About Us

Athena School of Arms is a non-profit Historical European Martial Arts (HEMA) school, an affiliate of the Historical European Martial Arts Alliance, and an active member of the New England Sword Gathering. Operating out of Cambridge, MA, Athena School of Arms promotes the study of HEMA and physical fitness by providing individual training and public demonstrations. By sharing the historical context and martial principles found in HEMA in a safe and open environment, we can help others gain an appreciation for our art and become more physically fit in the process.

Fight masters from the 14th-16th century wrote treatises that described how to fight with a variety of medieval weapons. We use these manuals to recreate ancient fighting styles. While we primarily study the German Longsword as described by Johannes Lichtenauer, we also work to reconstruct the Highland Broadsword, Dagger, Sword & Buckler, Poleaxe, Ringen (medieval wrestling), and Victorian-era weapon systems.

We have a diverse membership, including people who love history, people do HEMA because it’s more fun than using a treadmill, and serious competitors who take home prizes from regional tournaments. We pride ourselves in offering an open, welcoming environment. Come check us out!

Classes

Longsword

Introduction to German Longsword

Newcomers to HEMA start with one of our introductory classes, which runs for eight weeks at two lessons/week. The class introduces students to the medieval longsword, and includes a conditioning program designed to develop the necessary fitness for sword fighting. No prior experience is needed. Class size is limited to 8 students, and typically has two instructors at each session.

We provide all the gear for the class, all you need to bring is clothing that is loose and comfortable to move in, indoor-only shoes, and a water bottle. Our school has both changing rooms and bathrooms, and a water bubbler.

Beginner Longsword

After the Intro class, students are welcome to join the Beginner Longsword class. This class teaches the lessons of Johannes Lichtenauer, and employs a variety of training tools to give students a forum to learn Lichtenauer’s teachings, including solo and paired drills, reading and interpretation from the sources, and dedicated conditioning.

Intermediate Longsword

This class is for students who are ready to take their training to the next level. Less time is spent on learning techniques, and more on how to apply these techniques in a combative setting. Drills are more free-form, and at-home practice is expected. Students must complete the Beginner Longsword class before joining this one.

Broadsword

New in 2018, Athena re-opened a Highland Broadsword and Smallsword program. This class meets regularly and incorporates test cutting, just like the Longsword program. Students must complete the Broadsword Intro class before joining the regular Broadsword class.

Rotating Weapons

The Rotating Weapons class is study group in nature, where students spend 3-4 months learning a new weapon system. Previous classes have included Meyer Dagger, Italian Rapier, Italian Baton, and Highland Broadsword. We welcome suggestions from students on what the next weapon in the cycle will be, and encourage students to take a proactive role in their training and research. This class is open to anyone who has completed the introductory class, or who is interested in the weapon system and comes from another HEMA school.

Cutting & Sparring Practice

Part of the Open Longsword curriculum, students are invited to monthly cutting and sparring practice. For the cutting practice, students spend the evening practicing cutting techniques with sharp swords against straw targets (tatami), and receive individual coaching and feedback from instructors. For sparring practice, students spend the afternoon open sparring in full combat gear. This practice is a good way for students to receive practical feedback on techniques learned in class against uncooperative opponents. These practices are open to anyone who has completed the introductory class.

Instructors and Leadership

Nathan Weston

Nathan Weston is President of the Athena Board of Directors and Senior Instructor at Athena School of Arms.  Nathan studied a variety of martial arts, as well as Olympic sport fencing, before taking up HEMA in 2012. He teaches Longsword, Broadsword, and Italian Rapier. He is also one of the event organizers of Iron Gate Exhibition, the largest HEMA Tournament in the Northeast.

Andrew Kilgore

Andrew Kilgore is Treasurer of the Athena Board  of Directors and Senior Instructor at Athena School of Arms. Andrew has studied a wide range of eastern martial arts for over 20 years. In 2012, he began focusing on HEMA when he started studying German Longsword with Steven Hirsch. An accomplished tournament champion, Andrew focuses on the core principles of whatever system he studies to help deepen his and his students’ understanding of the art and how to use it in martial contexts. With over a decade of experience working with youth and teaching people of all ages, Andrew brings his love of martial arts and passion for helping others to the floor at Athena School of Arms, where he teaches Longsword, Ringen, and Dagger.

Julie Olson

Julie Olson is Clerk of the Athena Board of Directors and Senior Instructor at Athena School of Arms. Julie has nearly 20 years of Olympic sport fencing experience. In 2013, she was introduced to HEMA by watching a demonstration given by Athena at a local sci-fi/fantasy convention, and it wasn’t too long before she began studying German Longsword full time. Julie has a passion for sword fighting, physical fitness, and encouraging people of all ages and walks of life to try HEMA. Julie teaches Longsword, Italian Baton, and Italian Dueling Sabre. Julie is also Manager of the New England Sword Gathering, a league for Northeast HEMA clubs; and Event Director of Iron Gate Exhibition, the largest HEMA Tournament in the Northeast.

Steven Hirsch

Steven Hirsch is the Founder of Athena School of Arms, Club Physical Therapist, and an Instructor of the Small Sword program. Steven has a doctorate in Physical Therapy and a B.S. in Exercise & Health Science, and is an NSCA Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist. He has been training with swords since 2006 and unarmed martial arts since 1998, first with the Higgins Armory Museum and now teaching at his own school, Athena School of Arms. Steven is also a professional strength coach focusing on performance for combat sports and martial artists, and runs his business Fight with All Your Strength.

Board of Directors

Athena School of arms is a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation organized exclusively for education and charitable purposes.

President: Nathan Weston
Treasurer: Robyn Alman
Clerk: Julie Olson
Board Member: Mike Baker
Board Member: Andrew Kilgore

To contact the Board, please email athenaboard @ googlegroups dot com

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