The goals of SHEMAS are:

  • to promote and develop Historical European Martial Arts Studies (HEMAS) as a relevant academic field within the study of human history and culture;
  • to show the importance of martial arts discourses and fighting practices for an understanding of medieval and early modern European history;
  • to establish HEMAS as an integral part of the larger international and transdisciplinary project of Martial Arts Studies (MAS);
  • to support and coordinate academic research projects;
  • to facilitate communication and collaboration between independent and affiliated researchers, as well as between researchers and martial arts practitioners.

To achieve its goals, SHEMAS proposes:

  • to build and enlarge a network of university institutions, academic organisations, museums, publishers, and individual researchers involved in the study of historical European martial arts and their cultural contexts;
  • to run a website including a specialised bibliography of source material and secondary literature, a presentation of research projects, and researcher portfolios;
  • to organise international conferences dedicated to the academic study of historical European martial arts, as well as panels within renowned international congresses;
  • to facilitate funding applications, institutional collaborations, and the publication of high standard research


The society is not involved in the practice or promotion of HEMA as a modern martial art, though its work may help to bridge the gap between researchers working on historical European martial arts cultures and practitioners who are trying to recreate embodied techniques of the past based on the interpretation of historical evidence.

SHEMAS opposes the ideological instrumentalisation of historical European martial arts in attempts to create national or cultural identities. Strongly promoting a critical, comparative, transnational, and transdisciplinary agenda, SHEMAS will neither tolerate apologetic research aiming at a promotion of the superiority of specific martial arts styles or cultures, nor any form of (cultural) racism, nationalism or sexism.