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Dominic P.

Joined: 20 Feb 2012

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PostPosted: Sat 07 Apr, 2012 4:33 am    Post subject: Variations with Medieval fighting techniques         Reply with quote

Hi I have never personally trained in any form of WMA but am aware that there are a number of different manuals from the Medieval period. The vast majority of which seem to come from Germany. I have also been informed though that there is a 15th century English manual, on the use of the Longsword.

This has me wondering how different are the German, Italian and English techniques for the Longsword? Also how can these differences, if they are any major ones be applied to other weapons and techniques? Such as the use of a sword and buckler say by a Swedish or English Knight when compared to that of a German knight. Lastly Is it know if such differences would show up on solely a personal level or if they would show up at a national level?

Thank you for taking the time to read my post.
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Craig Johnson
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PostPosted: Sat 07 Apr, 2012 7:12 am    Post subject: Context and Tradition         Reply with quote

Hi Dominic

Good question and one that is still being understood in the fullness of its meaning by researchers today. While we have divided these in the groups you describe by nationality, these national groups where not how people from that period would have described themselves at all. The medieval person saw their identities more in relation to their local or home region than the nation state. In fact the concept of Germany or Italy or England as countries in the way we use the terms would not fit at all.

So I think it would be a better description to look at the martial arts of the period as a series of traditions i.e. Lichtenauer, and that these traditions where more of an interwoven ball of threads that would be knotted together in one spot and far apart in others. The core principles of many of these threads would be spots where they meet. Other points would be where a teacher or student made connections between different traditions. We know this occurred as several of the manuals tell us the master being described learned from many sources. Some in a line of teachers others in studying many different threads and then creating their own synthesis.

The quality or depth of this training would be another important factor. We know from descriptions that most locals would have their local master teaching and this would be down to a very local and probably amateur level. In larger communities one might be able to make a living doing Martial instruction though we see many of the Masters of that day being folks who had "real jobs" in the modern sense, as well. At any given point I think it would be difficult to think of fighters being grouped in any style by nationality. It would be much more a organic mix of student and teacher, school, experience and traditions of learning sword play. Where any given group of users would fall in that mix would be very unstructured.

Hope that helps.

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Dominic P.

Joined: 20 Feb 2012

Posts: 12

PostPosted: Wed 11 Apr, 2012 4:09 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi sorry about the delay in responding.

Thank you for the very detailed and informative response.

Am I understanding correctly that each community of a reasonable size would have had some sort of, if not professional then knowledgeable instructor who may have taken on the role as a secondary profession/role? If so this would certainly seem to suggest far more possibility for variety , than I originally thought.
Are there any books which you know of , that cover the teaching of such techniques rather than the techniques themselves? As i would certainly like to increase my knowledge on the subject; as it seems to be rather diverse in teaching methods.
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Craig Shackleton

Location: Ottawa, Canada
Joined: 20 Apr 2004
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PostPosted: Thu 12 Apr, 2012 5:23 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I don't know of much information being out there dedicated specifically to methods of teaching in a historical context. There are several modern teaching of historical swordplay books and articles, but we don't have very much information on how they trained at the time.

However, it is my belief that some of the teaching methodology is encoded into the historical manuals, in terms of how the plays and techniques and information are organized. I personally believe that Liechtenauer's verse is not intended to help a student remember techniques as much as it is intended to help teachers remember their lesson plans. I have also heard that Fiore's manuscripts are laid out like memory palaces, my guess being for more or less the same reason.

Joachim Meyer gives more information than the earlier sources on training and practice, and there are scattered bits on general fitness etc. for earlier stuff.

If you find more information on historical teaching methodology, I would love to hear about it.

Ottawa Swordplay
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