Hello! My name is Katja and I’m an illustrator who has recently discovered the wonderful world of Historical European Martial Arts – otherwise known as HEMA! As a way to share my experiences with people, I started making little comic strips about my discoveries in this sport, record things that would excite or confuse me, or simply rant about how frustrating it is to find a jacket that I’d like!

What is HEMA?

As somebody who has only just scratched the surface of HEMA, I’d say that it’s a sport where people fight each other with historical European weapons like longswords, rapiers, daggers and poleaxes. They have a great time, then have a big hug and go out for a beer – or fight some more.

However, people who DO know what they are talking about can talk passionately and endlessly about the history of HEMA and how it gets back to the origins of modern fencing. They can show you all of the manuscripts and notes made by long-dead fencing masters that they’ve used to recreate the art, compare different fencing styles and techniques from different countries, and know how to look AMAZING while fighting. Some people practice HEMA for the art and history, some like to compete in tournaments and collect medals, some are here to enjoy the amazing community, or maybe people stay for everything!

How did I get into HEMA?

I was originally looking for art clubs or societies to shake up my social life that was looking really bland at the time. However nothing stuck, so I decided to step out of my comfort zone and see what else was available. And that’s how I discovered sword-fighting classes.

— wait, what? People still fight with SWORDS? What is going on here?

There was a rapier class close to where I worked, so out of curiosity I phoned the instructor. David Rawlings answered, and a little while later I was standing in a gym hall surrounded by strangers wielding swords.

Life has not been the same since \o/ I attend classes, love playing with new weapons, help out at tournaments, and while I can’t say I’m any good at anything here, I CAN say that I’m having the best time with everybody and all of the new people I meet! HEMA is great and I’m really looking forward to seeing what else is out there and sharing it with you all in future comics!