ARMA Membership Structure

A goal of the ARMA has always been to offer legitimate and respected certification in our study and interpretation of Medieval and Renaissance fighting skills.  

It is the ARMA’s emphasis on historical sources, accurate replica weaponry, and realistic practice devoid of any fantasy, choreography, or sporting concerns that has given it the authority to confidently offer the first ever modern curriculum of forgotten European fighting arts. It is only through the ARMA's expertise and long-time experience in teaching its established series of well-worked out exercises, drills, and practice routines that permits it to offer historically legitimate and martially sound training courses andcertification testing.

The ARMA's organization, as well as its Member Training Program and Proficiency Certification, is structured to provide accredited expert instruction in the modern study of historical fencing skills. 

To insure quality of instruction and accurate learning, membership is selective and therefore not open to any and all requests and inquires. It’s common to say to prospective new members, if you don’t want or expect to be challenged —physically, intellectually, emotionally—to apply yourself with discipline to be better than you are, then the ARMA is not for you.  But if legitimate skill, knowledge, and virtue matters to you, then please proceed.

Don't know where or how to start learning about Medieval and Renaissance swordplay? Looking for more than role-playing make believe tournaments and fantasy play-fighting? Want to move away from sport fencing's limitations? Not satisfied with Asian martial arts? Not finding historical fencing practice that is physical and martial enough? Care about the kind of people you train with? 

Join ARMA and enter a community of serious practitioner-researchers and take part in our online teaching resources and training materials. Become involved with sincere scholars and fellow students of the sword exploring the exciting subject of Renaissance martial arts.

Associate Members are official students actively following the ARMA study approach and training methodology.  They may be working toward eventual certification ranking (as Scholar adept, Free Scholar, Provost, etc.) with close combats skills in individual weapon proficiencies. Associated membership implies just that, association with the ARMA name, ARMA reputation and ARMA standard. At this time, affiliated membership is restricted to persons at least 18 years of age. 

Three or more local members may also form a Study Group. The ARMA pioneered the concept of historical fencing Study Groups as a means for exploring lost martial arts traditions in the age of the Internet.  Study Groups are independent collectives of members actively employing the ARMA system in regular practices or classes. Group members act as a local club chapter working toward eventual accreditation and license in teaching the ARMA system. Study Groups typically will reflect members having received some official instruction in accredited ARMA workshops, seminars, and courses. A purpose of Study Groups is to allow members not to just practice or work out together, but help prepare one another for certification testing. 

Associate Membership Benefits and Privileges

Annual Associate membership fee is $40 (less than $4.25 a month annually).
We offer a $5 discount to active duty US military and law-enforcement. 

Each ARMA Membership provides for:

  • Associate Status and Member Certificate (provided on request at events)
  • Ranking as an ARMA Student
  • Individual Contact Listing on the ARMA website - the Practice Partners List is a major way of  networking with fellow Associates.
  • Participation in exclusive instructional courses open only to members
  • Access to Associate-only website areas with exclusive articles, research, training tips, videos, and study aids
  • Notification for early release of new research and materials
  • Discounts on purchase of wooden weapons from our approved vendors
  • Access to exclusive offers
  • Study Group Connection – open practice network with other ARMA members worldwide
  • Participation in the ARMA Member Training Program (MTP) seminar series and competency assessment for skills certification
  • ARMA E-List participation – exclusive member email discussion board  
  • Networking contacts with ARMA members worldwide
  • Online purchase access for official club shirts and historical fencing art gear

Recognized Study Group Benefits

If you and at least two other members with whom you will be regularly training together are nearby then official Study Group status is the way to proceed. The very basis of a Study Group is to study together as a group, to learn and help one another and pool efforts. All of our Study Groups, if not all our Associate members, were to one degree or another beginners and novices themselves once. Our whole system is devised around educating and assisting new members, which is one reason why we provide the kinds of study materials and resources that we do.  Three Associate Members may apply for recognition as a new Study Group. Group registration is an additional $5 per existing Associate Member (or $45 for first-time Study Group members).  After initial Study Group registration, future member subscription renewal is at the regular annual Associate rate of $40 per member.

Study Group Membership offers:

  • Official Study Group Status
  • Group Contact Listing on ARMA website
  • Exclusive member training sessions and instruction opportunities
  • Preferred registration at official events
  • Exclusive Study Group training and practice consultations
  • Coordination of regional practices and courses
  • Space for your own local ARMA page on our servers
  • Authorization for local uniform logos and shirts
  • ARMA decoder ring and official secret handshake (just kidding)

We also offer a $5 discount to on-campus University student Study Groups in the US, and to active duty US military or law-enforcement. *We also have a special 2-Year Study Group Membership renewal rate for only $60.

Each Study Group is an independent entity within the overall organization. But each Study Group is required to use the "ARMA" name as part of its official structure (i.e., "ARMA Seattle" or "ARMA Austin"). Any geographic locale may also have any number of separate recognized Study Groups authorized within it, so long as each group meets the requirements. Thus, for instance there can be  "ARMA Houston", "ARMA South Houston", etc. For Study Group recognition contact the ARMA Director for further details.


Training Uniform: The prescribed ARMA training uniform consists of solid black athletic work out pants and a solid red t-shirt or sweatshirt or  official logo red shirt with socks in any combination of red, black, or white.  Our members customarily wear a solid red t-shirt with solid black sweat pants for practice. Additionally, our ARMA logo red shirt represents both our club as an organization and the Associate’s status as an associate member. The logo red shirt is the official training uniform for Study Groups.  The training uniform constitutes a symbol not only of the organization’s dedication to earnest and serious research, but also each individual’s participation and commitment.

ARMA formal uniforms (historical-style red blouses and knee-high baggy black pantaloons) are entirely optional.  Affiliation with the ARMA is reflected by the adoption of standardized practice attire for both lone members and Study Groups. Uniforms provide group identity and encourage discipline. Historically, the wearing of particular matching colors in the Medieval and Renaissance eras identified an individual with a group and demonstrated fidelity with a particular clan, faction, party or lord. Red and black were colors which much of our source literature was traditionally written in. For ARMA, the colors of red and black also symbolize the blood, dirt, and sweat that historical fighters experienced in pursuit of their martial disciplines.

What are the Expectations of me as a Member?

Having decided to join a private association there are certain expectations on behalf of those who willingly apply for selection to a group which openly professes a set virtues and principles. While the training curriculum we offer is optional, our Code of Conduct is not. While not every club member physically practices the craft or is actively engaged in independent research of the source teachings, everyone accepts the same study approach and methodology. Working together in collaboration as a collective effort toward common goals requires this.

What we ask of our members is simple: don’t share things that you are not authorize to disclose and don’t claim ownership of things that were shared with or taught to you. Members are expected to not divulge proprietary materials or private lessons with non-members or to allow others to knowingly do so. 

We also expect members of our community to be courteous, respectful, and honest toward of their fellows through.  Camaraderie, fellowship, and mutual support for one another also means recognizing that no interpretation or ideal is exempt from scrutiny and that honest critical assessments should never be taken personally. As a self-defense discipline, the study of martial arts doesn't just build character it reveals it. We can set examples, uphold standards, and try to be role models for one another, but what you do with this opportunity depends on the kind of person you want to be. Lastly, it’s expected that you are here because you really want to be part of a larger effort working toward something greater.

Our Credo of Renaissance
Martial Arts Studies

Respect for History and Heritage
Sincerity of Effort
Integrity of Scholarship
Appreciation of Martial Spirit
Cultivation of Self-Discipline

Ours is a fellowship, a fighting guild, a celebration and exploration of History, Heritage, Camaraderie, and Self-defense.

ARMA was never set up as a profit-making enterprise and it is not structured as a business. It is a European arms & armor and historical fencing association of practitioners, researchers, and enthusiasts. It is not a "franchise". Annual membership fees work toward maintaining the free ARMA website, acquiring new research materials, and supporting the ARMA's effort in advancing legitimate Medieval & Renaissance martial arts. ARMA membership is far more than a "label" and is much more than a "card" or simple piece of paper. It reflects discipline, commitment, knowledge, and skill. Each Member is a representative of the ARMA and all it stands for.

"We provide the best,
We expect the best"

What are the Membership Requirements? 

After being accepted, you become part of a larger effort by simply adhering to the Study Approach and Training Methodology and adopting the affirmations and uniform. Everything else is up to you…practice, training, research, interacting, contributing, etc. We hope you will become fully involved with a Study Group and develop your knowledge and skills while working toward official Certification in our system of practice. We do offer an official Training Program curricula, yes, but it doesn't have to be everything, you can adapt it to your own study without necessarily having to seek Ranking. Instead, you may at a future point apply for recognition in private testing, provided you have the same vocabulary and equivalent skills used in a compatible manner, this is no problem. After all, just because you don’t have the exact same interpretation presented in ARMA’s official course and events doesn't mean you don’t know what you are doing on your own. There is historical precedent for this in the Renaissance schools of defense.

ARMA Membership Application


The ARMA has been influential and inspirational to many enthusiasts in this subject. Many other historical fencing groups and organizations have appeared in recent years following our example and many have adopted portions of our approach or followed aspects of our training method or employed logos resembling ours.  But only recognized Study Groups represent any formal part of the official Association for Renaissance Martial Arts  (a federally protected copyright). Only current registered members can participate in our Ranking and Certification system.

An Open Letter to New Members from the ARMA Director:

If you've examined the ARMA site in detail then you already understand our purpose and know what makes us unique. Since its beginning the ARMA has always endeavored to provide a serious but informal approach to the study and interpretation of our legitimate Medieval and Renaissance fighting skills.  Over time this approach has given us a range of insights and noticeable advantages.  We endeavor to study and learn and train while promoting the subject.

As is obvious, the ARMA is a martial arts club.  We are not concerned with fantasy or role-playing, with stunts or contests, or even re-enacting, but with redeveloping the historical fighting skills of these combat arts. After reading our material perhaps you felt the ARMA's System and our approach answered something you found missing elsewhere (such as within traditional Asian martial arts, modern sport fencing, established theatrical combat, fantasy role-playing groups, or historical reenactment societies).

As an education group, the ARMA gives away considerable original research free on our public website and we share many areas of our training. Often this material ends up part of other's study and practice or class structure or choreography or whatever. Now that’s certainly good... because we are advancing the subject, improving the craft and promoting our heritage. But we don't always get much credit or even recognition for it, we don’t always get a great deal of thanks, and often we don't get much of anything else out of it either. But, we have the established knowledge base, we have the physical skills, we have the research material and academic support, and we have earned our confidence each through diligence and hard work.

Our organization is essentially set up to cooperate together as a community of shared interests and values in order to assist people mostly training alone. Our various Study Groups all formed when more than one person and got together to practice locally. In each place it started somewhere with just one person. We've grown to an international club on the front line of research and setting standards. But helping people teach themselves is still what we are all about. The ARMA Study Group concept is not for everyone, but it is ideal for those who appreciate its purpose and goals.

If there is no ARMA Study Group currently in your area, consider it must begin somewhere with someone after all. Although there is not much substitute for hands-on experience with knowledgeable others, we can suggest to try and locate like-minded individuals in your area who accept the ARMA Affirmations, then try to construct some of our contact-weapons, obtain a wooden waster and practice under our suggested guidelines. Next, register your official membership and feel free to access the ARMA website for support –as it is then your website.

Because most people lack the basis by which to know how to study a martial art, but bring a host of core assumptions with them, we endeavor to provide a means for new students to begin practicing and learning within an online community of like minded fellows. This way you are not having to go it alone or do it all by yourself.

Although we cannot be present with each interested person or party in order to maintain our standard's of integrity and quality (you can't cross swords over the Internet), we trust that those interested in our association for historical European fighting arts are kindred spirits in purpose and intent. Our primarily online role is to lead and influence through scholarship, dialogue, and the example of seriously practicing our craft. ARMA classes and our Members Training Program are a major effort toward this. As is well known, the ARMA approach is a very martial one.

Each independent and autonomous ARMA Study Group is concerned with openly practicing, training, sparring, and researching. Yet, even while not every individual student may focus on earnest martial exercise and physical application of real technique, each can still appreciate the legitimacy and formidability of the craft without making up a pretend version or deluding themselves with play-acting. Over the course of years of classes and travel conducting seminars and workshops, it has become clear that more focused and more specific instruction is necessary in order to clearly transmit and accurately convey the ARMA system of learning and training. Naturally, it is only in person or through considerable effort at studying that individuals can attain this. In this regard we have instituted a  program to teach our craft and certify members. Hopefully, as a new member you will have the opportunity to take part.

Until then, just pick up a good stick or replica blade and train alone if need be –but with earnest sincerity. This is how we all first started. The benefits offered as part of our club consists of being part of a serious movement by experienced students and scholars exploring our Western martial heritage. For membership, ARMA provides a rare and specialized service. But its system and its unique attitude also offer challenge. The ARMA has become the most respected and admired proponent of  Historical-Fencing and Medieval & Renaissance fighting skills. We are happy to be able to further share our interest and our expertise.

Lastly, before you send an application, understand the ARMA holds a Code of Conduct. If you hold no virtue in ideas like honor, respect, sincerity, or trust, are selfish or you “just want to fight” and practice “with anyone anytime anywhere” regardless of who they are or what they represent, then we ask you seek to do so elsewhere and please not waste our time and yours by joining us. The idea that character counts, that for better or worse, martial arts study either shapes you or exposes you, is something foreign to many modern people just looking to play with swords.  If you don’t want or expect to be challenged ---physically, intellectually, emotionally ---to apply yourself with discipline to become better than you are, then the ARMA is not for you.

Join us and come be a part!


John Clements
ARMA Director

See also:

Doing Things The ARMA Way

What kind of people are we looking for as members?

ARMA Seminars & Workshops

Practice Partners List

Donate to support the research and revival 
of Renaissance martial arts.

The ARMA's not for profit educational website holds over 5 gigs of material and growing, 90% of it free to the public.  We accept no advertising and never have.  Help support the cost of hosting and promoting this lost heritage by contributing to exploration of our fencing history.
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Note: The word "ARMA" and its associated arms emblem is a federally registered trademark under U.S. Reg. No. 3831037. In addition, the content on this website is federally registered with the United States Copyright Office, © 2001-2022. All rights are reserved. No use of the ARMA name and emblem, or website content, is permitted without authorization. Reproduction of material from this site without written permission of The Association for Renaissance Martial Arts and its respective authors is strictly prohibited. Additional material may also appear from "HACA" The Historical Armed Combat Association copyright © 1999-2001 by John Clements. All rights are reserved to that material as well.