We hope you are staying healthy in mind and body as we ride this Omicron wave. Here’s hoping this is the last one we will have to endure. COVID has disrupted every aspect of all our lives for the past two years, and we at the Warriors of Ash have felt its bite along with our community at large. We’ve missed seeing you at our monthly fight nights at the Odditorium, raising mead horns with you at our Festival of Heroes, and hearing your cheers at Asheville ComicCon. Along with losing our beloved War Room, we’ve lost precious time all being together. To say it’s been a long two years would be an understatement, but we hold firm to our faith that good times are just ahead.
One thing the extended pause has done for us is given us the opportunity to look inward and think about ourselves and our role in our community. Who is a Warrior? What does a Warrior do? What does a Warrior want to do? How does a Warrior take their coffee? OK, maybe the last bit would be getting a little personal, but even though we’ve loved interacting with our community for many years now, we felt it was time to formally introduce ourselves. To that end, we’ve forged a mission statement to help you get to know us a little better:
Warriors of Ash exists to promote the awareness and practice of Historic European Martial Arts (HEMA) and Viking Combat. Through the study of historical sources and the practice of experimental archeology, we apply principles of physical fitness and practical application to spread our passion for HEMA to everyone regardless of race, gender, or sexual identity to create an inclusive community.
Yeah we know, it’s a little academic but it looks good on our website. Let’s look at it one piece at a time. Warriors of Ash is a school for the study of HEMA. And what is included in HEMA? That depends on who you ask. In the broadest sense, HEMA is the practice of combat arts, armed and unarmed, that came from Europe. That encompasses a huge range of disciplines that were birthed from a huge range of cultures over a period of 500 years. Warriors of Ash has narrowed our focus primarily to German and Italian longswords, but once the steel grabs you so to speak a whole new world is opened up to you. We have members that actively study Bolognese sidesword, rapier, and saber fighting. Basically, we learn sword fighting from ancient masters. And who are these masters? We’ll save that particular rabbit hole for another day. At the end of the day, HEMA is a great way to stay in shape, increase your mental acuity, and meet a lot of highly interesting characters.
What really sets Warriors of Ash apart from other HEMA schools is our additional study of Viking Combat. That’s something you will only find in a handful of schools worldwide. This is where our study of experimental archeology comes in. We’re literally learning about tenth century Norse life by studying the way they fought. Action nerds! We’re extremely lucky to have to opportunity to engage in this ridiculously cool pastime. And it’s kinda how we set ourselves apart in the rapidly growing world of HEMA. So if you hear us scream “Skol!” to each other, it’s just our way of saying hello.
Now let’s talk about what HEMA is not. We understand that our study comes from historical records that date back to the 15th century, and that’s where it belongs. We keep it in this context, and though we recognize the value of these martial arts as a means of self-defense, we remain engaged in our modern community. We live in a world that is made up a magnificent and limitless range of racial heritages, gender identities, and sexual orientations. These are all to be celebrated–each and every one. A top rule for any of our Warriors is that we serve every member of our community and never discriminate against anyone because of what makes them beautifully unique. It’s one of our founding principles and something that I personally take great pride in. As long as you come with love, anyone is welcome to join in.
That’s who we are. We’d love to get to know you as well. There’s a lot of exciting projects, demonstrations, and tournaments that we’re planning for 2022. Stay tuned as we announce when you’ll be able to come and see us live. Stop by, say hello, and lift a horn with us. Who knows–you may end up swinging a sword of your own in the future.