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Historical European Martial Arts:
Alive and Well 1, 2, 3


There are numerous approaches to training based on the various interpretations of the historical treatises. However, a common element in most of the training approaches is that there is more to training in swordsmanship than swords. A classic treatise written by Fiore dei Liberi, 1410, describes a complete training system that will take an individual who "knows nothing" to someone that "knows something". The system takes the student through the various levels of offensive and defensive techniques beginning with "abrazare" or grappling. Here, the student learns the fundamentals of fighting concepts of judgment, distance, timing and placement. These core concepts are echoed in a number of later manuscripts, most notably George Silver's "Brief Instructions upon my Paradoxes of Defense", 1599.

The system eloquently takes the student through this level of training into the next level which now includes weapons, more specifically, the "daga" or dagger. Here, the principles learned and applied in grappling are leveraged into this next level of training. From here, the system takes the student to other techniques involving other weapons such as the longsword, sidesword, pollaxe, spear and even mounted combat training.

The value of such system is that students learn effective principles and techniques of defense that can easily be applied to today's physical conflict should it arise. The uninitiated would claim as to the inappropriateness of historical swordsmanship training in today's context. Yet, the very fundamentals of historical European martial arts can be found in the Eastern martial arts as well. Considering that the human race is no stranger to war and military conflicts, regardless of country, culture or heritage, the principles of fighting is common to all cultural backgrounds and therefore, applicable to the contemporary culture of today. Aside from the learning and training of western martial arts, the training provides robust physical exercise, which in its own right, an important requirement of achieving physical fitness while learning defensive skills.



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