• Milan demonstrates during an outdoor class in front of Sword Academy students two handed axe against the armored sword exercise switching attacks using the nimble two handed axe as inspired by historical sources from the German medieval (and renaissance) tradition, part of Sword Academy HEMA / WMA / Martial Arts curriculum.

Sword Academy (WMA - HEMA - Martial Arts) Axe

Axe Usage and History

The axe is one of humanity’s oldest tools and weapons, and has a long history of use. In the context of Western Martial Arts (WMA) or Historical European Martial Arts (HEMA) we study its place in the period with the main focus on the two-handed axe. We believe that axes served a dual purpose for many generations, being a multi-functional item that could be both a weapon and a tool.
Examination of antique axes in museums and private collections shows that most axes were strictly a weapon (and not a tool) with blade intersection and weight suited for combat and not farming.
Axes were prevalent in Neolithic times, only loosing its supremacy in medieval times. In early Europe, the Franks were famed for Francisca, a throwing axe, and Vikings used axes often in combat. At the time there was no armor that could withstand blows from-two handed axes wielded by the berserkers, much feared Viking warriors.

Over time, many battlefield forms of axes with spikes and different blade shapes appeared, and also lead to the development of the axe bladed pole weapons such as halberd which was better suited to the battlefields of the Late Medieval and Renaissance periods.

Axe Components and Construction

The two-handed axe can be well over one meter-long. It has a long wooden handle and curved blade with a point on either end. It is mainly used for swinging and cutting, thought the points (sometimes called horns) can be used for thrusting. The shape of the blade allows it to hook an opponent, and the handle can be used to block incoming blows if needed.

Training Tools

At Sword Academy we use exclusively steel weapons for practice and sparring.

The axe is a weapon we use for learning drills, but not a typical sparring item for students. To ensure safety, we employ a slow sparring technique so we can use realistic training weapons without risk of injury.

Due to our philosophy (and its application to training) Sword Academy uses steel weapons exclusively in our Western Martial Arts (WMA) / Historical European Martial Arts (HEMA) curriculum as they have many benefits over wooden, synthetic or other materials.

In our curriculum Sword Academy studies medieval techniques of axe combat inspired by German and other sources.