Club teaches students how to fight like a knight

Tom Baker 

[email protected] 

     Have you ever wanted to learn the fighting styles used in medieval Europe?  

     The UCCS Historical European Martial Arts club studies original manuscripts from ancient masters to accurately practice middle-age European martial arts. Participants use a variety of weapons found during the period, including staffs, swords and daggers. 

     Terry Geiger is a senior chemistry and biochemistry instructor and the founding member of the UCCS HEMA club. Geiger partnered with a local HEMA academy, Black Falcon School of Arms, to provide professional instruction to UCCS students. 

     HEMA is distinct from Live Action Role Play because the focus is on learning the art instead of playing a role in a fictional scenario. UCCS formerly had a LARP club on campus, but they have since disbanded with no current plans of restarting. 

     “The difference is they use foam weapons. They’re not intended to hurt. They have very strict rules about no hitting in the head or anything like that. Where in our sport, the head’s a great target. If you can’t defend your head, you’re going to get hit,” Geiger said. 

     The HEMA club uses steel weapons that have been dulled for safety. Participants wear other protective clothing like heavy jackets. However, Geiger said that more experienced practitioners opt for less protective clothing for more mobility.   

     Geiger was introduced to HEMA in 2015 when he was drawn to a flyer advertising sword fighting classes. He seized the opportunity to learn a new martial art and felt that UCCS would benefit from having its own HEMA club. 

     “It was really started because it’s a personal interest of mine. And at the time, we were working with Black Falcon [School of Arms], and there were also [UCCS] students there that were part of it, and we decided to put a club together,” he said. 

     Geiger feels that the HEMA club offers students a place to build friendships and community while staying healthy doing an active martial art. “I think it’s [beneficial] because it’s a physical sport. There’s teamwork that comes into there, and you can build up friendships. And I think it’s important to understand that even though you may find yourself sparring with somebody, it’s for fun.” 

     Geiger warned against students expecting to join and practice Hollywood-style sword fighting at the HEMA club. He said learning a martial art is a long process, and patience is critical in the process. “I think a lot of people, once they realize that it’s a physical martial art, they kind of lose interest. So, it’s really the people who enjoy martial arts continue on with it.” 

     HEMA encompasses a wide variety of fighting styles. Aside from the variety of weapons used, hand-to-hand combat through grappling and dagger work is also taught. However, because of COVID-19 concerns, the HEMA club has avoided the close contact aspects of the martial art. 

     Geiger said that students interested in joining the HEMA club should show up to one of the meetings during the week. Practices take place on Saturday mornings and Wednesday evenings in the UCCS Recreation Center on court C. 

     While there is no fee to join the club, Black Falcon charges a fee for the training they provide. Geiger said Black Falcon gives students a discount. However, they have not responded to inquiries about the exact price. 

     New students will go through an introductory course that lasts between eight and nine weeks. This foundational course will teach the students the basics of HEMA, culminating in a test to ensure they can learn the more advanced techniques. 

     For more information about the HEMA club at UCCS, visit their webpage on Mountain Lion Connect. 

Stock photo courtesy of