The British Federation for Historical Swordplay

How To Join Us

Joining the BFHS

We believe that membership of the BFHS helps groups achieve more and provides real benefits to their own members. Advantages include access to advice, experience and shared knowledge, top class instruction at our biannual events, and simply meeting more people with a passion for all aspects of historical swordplay.

So if you run a group practising Historical Fencing or European Martial Arts in the UK, then contact us and apply to join the UKs largest Historical European Martial Arts organisation.

Reasons to join the BFHS

  • We are the largest Historical Fencing and European Martial Arts organisation in the UK
  • Increased access to a vast knowledge bank of HEMA, including many of Britain’s leading researchers
  • Support and advice on equipment, good practice, insurance and safety
  • Promotion and publicity for your own group
  • Access to workshops and training
  • Qualified Instructorship available to instructors of member groups
  • Assurance of accountability, increasing the confidence of potential new members in their instructors
  • A source of new recruits

Joining the BFHS

Initially you should fill out the online BFHS Application Form and submit it to us. Once we have received your form we will make contact to arrange an assessment for your group. Details are found under Requirements for Recognition.

The purpose of the assessment is to ensure your group is engaging in the activities that the BFHS was set up to promote, and in an appropriate manner. We do not demand that you all play to the standard of Maestros, nor do we wish to restrict your activities unnecessarily. The BFHS is a broad church and we do not look to impose a style or rigid structure on any member group. What we do expect is that you are undertaking Historical European Martial Arts rather than other martial arts from around the world, and that you take a responsible attitude to safety and such matters.

So long as you are interested in Historical European Martial Arts and have a true aim to practise the art in a correct and safe manner there should be no problem.

Just Starting Out? Join the BFHS Outreach Programme

Starting a group in HEMA can be a difficult process. Many times we have heard the case that groups need insurance to be able to hire a hall but cannot get insurance without having a hall or being active.

If a new Group applies to be a member of the BFHS but are not ready to be assessed for full membership yet they will join the BFHS Outreach Programme.

We will extend BFHS Instructor Insurance to the Chief Instructor of your group until the next Instructor Level 1 (IL1) Assessment they can reasonably attend, allowing the group to hire a hall and get started. We can then give you advice on good practice, insurance, health and safety and of course help you to locate historical sources for your chosen field of study. You will also have access to qualified instructors, many of whom are willing to travel to give lessons, an invaluable resource for groups starting out.

Once you are established your class can be assessed for full membership of the BFHS.

Case Study: How the BFHS helped Aberdeen Swordsmanship Group

Michael Cromarty and friends decided to set up Aberdeen Swordsmanship Group in late 2003. They knew they wanted to learn more about European swordsmanship, but were not really sure how to go about it. In December 2003 they attended the BFHS AGM and workshops in Edinburgh where they made contact with a number of individuals and were given a lot of useful advice about how to set up their club. Maestro Paul Macdonald, a former BFHS President, travelled to Aberdeen from Edinburgh regularly to lend a hand and give lessons to the club. Other BFHS members regularly popped in from time to time to help out or just take part in classes.

“Joining the BFHS has been extremely helpful in setting up our group. We have been part of the BFHS for just over a year, and we have been able to increase the number of students from 10 to 40. We’ve got to thank a lot of people from the Fed who helped us in the start up process, as well as giving us tuition and advice along the way”. (Michael Cromarty, Chairman of Aberdeen Swordsmanship Group, 2005).

In 2004 Aberdeen Swordsmanship Group applied to join the federation and was accepted at that year’s AGM. From a handful of enthusiasts ASG is now an active participant in both the BFHS and the HEMA community.

Frankly, we believe that most of this success is down to the hard work and enthusiasm of Aberdeen Swordsmanship Group itself. However, BFHS members were glad to lend a hand where we could and hope we have been useful.

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