The British Federation for Historical Swordplay

President’s Address

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.

For those of a scholastic outlook, BFHS member groups are actively engaged in researching and translating historical fencing manuals dating back to the 13th century. Some aspects of this research are practical and others touch on a more general understanding of European history. The BFHS numbers several excellent historians and many highly experienced fencers among its members, enabling the Federation to create peer-reviewed interpretations of historical material.

Historical fencing is, by definition, a practical activity. For those who prefer a more ‘hands-on’ approach the BFHS has many qualified instructors who can bring new starters up to a high standard in a short time. Most groups offer the chance to engage in freeplay (sparring) and many of our members are highly active on the tournament circuit.

The BFHS organises events at which our members can compare their interpretation of historical material and put their theories to the test under tournament conditions, or find out what happens when one historical style meets another. We are also forging links with those involved in related activities such as stage combat, oriental martial arts, and Olympic-style competitive fencing.

In short, the BFHS offers a wide range of benefits to our members:

  • Individual, group and instructor insurance
  • Instructor accreditation and training
  • Access to BFHS ‘internal’ events which are open to members only
  • Training in a wide range of historical combat systems
  • Exchange of knowledge and experience
  • Advice on running events, safety issues and relevant legislation

If you have any queries regarding the BFHS or any aspect of historical combat, please contact us.

Martin J. Dougherty
BFHS President

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