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The Origins of European Swordsmanship


A common feature of all historical European sword-fighting, as reflected in medieval and Renaissance combat treatises, is fencing with blade binds. In this refined fighting art, a crossing of swords informs a combatant on appropriate maneuvers, based on pressure feedback sensed through one’s blade. Actually, the concept of going where pressure takes you is, indeed, omnipresent in all martial arts. But when was it first applied to swords? Or has fencing with blade binds always been at the heart of European swordsmanship, even in antiquity or the early and high medieval period? Based on years of experimentation and careful examination of early medieval swords – dating to a time long before the first fechtbuch was written – , this video presents a thesis that offers an explanation for distinct changes in weapon design, but also points to the possible origins of later European swordplay.

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