Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What is HEMA? I've seen that in some articles
HEMA stands for Historical European Martial Arts, the combat
techniques used in Europe throughout history. ARMA specifically
studies the fighting styles and techniques used in Europe
during the Medieval and Renaissance periods. Thus, we usually
refer to our art by the more precise terms of MARE (Martial
Arts of Renaissance Europe) or RMA (Renaissance Martial Arts).
EMA, however, refers to Eastern Martial arts; those originating
Q: Martial Art? But this isn't karate!
That is kind of like saying, "An automobile?
But it's not a Toyota!" The term "martial arts"
refers to "the arts of Mars, the god of war". In
other words, any combat technique. Technically, even what
the military teaches today is martial arts, even though it
now involves assault rifles, grenades, and carpet bombing.
Thanks to television and movies, the first things that pop
to most people's mind when you say "martial art"
are things like karate, kung fu, Power Rangers, Crouching
Tiger Hidden Dragon, American Ninja vs. Godzilla, etc. For
years, it was commonly thought that the European fighting
man was little more than a Neanderthal with a big knife. We
have since learned, however, that he had a fighting system
every bit as complex, effective, and beautiful as that of
Q: Do you do any reenacting?
No. We don't reenact battles, we don't dress up like elves
(although we do have a historical fighting uniform we occasionally
use for demonstrations), and we don't have tournaments. We
are simply interested in learning about and mastering the
art of historical swordplay (although we do have a lot of
fun dueling with each other).
Q: I have three black belts in Kung Fu, I'm a
master of Kendo, a maestro of fencing, I've got every episode
of "Highlander" on DVD, and I'm a knight in...
Whoa, buddy! The first question is, "Do you want to learn
RMA, or are you just here to try and show off?"
Reenactment groups are a lot of fun, so is watching movies
and television. Sport fencers, kendo masters, and karate experts
are great athletes and have a lot of cool moves.
But it isn't what we do.
While we strongly encourage our members to learn other martial
arts, the best thing you can do when taking our classes is
like Stephen Covey says in "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective
"Seek first to understand and then to be understood."
The difference between sport fencing and RMA longsword is
akin to the difference between riding a bicycle and a motorcycle;
one does not make you an expert on the other. Once, one of
our members was discussing longsword with a fellow who was
a self-proclaimed "self-taught expert". The "expert"
demonstrated a totally worthless guard that in a real duel
would have gotten him killed in ten seconds. He insisted that
it was "the only guard you would ever need", and
refused to listen to our member trying to point out that his
"guard" left his entire right side and half of his
left side open to attack. That is the kind of foolishness
we are trying to avoid.
If you are an accomplished martial artist, reenactor, or
sport fencer, great, we will welcome you with open arms. All
that we ask is that you clear your mind of what you have been
previously taught, and learn what we are teaching you. Once
you have achieved a degree of knowledge and skill in RMA,
and understand what we are doing and where we are coming from,
you can then put your prior training to good use, and become
a real help to us. ("Hey guys, I know what this freaky
German dagger move is; we have the same move in Leaping Lizard
Kung Fu. Watch...")
Q: Why are you called the North Siders if you
practice in Missouri City?
Originally there was only one Study Group in Houston which
practiced in Missouri City, and most of our regular members
at that time lived on the north side of Houston. When another
group formed in the Friendswood/Clear Lake area (now defunct),
we tried to find a new practice location further north, but
nobody in town could give us a better deal than Missouri City,
so although we hail from the north, we practice in the south
because that's what invading Northmen do.