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Deutsche Fechtschule: Sword Fighting Art

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Deutsche Fechtschule

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The Deutsche Fechtschule was a sword-fighting movement popular from the 14th to 17th centuries. Its principles are still practiced today.

Between 1487 and 1570 the Brotherhood of St. Mark—the most important organization of German fencers—was responsible for teaching sword arts in the country, and it is due to their efforts that a canon of literature detailing ancient techniques, methodology, and weaponry still survives to this day.

Multifaceted art

An interesting aspect of the art is that, although fighting is primarily conducted with the long sword, principles of wrestling are also employed. Practitioners will use their body weight to gain leverage against their opponent and, once contact has been made with the opponent’s sword, will then employ a clever set of moves, similar to some Japanese systems, to manipulate the sword quickly into another position to achieve advantage and, ultimately, a cut to the opponent. Part of the training involves practicing with the sword alongside the dagger. Stafflike weapons are also used, as is the large shield. Today most of the art’s practitioners train in a semicontact fashion with blunted swords. Armor, including headgear, is common.

Using the force

The idea of using weakness to overcome strength and strength to overcome weakness underpins much of the art. The experienced practitioner, once he has made contact with his opponent’s sword, will sense immediately whether he has to make a strong move or a weak one in order to execute a winning strike or cut.

The still-prevalent drive to achieve a winning cut suggests that duels in the past were not uncommon and, although the art has evolved into a sport over the centuries, the central theme has always been to end a life-threatening, armed encounter quickly.


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