Updated: Jan 15
Note: Edited Jan 15, 2020 to reflect changes in our policies.
So you've completed our Beginner's Program, and you are just starting out in HEMA. Here are some simple tips for staying connected to the school and classes, and how to expand your horizon in this martial art.
1. Connect to our discord and our member's page. Discord is an amazing platform where we post important announcements, events coming up, and where we can quickly communicate changes to class times or sudden cancellations, etc. Our Facebook page is a great resource for asking general questions or hanging out with other students during our off-hours. We post official information on Discord and keep the Facebook space open for people to prefer it.
2. Check the calendar or discord just before taking the drive out. We always will update this to reflect classes that are canceled for weather or safety conditions, and we add events there as well such as Wildrealms. Keep in mind, all of our instructors do this in their spare time, for free, for the benefit of the community. If something out of our control occurs, or we notice icy conditions or flooding rains, we will sometimes have to cancel a class. Take a moment just before you leave, click on the calendar and on the actual day/event itself, and ensure that all of the information has not changed. We will straight-out delete days we know in advance are going to be canceled (such as on a holiday, or when a class would overlap with an event), but for unexpected cancelations, we will update the event with big bold "CANCELED" in the title.
3. Pick a source material. We encourage students to read treatises early on. If you're looking for recommendations, this website has a fantastic helpful guide. Our fellow HEMAists have developed a lovely wiki where translations of source material are free to read and interpret for yourself. Why read a treatise if we are teaching these techniques? Well, this is an important part of cultivating your own unique fighting style. It is the difference between learning as a beginner that Pflug is a very specific guard, and further understanding that pflug can be many positions and stances all umbrellaed under the same guard name. Any HEMA instructor is at least a secondary source, most are tertiary resources, and we all bring our own biases, anachronisms, and interpretations to the table. Diving into the sources themselves can help make sense of teachings, link concepts together in a new way, and help cultivate understanding in this art. While it can be daunting, try starting small and picking a source that you find interesting. Our school hosts study groups from time to time to help cultivate source reading as a group to make the task easier.
4. Pick a schedule that works for you. We add up your patch hours and keep track of your membership, attendance, and even the amount of time you have trained with us. Not only do we use these as incentive rewards, but we also think it is important to cultivate a steady habit in any art. Our recommendation is to come to 2-3 classes of each class we offer, and then figure out what days/training styles work best for you. It is better to come once a week and train in your favorite class than to try to make every single class and find yourself overwhelmed. While Sunday is our most popular class, you might find Thursday nights work better for you. It is also a great way to meet other students and cross-train into other classes. Keep in mind, we also offer discounted private lessons for members, so if you are wanting more training in odd hours, let us know and we can help.
5. Pick out a vest. Any vest works for us, but keep in mind the patches we award are leather (as we have a leathersmith that creates them). This helps display your achievements, helps start conversations with strangers about our school, and it also helps us identify each other in a group setting at events. We expect anyone displaying our logos or other school identifiers to uphold the 9 virtues and our code of conduct.
6. Get some gear. We want to be very clear: we will never require, outside of a cup, any student to buy gear. We do, and will always, have loaner gear for drills, instructional activity, focused sparring, etc. We do, however, request that before you jump into the ring and spar at full speed that you have adequate safety gear to protect your most valuable body parts. A cup, a helmet with head protection + a gel cap, a gorget, and gloves are what we expect all students to strive for obtaining. Starting to obtain this gear after 3 months of training is our strong recommendation, if not sooner, as these items were specifically picked out for their need to be sized to your body to protect you properly. We have a gear FAQ on our website that details more about how to shop for gear and what to buy.
7. Build some gear! Once a month we do a monthly gear building workshop. You don't need to buy all of your gear at once. A cup is the first thing we recommend (if you have male genitalia) to buy, as you cannot spar without it. The second buy is a mask and gel cap -- but you can save some money this way by building back of the head and side of the head protection for your helmet yourself. Gorgets are a common thing we build in our school, as well as training weapons and shields. Keep an eye on the shop and Discord for more information on this. Even if you'd prefer to buy items, we always need volunteers to sponsor or build items for the school.
8. Get involved in our community events. We are very active in our local community: going to demonstrations, participating in monthly social events, or our large in-house tournaments. We have many ways to get involved and fun things to do. A huge part of our school is community building, so please join us and volunteer, participate, or even just show up and say hello. Any way you can get involved will help you meet other members and have some fun in the process.
9. Never be shy to communicate with instructors. We cannot know if there is a problem if you do not tell us. We are always striving to ensure you get the most out of your training, but we also want to honor your pace and your lifestyle. If you have any concerns, questions, or special considerations, do not hesitate to tell us. We want to know how to improve what we do, and everyone has a unique perspective to bring to the table.
Anything you'd like to see on here that we missed? Let us know! We appreciate you getting started with us, and look forward to continuing to train with you.