Podcast 50: A Dueling View Of Chivalry

PoleaxeScott examines chivalry’s place in the world of medieval fighting manuals and poleaxe dueling as he is joined by Christian Henry Tobler, European martial arts interpreter whose work is featured in a new DVD German Medieval Martial Arts Vol. 1: The Poleaxe, as they discuss how this brutal style of knightly combat reflects the medieval image of chivalry. Plus: Scott speaks with Kay Hymowitz, author of the book Manning Up: How The Rise of Women Has Turned Men Into Boys about maturity, responsibility and dating etiquette in today’s young men; a few rounds of Chivalry Jeopardy; and the conclusion of our 50×50 Podcast Support Drive.

Quicklinks — Use the links below to learn more about the books and products mentioned in this podcast episode.

Segment 1: Chivalry Jeopardy

Scott challenges some preconceived notions about the ideals and practices of medieval chivalry with a game of Chivalry Jeopardy. He gives you a quotation having something to do with knights or chivalry, and you’ve got 30 seconds to decide whether the sentiment is authentic (that is, “historically accurate”) or bogus (which is to say, drawn from a source – a novel or movie – that presents a modern take on the code of chivalry). Although there is plenty of historical evidence that knights in the Middle Ages were rude, privileged and violent, you may be a bit surprised by some of these quotes, which indicate that not every medieval knight was a sociopathic bigot, and not all depictions of chivalry in modern times are as gentle and romantic as we might believe.

Segment 2: A Dueling View Of Chivalry


Scott is joined by author, scholar, and martial arts interpreter Christian Henry Tobler (pictured at right) to talk about medieval fighting manuals and the “chivalric” practice of fighting with a poleaxe. Christan has published several books on medieval combat, including Secrets of Medieval German Swordsmanship and In Saint George’s Name: An Anthology of Medieval German Fighting Arts. His new DVD, German Medieval Martial Arts Vol. 1: The Poleaxe, presents a practical look at combat techniques with this unusual, yet versatile Late Medieval weapon. Christian and Scott look at how this rather brutal style of martial art squares with the ideals of knightly chivalry.

Learn More: Read Mr. Tobler’s work in this article, In Defense of Peter von Danzig, an analysis of a medieval fighting manual, presented on the Freelance Academy Press website.

Below: A video documentary featuring Christian Tobler giving an introduction to the German sword combat and martial arts tradition.

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Below: How does all of this “martial arts” stuff really work? The following video shows a competitive challenge between Mr. Tobler and fellow maestro (and friend) Sean Hayes of the Northwest Fencing Academy – fought, appropriately, in true gentlemanly style and chivalric spirit.

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Want to learn the knightly skills of Historical European Martial Arts and sword combat? If you’re in the Southern California area, come and join Chivalry Today’s weekly Knight School Historical Fencing and Sword Combat workshop, held Friday evenings, 5-6:30 pm at the Team Touche Fencing Center. Our courses are taught in a safe, supportive, chivalrous environment, with an emphasis on fitness and historical accuracy, not smashing, bashing and comparing bruises. (Classes are held regularly, but are dark some weeks due to conflicting schedules. Walk-in participants are welcome, but please contact Team Touche’s front office to ensure the workshop on any given week. We’d hate to have you make the trip for nothing!)

Segment 3: Interview with Kay Hymowitz, author of Manning Up

HymowitzScott speaks with author Kay Hymowitz (pictured at right), whose new book, Manning Up: How The Rise Of Women Has Turned Men Into Boys, examines the changing social dynamics between young men and women, and uncovers the disturbing trend of today’s 20-something males to take on the role of overgrown boys, rather than responsible men. From juvenile humor (think Will Ferrell, Adam Sandler, or South Park) and ongoing emfatuations with video games and movies aimed at teen-agers, to hook-ups and “friends with benefits” relationships, and the inability to move out of parents’ houses into a place of their own, today’s boys don’t seem to be stepping into their father’s shoes – and it’s possible that the social factors which have given women more social liberty and authority have simultaneously made it difficult for young men to understand what’s expected, and required of them in relationships, in the workplace, and in society. Scott and Kay discuss how the ideals of chivalry might be applied to get today’s child-men to “man up” without rolling back the clock on equal rights.

Learn More: Read Kay Hymowitz’s article Why Men Pop The Question, written for CNN, which explores the relevance of traditional (some might even say “chivalrous”) gender roles in the customs of marriage, even in an age of female empowerment and gender equality.

Also, from the Wall Street Journal, Where Have All The Good Men Gone? examines the differences between “hooking up” and “hanging out,” and “dating” and “having a relationship” – and why today’s young men and women are increasingly frustrated in the lack of distinction between the two.

On Our Next Episode

Scott will talk with Prof. Jennifer Wollock, author of Rethinking Chivalry And Courtly Love, about her fresh take on the customs of chivalry and courtship; and an in-depth exploration of a medieval melee known as the Combat of the Thirty with a group that’s staging a reenactment of this brutal, yet famous “deed of arms” this summer.

One thought on “Podcast 50: A Dueling View Of Chivalry

  1. Hi Scott, in listening to the openining of the podcast, the Charny quote you used is echoed in Chauncer’s “Wife of Bath’s Tale” in the Canterbury Tales when the old woman tells the knight that gentlemanliness and gentlewomanliness is not limited by possetions or rank, but by deeds, so even the poorest person can be a gentleman or woman. It certainly gives you a lot to think about. Keep up the good work.

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