Reconstructing Ancient Martial Arts

Journal of Western Martial Art
April 2003

by Christoph Amberger

1. Gaugler, William. The History of Fencing: Foundations of Modern European Swordplay, Bangor, ME: Laureate Press, 1998; p. xv.

2. Galas, S. Matthew. –"Kindred Spirits: The Art of the Sword in Germany and Japan," in Journal of Asian Martial Arts, vol. 6, # 3, (1997); p. 20f.

3. See Daeves, Dr. ?. "Die Untersuchung altdeutscher Eisenteile," in Rundschau deutscher Technik, vol. 20, no. 26, June 27, 1940, as quoted in Ritter-Schaumburg, Heinz. Dietrich von Bern–König zu Bonn, München and Berlin: F.A. Herbig, 1982; p. 20. To create the sword Mimung, Wieland forged a sword, filed it down into metal shavings, mixed them with flour, and fed them to geese he had starved for three days. He then collected the birds' excrement, welded the undigested metal together, and made another sword.

He repeated the process three times, finally forging a sword that "cut iron like clothes." Tests conducted by German metallurgists before and during WWII proved not only that the welding of carbon-enriched steel filings improved the cutting ability and compound stability of the weapon, but that the nitrates contained in the bird dung also caused a considerable increase in hardness–which made Mimung a weapon that reportedly was superior even to modern spring steel products.

4. Perrin, Noel. Giving Up the Gun: Japan's Reversion to the Sword, 1543-1879, Boulder, CO: Shambala, 1980; p. 11f.

5. Indeed, some modern academics are even unaware that there's more than one European culture...

6. Special reprint of Reinhardt, Hank. –"Hype–As Ancient an Art as Swordmaking," in Knives '87, n.p.: DBI Books, 1987.

7. see Pothmann, Alfred (ed.). Das Zeremonialschwert in der Essener Domschatzkammer, Münster (Germany): Aschendorff, 1995.

8. Panseri, C. Ricerche metallografiche sopra una spada da guerra del ii secolo, Milano: Assoziazione Italiana di Metallurgia, 1954.

9. Dr. Karl Wassmannsdorff ridicules the idea that the flail was taught systematically. (See Wassmannsdorff, Karl. Aufschlüsse über Fechthandschriften und gedruckte Fechtbücher des 16. und 17. Jahrhunderts, Berlin: R. Gaertners Verlagsbuchhandlung, 1888.) However, European armouries still hold many documented war flails. There are also many iconographic sources depicting pairs of flail fighters in the context of the widely practiced arms–for example on a frieze under the eaves of the city council building at Breslau (now Poland), or in a recently discovered mural at Schloss Ambras near Innsbruck (Austria).

10. Schmied-Kowarzik and Kufahl; Duellbuch; p. 201.

11. See also Pennick, Nigel. Practical Magic in the Northern Tradition, Guildford, England: The Aquarian Press, 1989; pp. 123f. Most practical conclusions presented in this New-Age paganism book are mainly speculative and should be taken with a grain of salt.

12. The Poetic Edda: Hávamál, verses 149 and 151.

13. Pieper, Peter (Pit). –"Runen," in Symbole und Zeichen, Bremerhaven (Germany): Landkreis Cuxhaven, 1991; p.88.

14. see Garmonsway, G.N. (ed.) The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, London: J.M. Dent & Sons (Everyman's Library), (1953) 1990; p. 22/23.

15. Fiore di Liberi. Il Fior Battaglia, Duellatorum in armis, sine armis, equester, pedester, Milano, 1410; facsimile by Francesco Norvati, 1902.

16. See also Galas, S. Matthew. –"The Flower of Battle, An Introduction to Fiore dei Liberi’s Sword Techniques," in Hammerterz Forum, vol. 2, #3 (Winter 1995/96); p. 18f.

17. Homer. The Odyssey, Book xviii, ll. 80-120, [translated by Robert Fitzgerald,] New York: Random House Vintage Classics, (1960) 1990; p. 337-8.

18. See also –"Last of the Great Savate Men," in Gilbey, John F.. Secret Fighting Arts of the World, Rutland, VT & Tokyo: Charles E. Tuttle Co., (1963) 1989; p. 116f.

19. Tegner; p. 44.

20. Willcock, M.M. The Iliad of Homer, London: Macmillan Education Ltd., 1978; p.xiii.

21. Xenophon. Anabasis (transl. by Brownson, Carleton L.), Cambridge, MA and London: Harvard UP [Loeb Classical Library], (1922) 1992; vi.1.11-15, p. 440f.

22. Scott, B.G. Early Irish Ironworking, Belfast, 1990; p. 193; as quoted in Pleiner, Radomir. The Celtic Sword, Oxford and New York: Oxford UP [Clarendon Press], 1993; p. 35 (note 35).

23. Maximilian died in 1519.

24. In Kennet, Basil. Romae Antiquae Notitia: or, the Antiquities of Rome. In two parts, London: 1737 (10th ed); p. 264f.

25. Poliakoff, Michael B. Combat Sports in the Ancient World: Competition, Violence, and Culture, New Haven, CT: Yale UP, 1987; p. 97.

26. ibid.

Reconstructing Ancient Martial Arts

Fencing historians like to date the beginning of an organized Art of Fencing in the Renaissance.

There is a good reason for it:

Since all contemporary schools of fencing in the western world are derived from Italian and French sources, focus in [Maestro Gaugler's The History of Fencing] is on treatises published in those countries. Rapier play in the other two early schools, the German and the Spanish, in fact, closely resembles the Italian model.1

Also, early sources are at best scattered manuscripts, or bits and pieces and fragments of arcane references only grad students in their 15th semester of preparing their dissertations might ever have heard of– rather than proper books printed in any decently sized print runs.

There are other obstacles. Masters like Liechtenauer actually made a point of keeping their instructions as cryptic and unintelligible to outsiders as possible. Accordingly, fencers imprinted by the modern versions of the art and without the urge to research the early schools of the sword, gladly embrace the assumption that before the Spanish and Italian fencing masters popularized the rapier and thrust fencing, there must have been a void of skill and technique, the obvious lack being made up by brute strength.

But much like the martial artists of the Orient, Europe's warriors and knights, even its burghers and peasants practiced systems of self-defence that combined small and long arms with very effective elements of wrestling, throwing, boxing and kicking.

Circumstantial evidence

Tracing or reconstructing extinct martial arts, of course, requires more than a fair share of speculation. It seems that at least some early fighting systems traceable in early recorded history, preserved elements of religious or at least shamanic exclusivity that prohibited outsiders from learning and passing on jealously guarded secrets. In non-literate societies, this means that an art would cease to exist (and be lost to the antiquarian) when the native masters were unable or unwilling to pass on their knowledge.

There are several indications that the fighting arts and metalworking professions in medieval Europe were at least as advanced as those in, say, Japan or China. Not only are there interesting parallels in two-handed sword techniques with the Bidenhander and the Japanese katana.2 But the sword smiths of both regions had developed alloys and metalworking techniques to produce blades that according to legend could cut steel.

Wieland’s sword Mimung was an example of a compound nitrate, phosphate and iron sword.3 It reportedly cut iron like butter. Japanese swords were known for being able to cut even through musket barrels:

A Japanese sword blade is about the sharpest thing there is. It is designed to cut through tempered steel, and it can. Tolerably thick nails don't even make an interesting challenge. In the 1560s one of the Jesuit fathers visited a particularly militant Buddhist temple–The Monastery of the Original Vow, at Ishiyama. He had expected to find the monks all wearing swords, but he had not expected to find the swords quite so formidable. They could cut through armor, he reported, 'as easily as a sharp knife cuts a tender rump'. Another early observer, the Dutchman Arnold Montanus, wrote that 'Their Faulchions or Scimeters [sic] are so well wrought, and excellently temper'd, that they will cut our European blades asunder, like Flags or Rushes...' (...) Montanus's story can be checked and has been. The distinguished twentieth-century arms collector George Cameron Stone once took part in a test in which a twentieth-century Japanese sword was used to cut a modern European sword in two. And there exists in Japan right now a film showing a machine-gun barrel being sliced in half by a sword from the forge of the great 15th-century maker, Kanemoto II. If this seems improbable, one must remember that smiths like Kanemoto hammered and folded and rehammered, day after day, until a sword blade contained something like 4 million layers of finely forged steel. Or rather, until the edge of the blade did. The rest was of much softer steel. (...) This technique of varying the hardness was one that European smiths never perfected, which is why European swords were never as sharp.4

Perrin's account is, to steal a phrase from Fr. Klaeber, so enthusiastic "that one might wish it could be forthwith assented to." But that poses some problems: For one, he takes George Cameron Stone by his word–whose book is so riddled with mistakes it is only good as a quarry for pictures. And he is part of a neo-Western academic tradition that is frequently over-zealous to dismiss European history and culture(s)5 , so that even a second-hand report of a piece of celluloid can credibly double as evidence!

Now, only a fool would argue that Japanese swords are not horrific some cases breathtaking pieces of the sword maker's art that combine metallurgical perfection with pure artistry. (Even though my references only wanted to commit themselves to a "few thousand" layers of hammered steel per rod...not four million.)

But they're not made for splitting armor–at least not Western-style plate armor. The curvature of their edges makes them ideal for draw cuts through soft materials. Yet sharpness is not an indicator of armor-splitting capability–otherwise you could buy six-packs of can opener replacement blades at your supermarket check-out counter.

There is also ample evidence–literary and iconographic–that Western steel was quite capable of cracking s steel helmet, even cut through other blades or gun barrels (see Page xx.)–even though this would certainly not be the target of choice for a swordsman.

Hank Reinhardt, who has probably broken, bent, notched, and warped more sword blades than any single man in the 20th century, has convincingly argued that this myth–perpetuated in World War II with machine-gun barrels–is pious nonsense:

I have been assured, frequently in fact, that Japanese blades are so strong and tough that they never break, nick or bend. Well, they break, they nick, and they bend. They frequently nick quite badly. Damascus steel is a superior steel, or it can be when done by a superb smith. But even a superior steel is still steel and will respond like steel. One sad fact is that the harder the steel, the more likely it is to chip and nick. A softer metal will bend, flatten or otherwise distort. When this happens, it is relatively easy to pound or file a new cutting edge. When a chip leaves a gap, not much can be done. A piece can be reforged into the blade, but this also requires that the blade be retempered.6

And to fully sink Perrin, European sword smiths were crafting Damascus sword blades from steel rods of varying hardness since the Dark Ages. Only recently did metallurgists of the German steel giant Thyssen attempt to create an authentic replica of on Ottonian using the damascening techniques of Frankish sword smiths.7 And Italian metallurgists analyzed the blade structure of a 12th-century battle sword, discovering that it, too, was intricately constructed from layers of steel of varying hardness expertly crafted to reach the objectives of hardness, flexibility, and sharpness.8

Martial cultures

The fencing manuals of the Germans Talhoffer (1443), Dürer (yes, Albrecht Dürer compiled a fighting manual, around 1512), Paschen (1658), and the Dutchman Nicolaes Petter (1674), illustrate joint locks, throws, kicks, and other techniques that we have come to expect from the Asian arts.

Modern remnants of organized martial arts can be found in France, in the systems of bâton and canne (in Britain thriving as quarterstaff and singlestick into the present century), or in the predecessors of savate, which only died out in the middle of this century, having been superseded in popularity first by French boxing, and today, by the Asian martial arts.

Even relatives of the notorious nunchaks, developed from flails, can be traced in Europe, where their use as a weapon was taught at least up to 1610, when Sutor represents them as Pflegel.9

In William Hogarth’s Chairing the Member (1754) we still find the flail used as a weapon in a truly negative election campaign. It is impossible to say if the young partisan wielding it is breaking the head of his opponent according to art, however, or just uses the implement as a layman’s shortcut to blunt impact trauma.

(An anecdotal reference from the late 19th century even suggests the practice was alive and kicking in southern Europe as little as a hundred years ago:

In Italy, there used to be the tradition–in cases when the stiletto insufficient for revenge–to brawl with a curious percussive tool. A thick, 60-90cm long staff carried three, 30cm long sticks, which were weighed down with lead and iron rings, fixed like on a flail, which served for attack and defence as it was kept in swinging motion. These flagelli appear to have been specially effective against several attackers, or when one tried to elude the guards.)10

Runic riddle

One of the earliest enigmatic clues to shamanic martial arts originated in Iceland. The Edda, one of the few literary monuments of Germanic paganism, features two verses that have been interpreted as being indicative of a close link between warrior arts and native cults:11

A third [rune] I know, if great is my need / Of fetters to hold my foe. / Blunt do I make mine enemy's blade, / Nor bites his sword or staff. (...) A fifth I know, if I see from afar / An arrow fly 'gainst the folk, / It flies not so swift that I stop it not / If ever my eyes behold it.12

The catching of a flying arrow from mid-air is a feat that is well-documented in Oriental martial arts. And the upper tiers of the Icelandic heroes frequently catch spears from mid-air and redirect them against the enemy who threw it. The techniques of evading a blade or staff rather than parrying with the blade are reminiscent of Aikido. Some of these evasive maneuvers (such as vaulting and even throwing) were still integral parts of 18th-century smallsword techniques.

This knowledge is transmitted by a "rune" a magic symbol obtained by Wotan/Odin himself at the cost of his one eye (by the way, a typical fencing master injury). Only an initiate into magic lore would be able to pass on this knowlege... a master... a shaman... a priest. In Scandinavia and other parts of Northern Europe, weapons are frequently marked with runes. Spear points are named "Charger", "Target rider", "Asir Arrow"13...the symbold carved by rune masters, keepers of Odin's magic lore.

(It might not be coincidence that the Parker and Laud Chronicles mention that in 605 (viz. 607) when "Æthelfrith led his levies to Chester and there slew a countless number of the Welsh; (...) two-hundred priests were also slain there who had come thither to pray for the Welsh host."14 A slew of 200 shamans praying (or directing the fight?)–and then slaughtered wholesale–maybe to prevent further uprisings?)

For all occasions

Like many Oriental arts, early European manuals still include a wide array of weapons and empty-hand techniques in their fighting repertoire.

In Germany, Talhoffer’s codices are all about raw antagonistic combat. Apart from knowing how to handle a variety of staff and bladed weapons, a fighter had to know throws, chokes, lock joints and holds. Hitting is not the primary concern of Talhoffer's lovingly drawn fighters... blocking, securing the threatening weapon by locking the arm, and then immediately dealing an incapacitating cut or thrust (the latter often guided by both hands) is what it is all about.

In Italy, Fiore di Liberi's Fior Battaglia15, one of the first printed volumes on the art of defence, is a compendium that combines wrestling, unarmed fight against the dagger, sword fighting of armored and unarmored men, pike against pike, pike against war club, armed men fighting with war hammers, lance and sword fighting of mounted men, wrestling on horseback, lance from horseback against foot soldier, pedestrian fight dagger vs. sword.16

The Austrian historian Karl Lochner comments snidely that Fiore "verliert sich endlich in Phantasiekämpfen"–gets lost in fantasy fights. What Lochner carelessly writes off to the imagination of an overzealous writer, however, represents reality-based possibilities of armed and unarmed encounters a man had to be prepared for. In fact, by presenting defense techniques performed with tools and implements of daily life, the Master indirectly commented on the quality and integrity of his system:

If an opponent wielding superior weapons could be neutralized by a fighter trained to use whatever makeshift weapons were at hand, the martial arts system by definition had to be superior to other techniques applied in a matched encounter. This means that the "tricks" depicted in these early sources (and criticized today by modern historians as indicative of lacking scientific sophistication) are really indicators for the existence of a systematic approach to teaching and practicing martial arts!

Homer’s papyrus trail

Systematic European fighting arts seem to be as old as fighting itself. References to martial arts abound in Greek and Roman literature: Contemporary sources on the Greek pancration, for example, document elements of wrestling, boxing and kicking that are surprisingly similar to the modern "Ultimate Fighting" and bareknuckle contests currently fueling the ire of politicians and do-gooders in search of a cause.

Suetonius mentions that Tiberius was able to pierce an apple with his index finger, a technique referred to as spear-finger in some modern Asian systems. The gladiatorial games and schools, where fighters were systematically trained in highly specialized fighting systems, have never been analyzed in regard to technical detail–although one of our Adventures will introduce us to one of their techniques.

Of course, lack of clear-cut evidence invites speculation about the extent and character of these arts. But a closer examination of the techniques alluded to in the sources provides clues not only to the fighting prowess of the heroes, but also to some of the techniques they employed.

The following is an example taken from the most widely read piece of literature in antiquity, Homer’s Odyssey, whose descriptions of fights could date the existence of systematic martial arts as far back as the Greek bronze age.

Here's the story: Odysseus, disguised as a beggar, has finally arrived at his court in Ithaka. The suitors force him to square off against Iros, a bronze-age welfare king:

So now Odysseus made his shirt a belt / and roped his rags around his loins, baring / his hurdler's thighs and boxer's breadth of shoulder, / the dense rib-sheath and upper arms. Athena / stood nearby to give him bulk and power. (...) / Poor Iros felt a new fit of shaking take his knees. / But the yard-boys pushed him out. Now both contenders / put their hands up. Royal Odysseus / pondered if he should hit him with all he had / and drop the man dead on the spot, or only / spar, with force enough to knock him down. / Better that way, he thought—a gentle blow, / else he might give himself away. / The two were at close quarters now, and Iros lunged / hitting the shoulder. Then Odysseus hooked him / under the ear and shattered his jaw bone / so bright red blood came bubbling from his mouth, / as down he pitched into the dust, bleating, / kicking against the dust, his teeth stove in.17

What reads like an archetypal brawl between hero and buffoon actually opens up a world of speculation about ancient martial arts: Both men take on a similar stance, hands raised. It is odd that Homer, a keen observer, should say "hands" rather than "fists."

A modern parallel can be found in the native French martial art of savate, which today is synonymous but not identical with modern French boxing, and originally combined open-hand and kicking techniques.18 Odysseus, his rib cage tight and dense–is he exhaling like a martial artist before the assault, or simply crouching to make his ribs overlap for maximum protection, like a 19th-century saber fighter?–ponders whether to kill the opponent with a single punch or merely knock him out. He decides in favor of the latter, fearing to reveal his hidden identity.

But what exactly would have given him away?

Would a killer punch have identified the beggar as more than just another experienced beerhall brawler? Maybe as the initiate of an exclusive aristocratic fighting art? As a man with the Zen and ch'i (and implied breathing technique!) to later on not only draw a bow no other man could handle but then shoot an arrow not through one axe but through a dozen?

Iros attacks. Odysseus doesn't even bother to evade or block–but immediately hooks the opponent under the ear, shattering the lower jaw. Just how did he do that?

A straight, open-handed hit combining rotation and whiplash energy from shoulder, elbow and wrist can pack a painful knock-out punch–a well-known practice not only in Asian but also European fighting arts.

But Odysseus has not only mastered breathing, concentration and punching techniques. He also appears to have a solid knowledge of pressure points and "nerve centers". His deliberately chosen target coincides with Tegner’s nerve center #25:

In this area there is a concentration of nerves. The target is behind and up under the jawbone. (...) A jabbing or punching blow results in considerable pain. The extended knuckle or fingertips can be used.19

The Iliad and Odyssey are chock full with vivid fighting descriptions. In fact, "Homer has a very clear idea of what he is describing. He and his audience understood fighting, and liked to hear about it."20

Dance, Monkey Boy, dance!

Other Classical sources allude to the "Pyrrhic Dance," which was practiced by some of Xenophon's men prior to battle.

There were regional differences in the choreography of these dances, as becomes obvious in the following passage:

After they had made libations and sung the paean, two Thracians rose up and began a dance in full armour to the music of a flute, leaping high and lightly and using their machairas; finally, one struck the other, as everybody thought, and the second man fell, in a rather skillful way. (...)

After this a Mysian came in carrying a light shield in each hand, and at one moment in his dance he would go through a pantomime as though two men were arrayed against him, again he would use his shields as though against one antagonist, and again he would whirl and throw somersaults while holding the shields in his hands, so that the spectacle was a fine one. (...)

And the Paphlagonians, as they looked on, thought it most strange that all the dances were under arms. Thereupon the Mysian, seeing how astounded they were, persuaded one of the Arcadians who had a dancing girl to let him bring her in, after dressing her up in the finest way he could and giving her a light shield. And she danced the Pyrrhic Dance with grace.

Then there was great applause, and the Paphlagonians asked whether women also fought by their side. And the Greeks replied that these women were precisely the ones who put the King to flight from his camp.21

Exhibitions of martial skills in war dances undoubtedly were not a reflection of a generally high level of martial arts training. In Xenophon, they were part of a carefully orchestrated pep rally aimed at boosting the morale of the home team, impressing those who needed to be impressed, as well as providing distraction and entertainment and ritualistic reaffirmation to the fighting men. (In this regard, they did no more or less than a Van Damme or Steven Segal movie.)

In the above example, the Greeks even use them as a means of gunboat diplomacy–by implying that even their dancing girls were so skilled in the martial arts that they were able to mop the battleground with the enemy king and his generals.

The Pyrrhic's ritualistic element remains evident in the civilian practice of the dance later in the Roman Empire. Claudian's poem of the sixth consulate of Honorius gives a picture that is about as enigmatic as it is tantalizing:

Here, too, the warlike dancers bless our sight,
their artful wand'ring, and their laws of flight,
and unconfus'd return, and inoffensive fight.
Soon as the Master's Clack proclaims the prize,
their moving breasts in tuneful changes rise;
their shields salute their sides, or straight are shown
in air high waving; deep the targets groan
struck with alternate swords, which thence rebound,
and end the concert and the sacred sound.

It is impossible to trace a potential continuity of the Pyrrhic Dance into modern times, since it is nearly impossible to reconstruct the actual system itself. Also, the term could have been applied to other systems.

We know that the sword was held in great veneration among the Germanic tribes, and that there were ritualized dances involving both sword and spears:

However, accounts of similar exercises by Irish warriors with spears and swords were a form of training for agility.22

But it is worthwhile mentioning that the 1737 edition of the Antiquities of Rome contains the following observation:

Julius Scaliger tells us of himself, that while a youth, he had often danc'd the Pyrrhic before the Emperor Maximilian23, to the amazement of all Germany: And that the Emperor was once so surpriz'd at his warlike activity, as to cry out, "This boy either was born in a coat of mail, instead of a skin, or else has been rock'd in one instead of a cradle. [Poet. lib. 1, chap. 18.]24

Rome's pugilistic pastimes

The fight with the caestus appears to have remained confined to comment scenarios–and practiced by professional athletes whose personality cult was about as developed as that of modern athletic entertainers. But Poliakoff adduces Plutarch, who "insisted 'that all these activities [boxing, wrestling, footrace] are imitations and exercises of war' and explained that the custom of breaking a section of the city wall for the triumphal entry of an Olympic victor is a sign that walls are of no great importance to a city that has men capable of fighting and winning.' He drew the same connections between combat sport and hand-to-hand fighting that Lucian and Philostratos did, adding that the Spartans lost the battle of Leuktra to the Thebans because the Thebans were better practiced at the palaestra."25

Statements like this one by Plutarch may be overly nostalgic: Greek decadence was blamed on the palaestra as often as athletic achievements were credited with excellence of the battle field:

Regardless of the value of combat sport in the training of soldiers, popular opinion saw in it the demonstration of courage, tenacity, and resourcefulness in a potentially hazardous situation, and many citizens viewed it as beneficial to the security of the city. (...) Sport provided a useful and enjoyable kind of indirect training for warfare. But the most serious military societies, Sparta and Rome, trained for war more directly and reduced the role of sport or condemned it. They recognized that it was an inefficient, haphazard training, and the seemingly undisciplined combat events were particularly suspect.26

The absence of ancient European martial arts from the collective memory of the 20th century can be attributed to several factors. First and foremost, their mostly oral mode of transmission (and the secrecy in which some systems were practiced and taught) made sure all traces were lost once the last masters had died. And even those masters or systems that left literary sources were at the mercy of academic philistines unable to interpret references outside of the context of their disciplines.

Note: This is a short excerpt from The Secret History of the Sword. To order from, click here.

Hammerterz Forum Collected is available for purchase. It is a 8x10 inches, and cerlox bound manuscript. It is 364 pages covering the Summer of 1994 to the Fall of 1999, the complete print run. Click "here" for more details.
About the author: Born in 1963, grew up in what used to be West Berlin, Germany. He studied Latin, English, history, dentistry, Gaelic, English and American Literature, journalism, philosophy, and economics with varying degrees of devotion and perseverance at the Freie Universität Berlin, the University of Aberdeen in Scotland, and the Georg-August-Universität Göttingen before obtaining his Master of Arts at St. John's Graduate Institute in Annapolis, Maryland. He has been living in the United States since 1989, is married and has three children.

A regular contributor to American Fencing, the magazine of the United States Fencing Association, and to the British fencing magazine The Sword, as well as the German Einst und Jetzt, he founded Hammerterz Forum in 1994. He has been featured in the Discovery Channel's 1997 documentary series Deadly Duels, has been a consultant to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York for the exhibition The Academy of the Sword, and is considered one of the foremost experts on historical edged-weapons combat in the United States.

As a member of two of the most respected duelling fraternities in Germany, he fought seven Mensuren with the bell-guard and basket-hilt Schläger between 1985 and 1987 and acted as a second in 25 more. His weapon of choice on the sports fencing strip is the saber.

Journal of Western Martial Art
April 2003

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