Okay, just kidding, the thread title is inflammatory but I don't mean it that way.
I know some of us here are involved in HEMA (I'm not). I wanted to ask feedback. I've watched this phenomenon grow on the internet the past couple of years with great fascination. I know it's been going on longer than the internet suggests, but all my knowledge of it comes from what's published online and the threads at places like Swordforum.com.
Couple of observations in no particular order, hope you (TFS, Stu, whomever) feel like talking back.
1) Knowledge: One interesting thing about HEMA is there is a widely varying degree of who knows what. Each participant must be a researcher as well as a practitioner of the arts and weapons he/she/they are pursuing. This is both a good thing and a bad thing, IMO, good in that it encourages, nay, demands scholarship and bad in that it's hard to establish who really knows what they are talking about. Which leads us to
2) Lineage and certification. Correct me if I'm wrong but there are several ways, not standard, of identifying who is an expert and who's not, right? I have noticed that some create or are part of organizations (AEMMA, ARMA, etc.) and some come from a classical fencing background. The classical fencers are the ones that impress me the most, just because in some rare cases I can actually see a lineage going back to Victorian swordsmen. Both 1) and 2) lead me to
3) Politics! Holy moly. I lurk at SFI in the HEMA forum, have nothing to add being a kendo/iaido guy, just watch with interest for my own education, and I have always been amazed at some of the cattiness and politics that goes on in this community. People get involved in HEMA for a variety of reasons, many because they just can't believe that you can actually study Western swordsmanship as opposed to Asian, and they love that (I'll admit that's a good reason) but there are also a number of people who, through greed or attention-whoring or necessity, set themselves up as experts. Also, I guess the fact that there's been a gap in knowledge in many cases, from manuals to nothing to people trying to learn and teach what's in the manuals, will necessarily lead to contention, some of it scholastic, some of it personal or organizationally politcal, much of it a mixture of both.
So, you guys that are involved, what do you think? Personally, I would be hesitant to be involved in a combat art where my instructor was not validated by a credible organization. I think if I were going to be in involved in HEMA I would start from a sport-fencing tradition and try to find a classical fencing teacher and from there branch out if I could. I'm never going to do this, however, cuz I'm in kendo for the long haul. But I do find HEMA fascinating. Oh, which leads me to
4) HEMA has been going on a long time, hasn't it? Seems like some if it sprang up at the turn of the century but some of these cats have been trying to make sense of this material for aeons, right?
5) How many manuals are there?!
This post typed hastily, forgive, please.