Historical European Martial Arts Training

Historical European martial arts training is derived from a thoroughly war-torn European history, and the peoples that survive have brought with them highly effective and intriguing warrior training arts

However, these European martial arts adapted to changing technology, so that while their descendants still exist, they are focused on things like flying helicopters and infantry tactics for riflemen.

Some traditional European martial arts training has been preserved in one form or another.

For example, fencing was preserved by being made into a sport; of course this has changed the practice significantly. 

Some historical fencing has survived, and some groups have attempted to reconstruct old historical European martial arts training from a few surviving combat manuals.

Some of the oldest written and illustrated material on the subject of historical European martial arts training dates from the 15th and 16th centuries, and was written by notable teachers like Hans Talhoffer, Fiore dei Liberi and George Silver. 

Some transcripts of yet older texts have survived, the oldest being a manuscript going by the name of I.33 and dating from the late 13th century.

Fighting manuals such as those listed above have served as guides for attempted reconstruction of historical European martial arts training.

Another example of such historical martial arts reconstruction is Pankration, which comes from the Greek (pan, meaning all, kratos, meaning power or strength). 

Unfortunately, it is extremely difficult to record the essential parts of a martial art in written form (or in fact in any form except the training of a body of master students) so these efforts are very difficult and require the practitioners to borrow techniques from living martial arts to fill in the gaps.

European unarmed martial arts that have survived in active form include:

  • English boxing
  • Olympic wrestling
  • French savate

Many other European warrior arts were made into sports that we no longer recognize as combative, such as:

Some kinds of gymnastics, where the pommel horse is called a horse because it simulates a horse:

the art comes from the necessity of a Calvary man to be able to change positions and fight effectively from a the back of a horse. 

Similar origins also exist for the shot put and the javelin throw.



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