# Finding the World’s Highest Level HEMA

A curious individual posted the following on Reddit, looking for information:

Answers were what you would expect: it depends on how you quantify it, and there is no definitive way to say. Which is true. While I could come up with a formula that will give me an answer, what it shows would mostly be a result of how I set up the question. What does highest level mean? (The original poster did elaborate more, but without strict mathematical criteria it will always be vague.)

But reading the headline made me think of an even more unhelpful way of quantifying the answer to this question:

## Yes, you heard that correctly

Even though I’ve determined that I’m writing about geographic elevation, there are still more questions that have to be answered. What exactly am I quantifying? A simple answer would be to rank all countries by average elevation, and be done with it.

Of those, Chile is the first country on the list that I even know of HEMA operating in. But, a quick search of the HEMA Ratings database puts Afghanistan in the leading contender spot for highest level HEMA country in the world.

## But Wait!

I’ve given the lazy answer, but we can go a little deeper down this ridiculous rabbit-hole. Let’s not look at the highest average elevation, but the highest specific elevation where people are doing HEMA. There are two ways to approach this problem:

1. Look through HEMA Ratings tournaments and figure out which one was at the highest elevation.
2. Acknowledge that not all HEMA exists in the form of tournaments submitted to HEMA Ratings, and instead research every small HEMA study group in the world, and cross reference by the height of their city.

To anybody who thought I would take option 2:

So let’s get down to it.

Methodologically speaking, we’re on pretty shaky ground here. To start, I’ll look through all the HEMA Ratings tournaments with more than 30 longsword fencers. Why that number?

1. Longsword is the weapon for which we have the best data (by an order of magnitude).
2. I’m just crazy enough to look through the elevations of that many tournaments, but sane enough to go no further.

After I had the list, I went through and used Google to try and get an average elevation for each location. Taking the first piece of information I found.

But wait, it gets better. About ⅓ of the way through I discovered whatismyelevation.com was a thing! The future is wonderful.

And if we have a look at the tournaments with the highest elevations:

We see the interior North American tournaments completely dominate this list. Come on Europe, you can do better! I know you have mountains. And as a matter of fact, we as a community really like to fight low.

Of course this is mainly a reflection that most cities happen to be coastal. Which, by definition, means a low elevation. It is also interesting to consider that climbing to the 5th floor tournament hall for the 2019 European Games was more of an elevation change than a whole lot of event cities.

(Editor’s Note: Those stairs sucked.)

### Sidebar: What is ‘Sea Level’

Fun fact: figuring out exactly what “sea level” means is not an easy task. If you think about it for a little bit you realize that factoring in such things as waves and tides might be a little tricky. But that is just scratching the tip of the iceberg.Do you know that the gravity of the earth isn’t evenly distributed? While it isn’t so much that we would ever notice it, it is enough to produce an effect on the 1.8 yottaliters of earth’s sea water. So the oceans actually contain “flat” spots, in areas where the gravity is particularly strong.

Want to know more: NASA – Sea Level 101: What Determines the Level of the Sea?

*yotta = 1024 (If you aren’t insulted by me assuming you didn’t know that off the top of your head.)

## A Real Mess

What happens if we look not only at the elevation, but quality of competition? This first step, as always, is to get a nice reliable data dump from HEMA Ratings…

So how do we go about doing this? In short, I don’t know. I tried several variations and formulas and don’t seem to have one that balances things to produce an interesting result. We see either:

1) Elevation dominates. Anything in Toluca, Mexico or Denver, USA is just so much higher than every other tournament that it doesn’t matter who is even competing there.

2) HEMA Ratings dominates. Powerhouses like European Games, Swordfish, Longpoint and Tyrnhaw just have such deep rosters of talent that they rise to the top by sheer depth of field.

And now I am just back to the difficulty of the original question: how would you rate the level of a participant. Even when I’m looking at pure numbers (which are a far cry from a fully encompassing measure of HEMA ability in a region/country) it is a hard problem.

## And In Conclusion

I would normally say that I hope you learned something. But I really hope you don’t take anything from this to heart. At least I sort of answered the original question? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

## The Data

 Name Country City Elevation [m] Encuentro de Artes Marciales Europeas 2018 MX Toluca 2,672 Encuentro 2017 MX Metepec 2,629 Mid-Continental HEMA Open 2019 US Denver 1,609 Rocky Mountain Krieg 2017 US Denver 1,609 Rocky Mountain Krieg US Denver 1,609 Mid Continental Hema Open – Beta #1 US Denver 1,609 MCHO Beta 3 Longsword US Denver 1,609 Anvil 2018 CA Calgary 1,045 Anvil 2019 CA Calgary 1,045 Duels at High Noon 2019 US Tucson 728 Duels at High Noon 2018 US Tucson 728 Nordschlag 2018 CA Edmonton 645 Combat Con 2018 US Las Vegas 610 CombatCon 2019 US Las Vegas 610 Combat Con 2017 US Las Vegas 610 CombatCon 2016 US Las Vegas 610 CombatCon 2015 US Las Vegas 610 Swiss Gathering 2019 CH Schönbühl 526 Swiss Gathering 2017 CH Schönbühl 526 Swiss Gathering 2018 CH Urtenen-Schönbühl 526 Jihlavský HEMA turnaj 2017 CZ Jihlava 525 MČR v HEMA Jihlava 2019 CZ Jihlava 525 Swordtrip – the Gathering 2018 DE Munich 523 Swordtrip – The Gathering 2019 DE Munich 523 Fechtschule New York 2016 US Andes 488 Symphony of Steel 2020 DE Ulm 478 Symphony of Steel 2019 DE Ulm 478 Scherma Medievale nella Città Ideale 2018 IT Urbino 451 Scherma Medievale nella Città Ideale 2019 IT Urbino 451 Scherma Medievale nella Città Ideale 2017 IT Urbino 451 Salzburger Landesmeisterschaft 2018 AT Salzburg 425 Österreichische Meisterschaft 2017 AT Salzburg 425 Salzburger Landesmeisterschaft 2017 AT Salzburg 425 Salzburger Landesmeisterschaft 2019 AT Salzburg 425 Fechtschule New York 2017 US Margaretville 401 Geselle Fechten 2019 US Oklahoma City 365 Geselle Fechten 2018 US Oklahoma City 365 VXT 2018 – Clermont-Ferrand FR Clermont-Ferrand 358 ÖFHF Austrian Championships 2018 AT Graz 353 Žilinský Kumšt II SK Žilina 349 Žilinský Kumšt III SK Žilina 349 Žilinský Kumšt I. SK Žilina 349 Sandstorm 2017 US Phoenix 333 Arizona HEMA League 2018 Event 1 US Phoenix 333 HEMAICS Dolomiti IT Feltre 325 SERFO 2018 US Atlanta 320 SERFO 2019 US Atlanta 320 SERFO 2017 US Atlanta 320 SERFO 2016 US Atlanta 320 Dürer Turnier 2019 DE Nürnberg 314 Steel City Open 2018 US Pittsburgh 295 Broken Point 2018 US Pittsburgh 295 Steel City Open 2019 US Pittsburgh 295 Broken Point 2017 US Pittsburgh 295 Broken Point 2016 US Pittsburgh 295 Broken Point 2019 US Pittsburgh 295 Study in Steel 2018 US Greenville 294 Study in Steel 2017 US Greenville 294 Five Rings Classical Fencing Open 2019 US Kansas City 277 ÖFHF Austrian Championships 2019 AT Bad Vöslau 276 Arnold Fencing Classic 2020 US Columbus 275 Arnold HEMA Classic 2019 US Columbus 275 Blue Box Open 2019 US Columbus 275 Blue Box Longsword Open 2018 US Columbus 275 Blade Master 2020 RU Ekaterinburg 266 Study in Steel 2016 US Fountain Inn 264 April Fools 2019 IT Torino 258 Icebreaker Open 2018 US Minneapolis 254 Icebreaker Open 2019 US Minneapolis 254 Icebreaker Open 2017 US Minneapolis 254 TaurHEMAchia VI Edition IT Turin 249 TaurHEMAchia 2017 IT Turin 249 TaurHEMAchia 2015 IT Turin 249 TaurHEMAchia 2016 IT Turin 249 Krump Pow 2018 US Appleton 241 Krump Pow 2016 US Appleton 241 Krump Pow 3 US Appleton 241 Pardubický meč 2019 HEMA Tournament CZ Pardubice 237 Queen’s Gambit 2018 US Charlotte 232 Queen’s Gambit 2017 US Charlotte 232 WEIRD Open 2020 US Austin 229 WEIRD Open 2019 US Austin 229 Blade Master 2019 RU Chelyabinsk 225 Open Championship of Ural Federal District 2019 RU Chelyabinsk 225 Spring Open Duel Fencing Championship of the Ural Federal District 2018 RU Chelyabinsk 225 Blade Master 2017 RU Chelyabinsk 225 Blade Master 2018 RU Chelyabinsk 225 Winter Open Duel Fencing Championship of the Ural Federal District RU Chelyabinsk 225 North West Tournament 2017 IT Cortazzone 225 Pardubický-meč 2017 CZ Pardubice 224 Pardubický meč 2018 CZ Pardubice 224 Pardubický meč 2016 CZ Pardubice 224 Pardubický meč 2014 CZ Pardubice 224 European Games Invitational Gala Tournament 2019 BY Minsk 220 Trenčiansky Vorschlag Vol.3 SK Trencin 212 Trenciansky Vorschlag 2018 SK Trenčín 212 Clash of Claymores 19 US Shippensburg 209 Durchschlag 2019 PL Lodz 206 Durchschlag 2018 PL Łódź 206 HEMA Turnaj Digladioru 2020 CZ Prague 205 HEMA tournament Prague CZ Prague 205 Digladior HEMA tournaj 2018 CZ Prague 205 The Battle of Buffalo 2019 US Buffalo 183 Midwinter Armizare Open 2020 US Chicago 182 Midwinter Armizare Open US Chicago 182 Great Fight North 2019 CA Welland 182 LangHEMA 2018 IT Alba 172 LangHEMA 2019 IT Alba 172 LangHEMA 2016 IT Alba 172 6. Herkules HEMA Turnier Kassel DE Kassel 167 5. offenes Fechtturnier in Kassel DE Kassel 167 IV Mistrzostwa Polski PL Twardogora 167 Siberian Cup 2020 RU Novosibirsk 165 Showdown in No-Town 2019 US Seguin 165 Brisia 2017 – HEMA Pro Challenge IT Brescia 149 Big Moscow Tournament RU Moscow 147 Big Moscow Tournament 2017 RU Moscow 147 Big Moscow Tournament 2016 RU Moscow 147 Open Golden Forests Tournament Fall 2019 RU Moscow 147 Winter Golden Forests Championship 2018 RU Moscow 147 Clash of Claymores US Carlisle 146 Tyrnhaw 2019 SK Trnava 146 Tyrnhaw 2018 SK Trnava 146 Tyrnhaw 2017 SK Trnava 146 Tyrnhaw 2016 SK Trnava 146 Tyrnhaw 2015 SK Trnava 146 OPEN AMHE Toulouse 4 FR Toulouse 143 FightCamp 2017 UK Coventry 139 FightCamp 2018 UK Coventry 139 FightCamp 2019 UK Coventry 139 Fecht BA 2017 SK Bratislava 134 Bratislavský Fecht 4 SK Bratislava 134 Fecht BA 2016 SK Bratislava 134 Fecht BA 2015 SK Bratislava 134 FlowerPoint 2018 US Kutztown 122 Flowerpoint 2017 US Kutztown 122 Mid Atlantic Rookie Tournament: Fighty McFightface US Kutztown 122 Wrath Point 2016 US Shepherdstown 122 Wrathpoint 2018 US Shepherdstown 122 Polish Championships 2018 PL Wroclaw 119 Örebro Öppna Långsvärdsturnering 2013 SE Karlskoga 118 Swordplay Serbia 2018 RS Belgrade 117 Swordplay Serbia 2019 RS Belgrade 117 Swordplay Serbia 2017 RS Belgrade 117 Frühlingsfechten 2018 DE Dortmund 117 Frühlingsfechten 2019 DE Dortmund 117 OstFecht 2019 SK Michalovce 114 W3 2018 PL Warsaw 114 W3 2019 PL Warsaw 114 W3 2016 PL Warsaw 114 W3 2017 PL Warsaw 114 9. Dresdner Fechtschul 2019 DE Dresden 113 X. Budapesti MHS Torna HU Budapest 107 IX Budapest MHS Kardvívó torna HU Budapest 107 VIII Budapest MHS Kardvívó torna HU Budapest 107 Flower of Battle 2019 US Wyomissing 103 HEMAC Hemathlon 2018 GR Athens 101 HEMAC HEMAthlon 2017 GR Athens 101 HEMAC Hemathlon 2019 GR Athens 101 Albion Cup 2018 UK Dorking 90 SoCal Swordfight 2020 US Los Angeles 87 Féile na Gaiscígh 2018 IE Dublin 85 Féile na Gaiscígh 2017 IE Dublin 85 Swordplay Australia 2016 AU Samford Valley 85 Points North 2018 CA Ottawa 72 Points North 2019 CA Ottawa 72 Black Horns Cup 2018 PL Poznań 65 Black Horns Cup 2019 PL Poznań 65 Wessex League 2019: Oxford Chapter UK Oxford 62 A Midsummer Fight’s Dream 2019 UK Oxford 62 II Torneo 100Tolos HEMA de Coruña ES Coruña 58 Rose City Classic: 2017 US Oak Grove 56 Longpoint 2017 US Baltimore 55 Longpoint 2015 US Baltimore 55 Longpoint 2016 US Baltimore 55 Longpoint 2019 US Baltimore 55 Longpoint 2014 US Baltimore 55 Longpoint 2013 US Baltimore 55 VII Torneo de Naron 2018 ES Naron 55 VIII Torneo Cidade de Naron ES Narón 55 Winter’s End 2017 US Newberg 55 Ram Point 2018 US Richmond 52 Falcons Cup 2016 PL Oborniki 51 Falcons Cup 2017 PL Oborniki 51 Summer Sword Clash 2020 AU Adelaide 49 1st HERA Event AU Adelaide 49 Axel Pettersson Challenge Tournament 2018 AU Adelaide 49 World Broadsword Championship 2019 AU Adelaide 49 Astolat HEMA Open 2017 UK Guildford 47 IFHEMA Cup 2018 PT Lisbon 46 Capitol Clash: Washington DC HEMA Open 2017 US National Harbor 46 Mutinænsis II IT Modena 45 MUTINÆNIS – Torneo Nazionale delle Discipline HEMA IT Modena 45 Wessex League: Reading Chapter 2017 UK Reading 45 Iron Gate Exhibition 2018 US Boston 43 Boar’s Tooth 2018 US Boston 43 Sweden Open 2017 SE Kristinehamn 43 Örebro Open 2015 SE Kristinehamn 43 Sweden Open 2016 SE Kristinehamn 43 Örebro Open 2014 SE Kristinehamn 43 Festival of the Sword ’17 AU Melbourne 43 Festival of the Sword ’19 AU Melbourne 43 Oktoberfecht 2019 AU Melbourne 43 Wessex League 2018: Cardiff Chapter UK Cardiff 41 Hematolia 2019 TR İstanbul 40 Wessex League 2018: Winchester Chapter UK Winchester 39 Paris HEMA Open 2017 FR Paris 37 La Voute de Fer FR Paris 37 Paris HEMA Open 2015 FR Paris 37 Paris HEMA Open 2018 FR Paris 37 Paris HEMA Open 2016 FR Paris 37 Montpellier Hema Tournament 2018 FR Montpellier 35 Montpellier HEMA Tournament 2017 FR Montpellier 35 Montpellier HEMA Tournament 10 FR Montpellier 35 Montpellier HEMA Tournament 2016 FR Montpellier 35 Albion cup 2019 UK Marlow 34 Battle of the Bridge 2018 SE Örebro 34 Battle of the Bridge 2019 SE Örebro 34 Battle of the Bridge 2017 SE Örebro 34 Swedish Championships 2016 SE Örebro 34 NHFL Championships 2019 SE Örebro 34 AIMA ROMA 2019 IT Rome 34 AIMA Roma 2017 IT Rome 34 Trofeo ARA 2018 IT Rome 34 AIMA Roma 2018 IT Rome 34 Sword Fight III AU Burleigh Heads 33 Purpleheart Open 2018 US Houston 32 Purpleheart Armory Open 2016 US Houston 32 Purpleheart Open 2019 US Houston 32 Purpleheart Open 2017 US Houston 32 PNW 2016: Swordsquatch US Seattle 32 Copenhagen Open 2015 DK Copenhagen 31 Copenhagen Open 2016 DK Copenhagen 31 Copenhagen Open Longsword 2014 DK Copenhagen 31 IFG Spring Fling 2019 US Portland 31 Wessex League 2019: Exeter Chapter UK Exeter 27 Bergen Open 2014 NO Bergen 26 Bergen Open 2013 NO Bergen 26 Longpoint South 2016 US Orlando 26 Longpoint South 2017 US Orlando 26 SoCal Swordfight 2015 US Torrance 26 Wessex League: Bristol Chapter 2017 UK Bristol 25 Swedish Championships 2018 SE Stockholm 25 Queen’s Gambit 2019 US Concord 23 PNW HEMA Gathering 2015 US Coupeville 23 Wessex League 2018: Taunton Chapter UK Taunton 23 Victoria Highland Games Open 2019 CA Victoria 23 Victoria Highland Games Open 2018 CA Victoria 23 Clash of Steel 2019 TW New Taipei City 22 Clash of Steel 2018 TW New Taipei City 22 Oslo Penguin Cup 2019 NO Oslo 22 Oslo Penguin Cup 2018 NO Oslo 22 Norway Open 2017 NO Oslo 22 Norway Open 2016 NO Oslo 22 The Plough Tournament 1st CN GuangZhou 21 Hema Ianua 2019 IT Genova 20 Hema Ianua 2018 IT Genova 20 The Might 2018 FR Istres 20 III Torneo de Esgrima Historica de Pontevedra ES Pontevedra 20 I Torneo Vila de Redondela 2017 ES Pontevedra 20 HEMA Open Leioa 2019 ES Bilbao 19 Eleonora 2019 RU Krasnodar 19 Wessex League: Bath Chapter 2017 UK Bath 18 Edgebana 2017 UK Dundee 18 Edgebana 2016 UK Dundee 18 Edgebana 2018 UK Dundee 18 Vasaslaget 2018 SE Uppsala 18 Vasaslaget 2019 SE Uppsala 18 Vasaslaget 2016 SE Uppsala 18 Vasaslaget 2017 SE Uppsala 18 Vasaslaget 2020 SE Uppsala 18 Vasaslaget 2015 SE Uppsala 18 Baton Rouge Open 2018 US Baton Rouge 17 Wessex League 2019: London Chapter UK London 16 Wessex League: London Chapter 2017 UK London 16 Wessex League 2018: London Chapter UK London 16 Montréal Sword Meisters 2019 CA Montréal 16 3º Torneo Vila de Redondela 2020 ES Redondela 16 2º Torneo Vila de Redondela 2018 ES Redondela 16 Long Island Point 2018 US Uniondale 16 International Lowlands HEMA Gathering 2017 NL Amsterdam 15 Iron Gate Exhibition 2019 US Danvers 15 Iron Gate Exhibition 2017 US Danvers 15 IGX 2015 US Danvers 15 Iron Gate Exhibition 2016 US Danvers 15 Third National Historical Martial Arts Tournament CN Shanghai 15 The Winter’s Flail 2020 UK Southampton 15 HEFFAC 2015 NL Tilburg 15 Heffac 2018 BE Antwerp 14 Sword Fight IV AU Gold Coast 14 Sword Fight V AU Gold Coast 14 FechtTerra 2018 RU Saint Petersburg 13 Level One Dueling Sabre and Longsword 2018 RU Saint Petersburg 13 Wessex League 2019: Cambridge Chapter UK Cambridge 12 Swordfish 2017 SE Gothenburg 12 Swordfish 2015 SE Gothenburg 12 Swordfish 2016 SE Gothenburg 12 Swordfish 2013 SE Gothenburg 12 Swordfish 2012 SE Gothenburg 12 Swordfish 2014 SE Gothenburg 12 Swordfish 2018 SE Gothenburg 12 Swordfish 2011 SE Gothenburg 12 Swedish Championships (qualifiers) 2017 SE Gothenburg 12 SoCal Swordfight 2019 US Huntington Beach 12 SoCal Swordfight 2018 US Huntington Beach 12 SoCal Swordfight 2017 US Huntington Beach 12 Scania Open 2017 SE Malmö 12 Savannah Historic Longsword Open 2017 US Savannah 12 Helsinki Longsword Open 2020 FI Helsinki 11 Helsinki Longsword Open 2019 FI Helsinki 11 Helsinki Longsword Open 2017 FI Helsinki 11 Helsinki Longsword Open 2018 FI Helsinki 11 Helsinki Longsword Open 2014 FI Helsinki 11 Helsinki Longsword Open 2016 FI Helsinki 11 Helsinki Longsword Open 2015 FI Helsinki 11 Long Island Point 2017 US New York 11 New Amsterdam HEMA Open 2019 US New York City 11 Villeneuve Hema Tournament 2017 FR Villeneuve-Loubet 10 Villeneuve Hema Tournament 2018 FR Villeneuve-Loubet 10 Swordplay Australia 2017 AU Brisbane 9 Swordplay Australia 2018 AU Brisbane 9 Nederlandse HEMA Kampioenschappen 2019: Evenement 3 NL Breda 8 Villeneuve HEMA Tournament 2016 FR Nice 8 Nederlandse HEMA Kampioenschappen 2019: Evenement 4 NL Rotterdam 8 HEFFAC 2016 NL Groningen 7 3rd Annual Tosetti Institute HEMA Tournament US Redwood City 5 Dutch Lions Cup 2018 NL Utrecht 5 Dutch Lions Cup 2016 NL Utrecht 5 Dutch Lions Cup 2019 NL Utrecht 5 HEFFAC 2017 NL Oegstgeest 3 Nederlandse HEMA Kampioenschappen 2019: Evenement 1 NL Oegstgeest 3 Nederlandse HEMA Kampioenschappen 2019: Evenement 2 NL Oegstgeest 3 DC HEMA Open 2018 US Washington 3 Capitol Clash: Washington DC HEMA Open 2019 US Washington 3 DC HEMA Open 2016 US Washington, D.C. 3 Black Sea Cup 2019 RU Sochi 2 Dutch Lions Cup 2017 NL Utrecht 1 Dutch Lions Cub #2 2017 NL Nieuwegein 1 Dutch Lions Cub #2 2018 NL Nieuwegein 1 Dutch Lions Cub 2 2016 NL Nieuwegein 1 Dutch Lions Cub 1 2016 NL Nieuwegein 1
About Sean Franklin
Sean has a Bachelor's Degree in Mechatronic Systems Engineering, and is currently employed as a Controls Engineer. He is passionate about developing more analytical ways to view sword fighting, wishing to develop evidence based standards for protective gear and rule sets informed by tournament statistics. His martial arts history includes competitive success, medaling in international competitions for Longsword, Messer, Grappling, Rapier, and Cutting. In addition to competition Sean has been invited to instruct at a number of events across North America and Europe. For non-STEMey coaching topics Sean posts on https://www.swordstuff.blog/