What are Western Martial Arts (WMA) and Historical European Swordsmanship (HES)?

(WMA) refers to the overall family of martial arts that developed in the western hemisphere, while Historical European Martial Arts (HEMA) or Historical European Swordsmanship (HES) refers to those branches of the WMA family that focus upon traditional Medieval and rennaisance  weapons and may or may not be reconstructions of systems with no living lineage.The rich tradition of European armed and unarmed martial arts is documented back to the 13th century. While some of these arts have survived to this day, many were discarded over the centuries as new weapons and methods of combat rose to take their place. Western Martial Arts

Fortunately, from the year 1300 generation after generation of Italian, English, French, German, and Spanish Masters at Arms recorded their methods in pictures and words. These treatises instruct students in unarmed combat, knife fighting and defense, swordplay, the use of polearms, and mounted combat. Currently dozens of these texts are undergoing translation and interpretation by a growing world-wide community of enthusiasts, martial artists, and scholars.


L’arte dell’Armizare – The Art of Arms



Armizare (are-mit-TZAR-ay) is the Italian medieval name for the martial arts of the aristocratic warrior class of Europe – the knights.  Generally speaking during the medieval era, the ruling classes and the upper echelon of the fighting classes were the same people, and they developed sophisticated martial arts systems to pursue what was in fact a large part of their role in society: fighting.  This is especially true in the Italian peninsula during the 13th through 16th centuries, a period that might reasonably be called Italy’s “warring states period.”  During this period city-states often enforced political goals by force of arms using condotierri, professional warriors who led mercenary armies as a business, and as a means to social advancement.

One of these was a man named Fiore de’ Liberi, son of a minor nobleman from the town of Premariacco, near Cividale del Friuli. Near the end of his active career, he composed a remarkable martial arts manuscript: the Fior di Battaglia, the Flower of Battle.  It was written for Niccolo III d’Este, the ruler of the principalities of Ferrara, Modena, and Parma – a powerful early Renaissance prince.


Scott Wilson:

Scott Wilson, a materials engineer by trade, is the proprietor of Darkwood Armory, a company specializing in high quality swords and armor for practitioners of medieval and renaissance martial arts, theater, and re-enactment since 1996.  Scott holds ranks of 1st Dan in Shotokan Karate, an advance trainer certification on Cadena de Mano  Arnis, an intermediate rank in Muy Thai kickboxing, and has studied many other eastern arts throughout his life.

Scott’s start in the Western Martial Arts began in 1984 when he discovered George Silver’s Paradox’s of Defence. Later he read and started teaching techniques from Saviolo’s manual. Though he was unfamiliar with the Italian language, he was able to peice together some information from Salvatore Fabris’ manual which had been given to him by a friend.

He is currently the director of the Southern Academy of Swordsmanship and Western Martial Arts, and leads a program teaching Italian longsword, Sword and buckler, and military saber as well well as a smattering of other arts. Scott’s primary interest is in the practical application of these historical techniques in fighting situations.

Having ridden off and on throughout his life, Scott began jousting in 2010. He has a great interest in mounted combat and is planning on incorporating an equestrian program into this school of arms.

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