When thinking about „fencing“, in front of the inner eye sportsmen and sportswomen in white suits and fencing masks usually appear immediately, competing against each other with foil, epée or sabre. These modern olympic fencers can be seen in a multitude of sporting competitions up to the Olympic Games.

But what are „historical fencers“? The decisive difference lies in the fact that we are concerned with reviving historical fighting techniques and weapons as sport by means of traditional fencing books.

Already since the 14th century, fencing masters have recorded the subtleties of armed and unarmed combat – in each case with the weapons of their time – in manuscripts and books. Some of these works have survived the centuries until the modern age and are kept as cultural heritage in various libraries (e.g. the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek in Munich).

Image from the fencing treatise of Joachim Meyer, 1570

The variety of weapons ranges from dagger fighting and wrestling to various forms of swords (longsword, one-handed sword, Langes Messer (literally „long knife“), rapier, sabre, smallsword) to pole weapons such as halberds and so-called „pollaxes“. There are well thought-out and complicated martial arts of European origin, which can certainly compete with their Asian counterparts (one also speaks of „HEMA“ – Historical European Martial Arts).

Historical fencing is therefore closely interwoven with all the ideas and images that have been conveyed to everyone through film, television and books. In the training of the old martial arts it quickly becomes apparent that swords are not excessively heavy or that armed warriors are by no means slow and clumsy. Also, not the stronger and more aggressive sword fighter wins, but the one who knows how to convince with technique and skill after practice.

In order to train injury-free, we use blunt „weapon simulators“. These swords have about the size and the weight of original weapons, but are usually more flexible to allow stabs without danger and have no sharp edges. In addition, appropriate protective equipment is worn during practice and free fencing.

Free Sparring with the Longsword in protective gear

Our focus is neither on the correct representation of the Middle Ages (reenactment) nor on stage fights (as often seen on medieval markets), but on the reconstructed martial art and the sports challenge. But nothing can describe the feeling of having to move with a sword in your hand as well as simply grabbing one and trying it out.

The seminar is aimed at fencers who already have experience. If you want to try historical fencing as a beginner, you can ask for a trial training in the usual club training. You can find more information on our website.

Picture credits:

Joachim Meyer: wiktenauer.com, licensed under CC-BY-NC-SA-4.0, originally created by Draupnir Press

Free Sparring: Copyright by Erdem Sakaoglu