Illustration from Meyer's Longsword. Source: Bloody Elbow, MMA History Blog.
Illustration from Meyer’s Longsword.






If all has gone according to plan, I am now back in the United States and recovering after my recent trip to Germany.  As such, I would like to share with you another keynote addresses from this summer’s Martial Arts Studies conference in Cardiff as I work on on my report for next week.

This was an interesting talk for a number of reasons.  To begin with, Daniel gave it while wearing armor, which is something that one does not see every day.  Secondly, I have been hoping to get some discussion of the Historical European Martial Arts movement (HEMA) onto Kung Fu Tea for some time now.

In this paper Daniel asks whether it is possible to reconstruct a lost fighting system from existing books.  The answer seems to be that this sort of exercise is much more difficult than we often assume.  And while this talk is specifically discussing the reconstruction of Western fight books, I suspect that many of these issues might also be applicable to those thinking about Chinese or Japanese manuals.  As such, this paper may be of interest to a wide range of readers interested in the historical martial arts.

As Daniel is a younger scholar who we have not discussed before, a few words of introduction are in order.  He is a medievalist with a background in literary studies as well as the history of science and the material culture of the early modern period.  He received a PhD from the University of Geneva in 2013, is the co-editor of the Acta-Periodica Duellatorum (which you should definitely check out) and he just co-edited a new volume on Western fight books.  Lastly, if you are curious as to what he can actually do in that armor, be sure to check out this clip!


Lost Embodied Knowledge: Experimenting with Historical European Martial Arts out of Books