Research and Teaching

Every member group is expected to conduct research into the European Martial Arts tradition, and to base all techniques and styles on the fruits of that research. The principles of research, practise and instruction promoted by the EHFA are:

1) Historical authenticity:
  • Techniques are based on the descriptions in the historical manuals.
  • Techniques are the best interpretations of  these descriptions.
  • For fencing systems where there remains a living tradition this is the most valuable source. Since living traditions are subject to unrecognized evolution other sources may be used to reinforce or question the living tradition.
  • Written text is the most valuable historical source.
  • Pictures may support the text but are much less valuable on their own.
  • Pictures on their own are only acceptable if there is no written source for the topic available.
  • In case of doubt an instructor must be able to demonstrate that the technique is a valid interpretation of a historical source.
  • It is recognised that there must be reasonable latitude for interpolation: if there is no mention of footwork in a given text, for example, an instructor is still be able to teach that style, by inferring the technique, based on other research and his/her own experience.
2) The Martial approach:
Once duelling and the military use of the sword declined, mainstream European swordsmanship degenerated into a sporting endeavour. One of the major concerns of the EHFA is to re-establish the martial approach. The emphasis in all practise must be on the martial effectiveness of the technique or style in question. This does not imply that only basic, quickly-learned, street-fighting methods are emphasised, but that all practitioners are expected to regard their training as preparation for a frank and earnest encounter with sharp weapons. To further this approach, all EHFA bouts are conducted with the intention of establishing which fencer would survive the encounter if it were in deadly earnest.

The formulation of precise regulations regarding the necessary protective equipment, blade safety, and scoring methods is one of the first duties of the committee.

3) Quality of Instruction
To maintain the quality of practise, the EHFA recognises the need for stringent standards in instruction. The EHFA recognises Instructor level certification from founder-member groups, and Master at Arms level certification from the Internation Master at Arms Federation (IMAF), only. The EHFA expects that instructors:
  • have a profound theoretical and practical understanding of what they teach.
  • have a coherent system of teaching that is effective and safe for all involved, and is subject to historical authenticity and martial effectivness as described above. It should be noted that the teaching method need not be based on a historical model -the EHFA is not concerned with historical teaching methods.
4) Safety
The formulation of precise regulations regarding the necessary protective equipment, blade safety, and scoring methods is one of the first duties of the committee. These will be based on the following guidelines.
i) For the safety of the practitioners in free fencing compromise must be made in the fields of protective equipment, weapons, and permissible techniques.

ii) Compromises which may alter the execution of a technique must be avoided. The EHFA does not require its member groups to engage in free fencing, nor does it require its member groups to invariably conform to EHFA safety guidelines during their own training. EHFA guidelines must be followed when two member organisations meet.

© 2002 by E.H.F.A.
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