Women gathered at Center Stage to learn about swordsmanship March 15 at the “Give a Girl a Sword” club event hosted by True Edge South.
True Edge South is a Utah County affiliate of Historical European Martial Arts. HEMA is an international organization devoted to reviving ancient European fighting techniques with an emphasis on swordsmanship.
The concept of “Give a Girl a Sword” was created by a HEMA-affiliated group named Esfinges, which is designed to encourage and support the women within HEMA. True Edge South held their own “Give a Girl a Sword” event to reach women in the community who might be interested in learning about European martial arts.
“We think that if we can convert some new female members to True Edge South, we can ‘prime the pump’ to make European swordsmanship a more viable activity option for women in the community who may be daunted otherwise,” said club assistant director and intermediate instructor Mariah Healey.
Healey explained why women might feel intimidated by activities like sword fighting. She brought up the stereotype that women are weaker than men, and proved otherwise through a presentation that featured “badass women of history.”
This included the famous Joan of Arc, as well as lesser known women such as Tomoe Gozen and the Vietnamese warrior Trieu Thi Tinh, who successfully fought over 30 battles with her rebel army against invading Chinese.
The women at the event learned how to hold, stand, cut, block and guard with a German longsword. Those who stayed after the lesson had the opportunity to drill and practice their newfound techniques.
“If you don’t feel like you’re athletic, you’re going to come here, you’re going to learn things, go step by step … and then you will prove yourself wrong,” said club member Naomi Miskimins.
True Edge doesn’t just give women the opportunity to learn to fight with swords, it also helps them find confidence through an activity they enjoy.
Jaden Cardona, illustration major sophomore and club member said, “I can do something right, I can do something cool, and I can be good at it. I think it’s just kind of given me a confidence boost. Not to mention, for a long time I was the only girl in the club full of guys besides Mariah. It was cool to prove myself.”