Karin Verelst – Working with the Female Body in HEMA (IV)

 A field still relatively unknown and  somewhat underrated in the community, but with appreciation  and interest growing, I expect the  quality of training methods and hence HEMA fencing overall (especially, but not only, for women) only to further increase over the coming years. HEMA both as a martial discipline and as a sport could become a  trailblazer in this respect in the world of martial arts and combat sports in general.

Weapon: Unarmed, Longsword

Source: Various wrestling sources from the German (Liechtenauer) and the Italian (Fiore) tradition.

Women (and some men) face a lot of challenges when they want to practice HEMA (or other martial arts) on a high level in non-segregated contexts. Whether physical or psychological by nature, many of those are not primarily biological in origin and can be remedied. This is a hands-on workshop in which we learn to spot typical problems in posture, biomechanics and attitude, and  learn to deal with them on a practical level in a standard (mixed) training context. We also learn how to use warming-up exercises and functional training to help people to work with each others’ body in a confident and respectful way, while dealing with the psychomechanics of their own fears and self-confidence. The bulk of the workshop focuses on ringen  and other forms of unarmed combat, but we shall work on some examples from longsword as well, and show how they are interconnected. Development of a keen eye for your own or a students’ specific problems, the ability to address them in a respectful way, and having an efficient toolkit at your disposal to handle them in the short and the long term, enhances confidence of both trainee and trainer, and helps transforming your fencing hall in a natural way into a ‘safe space’ even during intense practice, which again will encourage especially women to continue practice beyond the initial stage. 

Skill level of Participants: This workshop is for all, but especially trainers and advanced fighters who use to coach will profit from it, because it will help ameliorate their training and coaching approaches. Semi and close contact will occur, but introducing bodily contact between  people foreign to each other and of different gender is part of the set-up, so nobody should be afraid of participating ☺
Needed Equipment: None, except for a few specific exercises a longsword and mask.

About the trainer – Karin Verelst

Karin Verelst practices HEMA since more than a decennium and martial arts since twenty years. She studied with the well-known Belgian trainer Alwin Goethals, co-founded the Brussels group Via Bruxellensis, and started her own fencing guild HSK De Vagant in Brussels in 2018. She is co-founder of and acted as founding president of the Belgian HEMA-Federation SBSN. At present she holds the IFHEMA presidency.  Karin’s main practice focus is on longsword, ringen and dagger (Liechtenauer and Fiore), altough she broadened her interest to Destreza rapier and Messer over the past few years. Other favourites of hers are Jogo do Pau and Glima. She participates regularly in international competitions and other HEMA-related international events, and found her way into the international instructors’ circuit, with workshops on unarmed combat, bastoncello, and training programs designed for women in martial arts contexts. Her further martial experience includes Olympic boxing, Tai Jutsu and Shaolin Kung Fu. She moreover acquired the basic professional qualification of the British Academy of Dramatic Combat (BADC) in 2016. She also followed several workshops with the well known fight choreographer Tony Wolf. Finally, Karin is active as a researcher and scholar in HEMA-Studies. She published (together with Daniel Jaquet and Timothy Dawson) a scholarly reference work, Late Medieval and Early Modern Fight Books — Tradition and Transmission of Martial Arts in Europe, published by Brill, in 2016.