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

BFHS Autumn Exchange Booked For 19th-20th November 2016

We are pleased to announce that the BFHS Autumn Exchange has been booked for the 19th-20th November 2016. We would like to take this opportunity to thank Fox Walters and Nigel Potts […]

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Updated Information on Safeguarding Children

Update: The BFHS Safeguarding and Equalities Officer, Mr. Pete Jamson, has kindly reviewed and updated the advice on the Safeguarding of Children for the BFHS. You can download a copy […]

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BFHS Elect New President

The BFHS is very pleased to announce Mr. Martin Dougherty has been elected as BFHS President. Martin’s career in Martial Arts began in the mid 1980s. Since that time he […]

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BFHS Treasurer Vacancy

This is a call for the vacant position on the BFHS Executive for BFHS Treasurer. Anyone who is a member of a BFHS member group and over 18 may stand […]

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