Despite the fact there is a more than 2,400-year-old military tradition within Western civilization of close-combat proficiency, few subjects have received as unfortunate neglect by historians and academics than the martial arts of Western Europe. But a growing amount of modern research has centered on the historical methods of using various types of Medieval and Renaissance swords and weaponry in historically accurate and martially sound manners. The articles on here cover martial arts from all over Europe.
While the term “martial arts” today is typically synonymous with “Asian fighting art”, for centuries highly sophisticated European martial systems existed. It is from the Latin that we actually derive the English term, “martial arts” – from “arts of Mars”, the Roman god of war. The term “martial art” was used in regard to fighting skills as early as the 1550s and in an English fencing manual of 1639 referred specifically to the science and art of swordplay. In reference to Medieval and Renaissance combat systems the terms “fencing” and “martial arts” should thus be viewed as synonymous. Fencing was in essence the “exercise of armes” –and arms meant more than just using a sword.