Conversation With Christian Tobler

Tobler-BookHow do the efforts to revive a 500-year-old style of German sword combat help us understand the ideals of chivalry in medieval culture, and its place in the world today? Author and historical researcher Christian Tobler joins us to discuss that question.

When Christian Tobler’s book “Fighting With The German Longsword” was published in 2004, it was something of an eye-opener – the practice of truly historically accurate medieval sword work was, even just a decade ago, a relatively academic endeavor. But since that time, the historical European martial arts (HEMA) community has truly blossomed at the grassroots level, and today there are thousands of enthusiasts all over the globe doing their best to revive and interpret the fighting arts of the Late Medieval masters using (as much as possible) historically correct equipment, and (as far as we can recreate them) historically accurate fighting techniques.

Of course, like any scholarly endeavor, the practice of these medieval fighting arts has not stood still – not by a long shot. The expanding level of interest and increasing quality of technical interpretation has led Mr. Tobler to create a revised edition of Fighting With The German Longsword, and it’s now available from Freelance Academy Press in both print and electronic editions, much to the delight of HEMA practitioners everywhere.

ToblerBut if we’re going to so much effort to understand and re-ceate the physical aspects of this fighting art – the weapons, protective equipment (or lack thereof), and techniques of attack and defense – what about the mental side? Historical fighting manuals include a great deal of focus, implicitly and explicitly, about the character qualities of someone who seeks to master the knightly art of the longsword, and other dueling and battlefield weaponry. Do we just assume all of that talk about honor, courage, responsibility, and courtesy is just superfluous cultural window dressing? Or do we need to make an effort to incorporate aspects of honor and chivalry if we are to truly approach an understanding of the medieval fighting arts in the 21s century?

Mr. Tobler joins host Scott Farrell to talk about his study and practice of the art of medieval swordsmanship, and his own ongoing exploration of the chivalric ideals that stand alongside the practice – both in medieval culture, and in the modern world.