Historical martial arts reconstruction

By Yossi Sheriff

Historical martial arts reconstruction is the process of reviving a martial art with no living tradition. In recent years, with the resurgence of interest in martial arts, schools of fighting long since discontinued have generated enough interest for individuals and organizations to reconstruct them from historical sources.

The reconstruction of a martial art is very difficult indeed, and opinions on how it is best done differ quite a lot. Usually, written material is used, along with paintings and diagrams of movement. This is, however, usually not enough to capture the dynamics of a martial art, and practical experimentation becomes necessary. Normally the people attempting to reconstruct a martial art have experience in some other, similar martial art with a living tradition, and they normally fill in the gaps with this martial art.

Examples of martial arts reconstruction are Pankration and the various historical European schools of fencing. The term Historical fencing refers to any fencing system that was in use before the development of the three classical fencing weapons.


  • Terry Brown, English Martial Arts (2002) Anglo-Saxon Books, ISBN 1-898281-29-7
  • John Clements, Medieval Swordsmanship: Illustrated Methods and Techniques (1998), ISBN 1-58160-004-6
  • Hans Heim & Alex Kiermayer, The Longsword of Johannes Liechtenauer, Part I (DVD), ISBN 1-891448-20-X
  • Tommaso Leoni, The Art of Dueling (2005), ISBN 1-891448-23-4
  • David Lindholm & Peter Svärd, Sigmund Ringeck's Knightly Art of the Longsword, Paladin Press (2003), ISBN 1-58160-410-6
  • David Lindholm, Fighting with the Quarterstaff, (2006), ISBN 1-891448-36-6
  • Brian R. Price, ed. Teaching & Interpreting Historical Swordsmanship (2005), ISBN 1-891448-46-3
  • Christopher Thompson, Lannaireachd: Gaelic Swordsmanship (2001), ISBN 1-59109-236-1
  • Christian Henry Tobler, Secrets of German Medieval Swordsmanship (2001), ISBN 1-891448-07-2
  • Christian Henry Tobler, Fighting with the German Longsword (2004), ISBN 1-891448-24-2
  • Jason Vail, Medieval and Renaissance Dagger Combat (2006) Paladin Press
  • Guy Windsor, The Swordsman's Companion: A Modern Training Manual for Medieval Longsword (2004), ISBN 1-891448-41-2

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