How to get more women in your HEMA club

I get asked this question a lot, and it seems to be cropping up more and more lately: perhaps because more clubs are popping up or looking to recruit more members. HEMA is definitely growing. Here’s my top three tips:

1. Have only women in your advertising materials.

Yes, just women. And I’m not talking about sexy scantily clad models posing with swords, just regular women fencers, doing what they do or wearing their fencing gear. Why just women? The guys will come to your club no matter what you do, just the word “sword” will have them staggering like hungry zombies in your direction. Girls need to see, clearly, front and centre, that this is for them.

2. If you can, have women instructors or women assistants to help with any introduction classes.

Almost all of my female students have said that seeing a woman instructor made a big difference for them, it reassured them that they had made the right decision in choosing this activity. Women always seem to have nagging doubts at the back of their mind, whatever they do. In the case of HEMA that can sound like: “what am I doing here?”, “is this right for me?”, “am I too old/unfit for this?”, “shouldn’t I be doing Zumba or something?”. But that’s conditioned bullshit, they need to let that crap go.

3. Inspire them with a passion for the art.

This goes for all students of HEMA, but particularly for women students because they tend to fill out beginner groups and then drop off as their peers progress. You very rarely find advanced female students in a club. I’m not going to go into the details of why I think this happens, there are many social and economic and psychological factors play, however if you can continually sustain and inspire a love for HEMA, in whatever aspect drives each of your women students, give it your damned best shot. Find out what that is, remember it, give them your time and support them.

Originally posted by ordinaryvisionary

“"It is a great mistake to suppose that women cannot learn fencing as quickly as men…the fact is the women are much the quicker pupils. They are more flexible of body; their limbs are more supple and elastic—that’s one advantage. Their mental brightness enables them to pick up the strategy of the art quicker—that’s a second advantage. And, thirdly, they have more nerve—it’s a fact; I don’t know why, but it’s a fact.”

This is a quote from Thomas Hoyer Monstery, a 19th century swordsman with a ridiculous combat record, who trained arguably one of the greatest swordfighters of her age, Ella Hattan.

He knew his shit.

EDIT: Ella Hattan was not the greatest “female swordfighter” of her age, she was just one of the best, period. In fact she ran out of opponents because men were afraid they would lose to a woman and refused to fight because they couldn’t handle it.“ Jon Mills

Pic: @enaidonthewing

anonymous asked:

What do you think of women's chestplates that have breasts shaped into them, like in the new Power Rangers movie that's coming out? I always thought just having the chestplates men wear would be a better idea but I'm no expert.

I kinda suspected we were going to get this question, but you can rest easy. That’s a creation by Hollywood and the media. Sensible people wear armor that doesn’t kill you.

Real women wore real armor, real women wear real armor. The armor they wear isn’t any different from the armor men wear. Real women throughout history have hidden their gender and gone off to fight. Sometimes, they got caught. Sometimes, they didn’t. Sometimes, they didn’t care if everyone knew. Sometimes, they flipped the bird in the face of cultural norms and swanned off to defeat male opponents in very public duels.

However, they did so dressed like men. Why? Because what men wear when they fight is what makes sense for a person to wear when they go to war.

Hollywood, media, and other forms of entertainment often feel the need to remind you that women are women. They often use audience ignorance as an excuse to sex up their costumes.

Apparently, for Power Rangers, the color coding and a short skirt over the leotard was no longer good enough.

I will cop to having watched a great deal of Power Rangers when I was younger, I was in the target demographic when the original American production aired in the 90s when the Yellow Ranger’s actress, Thuy Trang’s Power Ranger double was actually male because they used the film of the Rangers battling monsters from the Japanese series and there was only one girl rather than two. The Pink Ranger got a miniskirt, but she also got pants.

Ironically, given how much crap it gets, Power Rangers has always had pretty decent parity for it’s time and, as far as, I know, it’s only made the racist color choices mistake once. It is consistent about having at least two female characters with one being a minority and when they switched them out they just swapped races for the colors people complained about. (An African-American actress, Karan Ashley replaced Thuy Trang as the Yellow Ranger, and Johnny Young Bosch switched in for Walter Emanuel Jones. These two were in the team that made up the first Power Rangers Movie which had a theatrical release. I’ll be honest, doing better it isn’t a high bar to hit.)

The boobplate and the heels are new additions to the American version of the franchise, at the very least. I haven’t seen all the runs of the Sentai so I can’t comment.

Real women wear real armor and their armor looks just like a guy’s.

For more information on this subject, I recommend checking out:

Bikini Armor Battle Damage - This is a fun blog that talks a lot about bad design elements for female characters and will give you a host of terribleness to make you cringe. Good for a reminder that it’s ridiculous and that most female outfits are designed for titillation, not combat efficacy.

Rejected Princesses - This is a Tumblr blog about real life female warriors/women history forgot. If you’re on the hunt for inspiration for your own characters, this might be a great start. (While first impressions are good, always remember to research thoroughly.)

Samantha Swords - HEMA practitioner, you want to read about sword fighting/Historical Martial Arts/Training from a woman’s perspective, then Samantha is a great place to start. Her Sword FAQ’s are predominately female focused. If you hunt around, you’ll find some shots of her in armor.

We do have a #WomenWarriors tag.

I hope that helps!


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So, since it’s Christmas, I thought I’d do this

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“Do not underestimate the women of the North.

Shieldmaiden was a woman who had chosen to fight as a warrior in Scandinavian folklore and mythology. They are often mentioned in sagas such as Hervarar saga and in Gesta Danorum. Shieldmaidens also appear in stories of other Germanic nations: Goths, Cimbri, and Marcomanni.The mythical Valkyries may have been based on the shieldmaidens. x


                                                                 When will I die?

“Frigg, the wife of Odin, has already made a decision. But it has not yet been vouchsafed for me. Come back another day, Earl and shield-maiden, and perhaps I may tell you exactly the moment of your death.”