The British Federation for Historical Swordplay

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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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Whilst the BFHS considers it appropriate to grant its instructors wide latitude in most matters, a code of conduct is necessary in some areas.

Professionalism

BFHS instructors are, in many ways, its representatives. They are the primary contact new and prospective members have with the BFHS. The same comment applies to the public. Thus instructors are expected to behave in a professional manner when ‘in public’ or when running their class.

‘In public’ in this case explicitly includes social media, online videos and the like. Whilst anyone is free to do and say what they like when acting as a private individual, the BFHS expects its instructors not to act in a manner that creates a poor impression of the BFHS or HEMA in general whilst they are identifiable as BFHS instructors.

This has numerous implications. Most notably, instructors should consider whether videos posted or demonstrations given reflect good and safe practice. A cavalier attitude to safety in a demonstration or a video posted on social media, for example, creates a poor impression of HEMA for outsiders and can have implications for other HEMA groups.

Instructors are also expected to maintain a level of professional courtesy when interacting with other HEMA groups, fellow BFHS instructors and officials, and so forth. Differences of opinion are inevitable, but conduct should be kept civil. Notably, personal attacks and abuse are unacceptable.

In addition, conduct at BFHS events should also be kept within acceptable limits. Instructors should ensure that their students understand that their behaviour reflects upon their class and also the BFHS as a whole, and that the BFHS has a public image to consider.

Legislation and Legal Requirements

Instructors are of course expected to know of and comply with all relevant legislation and BFHS policies. These include but are not limited to: child protection, first aid certification, disability/inclusivity, health & safety and so forth. BFHS policies are available from the BFHS website and should be reviewed periodically in case of changes.

Legislation on the use and transportation of weapons and ‘items that can be mistaken for weapons by members of the public’ is of particular note here; instructors are expected to comply with relevant law and to apply common sense to any situation – a given action may be, strictly speaking, legal, but if it is likely to result in alarm among uninformed passers-by then the instructor is expected to take appropriate steps to ensure that this is minimised or eliminated. This means that some activities, whilst legal, are best avoided unless a formal and clearly identified event is taking place.

Instructors are also expected to comply with local requirements, such as any additional safety requirements imposed by a venue.

Competence

Instructors should be qualified, competent and safe to teach, and should follow appropriate safety procedures including use of protective equipment and operating practices. This is guaranteed by the IL1 programme for BFHS recognised instructors. Those qualified under other systems are subject to the same requirements whilst they are associated with the BFHS.

Instructors should be able to demonstrate a reasonable competence and knowledge in any field where they wish to be recognised as an instructor. There is no universal grade system in HEMA, but instructors should be able to show that they are at least competent enough in a field to properly risk assess the activities they propose to engage in. Instructors should be able to indicate why they feel competent enough to teach a given body of material and how they have gained sufficient background knowledge to interpret any new material being developed.

The interpretation of historical material is highly subjective, but an instructor should be able to show that he or she has what might be called ‘grounds for competence’. By way of example, before starting to teach rapier an instructor should have undertaken a course of study in a relevant field (rapier or another steel sword) and thus will properly understand the behaviour of such weapons and how to handle them safely.

Historical Integrity

BFHS instructors are expected to maintain due respect for the integrity of the historical material. Interpretation is a highly subjective field, but it should, at the very least, be conducted with due regard to the historical origins – i.e. a combat system for use with live weapons.

Historical integrity must not be compromised for the sake of playing to tournament rules or drawing in students. Similarly, the introduction of non-historical practices such as eastern martial arts style grades and terminology, or the teaching of systems created for the express purpose of winning points in tournament, is strongly discouraged.

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