currently there are two HEMA specific club finders and a couple of maps and lists you can use.
HEMA Alliance Club Finder
The HEMA Alliance, which is the biggest american HEMA organization runs its own club finder.
HistoricalEuropeanMartialArts.com Club Finder
The most recent addition to this list was created in 2020: A club finder by HistoricalEuropeanMartialArts.com that lists mostly clubs in the US, Canada and UK.
If you’re looking for clubs somewhere else you should try out another club finder or map.
HEMA Ratings Club List
The club list of HEMA ratings is a good way to find local clubs that compete. The nice thing is that their list is constantly growing with every new tournament added.
German HEMA Map
For Germany I personally created a pretty much complete map of HEMA clubs at the start of 2020.
One issue of this map is that I don’t have the exact location for all club. For some clubs I only have their city and all visual markers for the same city are in exactly the same spot.
So definitely check the corresponding German club list to not miss a HEMA club.
Ars Gladii Map
There is an old and outdated but pretty extensive map of European HEMA clubs by Ars Gladii.
The Ars Gladii map was the first international map for HEMA clubs.
IFHEMA Member Map
Another map I made some years ago is the IFHEMA member map. The IFHEMA is a theoretically global federation to reside over all country based HEMA federations. Basically what the FIE is for sport fencing.
Some of the European member federations, namely Germany, Austria, Switzerland and France hosted their own local Google Maps. I combined them into one map for Europe as a whole.
The downside is, that I unsuccessfully tried to get someone from the IFHEMA to keep the map up to date. This means that the information is a bit outdated.
Finding HEMA clubs via Google
If those club finders and maps don’t turn up something interesting it’s time to google yourself. To find a HEMA clubs near you try to Google for variations of the following terms in your local language:
“sword fighting CITY/REGION”
“historical fencing CITY/REGION”
“western martial arts CITY/REGION”
You can also search for the specific weapon you want to learn like “learn longsword CITY/REGION”
This might also bring up groups doing something with swords that is not HEMA, like Reenactment or SCA. This might not exactly be what you’re looking for, but it could still be worth to check them out regardless.
Asking a countries HEMA federation
If neither the club maps and finders, nor googling yourself have turned up a local HEMA club you can also ask your countries HEMA federation for help.
HEMA federations are the governing bodies of their country. Most countries with a strong HEMA scene have at least one federation and they’re usually well connected. Even though they mostly want to help their own members, they usually know who else is out there and can point you in the right direction.
So all you have to do is to find your HEMA federation and ask them via Facebook or E-Mail.
For Europe you can check out the IFHEMA member list as a starting point. For other countries try googling for variations of “hema federation country”.
What if there are no HEMA Clubs near me?
If it turns out that HEMA is not offered where you live you have three choices:
- Start training something that builds transferable skills
- Train on your own
- Start your own club.
Train for transferable skills
Having a solid basis in another sport or martial art can be a huge benefit when you’re eventually able to train HEMA. So don’t shy away from training something else that gets you fit, coordinated or mentally strong.
Sport fencing gives you a strong base in footwork, measuring distance and reaction time and has produced many successful HEMAists. What exactly you end up training mostly depends on the options you have available in your city. Kendo could work as well as Boxing or Wrestling for the purpose of improving your fitness and teaching you transferable skills.
Heck, even doing competitive kayaking will get your upper body and your mind stronger. Try out different things and see what you like the most.
Train on your own
If you can’t train HEMA where you live, but starting a proper club is too much work you can try to train on your own.
There are weapon systems that are a good fit for training solo. Montante is the prime example for this, as it is mostly based around solo drills. If you have at least one training partner you can pretty much pick all available HEMA weapons.
In both cases you should try to go to HEMA events as much as possible though. Nothing beats exposure and training time with others from the community.
Starting your own club
In case the answer to Are there HEMA clubs near me? is really No there is always the option to start your own club. Granted, this is by far not the easiest or fastest solution if you want to train HEMA, but it might be your only option at this point.
Many others have done exactly that when they were in your shoes. Make no mistake: This will be a hard but a very satisfying road to take.
To get you something to read check out the HEMA Sources for Beginners and Books for HEMA Instructors sections.
Otherwise google for “starting your own hema club”. There are many great articles and videos that will help you starting a club.