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Required Equipment for HEMA at Annapolis Valley Historical Fencing

Updated: Aug 2, 2022

Updated: August 1st, 2022



HEMA (Historical European Martial Arts) is an inherently violent martial art or sport. It usually involves swinging a sword at someone else's head with the intention of hitting them, and then trying again until you succeed!


This is why we wear safety equipment. And for different levels of training, and different weapons we train with, there are differences in the amount of equipment we need to wear. Here's a quick table to show you what's required, and we'll go into more depth below.



First off, the colour coding should be pretty self-explanatory. Items in Green are provided by Annapolis Valley Historical Fencing. Items in Yellow are recommended for this activity, but are not mandatory. And items in Red are required to participate in that activity.


Weapons: We train with different weapons throughout the year. All weapons are provided in the Youth Classes. Synthetic training weapons are provided for the Adult classes, but steel ones are not. So if you plan on sparring with steel eventually you'll need to bring your own.


Fencing Mask: Fencing masks are required during all sparring with all weapons. They are provided for Youth and Adult Beginner Classes to make them more accessible. You don't need to invest heavily in equipment to find out if you even like HEMA enough to continue. Once you join the Intermediate Classes you must purchase your own Fencing Mask, either from this website or elsewhere. A standard 'Three Weapons' Fencing Mask will do, although there are many stronger options out there now.


Back of Head Protection: Because we move around in all directions, the back of the head is sometimes exposed to strikes. To mitigate this, we wear an added layer to the fencing mask that protects the back of the head and sometimes the sides and top as well.


Gorget: A Gorget is a type of neck protection worn under the fencing mask that will save your throat from being injured. This is not a place to cut corners. If a gorget is required, it's required. They can be synthetic, leather, or even steel. As long as they will do the job.


Jacket: A HEMA jacket is like a more padded version of a sport fencing jacket. We don't require them at Annapolis Valley Historical Fencing, but we do recommend them for steel weapons sparring. Also, many tournaments you may want to compete in require jackets.


Rigid Elbows: HEMA specific rigid elbows are preferred, but other options include hockey elbow pads, motocross gear, or skateboard elbow protection.


Padded/Rapier Gloves: These are thin or lightly padded leather or synthetic gloves that provide some protection against light blows and abrasions.


Rigid Gloves: HEMA specific gloves are preferred for Adults, but Youth are welcome to wear hockey or lacrosse gloves.


Chest Protection: Chest Protection, sometimes called a Plastron, is additional stiff protection on the chest to reduce the impact from a thrust.


Groin Protection: Rigid Groin Protection is required for students of ALL genders at ALL times. Often called an Athletic Cup, they can also go by the name Pelvic Protector or Jill Cup.


Pants: Padded HEMA Pants can help reduce bruising, especially in steel weapons sparring.


Rigid Knee Protection: HEMA specific rigid knees are preferred, but other options include hockey knee/shin pads, motocross gear, or skateboard knee protection.

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