Frequently Asked Questions

What is MEMAG?
M.E.M.A.G. is a group of HEMA fighters and researchers founded by Cory Winslow in 2006.
We are a dedicated group of instructors and students providing an inclusive and accommodating environment to learn and practice what is commonly known as Kunst des Fechtens (Art of Fighting), or KDF, as it’s often called.

What is HEMA?
HEMA is a broad term that encompasses a number of fighting and weapons systems common to the European continent which date back to the late Middle Ages, extending through the Renaissance and into the Early Modern Period. The weapons common to HEMA are many and varied, and range from the more familiar (swords, both one and two-handed) to the more obscure (sickle, flail, etc.).

What is KDF?
KDF itself is a German fighting system which includes not only the longsword, but a number of other weapons (dagger, messer, staff, etc.), and also grappling. These arts were taught for hundreds of years, with some of the earliest source material dating back to the very beginning of the 14th century, evolving and surviving well into the 17th century before all but disappearing in the years that followed. The modern-day HEMA practitioners who currently study these arts are, in effect, resurrecting these lost traditions and re-creating one of the most elegant and fascinating martial systems common to history.

What is your primary aim?
Our ambition is to interpret and apply these ancient martial arts and teach them to all who wish to study them in an effort to resurrect, and perhaps perpetuate, traditions that would otherwise be lost. We are fortunate enough to have a dedicated core of practitioners who are committed to making this vision a reality, while learning and having fun along the way.

Do you use actual sharp swords?
We use blunt steel weapons in our training.  We do have synthetic longswords available, but steel provides the best training experience.  For other weapons systems (such as dagger) we use synthetic training weapons.  There are times when we band together with fighters from other clubs and have cutting sessions with sharp blades, but these are special events.

Do I get to actually fight with a sword?
Absolutely!  Students can begin sparring with an experienced practitioner as soon as their second day.  Obviously, there is a certain amount you need to learn before you become proficient, and one of our more seasoned members will be able to help you progress as safely as possible as you proceed with your training.

Is this dangerous? What are the risks involved?
There is a measure of risk, but the practices we have in place are very effective.  We don’t take any unnecessary gambles, and as a result, our safety record is outstanding.  Generally, the most common occurrences involve a bruise or two on occasion.  We place emphasis on weapon and force control, and that tends to limit injury.

How does this compare with what we see in the movies?
There are several key differences between what you see in the movies and what you’ll see in our school.  The sort of sword fighting we practice is far more technical and faceted, and even more fun than what you see in a Hollywood production.

I already have a martial arts background.  Will this help?
The short answer is yes.  Many martial systems teach the importance of timing, distance management, and force application, so any familiarity with these concepts is only going to benefit you.  It won’t prepare you for everything, but it should be of use, depending on the validity of the training you’ve received.

Will I be using a sword just like they did in Medieval times?
Yes, or as close as we can come to understanding how the weapons we practice with were used in the 14th,  15th, and16th centuries (the time period from which most of our sources derive).

Am I going to have a “Cobra Kai” experience? Will I be yelled at, made to do push ups, etc?
No.  We are a friendly and welcoming group. You can come and simply observe during your first class, and move at a sensible pace thereafter.  Sparring is not mandatory, no matter how long you’ve been training with us.  If you’re comfortable doing so, however, you can try a light sparring session as soon as your second class (if you sign our Wavier Form, of course).

How do I get started?
All you need to begin is a willingness to learn, and a means to get to our venue. Step one is to come to our school to see for yourself what we do and how we do it. The first class is free, and you can either sit in or actually participate (with an experienced practitioner or instructor, that is). Time after class will be set aside to provide additional information and answer any questions you might have. Our address and contact information can be found here.

What sort of gear will I need to participate in class?
We have loaner gear available for new students (fencing masks and gloves), but be advised that due to the ongoing pandemic, all loaner gear is student-specific; that is, once you begin training with a piece of worn equipment, it will be the only gear you receive, unless something breaks or wears out (so choose wisely!), or unless you purchase your own. There is a wide variety of steel, wood, and synthetic weapons available for you to choose from, although steel provides the best experience (by far) and is therefore highly recommended.

What is the cost?
Your first class is free.  After that, our dues are $20 for each class, *or* $50 per month.  Since the classes run for several hours starting at 3 PM on Sundays, you really have a chance to get your money’s worth.  Dues are payable in cash in person, or through PayPal, using the crossingdues@gmail.com address.  ALL the proceeds go to the school itself to cover equipment, venue, and insurance expenses.

I want to get my own equipment. What do I need and where do I get it?
Everything you need in the way of HEMA items can be found at Purpleheart Armoury.  They have a huge inventory of weapons and protective gear, and have some of the better prices you’ll find on the Internet.  There are other companies that sell this sort of equipment, but many of our members have had good experiences with them, and thus they come highly recommended.  Their site can be found here: https://www.woodenswords.com

If you have a questions that’s not answered above, please Contact us.