Safety Policy

The policy is in the interest of protecting our members, guests, and spectators, and of maintaining our good insurance standing, while at the same time allowing freedom of study.

Click here to download a copy of the safety policy

Purpose of this Policy

The Safety Policy of the HEMA Alliance is for the protection of the participants, spectators, and the Alliance, and for the preservation of our insurance policy.

The Safety Policy is not a limitation on the choices that members of the HEMA Alliance can make in their pursuit of HEMA, but only a limitation on which activities, and associated equipment, can be defined as Official Activities of the HEMA Alliance, and thus covered by HEMA Alliance insurance.

The Safety Policy is not designed to provide specifics for every conceivable situation. The policy is a base- guideline which official HEMAA activities are to use. The policy will alter when needed to meet the needs of the community. HEMAA affiliates and event organizers are encouraged to use the policy as a starting point and fit it to their activities.

The most current version of this policy will be available at hemaalliance.com/documents/safety.policy.pdf

Definitions of Terminology

Activity: A tournament, practice, or other event officially registered with the HEMAA. This also includes specific activities such as, drilling, sparring, cutting, etc.

Cutting: A solo activity using sharp weapons to cut non-living targets.

Competitive Sparring: Sparring whose purpose is adversarial and outcome-oriented tending to be more intense than free-play.

Drills: Activities where the sword is used to perform non-competitive actions. These can be solo, or done in groups.

Event: A tournament, club-practice, demo or other activity.
Free-Play = Sparring done as a form of practice rather than as a form of competition.

Liability Insurance: Limited protection from lawsuit costs and damages, provided for HEMA Alliance Approved and Registered activities.

Official Activity: An activity run by a HEMAA individual or affiliate and registered on our Official Activities Board.

Secondary Insurance: An official activity has secondary medical insurance. All affiliates are required to have primary health insurance to be eligible for secondary medical insurance. If an injury claim is filed by the HEMA Alliance, after the primary insurance is used, the secondary will apply, if the claim is approved by the insurance company.

Example: A member at an official HEMAA activity has their finger broken. They were following the Safety Policy. They would receive care and their primary insurance would be used for such. Costs after primary insurance would then be covered by the secondary insurance. All claims will be investigated by the HEMAA and may be investigated by Francis L. Dean & Associates.

Sharps: Weapons that are sharp or have points.
Slow-Play = Sparring done at slow-speeds as a form of practice rather than as a form of competition.

Sparring: Sparring can be classified as free-form fighting for competition or for practice, including slow-play and free-play.

Tournament: Sparring that is competitive and follows a standard set of rules.
Trainer: A simulator for a weapon, such as a steel, aluminum, synthetic or wooden sword.

Responsibilities

HEMAA requires one person, a member, to be ultimately responsible for the execution and compliance of the safety policy at any event or activity. Insurance coverage is dependent upon said execution and compliance.

It is the organizer’s responsibility to ensure an activity meets the Safety Policy. It is an organizer’s responsibility to interpret what gear falls within the policy.

Example: If an attendee asks, “Are my gloves good enough?” the organizer must determine the answer using the Safety Policy as a guide.

It is an organizer’s responsibility to ensure trainers, weapons, and any metal are free of splinters, sharp edges, points, rust or burrs.

Activities Outside the Policy
Activities which work outside the policy are not covered by it.

Example: The HEMAA safety policy requires sturdy gloves for competitive sparring. If an event were to allow competitive sparring without such equipment, it would not be covered by the HEMAA insurance policy.

To be clear: You can do what you want. The HEMA Alliance will just not insure everything that you do.

All Activities and Events

Organizers will be conscientious of bystander's safety. This will include a reasonable amount of space between those engaged in an activity and those who are spectators.

Any metal weapons, trainers, armor or other equipment must be free of burrs and rust. Organizers will have a first-aid kit on hand.

Participants, spectators and organizers must have a verbal signal to halt any action for safety reasons. “Hold!” or “Halt!” being examples. This applies to all activities.

The activity must be a function of an Affiliate of the HEMA Alliance (such as a regularly scheduled class or practice session) -OR- special permission must be received from the Governing Council for a Member or Members not associated with an Affiliate to hold an official activity.

The activity must be posted, before it takes place, on our Official Activities Board.* Recurring regularly scheduled practices only need to be posted once until the schedule changes. These are all considered Official HEMAA Activities.
http://hemaalliance.com/discussion/viewforum.php?f=11

In order for a particular individual within an official activity to be covered by insurance, there must be a waiver on file. In the case of special permission for non-Affiliates to hold an official activity, the waivers must be sent to the HEMA Alliance.

Waivers are available at hemaalliance.com/documents/HEMA.Alliance.Combined.Waiver.pdf All official activities must be in compliance with HEMA Alliance Safety Policy.
At least one HEMA Alliance individual member must be present.

In addition to the above requirements, Affiliates must ensure that their attendance does not exceed the participant maximum of the size of affiliate covered by their current affiliate dues (see the group affiliation page for details on how to calculate number of participants). Exceptions to this limit can be made for occasional demos, tournaments, or special events, at no additional cost or at a reduced cost, with permission from the HEMA Alliance.

More Information on coverage can be found at hemaalliance.com/insurance

Practice

Practice can include drills, slow-play, free-play (non-competitive sparring), and much more. The type of activity will determine the safety requirements. It is the organizer’s primary responsibility to reasonably protect their participants.

The HEMAA wishes to preserve freedom of study for its members. Organizers should use the equipment they think is sufficient for a practice activity. If a reasonably preventable injury occurs, then it may not be covered by HEMA Alliance insurance.

Example: An organizer decides to let members at a practice to engage in free-play with no gloves. If any hand injuries were to occur, the HEMA Alliance leadership may decline to submit a claim for secondary medical because such an injury was reasonably preventable, hand injuries are a common and well-known issue, and the situation involved took place in violation of this safety policy. In the event of litigation, the HEMA Alliance would submit the claim for the purposes of defense of the HEMA Alliance, but this does not mean that we would support those responsible for the situation.

Example: An organizer decides to let members at a practice engage in slow-play with padded gloves. If any hand injury were to occur, it would most likely be covered by the HEMAA insurance policy because padded gloves are reasonably sufficient for slow-play.

What is reasonable? The HEMAA and possibly Francis L. Dean & Associates will investigate any claim and an organizer should be ready to explain why they believe their claimant was reasonably protected during the time of the injury.

Tournaments

Organizers are to use the following guidelines for tournaments. Organizers are free to alter the guidelines by providing more specifics as well as increasing requirements. Organizers cannot decrease safety requirements and remain protected by the HEMAA insurance policy.

Example: If an event wants to require shin-pads, it may do so. If an event wants to list specific gear it approves, it may do so. However, an event that had no hand-protection requirement could not use the HEMAA insurance policy if a hand-injury then took place.

To be clear: If a person is injured by engaging in an activity outside of the Safety Policy, then that injury is not covered by the HEMAA insurance.

Tournaments refers to intensive sparring whose purpose is not training, but competition.

Synthetic/Wood/Rattan Safety

[For longsword, saber, and single-handed trainers -- with no robust guard -- other than rapier] [For staff or spear with synthetic heads]

Head = Head protection must cover the entire face and front of the throat for drilling and slow sparring, and the entire head and front of the throat must be covered in competitive sparring. It must be sturdy enough to withstand impacts. There should be no gaps in coverage that would allow a thrust or strike to the face.

Throat = A covering to protect the throat.
Torso = Clothing to cover the body.
Groin = An internal or external cup.
Elbow = Hard elbow covering to protect the joints.

Hands = Sturdy gloves or gauntlets must be used to protect the hands and wrists. Gloves must include protection on the sides and tips of the fingers sufficient to resist hard strikes from steel or synthetic weapons. An unsupplemented lacrosse glove is not sufficient. Steel Gauntlets need additional interior padding of some sort. A mechanic’s-style glove has minimal padding and when used inside a metal gauntlet would not be

sufficient. Most HEMA-dedicated synthetic gloves or gauntlets, such as Sparring Gloves and Black Lance, are adequate. Finger breaks and hand injuries are the most common and organizers should be conscientious of these risks.

Legs = Hard knee covering to protect the joints. Feet = Covering of some sort.

Trainer = The trainer must be free of splinters or burs. The tip must not come to a point. Edges must be blunt or blunted.

Steel/Aluminum Safety

(For longsword, saber (with no shell guard), and single-handed trainers other than rapier)

Head = Head protection must cover the entire face and front of the throat for drilling and slow sparring, and the entire head and front of the throat must be covered in competitive sparring. It must be sturdy enough to withstand impacts. There should be no gaps in coverage that would allow a thrust or strike to the face.

Throat = A covering to protect the throat.
Torso = Clothing to cover the body. Clothing should be puncture resistant, or three layers. Groin = An internal or external cup.
Elbow = Hard elbow covering to protect the joints.

Hands = Hands = Sturdy gloves or gauntlets must be used to protect the hands and wrists. Gloves must include protection on the sides and tips of the fingers sufficient to resist hard strikes from steel or synthetic weapons. An unsupplemented lacrosse glove is not sufficient.. Steel Gauntlets need additional interior padding of some sort, however a mechanic’s glove has minimal padding and when used inside a metal gauntlet would not be sufficient. Most HEMA-dedicated synthetic gloves or gauntlets, such as Sparring Gloves and Black Lance, are adequate. Finger breaks and hand injuries are the most common and organizers should be conscientious of this.

Legs = Hard knee covering to protect the joints. Feet = Covering of some sort.

Trainer = The trainer must be free of splinters or burs. The tip must not come to a point. Edges must be blunt or blunted.

Single-Handed Trainers with robust guards

(Including single-stick or saber with shell guards)

Head = Head protection must cover the entire face and front of the throat for drilling and slow sparring, and the entire head and front of the throat must be covered in competitive sparring. It must be sturdy enough to withstand impacts. There should be no gaps in coverage that would allow a thrust or strike to the face.

Throat = A covering to protect the throat.
Torso = Clothing to cover the body.
Groin = An internal or external cup.
Elbow = Hard elbow covering to protect the joints. Hands = Gloves.

Legs = Hard knee covering to protect the joints. Feet = Covering of some sort.

Trainer = The trainer must be free of splinters or burs. The tip must not come to a point. Edges must be blunt or blunted.

Rapier Safety

(For rapier, court-sword, spadroon, dagger and other primarily thrusting, metal trainers)

Head = Head protection must cover the entire face and front of the throat for drilling and slow sparring, and the entire head and front of the throat must be covered in competitive sparring. It must be sturdy enough to withstand impacts. There should be no gaps in coverage that would allow a thrust or strike to the face.

Throat = A covering to protect the throat.
Torso = Clothing to cover the body. Clothing should be puncture resistant, or three layers. Groin = And internal or external cup.
Elbow = Hard or soft elbow covering to protect the joints.
Hands = Gloves.
Legs = Hard or soft knee covering to protect the joints.

Feet = Covering of some sort.

Trainer = The trainer must be free of splinters or burs. The tip must not come to a point. Edges must be blunt or blunted.

Wrestling

The HEMA Alliance approves of wrestling without strikes.

Safety requirement is a mouthguard to protect the teeth.

Cups are optional and event-planners should discuss if they should be allowed at all.

Tournament officials should be highly aware of when to intervene in the case of joint-locks, or any other situation in which harm can come to a participant.

As with ALL activities, organizers, participants and spectators need to be able to use a verbal cue to halt the action, such as calling “Hold!” or “Halt!”

Armor

The Safety Policy for Harnischfechten (Armor) is designed with rigid spears, pole-axes, maces etc. in mind. If using longsword trainers only, an organizer could default to the policy for Longswords and have fewer armor requirements.

It is recommended that any armors be made of hardened steel, carbon steel or stainless steel, as mild steels cannot take similar levels of impact without damage as the other steel types. While these steels tend to be more expensive than mild steels, they offer a higher level of protection. There is no requirement to use higher quality steels, but armors from mild steels should be made thicker than the others to provide the same level of protection.

Below is a list of the minimum requirements that are required to participate in Harnischfechten:

Head = Due to the importance of one’s head the following requirements for helms must be met: Several types of materials can be used for helms and it is important to understand different metals have different strengths. The minimum thicknesses for helms is:
1. Stainless Steel: 16gu

2. Hardened Steel: 16gu
3. Mild (cold or hot rolled steel): 14gu
4. The above thicknesses include visors and faceplates

No open-faced helms are allowed. Any visor must have the ability to lock or buckle closed to prevent opening during combat. Any visor slit must be fitted with pref-plate or have cross bars that prevent sword thrusts from entering the visor. Visor slots/eye slots should be smaller than the trainers being used so that a thrust cannot enter the helm.

The helm must be padded or suspended properly to prevent impact damage from being transmitted to the user’s head. Padding can be made with quilted cloth, foam or any other material that can reduce impacts but must be at least .5” thick.

Throat = Armor for the neck such as a gorget with supplemental armor worn as needed. Torso = Armor for needs to be worn for the following:

Shoulders (collarbone, ball, top and back),
Spine (in its entirety, including lower spine and tailbone)
Chest (Top of the breastbone to the bottom of the rib-cage, including kidney protection)

Groin = An internal cup (An external cup can also be worn in conjunction with an internal) Elbow = Solid armor for the elbows.
Arms = Solid or splinted armor for the limbs (upper arm, lower arm).
Hands = The hands must be protected by gauntlets made of steel plates.

Gauntlets must cover all of the wrist. Gauntlets must protect all fingers and thumbs.

If fingers do not “ground out” on the weapon haft, it is recommended that the fingers be padded to absorb some of the impact of a weapon.

Finger tips should be protected by the gauntlets.
Legs = Solid or splinted armor for the limbs (shins, thighs) and solid armor for the knees. Feet = Sturdy covering of some sort.

Several types of materials can be used for armor. The minimum thicknesses for torso and limb armors is: i. Stainless Steel: 20gu
ii. Hardened Steel: 20gu
iii. Mild (cold or hot rolled steel): 18gu

iv. Leather armors can be worn, however they should be of the “splinted” armor types with splints protecting the forearms, thighs and shins. Leather should be at least 8 ounce leather (1/8” thick) and hardened (via oil, paraffin or wax treatments), or 12 ounce un-hardened leather.

Cutting

The HEMA Alliance insurance only covers the use of sharp swords for the purpose of cutting non-living targets, solo-drills, or solo-practice or solo-competition.

Extreme awareness for bystanders and participants is mandatory, with a large area cleared for the one performing the cutting or those drilling with sharp weapons.

Cutting is a solo-activity. Two or more people with sharp weapons will not be cutting in the same area at the same time.

Drills or solo-competition with sharps will be done with plenty of room between participants.

Disapproved Activities

The HEMAA wishes to allow its members the most freedom possible, but some activities are so dangerous as to be explicitly listed as disapproved. The HEMAA in no way endorses the following:

Sparring or opposed drilling with sharps. We do not want anyone maimed or killed.

Sparring without proper head protection. We do not want anyone losing eyes or teeth.

Sparring without proper hand protection. We do not want anyone losing fingers.

Making a Claim

Please contact a member of the GC at governingcouncil@hemaalliance.com

Safety Policy Changes

The Safety Policy will adjust based on the needs of its members and the needs of the Alliance. Discussion can be found in the members’ section of the HEMA Alliance forum.