The New York Historical Fencing Association is a school of Historical European Martial Arts (HEMA). We teach the Kunst des Fechtens (arts of fighting) of medieval Germany as described in the various surviving manuscripts of the Liechtenauer tradition. Students learn how to fight with the medieval longsword, period grappling techniques and other weapons of the system.
The focus of our research and training are the Kunst des Fechtens of the Liechtenauer tradition, a martial system of German origin. It is primarily based on the use of the longsword and includes both unarmed combat (wrestling) and weapons such as the poleaxe, spear, dagger, and sword and buckler. We spend most of our time with the unarmored longsword and wrestling material.
The tradition’s earliest known manuscript was written by 14th century master Johannes Liechtenauer, who documented his teachings in a set of cryptic verses designed to aid his students in remembering the fundamentals of his system. Later day masters and students wrote in-depth and comprehensive commentaries on Liechtenauer’s verses, which is where most of our information comes from. NYHFA works primarily with the Sigmund Ringeck and Danzig manuscripts, though we also draw material from other texts such as 3227a, the works of Hans Talhoffer, Paulus Kal and others.
Our curriculum is heavily focused on body mechanics and basics, and places equal emphasis on drills (solo and paired), free fencing and cutting (e.g. tatami), with each type of training used to inform and validate the others. We believe that, ideally, students should train as though they will one day have to use their skills in earnest, for to do anything less would not be true to the art we are attempting to revive.