Combating Loneliness: How Historical European Martial Arts (HEMA) Can Make a Difference 

People are still figuring out how to make friends and how to build meaningful relationships long after the COVID-19 pandemic literally locked down our ability to connect with others. We’re all lonely, and it’s more important than ever to combat loneliness and build meaningful relationships to improve mental and physical health. Here’s a unique solution: Historical European Martial Arts (HEMA). 

HEMA is a modern martial arts discipline that recreates and revives European martial arts techniques practiced in the days of old.

Rooted in historical sources including manuals, treatises, and other documents detailing the combat techniques employed by Medieval and Renaissance European warriors, soldiers, and renowned duelists, HEMA is experiencing its own Renaissance and a resurgence in popularity. Enthusiasts of HEMA are fervently committed to reviving and safeguarding these venerable combat arts through intensive training and scholarly study.

You can learn more about HEMA here. Free resources on historical text with translations can be found here.

Doing HEMA Can Address Loneliness 

Camaraderie and Community

HEMA combats loneliness by fostering a profound sense of camaraderie and community. The notion of "iron sharpens iron" is a central tenet in HEMA, emphasizing how the collective effort to improve benefits everyone involved. Making a habit of attending martial arts classes and events creates regular interaction with like-minded peers who share a passion for history and combat. HEMA clubs and schools provide a warm team-oriented environment where individuals can form enduring friendships, share their enthusiasm for historical martial arts, and support each other's progress.  Participants do partner drills, sparring, and technique refinement. These activities require a high level of trust between participants. Trusting your training partner to practice safely and constructively builds a unique bond that extends beyond the training hall. This collaborative spirit encourages practitioners to support one another's growth and development. 

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Physical Activity and Mental Health

Loneliness often exacts a toll on mental health, leading to increased stress, anxiety, and depression. Engaging in consistent physical activity like HEMA has been shown to have a positive impact on mental well-being. Training in HEMA involves rigorous physical exercise, which releases endorphins, the body's natural mood lifters. Additionally the mental focus required for learning and mastering historical combat techniques can provide a healthy distraction from life’s pressures. 

Sense of Purpose and Achievement

Loneliness frequently comes with feelings of aimlessness or a lack of purpose. Pursuing HEMA can give individuals a sense of purpose and achievement by learning intricate martial techniques and mastering them over time. This can be incredibly fulfilling. Setting and achieving goals in the context of HEMA can boost self-esteem and provide a strong sense of accomplishment — especially when those goals are met.

A Supportive Network

Participation in HEMA opens doors to a supportive network with the help of instructors who offer guidance and mentorship and fellow class members who extend encouragement and friendship. Instructors and seasoned practitioners are often eager to assist newcomers, cultivating a culture of mentorship and personal growth that ensures no one feels left behind. Beyond training sessions, HEMA communities often organize social events, gatherings, and tournaments. These occasions provide ample opportunities for members to strengthen their bonds outside of practice. Whether it's sharing a meal after training or participating in tournaments, these social interactions solidify friendships forged in the HEMA community. Such events offer a sense of belonging and togetherness that can be particularly powerful when combating loneliness.


HEMA may not be the first solution that comes to mind when addressing the loneliness epidemic, but its unique blend of physical activity, camaraderie, mental engagement, and personal growth can make a significant difference in the lives of those who choose to pursue it. By joining a HEMA club or school, you can find a community filled with lasting friendship. If you live in the Indianapolis area and you want to join Tuathair Academy of Swordsmanship, check it out here.

If you live outside of Indianapolis, you can search for a school here.