The New York Historical Fencing Association is a school of Historical European Martial Arts (HEMA). Our studies are based on the teachings of the 14th century German fencing master Johannes Liechtenauer. Although we focus primarily on the longsword, our curriculum includes wrestling, dagger, sword and buckler, spear and poleaxe. NYHFA is a member of the HEMA Alliance.

New Location!

NYHFA Longsword Curriculum is now being offered in Manhattan, through Sword Class NYC, taught by NYHFA Instructor Tristan Zukowski. Please visit for all information pertaining to class schedule, class fees, etc.

Monday, October 25, 2010

I can't practice at home because...

I hear this all the time.

"I can't practice at home because I have low ceilings."
"I can't practice at home because I have no room."
"I can't practice at home because...etc."

Yes, you can practice. You just don't want to. Some of you remember the fish grill. It is a cooking implement I lent to one of our students that makes a perfect practice weapon for confined spaces. It can even make a good sound when your "edge" alignment is correct.

The point of the fish grill is, where there's a will, there's a way. Want to practice? Take a waster. Cut it in half (or smaller). Duct tape a small weight to the end. With something like this you can practice in an airplane bathroom.

There is only one reason not to practice, and that is you don't want to. Admitting that is the first step.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


One of the common ills inherent in practicing a work-in-progress recreated art is a lack of consistency. How you do things changes as you make new discoveries, and it is not uncommon to have more than one way of doing something because you're just not sure which is the best way.

The problem is, what you are losing by not picking one far exceeds any potential gains from diversifying.

The problem with allowing for diversity in your body mechanics is that you never train yourself to be consistent, and without consistency your practice is only partially effective. When you force yourself to do things a specific way, you are teaching your body how to comply with your will, to do things the way you want them done when you want. This is a form of discipline. Discipline, both mental and physical, is the cornerstone of martial arts. You can learn and memorize a thousand techniques, but if you can't control your body under duress then those techniques are worthless.

Another reason for consistency is muscle memory. It is a powerful force, easily demonstrated in most people's every day lives. When was the last time you consciously thought about turning the wheel or pushing pedals in a car? If you have too many ways of doing something, your muscle memory may become confused, or you may run into problems recalling the appropriate muslce memory to deal with the situation at hand.

In other words, if you have 10 ways of doing something, when are you wrong? And if you're never wrong, how can you be right?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


One of the most important aspects of good body mechanics is also the most neglected and the easiest to do...posture. It's very simple: keep your back straight as you strike, or you may trip and fall on your face.

I've previously discussed using video as a training aid. Record yourself doing some striking drills and freeze frame at the moment of impact. Is your back straight? Or are you leaning forward? If the latter, you are wrong, and need to correct yourself.

This is a mistake many people make, including myself, particularly in the heat of free fencing when you want those extra few inches of reach. However, there should be no excuse for doing this during drills. Be aware of what your body is doing, and keep your center of gravity where it the center.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Power distribution in a cut

I'd like everyone to read this blog post by Sang Kim sensei (link below). It talks about power distribution in a cut...that is, where you should be applying power and where you should be relaxing.

Don't worry...there are pictures.