This piece is Tina’s passionate declaration of love to her hobby of choice. She also gives a glimpse of life in a HEMA-club where women are not the minority.
My overall experience with HEMA has been exceedingly positive. And besides, HEMA and I were meant to be. It sounds pretentious and horrible, but stay with me and I’ll explain.
I discovered HEMA through an ex-boyfriend and after all of his praise and excitement decided I needed to try it- I loved it. I trained for a good year before our relationship went supernova and consequently quit, simply because no love on this planet is stronger than the need to not see this guy again during my existence. I grieved the loss of my pass-time and my friends, but c’est la vie. It seemed that this was the end. Then after a year or two I met a friend from HEMA and we reconnected, talking to her I found out that the ex hadn’t been seen at training for quite a while so guess who came back to training in short order (I did!).
So yes, I am back and after reconnecting to people again, after figuring out that I like them even more now than I did back then, I have four the best friends I have ever had in my life. Don’t get me wrong – not everybody is a bosom buddy and I wouldn’t go and help hide dead bodies for all of the rest, but quite a few have become an important part of my life and I adore them. As much as I adore bashing them with a sword. Or a sabre. Or just throwing them about and being thrown in turn.
Our club does not have the “there, there girl” mentality I have heard about from others. Perhaps it’s because there are quite a lot of us girls there (there have been times when there were more girls then guys at training – not often, but it happened), however I do admit to not being the most observant person and hence might have missed some of the signs. But the overall feel for me as a girl is that of just being “one of the guys”. In the very best way possible.
If you’re wondering how come the numbers are so close to even between genders in our club – I have no answer for you. When I started there were 3 or 4 of us girls, but the number grew steadily, perhaps not at first, but for sure in the last few years. We seem to be multiplaying as a species. For one the story is the same as mine – her partner was training before she came by. A couple are from LARP and wanted to actually know what they were supposed to do with a sword, and the others just joined the crazy fun train. All I can surmise is that the presence of other females makes the new prospects more at ease and/or we might just be extraordinarily lucky.
Besides the people, what makes HEMA even better is the opportunities it provides. In our club you usually get 3 months dagger, 3 months sabre and 3 months long sword in the first year. In this way you get a chance to gradually get your hand on equipment and slowly get used to different spacing needed for different types of weapons. And after that you pick what you like best but can always try other things as well such as rapier ringen (if your hugging quota is not filled) or even just show up and chat with or coach people (that is, if you know what it is you’re talking about). Don’t even get me started on the sexiness that is rapier and cape, the lovely simplicity of messer or the freedom of just swinging a stick about.
I do HEMA for the pure joy of it. It gives me something more than just a workout. I have found myself here and even when I was injured (Irish dancing did it to me, not HEMA, I swear), I still occasionally turned up for trainings just to be with my friends. And I was welcome. I know, I have been told I could have done upper body workouts and all of that, but, but, that would have felt been like work! I however am here for the enjoyment – in case it wasn’t obvious from the whole article.
The moral of the story – if you fall in love in HEMA your sex, shape or any other characteristics just melt away. We are all just crazy sword people.
Tina Kalan is a HEMA practitioner from Slovenia who trains at Academia artis dimicatoriae (Ljubljana). She’s very active and helps at events such as „Hema Celje“.
Her weapon of choice: Longsword.
You can read our review on a tournament organized by Tina’s Club here.