Hema and Kenjutsu are two martial arts that involve the use of swords made of high-quality steel. To acquire the skill set, you need proper training with lots of dedication.

Here are the basics to help you make an informed decision on which martial art is best suited for you.

What is Hema?

Hema is an abbreviation for Historical European Martial Arts. The art of swordsmanship developed by medieval knights and soldiers is called medieval martial arts.

This type of martial arts was practiced exclusively by the men who worked in close quarters, such as soldiers, workers, and security officers.

Hema is more commonly practiced in Europe because of its association with medieval knights and warriors.

Also, there are many professionals in the world who practice this art to pass on their skills to the next generation.

In general, Hema entails studying and recreating the fighting styles used by swordsmen from the Late Middle Ages, the early modern period, and the Renaissance.

What is Kenjutsu?

Kenjutsu is a Japanese swordsmanship martial art that has its roots in traditional Japanese martial arts based on the principles of martial arts.

It arose from the fighting styles used by Samurai, who were the elite warriors in society. Kenjutsu involves the use of a sword that is designed with real or plastic pieces.

The main emphasis for Kenjutsu includes cutting, thrusting, jabbing, parrying, feigning, and footwork techniques.

Differences between Hema vs. Kenjutsu

Below are the main differences between Hema vs. Kenjutsu.

Physical Setting

Hema is practiced by people in Europe and Asia, where Hema is an authentic way of life. On the other hand, Kenjutsu is practiced in Japan and China, where it originated and became popular amongst the Japanese nobility.

Style of Combat

  • Hema involves the use of different weapons to carry out numerous attacks on many opponents at once. However, Kenjutsu only involves the use of one sword with many opponents.
  • Hema’s fighting style uses both longswords and shortswords, while Kenjutsu uses the samurai sword (katana).

Training Methodology

Hema requires its students to train extensively in the different styles of European Martial Arts. On the other hand, Kenjutsu requires the students to practice extensively with a real sword or training sword.

Philosophy and Faith

Hema follows the philosophy of medieval European traditions while retaining their original way of life.

On the other hand, Kenjutsu follows the philosophies of samurais, who believed that their prowess in sword fighting governs their honor and pride.

Rules and Regulations

Hema has no specific rules or regulations when it comes to tournaments. On the other hand, Kenjutsu has its regulations when it comes to tournaments.

They include a time limit per match, a time limit per period, and a time limit for each match.

OriginEuropean martial arts traditionJapanese martial arts tradition
WeaponVarious European swordsJapanese katana and other swords
TechniquesBased on historical manualsBased on traditional Japanese teachings
FocusHistorical accuracySpiritual and philosophical aspects
ArmorOften practiced with protective gearTraditional practice without armor
CompetitionsVarious competitions are heldMinimal to no competitions
TrainingOften group classesOften one-on-one instruction
EmphasisAnalyzing and interpreting historical sourcesMaintaining traditional techniques and philosophy
PhilosophyLess emphasis on spiritual and philosophical aspectsEmphasis on the connection between swordsmanship and self-cultivation
ApplicationsFocused on martial techniques for sport or self-defenseAesthetic and spiritual practice as well as martial techniques for self-defense

Similarities between Hema vs. Kenjutsu

Below are the main similarities between Hema vs. Kenjutsu.

  • Both Hema and Kenjutsu require extensive training when it comes to tournaments.
  • Both Hema and Kenjutsu are practiced in real combat situations. However, Kenjutsu is practiced in a more controlled environment as compared to Hema.
  • Both Hema and Kenjutsu are practiced by men who work with sharp weapons such as swords and knives.
  • The main goal of both Hema and Kenjutsu is to sharpen their skills in traditional martial arts through the use of swords.
  • Both Hema and Kenjutsu are considered to be deadly martial arts that can cause serious injuries if not practiced correctly.
  • In some cases, Hema and Kenjutsu can be associated with their own countries or particular society.

What to choose?

For those who want to learn swordsmanship and sharpen their fighting skills, Hema or Kenjutsu are the right Martial Arts.

The primary focus of both Hema and Kenjutsu is on the use of a sword in close quarters to penetrate the opponent’s body.

This includes thrusting, slicing, parrying, and jabbing with a blade. To sharpen your skill set and control your blade, you need to practice different types of cuts, thrusts, and blocks.


Hema is a martial art that was developed by European knights and nobles. It was used for training and practicing skills in close combat.

However, Kenjutsu is a Japanese sword art that originated from samurai warriors who utilized their swords in close combat.

The main difference between Hema vs. Kenjutsu is the way they were conceived, practiced, and performed in the past.

Both of them are similar in the fact that they are deadly martial arts that can cause serious injuries if not properly practiced.

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