I've got back into watching some HEMA things on youtube, and it made me think about the conversations we've had a lot on MAP about how you can't learn martial arts from books. HEMA's reliance on the treatises though makes me wonder if there's much difference between going to an established class, and getting together with some dedicated mates and trying to learn them? Someone established will have studied them longer, but no one's learning from the original practitioners. Obviously I'm being mean towards HEMA since the whole point is to try and recreate historic fencing, so naturally they'll use the treatises. But, using the previous conversations on book learning from MAP it makes me wonder if any alternatives to these conclusions can be reached? 1. HEMA practitioners are doing the best they can, but without any direct connections to old trainers authentic historic fencing is lost forever 2. The treatises leave enough history to make a good recreation of it with enough study and understanding, in which case why can't people learn martial arts of other styles from books, or even from video which presumably is miles better at getting across technique than still images? I'm well aware the second is a very leading option, but it is something that's causing me to think quite a lot. I used to be very firm against the ability to learn from anything other than an instructor, but that stance has softened in the last year or so. HEMA adds an interesting dynamic to it that there do seem to be people who are respected as HEMA instructors over others and are given some authority on the subject, but that flies against what I was used to seeing on MAP about other martial arts when I first started out. Any thoughts?