When you come along for your first session at the club, you might have some questions about what to bring or what to expect. Here are the things you need to know.
Table of Contents
- Please book in advance
- Is there a fee for the first night?
- Is it suitable for under-18s?
- Where to find us?
- What to bring with you?
- What is the training and sword fighting like?
- Do we do any sparring?
- Is it safe?
- What about a membership fee?
Please book in advance
It is very helpful for the instructor to know if new people will be coming for a first session.
Please book your attendance through our website, so that we know that you are coming, and so that the payment for the first session’s attendance fee is dealt with in advance. Then all we need to think about when you arrive is sorting you out with equipment and then getting you started!
If you have any questions before placing your booking, please contact us and ask, and we will do our best to help.
Is there a fee for the first night?
Currently, yes. We do ask for the attendance fee at your first session, and we also ask that you book in through our website and pay for your attendance in advance so that all the admin is complete before the session.
Is it suitable for under-18s?
For our Wednesday evening sessions, we generally say that teenagers aged 16+ are welcome to train with us. The length and intensity of the 2-hour session means that most younger people tend to struggle with the physicality of the training – although exceptions can be made where a younger person is clearly capable of handling the physicality.
Where to find us?
People sometimes have difficulty finding the venue for the first time, since the campus is a bit confusing.
If you look at our Classes page, you will see the venue address, the parking situation, the nearby train stations, and a map showing exactly how to get to the car park and hall from the entrance to the campus.
When you arrive, we tend to gather outside by the fire escape that we use to enter the hall. Just look for people with Liverpool HEMA t-shirts and hoodies, or for the long bags that we use to carry our swords.
What to bring with you?
In terms of fencing masks, gloves, and training swords, we have plenty of equipment to borrow. No need to worry about any of this! However, if you do have your own fencing mask already, then please bring it with you.
Although we have a uniform of black trousers and blue shirt for club members, you don’t need to worry about it for your first session.
Please come wearing comfortable, loose-fitting clothing that will allow for movement. Tight jeans are usually not very good for this sport.
You should bring sensible indoor footwear such as trainers; impractical or heavy footwear such as boots, high heels, or formal shoes are not recommended.
A bottle of water would also be a good idea.
What is the training and sword fighting like?
Our approach to learning HEMA is to train it in a functional fashion, as a proper martial art. We usually begin with a gentle warm-up to loosen off the body and to get our heads in the zone, then we do some very simple solo drills or paired drills. These drills gradually increase in complexity over the course of the session. This means that sessions are entirely accessible to new people, while they still contain value for more experienced practitioners.
We are not a re-enactment club, nor do we do bohurt or HMB style fighting. We focus on reconstructing a particular kind of sword fighting from historical source material, and making that work in a functional and effective fashion.
Do we do any sparring?
Yes; sparring is an important part of our training process. We try to do this on a regular basis wherever possible.
The kind of sparring that we do is not particularly heavy-contact or competitive in focus, although some of our members are very skilful and quite accomplished fencers, and some of us have won medals in competitions.
If you would read and see more about what our HEMA sparring tends to look like, please take a look at our information about sparring at the club.
Is it safe?
We make it as safe as we possibly can! There are three main ways that we do this.
First, we wear appropriate protective equipment and use appropriately blunt and flexible training tools.
Modern fencing masks keep our heads safe and modern, well-padded gloves keep our hands safe. Our training swords are made from specially designed and moulded plastic so that they are light and flexible. Some of our more experienced members use steel training swords that have blunt edges, flexible blades, and rolled or thickened points.
We don’t fence with sharp swords and we don’t do any contact training without fencing masks.
Second, we keep the intensity of the training appropriate for both the experience of the participants and the amount of protective gear being worn. We also increase how much protective gear is being worn as the intensity increases.
Our beginners tend to keep things quite slow and gentle when fencing with each other. You might see our more experienced members going a bit faster and harder but that is due to their experience and skill, and also the protective gear that they wear!
Third, we have a club culture that is helpful, friendly, and non-competitive. We train new instructors on a regular basis and actively encourage our more experienced members to develop coaching skills. This leads to a safe and constructive environment where there are always plenty of experienced people who can help with coaching beginners and who can step in with timely reminders to keep the practice safe for everyone.
People do sometimes go home with bumps and bruises, but that is the nature of all contact sports. Safety is first and foremost in all of our activities and we believe that our club is a safe place to engage in sport.
What about a membership fee?
We do have an annual membership fee, but you don’t need to worry about this for your first two or three sessions. Come along and give it a go to see if you like it before making any commitments to membership or buying your own equipment.
Once you decide that this is the sport for you, you should purchase your annual membership so that we can arrange an appropriate insurance policy for you.