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About the Academy

he Academy of European Medieval Martial Arts or AEMMA (pronounced "ehma"), initally created in mid-1998, located in Toronto, Canada is a non-profit corporation and has as its goals:

The Academy's coat of arms.

(1) to resurrect and reconstruct traditional European medieval martial arts;
(2) to provide instruction and training in developing personal defensive and offensive skills based on our research of the martial arts techniques of historical Europe.

For more background and detailed information on AEMMA click here.

Why learn and train traditional European martial arts?

Martial arts is not the sole domain of the Eastern or Asian cultures. Where ever there was war, battles, duels and fighting, techniques were developed to enhance the skill and efficiency of fighters. Western/European cultures also developed sophisticated fighting techniques both with and without weapons. Learning these skills will enable the you to develop advanced self-defense skills suitable for 21st century situations such as defending yourself against knife attacks, or even defend against being struck with a pool cue! The techniques developed by the historical masters worked very well 600 years ago as they do today.

What sorts of things would I learn?

The core training program at AEMMA was designed and developed by David M. Cvet and Brian McIlmoyle, as well as other instructors collectively bring decades of expertise to the training classes.The training program is comprised of three components, the first component being grappling (a form of wrestling) or abrazare as it was called in historical Italian. This component develops your foundational skills with respect to judgment, distance, timing and placement. These skills are leveraged in the other training components. Grappling techniques learned include the abilities to take-down your opponent, throws, break-aways, locks, and many other techniques that will enable you to become proficient at self-defense, regardless of the size or strength of your opponent.

The second component of the core program is comprised of knife/dagger or daga in historical Italian. You would learn how to defend yourself against knife attacks, to be able to re-direct the incoming attack, possibly disarm the offending attacker and injure the attacker with his/her own knife. The same techniques can be applied to any knife-like object making you a very difficult "target" for any would-be attacker.

The third component of the core program involves the arming sword or spada. It is a single-handed sword or side sword, typically around 32" to 36" in length and weighing in at around 2.5 - 3 lbs. The swords that you would train with are constructed out of aluminium and possess a blunt edge. With training, you may progress to training with steel swords that are blunted, hence the name "blunts". Your training is initially in the unarmoured style of arming sword and when you have reached the scholler rank of skill, you can engage in armoured longsword, unarmoured longsword, pollaxe, spear and sword & buckler. Essentially, training is the preparation needed to participate and survive the civilian duels that were common during the medieval period. Fighters would challenge to a duel, and may or may not wear armour.

In the end, you would learn various defensive and offensive techniques that were extremely effective 600 years ago and which are as effective in today's world. These skills are an important makeup of all individuals, both for men and women which will enhance your self-esteem and self-confidence in dealing with any stressful situation be it the corporate board rooms to nightlife environments. For more detailed information on the training program at AEMMA click here.

Other weapons that could be trained with depending upon your interest and availability of training includes quarterstaff, unarmoured longsword, armoured longsword, sword & buckler, sword & shield and pollaxe. These training programs and weapons are limited to those practitioners that have achieved the scholler rank or above.

Do you have "belts" that denote skill levels?

Historical European martial arts does not use "belts" to denote skill levels. This manner of skill identification was never used in the historical western culture. The ranking system used is based on a similar ranking system first employed by academic institutions around the 15-16th century which was used to determine the student's position within a hierarchical system of competency. This similar method of ranking was used in the historical swordsman guilds in the UK during the same period. The recruit is the first skill level of a historical martial arts practitioner. A recruit training program will last from 3 months to 1 year, depending upon the your previous experience and physical capabilities, and frequency of training. This rank is followed by the scholler rank and you would be at this level for at least two (2) years. After this level, the rank of free scholler followed by the rank of provost, followed by maestro. For more detailed information on the ranking system at AEMMA click here.

Cost? Training schedule? Location?

The cost of training, of various levels of commitment can be found by clicking here.

For more detailed information on the location of the training facility, click here.

To see some photos of the training facility (salle d'armes), click here.

To view the training schedule, click here.

Just visiting...

We invite you to visit to observe one of our training sessions with no obligations. Most of our students that now train regularily had first visited to observe a recruit training session and later signed up for regular training. In Toronto, the training sessions open for visitation are the recruit training sessions - schedules for recruit training/visitation listed here. You can also visit representatives in Guelph, Nova Scotia, Ottawa or Haarlem Netherlands. If you wish to visit us, please notify us by indicating the day you plan on visiting, the location (Toronto, Guelph, Nova Scotia, Ottawa, Haarlem Netherlands) by filling out the visit request form by clicking here.

For answers to other most frequently asked questions (FAQs) about AEMMA, click here.

Feel free to contact AEMMA with more questions via email or telephone by clicking here

Visit the AEMMA blog, which contains articles written in "less than technical prose" for a description of what "newbies" should wear by clicking


Copyright © 2011 Academy of European Medieval Martial Arts (AEMMA)
Released: June 11, 2002 / Last updated: April 24, 2011