Are you choosing the right HEMA gear?

As the manufacturer of Red Dragon HEMA equipment and clothing, we take safety within HEMA seriously and operate to the highest of standards. We are constantly asked by HEMA beginners what equipment they should buy and what would work best with the activity they are doing. In this blog, we will try and advise on what is best.

Each individual has their own assessment of what suits them best when it comes to HEMA gear. This makes it confusing for the beginner as different sources say different answers. The two main properties when it comes to HEMA gear are:

  • – Puncture Resistance (Newtons)
  • – Pain Reduction during hits

As stated previously, the level of protection you will want completely depends on your personal preference and your fighting style. For example, you may choose a lightweight fencing jacket for sparring or a more protective Gambeson for heavy fighting – there is no right answer. The best option is to always talk to your club first and see what requirements they have.

                            Red Dragon HEMA Sparring Jacket

If you are starting from the very beginning at training sessions, there are a few pieces you will need straight away (unless loaned out by your club):

  • – Fencing Mask
  • – Sparring Gloves
  • – Fencing Jacket

With regards to what gear is best for light weapons training:

  • – All of the above
  • – Throat Protector
  • – Fencing Pants
  • – Knee Protectors
  • – Elbow Guards
  • – Groin Protector
  • – Mask Overlay

If you are sparring with full intent, you will need to be fully combat-ready with such gear as:

  • – All of the above
  • – Heavy Sparring Gloves
  • – Forearm Protectors (For heavier Weapons)
  • – Shin Protectors

Full Red Dragon HEMA Kit

If you are competing in tournaments, you will need to abide by a more stringent set of guidelines. We suggest a jacket with a higher Newton rating such as 800N and 1600N for the mask. However, 350N (Light) will be sufficient for normal training purposes. When it comes to gloves, heavy sparring gloves such as the SPES Lobster Gloves are best for tournaments as they offer the most protection, whereas light sparring gloves are best for beginners and training. When competing in tournaments or using heavy weapons, the more protection the better.

Red Dragon HEMA Tournament Fencing Mask – 1600N

Some people are concerned that a higher Newton rating affects the mobility of the fighter, particularly when it comes to fencing jackets. If you want more protection against hits then to some extent your mobility will be affected as these jackets are stiffer and heavier. A good jacket should have enough mobility to raise your arms above your shoulders.

When it comes to buying a sword for sparring sessions, there is a choice of synthetic or steel swords. Synthetic blades are best used for training purposes as they are inexpensive, light and flexible so perfect for getting used to sparring with a partner.

Red Dragon HEMA Synthetic Sparring Arming Sword

Once you feel comfortable, we recommend a steel sword as the best option to train with. There are a few types of steel training sword such as blunt, sharp and Feder.

The blunt sword can be a useful training sword but because of the large mass to the blade, they can hit quite hard. The sharp sword can only be used for test cutting and never with a partner! Sharp swords are reserved for skilled, more advanced practitioners.

Red Dragon Combat – Hand and a Half Sword

The Feder or Federschwert is the best training tool to use when sparring. The Feder has a blunt, thinner blade, meaning it is more flexible and does not hit as hard as a blunt sword, especially when thrusting. We recommend using a Feder with a training partner who has to receive multiple hits over a lesson.

HEMA Sparring Longsword (Federschwert)

It may take you a few months to gather all the equipment and clothing you need so do not expect to be fully combat-ready on your first training session. Start off with the vital equipment and clothing to keep the intensity low until you are able to perform comfortably. As your skills improve, you can raise the intensity of your sessions and include more gear. As you include more gear, you may start to feel uncomfortable but this is natural. You just need to stick it out to ‘break-in’ everything like a new pair of leather shoes.