A while back I asked, encouraged, and outright cajoled my friend, Peter Morrow, to write about his fencing experiences. I hope you learn something from his experiences with Historical Fencing, and encourage you to ask him questions!
Take it away Mr. Morrow.
Historical Fencing: Not Just for Porthos, Athos, and Aramis
About seven years ago, I took a chance on a new experience: Historical Fencing.
Historical Fencing is the martial arts granddaddy of the modern sport of Olympic Fencing. It generally deals with the period of swordplay between the 1300s and the early 1800s and teaches forms of Rapier, Saber, and Small Sword combat. It differs from both Classical and Olympic Fencing, which focuses on more modern forms of Epee, Olympic Saber, and Foil.
Historical Fencing also differs from its more modern children in that you aren't confined to a fourteen meter strip with your other hand behind your back. You may move in a circular fashion, and have access to your other hand, to either be used in defense or to hold another weapon or small shield.
My first day of my first class, my instructor told us a story about the history of fencing. Life in the Renaissance for many people was horrible. With sanitation standards being nonexistent, and life expectancy being short, honor was all that mattered to most people. Criminal courts were almost unheard of, and the idea of civil courts hadn't been thought up yet.
Disputes and matters of honor were settled by the blade.
It paid to know how to fight.