Today marks the 5-year anniversary of when Liverpool HEMA opened its doors back in 2017.
When I moved down to Liverpool at the start of 2017, there wasn’t any guarantee that I would be staying for any real length of time. It could easily just have been a temporary, single-year situation, followed by moving somewhere else. As a result, I didn’t have any plans to set up a new HEMA club, because I didn’t want to go to all the hassle only to move away before it could stand on its own feet and be sustainable. So I took myself a little sabbatical for a few months after arriving in Liverpool.
However, by the middle of spring that year, the good news came that my situation in Liverpool was most likely going to be permanent. So, I moved straight into top gear, getting everything set up to open a new club! The sabbatical had been nice, and I had read a lot of books, but my fingers were starting to feel a bit twitchy for the weight of a sword again.
In July 2017 we opened the club. It was a resounding success, with our hall at the Liverpool John Moores University Marsh campus quite well-filled with people. Over the next few years, we hit full capacity in the hall more than once!
We focused on 16th century common fencing with the longsword, allowing for minor deviations from that to explore Liechtenauer’s more specialised longsword fencing method. We also organised monthly weekend events where we could experience introductions to different HEMA disciplines. Dussack and broadsword/sabre were favourites, but we also looked at wrestling and dagger, Indian clubs and military “set up” drill, and even armoured combat (just without the armour, because that’s expensive).
When the pandemic restrictions were announced, the LJMU venue closed, but it was scheduled to close anyway, as they were planning to move to the city centre later that year. We managed to arrange with our current venue at the Liverpool College to be able to use their hall and playing fields, as and when the restrictions allowed us to meet for training. The rest of the time, we ran regular sessions on Zoom, forcing me to hit the books every week to create new presentations about different things relating to history and HEMA.
Over the last year, without any further restrictions upon our training, we have managed to get back on track with our training and sparring, and have been hosting guests and visiting other clubs to broaden our training and experience. We have also moved forward with training up our next group of assistant coaches, since we believe firmly in helping our members learn how better to help fellow members, and we have an ever-expanding team of instructors as a result.
We never quite know what the future is going to bring. However, I think that the club is extremely well-placed and healthy after five years of being open, and I am looking forward to seeing how it all develops over the next five years!
My sincere thanks to everyone who has been part of the club over the years. I have enjoyed playing with swords with all of you.