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Wrathpoint 2018 highlights the origins of fencing and European martial arts

By Staff | Jul 6, 2018

HEMA Alliance members from the Mid-Atlantic region Charles Lin, left, and Bob Charette, right, face off with longswords Saturday afternoon at The Wellness Center.

Wrathpoint 2018 drew Historical European Martial Arts Alliance member groups from across the Mid-Atlantic region to compete at Shepherd University’s Wellness Center Saturday.

Hosted by Eastern Panhandle-based group Fenris Kunst Des Fechtens, the event featured a day filled with workshops by guest instructors, “playground” games and informal medieval tournaments.

“Most people stay for almost the entire day, until our last event, the Passage of Arms,” said event director, Shepherd University alumni and former Rude Mechanicals fight choreographer Jake Priddy. “Earlier today we did fun fencing — like tag with swords — and a ladder tournament, where fighters fought to reach the top of the pile.”

Most HEMAA weaponry often weighs around three pounds, Priddy said. The armor worn by HEMAA members is tailor-made for their bodies, so HEMAA participation can be expensive. Members will often share armor until they can afford to buy it for themselves.

According to Priddy, HEMAA tends to attract people who enjoy learning about history and experimenting with fighting styles and weaponry described in historic texts. Despite their similar interests, members often come from a wide variety of occupations from police officers to historians to computer engineers to military members to electrical engineers.

“I would describe us as nerd jocks,” Priddy said. “We’re all the guys who loved homework and loved to dig in and be athletic.”

Priddy said almost anyone can pick up a sword and learn to fight at almost any stage of life, although the tournaments do require mental resilience.

“If you’re ambitious and don’t mind getting hit, it’s good for you,” said Diane Frantz, of Martinsburg, who said HEMAA treats its members equally, regardless of gender.

Frantz said some of HEMAA’s skilled female members consistently win against their male competition.

“We had a bunch of women in our Blossfechten tournament today,” said elementary school librarian Brandi Florence, of Manassas, Virginia.

Florence, who normally joins in the tournament, which uses padded fencing costumes rather than armor, opted out so she could help run the event.

“The big assumption I had made, was that only guys fought back in the day. We don’t hear about the women who did have a role, which wasn’t necessarily facing all the knights in battle,” Florence said.

Although minor injuries do happen during the tournaments, Florence said that risk shouldnt stop people from joining HEMAA.

“It’s just something you fall in love with — the athletics, the romanticism, bringing history back,” Florence said. “There’s something therapeutic about it. It’s empowering, to realize you can do some things that other people can’t do.”

To learn more, visit www.hemaalliance.com/.