The history of fencing might surprise you – even if you’ve got a long history in the sport yourself.
We are an unusual sport because of our origins – conflict. Just about as far back as you go with human history you’re going to find conflict, and in order to be great on the battlefield, you had to practice. It’s baked into who we are, which is part of why fencing feels so compelling. Kids naturally pickup backyard sticks and start swordfights, it doesn’t matter that they aren’t training for real battles. It’s like we can’t help ourselves, we want to challenge one another.
That’s all fine and good, but we want to know more. Fencing as a sport has some surprising roots, and our sport was an actual sport much further back than most of us realize.
To understand the scope of fencing history, from as far back as we can trace it, we’ve broken this down into three parts. The first is what you’re reading – Part I: Fencing in the Ancient World, where we delve into the earliest history. We then move onto Part II: Old World European Fencing, which follows through the time when fencing developed into something more like we know it to be today and the rise of high fencing styles. Finally, in Part III: Modern Fencing, we trace back through the last couple of centuries, including the Olympic Era. There’s a lot to cover, so let’s get going!