Parksville taekwondo instructor Seth Fleming-Alho recently had the chance to compete in the Historical European Martial Arts (HEMA) gathering in Tacoma, Washington, coming home with a great experience.
There was a large contingent from Fleming-Alho’s Blood and Iron school, but the gathering also included participants from Oregon, Washington, California, Montana, the Netherlands, Finland and Scotland.
Fleming–Alho also teaches the soft-sword “chanbara” (weapons) classes. He is also a student of the New Westminster Blood and Iron Martial Arts School, where he studies the combat styles of medieval and renaissance Europe.
Earlier this August, Fleming–Alho ventured into the past when he attended the Pacific North West HEMA gathering south of the border in Tacoma.
The tournament consisted of training seminars and competitions. The seminars provided training in sword and buckler techniques, grappling, hand-to-hand combat and knife work. The competitions included long sword, sword and buckler, single stick, grappling and tatami mat cutting.
Seth competed in two single stick matches. He won his first match, but lost to a fellow Blood and Iron student in his second match. The person he lost to earned second place in the competition.
For Fleming–Alho, this was a chance to meet people with similar interests, train with world-class HEMA instructors, and experience the competition.
“People who don’t know much about HEMA think it consists of the slow-moving of heavy swords,” said Fleming–Alho. “But in reality it is very fast-paced, and takes a lot of concentration.”
“Participants must constantly think about their stance, look for openings to strike and be prepared to block an opponent’s attack,” he said.