So this is a blog, eh? It is 2018 and I writing my first ever blog. Once you are done laughing at the one Millennial who has never written a blog, do come back and join us. On the bright side, I am not writing this in yoga pants with a cat prowling around! Just like my HEMA journey I am sure my journey as a blogger shall be as equally bumpy and hopefully just as rewarding. For those of you who do not know me, my name is James Reed. I am the founder and chief instructor of Men At Arms Martial Arts, a Historical European Martial Arts (HEMA) Club based just outside of Harrisburg, PA. I am still new to HEMA and the first to admit I am no master, but merely a student with a passion for HEMA and a desire to share that passion with others. This is my story about how I found HEMA!
I did not fit into a particular mold or clique growing up. When I was in school I was a varsity defensive tackle, so you would think I was a jock. Guess again. I was a member of the Mock Trial Team, so clearly I had to have been a scholarly chap, right? Wrong again, I directed and performed in my school's Shakespeare Festival, so naturally I must have been the artsy fellow, no? Take a guess.
I tried to find a niche to fit in to, truly I did. No matter what I tried, there always seemed to be something missing, that slight awkwardness of being the one with one foot in the door and one foot out. I was a walking contradiction. When I look back, I try to look back at what made me the most passionate, what I enjoyed doing. As I reflect, the one thing that keeps coming back to me is me pretending I was Prince Valiant from the Sunday Comics. You heard me; the Prince Valiant Comic Strip. I grew up on a 45 acre farm and would spend hours outside with a trash can lid and a stick, imagining I was cutting down Saxons, or Vikings, or whichever make believe foe I could think up.
As I grew older, I traded my stick in for a Gameboy and a computer like any other 90s kid but that passion was still there. Skip ahead to 2017. There I am, watching YouTube and enjoying chips and Guacamole, you know like any good millennial. I was looking at battle scenes from Kingdom of Heaven when one of the suggested videos was of a Blood and Iron video. Naturally intrigued, I clicked on it and my world was rocked. Not only was my childhood passion and actual martial art, but one based on surviving sources from the period. I immediately scoured in the interwebs for more information. Before I knew I had ticked off all of the HEMA Newbie marks. I was watching Skallagrim and Matt Easton, I had combed over Purpleheart Armoury, I had asked the same old Newbie questions on the HEMA Alliance Facebook page about where clubs were at when that information was literally in front of me, but I was too eager to not look. I had discovered my passion again and I was on top of the world. To learn how to not only use a sword, but learn how it was properly used based on Masters who had been dead for centuries was profound and set me on course to where I am today, but that is a blog for another day...