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A sword in place of a ball and Memory Mall instead of Bright House Networks turf.

Sword fighting, also involving mixed marital arts, is considered a sport to some of the students here at UCF. They are the registered student organization called the "Knight's Blade HEMA."

Knight's Blade HEMA, or Historical European Martial Arts, is a medieval group at UCF in which its members battle with swords and mixed moves originating from Germany.

"We seek to instill character, skill and a good work ethic in our students through training and conditioning," according to the group's Facebook.

Cody Martin, who is not a UCF student, started HEMA during summer 2014, has taken over the leadership here at UCF, along with a few other leaders who volunteer their time to teach others.

Running off and on for the past six to seven years, HEMA is an "art of combat" sport, Martin explained.

Off the turf of Memory Mall, the club attends different meets around the country. In March, HEMA will take on the Purple Heart Armory Open in Texas.

"There are different divisions on what type of equipment, and what different styles you can do," Martin said.

HEMA battles with long swords that are made up of steel and its members are fully protected when doing so. The helmets that the warriors wear are made with a hardtop and netting over the face — similar to those used in fencing.

Members also wear protective pieces over all of their joints, including a gorget over their throats.

Despite these precautions, injuries are a reality for Knight's Blade members.

Owen Thomas, a math major at UCF, joined Knight's Blade HEMA last semester and recalled hurting his arm during a match.

"My favorite duel was from a tournament a few months ago. It was a duel I lost and left my left arm from my shoulder to my elbow purple for a month," Thomas said. "Broken bones and other injuries do happen."

Despite the risks, Thomas said dueling is one of his favorite things.

"The physical sensation of a duel is wonderful, slowly circling with an opponent, waiting for the right moment to strike, slowly breathing trying to keep the boiling adrenaline from spoiling your form," he explained.

Like any other sport at UCF, Knight's Blade HEMA practices hard every week — Monday through Friday from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. at Memory Mall.

To participate, you must be a full-time student with at least a 3.0 GPA. There's also a $30 monthly charge.

Vice President Matthew Harvey explained that members use several different techniques, many of which are found in the guidebook Gründtliche Beschreibung der Kunst des Fechtens, written by Joachim Meyer, or in English, A Foundational Description of the Art of Fencing.

HEMA members encourage all UCF students to take part in the organization.

"Win or lose you always take away a lot from it," Thomas said.

To participate, you must be a full-time student with at least a 3.0 GPA. There's also a $30 monthly charge.

Students can locate them at their scheduled practice hours, or join them on their Facebook page, "Knight's Blade HEMA Assc."

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Brooke Kneer is a Contributing Writer for the Central Florida Future.

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