For the love of the game: In this series, The Straits Times looks at lesser-known sports. In this edition, go mediaeval on your sparring partner.

PUBLISHED: MARCH 25, 2021

Fight with ‘swords’ like in The Lord Of The Rings



At Historical European Martial Arts (Hema) academy Bastion, fans of the little-known sport in Singapore spar in sessions up to 6 times a week.



Hema is “the revival of mediaeval martial arts”, according to Bastion. It involves fighting systems in Europe dating back to the 13th century.



The modified weapons are made of wood, nylon or foam. Those made of steel have blunted blades and flattened tips. Participants wear padded jackets and masks.



Bastion co-founders Lucien Lee and wife Langley Qu picked up the sport in Wales. When they returned to Singapore, what started as a search for other enthusiasts grew into an academy.



Adults under the age of 40 make up the largest group of Bastion’s students. A sizeable number are in their late teens and early 20s.


Some are attracted to Hema due to the mediaeval-style culture seen in shows like Game Of Thrones or The Lord of the Rings, or games like Dungeons & Dragons. Others want to keep fit with a novel activity.




The Pan-Historical European Martial Arts Society also teaches Hema in Singapore. Its president believes its popularity “increased exponentially within the last 5 years”, but it isn’t mainstream yet.


A sport for all

Mr Lee said there is hardly any barrier to entry for the sport. Ms Qu said the most strenuous physical activity she had done before picking it up was yoga.

“I quickly enjoyed the empowering aspect of it… That’s what kind of got me right from the get-go,” she said.

Start sparring
Start sparring

SOURCE: ST REPORT BY SAZALI ABDUL AZIZ; ST VIDEOS BY SAZALI ABDUL AZIZ, CHONG JUN LIANG AND GAVIN FOO; VIDEOS BY WARNER BROS ENTERTAINMENT/YOUTUBE, BASTION - HISTORICAL FENCING ACADEMY/FACEBOOK AND GAMEOFTHRONES/YOUTUBE

PRODUCED BY: DENISE CHONG

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