What is a Modern HEMA Master?

Recently I was asked in an online thread what I thought constituted a modern master of Historical European Martial Arts and whether I thought there was worth in the creation of modern masters or the use of the master title at all. In short to all: Yes. Here’s how I responded.
My interest is less on the identity of master but on the job of master. I have an earnest desire to help create and foster masters of our art (the art we practice at Academie Duello and by extension the art within the community). By “masters” I mean people who are able to fully convey our art to others and thus make more masters and help grow, challenge, and expand the art and its students.

What Makes a Master?

Masters have, and can convey, a rich understanding of:

  • Body mechanics and the physical aspects of their art including alignment, weapon interaction, and the mechanical methods for accomplishing martial goals in a way that is efficient, effective, and healthy
  • The tactical and strategic palette of their art. A deep applied and theoretical understanding of a diversity of techniques that fit the potential martial contexts of their system.
  • Tactical and strategic decision making and training. They understand the means and methods for internalizing their art.
  • Pedagogical and theoretical structures of their art. They should be able to do it and describe it. Analyze its practice, create training plans, and diagnose combat and exercise in an effective manner for their students.
  • They should understand the science so that they can describe the arts of others and challenge and expand their own art as its circumstances and contexts change as well as our understanding.

I hope that all schools that choose to go this route of creating masters seek to do it in as rigorous a fashion as possible and that they create a clear understanding, within their own school, of what any particular title means.
I for one hope that it stays as a description of service and purpose and speaks to the never ending journey of mastery.

Inspiring Mastery in Others

For those who follow me on my blog and through Duello.TV I hope that the journey of mastery is exciting to you. I hope from amongst all those I get a chance to meet, teach, and touch that there are a few who are inspired to take that journey to a place where they too can become a facilitator in that journey for others. Those that can do this in the rich and demanding way I described above, and can in turn help create more like them, are our modern masters and they are vital to the growth and revitalization of European Martial Arts.
Keep striving and I look forward to meeting you.

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