Historical European Martial Arts

The St. Lawrence Swordfighters Guild is an organization dedicated to the discovery and revival of medieval European martial arts in a manner that emphasizes safety, fraternity, and authenticity.

Historical European Martial Arts (HEMA) is the study of the martial practices of the Western European cultures of centuries past.  The Saint Lawrence Swordfighters Guild studies a 600-year-old manuscript written by the medieval master-of-arms Fiore dei Liberi.  Members learn authentic martial techniques of the Middle Ages with sword, spear, dagger, poleaxe, and even with just bare hands.

The members of the St. Lawrence Swordfighters Guild, like other groups within the HEMA community, base their studies on the long-silent historical record left by a handful of medieval masters-of-arms.  Through these ancient texts, they seek to uncover the arts of combat used in true life-or-death situations during the tumultuous 14th Century in Europe.

The purpose of the Guild’s efforts is twofold:

  1. To revive the historical fighting arts of Medieval Europe by physically practicing and refining techniques, both as drills and as free-form combat scenarios.
  2. To share that knowledge with the general public through educational programs, presentations, exhibitions, and demonstrations.

The Guild focuses on the hand-drawn images and writings contained in the manuscripts entitled “The Flower of Battle” attributed to the 14th Century Italian fightmaster, Fiore dei Liberi.  The manuscripts (there are at least four versions of them) describe a multi-weapon combat system that employs such simple and efficient techniques that they are applied, with subtle changes, throughout the use of various weapons commonly seen on the battlefield and tournament lists of the day.

The Guild’s instructors have spent many years using these techniques with real (blunted) steel weapons and surprisingly different movements than you normally see in modern entertainment.