This woman will get medieval on your @$$
People reflexively think of martial arts as Asian in origin, male in practice, and bare fisted. However, there are are of course also western martial arts traditions; many of them use weapons.
The advent of mixed martial arts has been instructive.
The dominant martial art in MMA is western wrestling, as it determines where the fight takes place. If you want to strike, it is wrestling that allows you to keep striking. If you want to submit, it is wrestling that takes it to the ground. If your opponent is the better striker, it is wrestling that drives his or her hips to the fence. Further, the best known fighter in mixed martial arts is a women, Ronda Rousey.
Tanya Smith and a group of women in New York are training in European martial arts, following lessons and techniques of master swordsmen from the 14th century and onward. And they are carving out their own space.
In May they hosted Fecht Yeah, the USA’s first-ever Historical European Martial Arts (HEMA) tournament created exclusively by and for women. “Fecht” means fight, in Old High German. Women pioneers in combat sports like Judo, karate, and MMA will find the pattern familiar. They start in a sport dominated by men, and are marginalized at competitions, but eventually the sport comes round.
CNN’s Great Big Story has the story:
Smith is a Historical European Martial Arts fighter, part of a small circle of women who battle in ancient disciplines including German longsword, rapier, saber, and sword and buckler. They practice at the New York Historical Fencing Association (NYHFA) in East Harlem, where male fighters outnumber the women four to one.
Smith is on a mission to change that disparity.
Not everyone welcomes Fecht Yeah’s feminist implications, though. Throughout her HEMA career, Smith says, she’s run into (mostly male) opponents of women’s tournaments who think that because HEMA is about technique, not brute force, women-only events threaten to destroy the integrity of the art. Male HEMAists have routinely written her privately with warnings to keep “politics” out of fighting. The messages are peppered with obscenities and threats of violence — the routine trolling that women with opinions are subjected to on the internet.
Rather than discourage Smith, though, the bile spurred her to action: “I just got to a point where I was tired of constantly being pulled under by these people who don’t educate themselves or listen, and figured I’m capable enough to plan my own tournament.”
The article also contains incredible images by Brad Trent’s Damn Ugly Photography. The word incredible gets thrown around in art so much it means “neat.” But these photos are incredible. You can check them out HERE.
For more information on Historical Eastern Martial Arts please visit HEMA.events.