About Us

The Tattershall School of Defence is a non-profit 501(c)3 educational organization dedicated to the study and instruction of Historical European Martial Arts (HEMA).

Founded in 2000 and incorporated in 2003, the Tattershall School of Defense has an established history of research, training & education. Tattershall instructors have gained international recognition for teaching & translation.

Tattershall has had a profound impact on community segments, such as the Society for Creative Anachronism, where we pioneered historical fencing and created two new combat forms.

Experienced members of TSD have been instrumental in providing translations of historical Italian fencing treatises such as Capo Ferro, Giganti, Marozzo, dall’Agocchie and Agrippa and also information on Spanish swordplay. Although the primary expertise is 16th and 17th Century Italian swordplay, instructors in the group also teach unarmed combat, smallsword, longsword, among other interests. With the majority of the School Board being or having been professional teachers, pedagogical classes are also a focus.

What is HEMA?

HEMA is the acronym for Historical European Martial Arts. HEMA focuses on the study and practice of martial arts that have since evolved beyond recognition, or been replaced over time, such as sword fighting.

Surviving texts and manuscripts from the Medieval, Renaissance, or post-Renaissance eras serve as the primary source material. Typically written in Italian, German, French or Spanish, translations of these texts are becoming increasingly more available.

HEMA is sometimes referred to as WMA, or Western Martial Arts. The term Historical Fencing is also accurate. The three names are frequently used interchangeably, though there can be differences. For example, WMA may include arts currently in use, where HEMA and Historical Fencing are generally geared toward martial arts from particular periods.

Classes and Workshops

Classes and Workshops happen in a welcoming and supportive atmosphere. They can be demanding, rewarding commitment and hard work with challenge and growth.

Tattershall classes offer a defined curriculum with structured lesson plans and clear outcomes. Professional teaching background guides curriculum development.

Source material for courses comes directly from period resources. Most courses focus on a particular text and weapon. Others are more comparative, including multiple period perspectives on specific topics.

Knowledge vs. Tricks
Instead of learning tactics that work in specific situations, against specific opponents, students learn historical fencing theory. As a result, they are able to identify and understand what is happening while fencing. Instead of hoping the moment to apply a trick materializes, students are empowered to creatively problem solve in the moment, and ultimately direct the fight by their actions.

Tattershall classes are structured to facilitate this systematic approach. Each individual lesson directly supports the larger course goals. This in turn helps gain systematic understanding of historical fencing theory.