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HEMA makes debut at Badger State Games

Historic European Martial Arts has only been featured at one other state games
Published: Oct. 9, 2021 at 8:00 PM CDT
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ROTHSCHILD, Wis. (WSAW) - Historic European Martial Arts (HEMA) traces its origins back centuries to the Medieval period. However, in 2021, it brought something new to the Badger State Games.

HEMA made its Badger State Games debut this weekend. It’s only the second time HEMA has been recognized at a state games event, the other being in Nebraska.

Aaron Pynenberg is the Master Instructor for Wisconsin Historical Fencing. He says the inclusion is a validation of the message they’re sending.

“We’re always trying to show people what this art is all about,” said Pynenberg. “The association with the Badger State Games name is important for us to show a little bit of legitimacy in terms of doing this in a certain regimented way.”

Competitors battle in several different events. Steel longsword is the most popular event. Saturday morning saw a mixed synthetic competition, comprised of training weapons in a freestyle-type tournament.

There’s something to offer for new and old competitors alike. Holly Adcock is competing in her first-ever HEMA action this weekend. She says she’s learned from the others she’s faced.

“You get to see what you can do and what they can do and how you can work together and just have fun with it,” said Adcock.

There is a fear element, especially with the steel weapons. However, it’s also an adrenaline-inducing good time.

“It’s more exhilarating than scary,” said Adcock. “It’s just a thrill.”

The HEMA competition of the Badger State Games concludes Sunday in Rothschild.

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