Welcome to The Historical Fencer!
I remember one night when I was 18 and I went to a party at a girl’s house, it might have been on New Year’s Eve, I’m not sure. We were a group of kids who used to hang out and I had a thing for her and was sort of hoping that she felt the same way. It was the first time I visited her house and it turned out her dad collected antique weapons and they were hanging all over the walls. Pistols, rifles, swords, daggers. The parents had left us the house with strict instructions not to touch the weapons. We mostly obeyed.
This girl also had a younger brother, and he was there too. Maybe his dad’s passion had rubbed off on him, because he had two antique fencing foils. Talking about fencing we decided to try them out. It was incredibly cold outside, and since I was a weird kid I had a flouncy white shirt. As we started fencing, snow began to fall, and we went back and forth in the darkness outside the house, slipping, parrying, lunging… From the house we could hear chatter and music and there was light and warmth in the windows, but we were all about the swords. We had a few close calls, nearly missing an eye and a slash across the cheek left a red mark. But we could not stop, it was too much fun.
Late at night, we stumbled back inside. Sweaty and exhausted and happy. To me, even then, it was magical, and the memory still holds that magic. That night carried so much of my love for the sword. Beyond techniques, beyond regards for safety—just the passion and audacity of it.
No surprise, I didn’t get the girl. But I did get a lifelong love of fencing.
I hope you will read this site and see that same passion rubbing off on our articles, and that you will relive your own moments of pure fencing exhilaration.
Fence well and carry yourself with pride,
Anders Linnard, Editor-in-Chief
I have something similar.
In the late 1990 early 2000 is was living in Italy studying classical painting. For a while me and 2 friends where living with an exile Russian noble family in the countryside outside of Florence. They wanted artists living there and the rent was cheap. I had been doing some reenactment but also a bit of iaido and my trusty bokken was always close by. Anyhow, I guess the landlord, an older Russian gentleman had seen me practice, and one evening as we where sitting outside he came over, with him he had an older set of fencing equipment with 2 épées and a pair of fencing masks. He kind of challenged me to a mock “duel” and 15 minutes later I am standing on the veranda of the main building, witch was build by the great Michelangelo’s uncle. Yes I am not kidding, talk about setting.
I had never used an épée, but pain is a great teacher and I never gave up. My white t-shirt soon had a couple of red marks from where the weapon had drawn a bit of blood. He also wore no protection except for the mask, so I left a few clumsy marks also on him, more but pure luck than any skill.
I count this as i defining moment, as it opened my mind to the European tradition of martial arts. It set me on the patch to the happy place where I am today.
That is a fantastic story!