Basic Training Clothing

The following is required of all students:

  • Clothing suitable for training ie t-shirt and trackpants or yoga pants
  • Non marking sports shoe – a light flexible sole shoe designed for court use such as indoor soccer shoes or squash shoes are ideal.
  • Abrasion-resistant gloves, such as TIG welding gloves, rose pruning gloves, riggers gloves or various types of work gloves

Personal Protective Equipment

Although we attempt to make it as easy as possible for students to participate in classes, Historical Martial Arts does require a certain amount of equipment. The following is a list of basic gear you should aim to acquire, in order of importance:

  • Fencing Mask, to protect your head, face and eyes from injury during drills and fencing
  • Groin protection for men and breast protection for women.
  • Gorget to protect your throat from impact / crush injuries during drills and fencing (thrusting systems especially).
  • Arm and Elbow guards, to protect your forearm and elbow from injury.
  • A jacket with a minimum of a 350 newton penetration resistance, to minimise the bruising and injury from hits to the body during drills and fencing and to minimise the risk of penetration.
  • Pants, also with a 350N rating. These must reach at least the knee.
  • Knee Guards, to protect the knee joint from accidental injury during bouting
  • Shin Pads – To protect the shins from impact.
  • Chest Protector (optional) – A plastic or padded chest protector can make getting hit in the chest and torso a lot safer and far more comfortable.

Sourcing Basic Starter Kit

Stoccata has a couple of club discount accounts which we use to organise bulk orders from the respective suppliers. We usually do 2 – 3 bulk orders per year.

For all our classes, the first piece of equipment you should be purchasing is a fencing mask. Contact Provost Richard Cullinan (0407 917 497, to purchase a basic fencing mask. Our standard fencing mask is sourced from Absolute Fencing.

For the majority of our classes, one of the basic starter kits from Superior Fencing is the most economical option for getting a basic starter kit. Contact Provost Paul Wagner (0400 262 001, to discuss purchasing a starter kit in the next bulk order from Superior Fencing.

For the lighter weapon systems, such as smallsword, rapier, and classical fencing styles, standard fencing equipment from Absolute Fencing can be used. Contact Provost Richard Cullinan (0407 917 497, to discuss sourcing equipment from Absolute Fencing Gear.

ALWAYS contact your provost to check on the rules for your branch before buying anything.

Protective Equipment Recommendations

Head & Face Protection

The minimum requirement for head and fence protection is a fencing mask. Any modern fencing mask designed for foil, epee or sabre is suitable for our needs. However due to the heavier blades we use we also recommend additional padding over the mask such as a fencing coaches mask cover, to reduce the impact to the head and extend the life of a basic fencing mask. All of the modern fencing equipment suppliers sell a decent coaches mask cover which you can use to upgrade a standard fencing mask. Some suppliers are now making a specialist HEMA mask cover with integral back of the head protection and these are better than mask covers and end up costing you less as you will need a back of head protector anyway. There are also manufacturers producing steel masks and helmets designed for HEMA competitions, which are also highly recommended for fencing with steel blades.

Groin and Breast Protection

For men a standard groin protector is compulsory. The standard martial arts box has been found to be superior to the standard cricket box. These can be purchased at most martial arts stores, and some of the better sporting goods stores. The best support garment however is to slide it between 2 pairs of underwear, or the nutty buddy jock strap available direct from the manufacturer.

For women, breast protection is highly recommended. The recommended breast protection is the Cool Guard Super from QP Sports, which passed European CE certification for use as a Martial Arts women’s chest protector. (EN 13277, EU 2016/425) They are available direct from the manufacturer in New Zealand or from martial arts stores. Unlike the hard plastic breast protectors, these ones are made from reactive polyurethane foam and are rated as suitable of repetitive impacts, unlike the rigid plastic ones which are rated only for incidental impact. Female students have also noted that these are far more comfortable than the rigid plastic ones because they feel just like wearing a padded bra.

Rigid breast protection is also available as a one or 2 piece plastic plastron, which while effective can limit arm movement and may lead to repetitive use injury in the elbows. Smaller breasted women have found the male one piece chest protector to be preferable compared to the rigid female breast protection.

Throat & Neck Protection

The throat and neck is particularly vulnerable to crush and impact injury. Extra protection under the mask bib is highly recommended, especially for thrust orientated systems such as rapier or small sword. The minimum recommendation is the HEMA specific padding, however any of the rigid or semi-rigid material gorgets designed for SCA / HEMA fencing are the preferred option.

Hand protection

For basic drilling work and boffer/basket – shinai fencing, commonly available leather gloves are suitable for our purposes. The back of the hand and wrist bones are still vulnerable to incidental impact with one of these, so the use of extra padding or rigid demi-gauntlet is recommended.

If a simpler hilt form is being used, use of superior hand protection is required. There are a number of good HEMA gloves available these days rendering gloves from other sports unsuitable. For this reason rigid material gauntlets are required for any weapon without a complex hilt.

Rigger’s gloves can be purchased from most hardware stores. Rose pruning gloves, which have a longer cuff, can be sourced from any good nursery.

TIG welding gloves, in either short cuff or long cuff variants can be sourced from a welding supply store. Long cuff leather gloves can be sourced from costume or re-enactor supply stores, and lightly padded variants can be sourced from fencing equipment suppliers.

HEMA specific padded gloves can be sourced from the suppliers listed below. These types of gloves provide better coverage, but can still be hit through the small gaps of the padding that allow for finger movement.

Rigid material gauntlets typically come in either a fingered glove or clamshell design. The clamshell designs work best with longsword and polearms, and the fingered gloves can also work with complex-hilt swords. The Sparring Gloves Mittens offer the best protection for the money at present but will not fit in all weapons. As with any gear, even from this list, ALWAYS consult your provost before buying. Gear is getting better all the time.

Forearm and Elbow protection

Forearm and elbow protection is imperative, as they are easily hit causing painful injuries and bruising.

These can be made from thick leather, or from thinner leather or similar material splinted with steel or high impact plastic strips. Ask one of the Provosts for help.

Several options are also available for purchase ranging from HEMA specific designed to replicate leather and steel arm armour.

Torso Armour

Light fencing with padded simulators or shinai can be carried out in little more than a fencing mask and a groin protector for those with external genitalia/a chest protector for those with breasts. Some form of jacket and pants or other torso and leg protection that is 350 N rated is necessary for steel fencing however. This needs to be bought and cannot be made as it must be rated and must reach from neck to knee. Options include buying modern fencing kit and stacking padding over that. It’s easiest, and often coolest (in both senses of the word) to get a purpose-built HEMA Jacket

Knee Armour

Regular sporting or skate knee pads do well, but don’t really cover the side of the knee where more hits occur. The best options are either HEMA specific protectors, Motorcross protectors, or the gold standard which is knee-pros for the knees and field hockey shins for the lower leg.

Suppliers – All or most of your gear in one place

  • Absolute Fencing Gear – offers a range of classical fencing and HEMA specific gear. Contact Provost Richard Cullinan (0407 917 497 / who organises bulk club orders from Absolute Fencing.
  • Superior Fencing make by far the cheapest HEMA gear on the market, costing around half of what you pay from Poland, the UK, or the US. You’ll need to get your mask and gloves somewhere else. Contact Provost Paul Wagner (0400 262 001, who organises bulk club orders from Superior Fencing.
  • SPES – The mob that invented most of the gear that became the standard for HEMA. You can source everything but a fencing mask from them. All their gear is of good quality, but is made for European conditions so can be very hot to fence with in Australia.
  • PBT Historical Fencing – Modern fencing equipment supplier that also offers a range of HEMA specific equipment.
  • Red Dragon Armoury – HEMA specific fencing supplier that has basic quality gear. Prices are in GBP which can make them relatively expensive, but they are really really quick when it comes to delivery.
  • Black Armoury – HEMA equipment distributor with a full range of equipment. Email their Australian agent ( to purchase items.
  • Purpleheart Armoury is a great one-stop-shop for quality gear. They redistribute for other manufacturers, and may have better prices due to currency exchange rate differences.
  • School of Historical Fencing – Melbourne distributor for a range of HEMA gear.

Suppliers – Specialists