HEMA expectations

"The volunteers of HEMA, those of us who execute and not just ideate, have had two primary goals in mind:
1. Foster HEMA as a culture and a community across the globe, based on passion for the arts and compassion for each other.
2. Build HEMA as a collection of arts that will endure through time, just as the Asian Martial Arts have."

This is mostly some thoughts sparked by this article.

Are the bulk of HEMA participants really that internationalist in outlook?
Firstly a minor quibble, I'm pretty sure that the bulk of the "volunteers of HEMA" that do things and don't just "ideate" are probably not that internationalist in outlook. The people, in my experiece, who worry the most about the big picture and the "HEMA Community" tend to be those who ideate.

For those doers you could probably, more accurately, replace these goals with:

1. Foster a culture and community in your club, your city and possibly your country based on a passion for the arts and general respect for each other as people.
2. Build a collection of knowledge and practical experience that will endure in your community through time.

Getting everyone in the same town to play nicely is quite a practical achievement. Getting a group of people in the same country to play together nicely is a massive achievement. A global community? Wow. Good luck.

Do you lead by example or by criticism?
Personally I think one of the big changes in HEMA over the last decade is the shift to leading by example rather than by authority. Gone are the days when the "wise old hands" acted as "quality control" for the community without being feeling the need to demonstrate any practical ability whatsoever.

Essentially, this is why I struggle to give a shit about how some crazy ass group of Russians are smack talking on the internet or what some guy in America is doing in a Youtube video. In terms of my day-to-day activity it has no impact on what I do. The simple fact is that the more they suck the better I look. So why should I feel the need to police them? If other people suck that's their problem and not something I feel I have to pro-actively point out to them.

There's enough meritocracy these days to speak for itself and it didn't come about with strict quality control. I accept the point that the general online perception of the hobby is useful in terms of setting expectations from people walking in the door. However I think I'm happy enough focusing on ensuring that what I do is of suitable quality without overly worrying about what other people are up to.

Broadly I agree that something I've seen more and more over the years from new people joining my Club is the expectation that it is more "professional", i.e. more organised and dogmatic, than it is. I swear, this is because of the swing from the normal newbie of ten years ago who was a D&D playing computer nerd who totally understood the idea that you actively engaged in your learning and were expected to customise your skill set depending on the character you were trying to generate. Part of the "problem" with attracting more normal people is that they have been conditioned to a more passive learning experience.

However, in terms of things the "community" (shudder) can do to help set peoples expectations could be to address the online communities overall lack of engagement in the source material and lack of broad readership. This leads to a general impression that because we have this really convenient label "HEMA" that there is a single block of knowledge. People, in general, do not seem to grasp just how broad a subject this is.

No matter what your goals in terms of "professional experience" every Club is limited by the eternal dichotomy of how broad an umbrella they should have. Do you try to facilitate and cater every possible interest, therefore ensuring that you have a large inclusive membership but conversely struggle to have single syllabus and a single authoritative direction. Or are you very focused on a single thing thus having a strong syllabus and strong leadership but you'll struggle to find enough people to play with and pay the bills. This, I would suggest, more than anything else limits the scope for professionalism within a Club context.

How much of this worry is the olde ego problems?
"I have to remind myself, routinely, that I am not in this for recognition or even appreciation."

This is a key point. If you're doing this for purely the fun, for the enjoyment of the art, then don't give a rats arse what harsh online criticism you get or what feedback you get from Mr Random Participant. Over the years much of my journey has been focused on letting go of the ego and the need to be appreciated to focus on actually being good at the art and having fun.


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