istoric European Martial Arts refer to combat methods that originated in Europe but have, over the centuries since their creation, either evolved into other forms (i.e. sports fencing) or simply died out as they became obsolete. They are sometimes referred to Western Martial Arts (WMA).

hese arts of war would have been lost forever but for the fact that some of the masters wrote and latterly made use of a new fangled process called printing to create fechtbücher(German for "fight-books") in which they detailed their knowledge, techniques, opinions and even their prejudices. Extensive text and some superbly detailed artwork makes these books historic treasures beyond price to those interested in these periods.

ome 50+ different fechtbücher exist from the 15th century into the 17th instructing on such diverse weapons as two handed swords, sword and small shield, early rapier, pole arm, and even special weapons used only in duels sanctioned in medieval German law

hese were simply well preserved reminders of a bygone age with no practical value or use … until recently. Over the last 20 years or so, there has been a huge increase in interest in exactly how our ancestors used the weapons we see in museums. The fechtbüchers are somewhat difficult to interpret but perseverance by a growing number of enthusiasts are bringing these skills back to life. Though careful study of the text and images, knowledge of the human body’s physical limitations and activities that can look to the casual observer like a game of armed Twister we now have a working knowledge of how these weapons were truly wielded. This is akin to hands on, practical archaeology resulting in many, long held misconceptions about such weapons being laid to rest.

s to why we do this? There can be many reasons. It appeals to those have interest in our martial past. For others it’s a unique way to keep fit, as an alternative to eastern martial arts or simply because its fun.