I’m currently reading Ken Mondschein‘s most excellent translation of Camillo Agrippa’s Treatise On The Science Of Arms, and the introduction full of details giving lots of background information got me thinking about a few things. In it, there is a description of the social context in which those who took up the sword lived which gives an insight on why they were doing so. And while we can try to comprehend what motivates a man to learn a weapon in order to both give himself a place on the social ladder as well as giving himself the means to preserve his own life, those are motivations which no longer apply to our modern world, and yet are crucial to the approach in which fencing masters were expecting their students to learn the art.
So how do we reconcile a need for self-defense and social recognition with the friendly activity that fencing has become today? Note that I use the word “friendly” in a genuine meaning, regardless of the amount of social or political conflict that might exist within or between groups today.