The British Federation for Historical Swordplay

The British Federation for Historical Swordplay is an alliance of groups across the UK, all of whom are engaged in the research, study and practice of historical fencing and European martial arts.

The field of Historical European Martial Arts (HEMA) is undergoing a renaissance at present, and is rapidly gaining in popularity. There are many possible fields of study and several approaches that can be taken – HEMA has room for people of all ages and ability levels.

What is the BFHS?

The mission of the BHFS can be stated as ‘promoting the study and practice of historical swordsmanship (and related Western combat arts) through high-quality research, instruction and practical application.’

The underlying ethos of the BFHS is that historical swordplay and Western martial arts should be accessible to anyone who wishes to study them without any form of discrimination, and that excellence should encouraged and recognised.

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This creates a threefold mission:

  1. To promote and recognise high-quality research in the form of translation and interpretation of historical material, with due reference to other historical factors (e.g. clothing, environment, social context) and also with reference to biomechanics and other physical factors.
  2. To ensure that member groups provide high-quality instruction with due regard to safety, inclusivity and similar coaching-related matters as well as respect for the martial and historical aspects of the subject matter.
  3. To promote practical application in the form of experimental freeplay and tournaments.

There are thus three interrelated factors informing the mission of the BHFS: Scholastic, Instructional and Martial. 

What is HEMA?

HEMA stands for Historical European Martial Arts, and to be HEMA an activity must be all of those.

That is, it must be drawn from a recognised historical source, it must originate in Europe (or with people of European descent), and it must be a historical fighting art. Some activities, such as 16th Century Italian rapier fencing or Polish military sabre, fall squarely and rather obviously in this area. In other cases, the situation may be a little more nebulous.

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Latest News

COVID-19 Update

The officers of the BFHS are not medical professionals or scientists. We can only offer common-sense advice informed by the government’s official policies and analysis of the situation. The top […]

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BFHS IL2 Assessment May 2019

BFHS IL2 Assessment May 2019 It was a day long in coming, but on May 25th 2019 the first BFHS IL2 assessment took place. The event was hosted by SSS […]

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BFHS Position Regarding Scottish HEMA Controversy

The bellow is a message from the President of the BFHS, Martin Dougherty: BFHS Position Regarding Scottish HEMA Controversy  This matter was brought to my attention some time ago by some […]

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Autumn Exchange 2016

Autumn Exchange 2016 took place over the weekend of 19th-20th November, and was hosted by Wolfshead School of Western Martial Arts in Lincoln. Originally there had been two other plans […]

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