Written by Lauren, CFOS Instructor

Our First Rule of Sword Fighting at CFOS (Calgary Fellowship of the Sword)

The first class of learning how to fight with a sword could be intimidating, but we always try to bring our new students into the art with humour, and acceptance. Part of that is making a seemingly joke comment that’s very important down the line:

Don’t get hit. Don’t die.

Lauren "Danger" Shaw - HEMA instructor and founding member of Calgary Fellowship of the Sword.

Obviously in any fight, the goal is to hit someone else and not be hit yourself.

But what we’re really trying to impress upon those new to weapon-based martial arts is that you must remember to defend yourself, and not just lash out to deliver a strike on the opponent.

Thus, rule number one is don’t get hit.


Well as we’re discussing Medieval longsword in those first six classes, we’re also learning that historically, it’s a bad idea to have any injuries in a confrontation. In a time before antibiotics or even proper wound care, any nasty cut could be a very bad thing, leading to death hours or days after receiving the injury.

In the modern perspective of HEMA tournaments, a lack of defending yourself creates what’s called a “double” where both participants in a match hit each other at the same time.

Depending on the ruleset the host organisation has, this could cost you points, bring an abrupt end to the match, or automatically count as a loss for both participants, if there are too many of these doubles in one round.

Calgary Fellowship of The Sword members practice sword fighting with the longsword. HEMA instructors pose for a photo. Calgary Fellowship of The Sword offers HEMA classes in Southeast Calgary and sword fighting classes in Southeast Calgary. Join today!

How do we apply this in our classes?

Can you do HEMA classes in all the chainmail?

Throughout our lessons, we always make sure to discuss how to parry an attack, that is, block and displace so you can counter safely.

A fast opponent may launch a series of attacks, a combination of cuts and thrusts designed to overwhelm you or at least test your abilities.

Knowing how to block these attacks matters.

Knowing when to control the opposing blade and launch your counterattack is even better.

Perhaps just knowing how to circle out of the way is just as good as all of that.

Okay, no matter what a person does, everyone does get hit eventually.

Proper gear will take the sting out of those hits, but it is still being on the losing end of the sword.

By planting the “don’t get hit” idea early, we hope to get new members thinking about self-preservation as much as winning, about preventing a wound rather than landing a hit, and of course, focusing on the techniques of sword fighting left to us in the old manuals instead of just going all out to tag an opponent before being tagged.

Don’t get hit. Don’t die. Simple to say, not easy to master, but a worthy idea to keep in mind from the moment you pick up a sword and throughout your entire martial arts career. 

Calgary Fellowship of the Sword is Southeast Calgary’s immersive, inclusive, & afforable not-for-profit HEMA club.

Calgary Fellowship of the Sword LOGO. Calgary Fellowship of The Sword offers HEMA classes in Southeast Calgary and sword fighting classes in Southeast Calgary. Join today!