Dr. Sixt Wetzler, the co-director of the German Blademuseum in Solingen (www.klingenmuseum.de) kindly invited me to participate at this conference, after we met at the 5th International Sabre Symposium in Hamburg. The conference was the first of a series bringing together interenational researches on bladed weapons and martial arts. The topic of this first event was “Fight Books in comparative perspective”. I had the chance to present a poster on the use of Highland Broadsword and Targe after Donald McBane and Thomas Page in comparison to the Penicuik-Sketches. It was a great honor for me to represent our combat art next to the many international academics and experts there.
I was heading to Solingen by train and my personal highlight was to travel along the Rhine River Valley with its marvelous castles and beautiful old towns. Although I already visited the Rhine several times and know its beauty, I never had the chance to drive through by train, which is a special experience, even in November, when the foggy, rainy weather and the colored leafs of the trees made it a mystical experience.
In Solingen I was kindly picked up by our B&B host Mrs. Wirth and my friend Adrian Baschung, who is working for the Swiss National Museum in Zürich. We already know each other since a seminar on german sabre fencing with our friend Marcus Hampel and also had a good time at the last ISS. Mrs. Wirth kindly drove us to the museum, which is in the old town of Solingen.
Solingen, as many know of course, was one of the most famous centers for blade smiths in Germany next to Passau. Many blades for Highland Broadswords where produced here. And still it is known for its excellent knife blades of course. I already visited the museum many years ago for an exhibition on japanese blades, but I forgot a lot, so it was cool to be there again.
The conference was a gathering of various experts from different fields and there where excellent talks and presentations by all speakers there. Some highlights for me were the analysis of grappling scenes in old Norse Sagas by Qays Stetkevych, M.A. (University of Cardiff/Iceland), the Judicial combat in mid-13th century Catalonia by Cornel-Peter Rodenbusch, M.A. (University of Barcelona / University of Tübingen), the talk by Henry Yallop, M.A. (Royal Armouries Leeds) about the training manuals of the British Cavalry, Dr. Bok Kyu Choi´s (Korean Institute for Martial Arts) keynote about the illustrated martial arts manuals from Korea and the presentation of an old fight book of the Yagyu-Shinkage-Ryu by Michael Mattner, M.A. But all the other talks and presentations where very interesting too. For a complete list, please see the following link: http://www.klingenmuseum.de/assets/files/Fight_Book_Conference(1).pdf
The presentation of my own poster worked well and I have the feeling, that the participants liked what I did. It was the first time for me to attend such a conference and do a presentation in this specific way, but I am happy with the result.
Another highlight of course was the exhamination of old fencing books, owned by the musuem, but not shown to the public normally in their collection. We were allowed to read, photograph and film the books. The museum owns a fine collection of famous originals like fight books by Thibault, Angelo, Marozzo and many others. One highlight for me was an old kendo-manual from the second half of the 19th century. But as I was told, there are many other fight books in their storage to be explored in future.
Of course the weapon collection of the Blademuseum itself is amazing and we had the chance to walk as much as we wanted through the museum even after regular closing time. Greek, Celtic, Roman, germanic and Viking swords are presented as well as many medieval and renaissance weapons, lots of Sabres and Smallswords and of course wonderfull knifes. To have a look at the museums collection, here is the video:
For all the photos I kindly invite you to visit my facebook-photoalbum:
In the evening we had an awesome Indian buffet and it was cool to have it while sitting at tables in their weapon collection. After that many of the attendants headed to a nice Irish Pub around the corner and celebrated and discussed more with good Irish beer and other things.
It was an honor for me to participate at this event and I would like to thank Dr. Wetzler again for his invitation as well as his collagues of the museum for the great job to host this conference. Congratulations and gratitude to all speakers and researchers as well as participants there, it was truely a great experience. I am also happy how many great contacts were possible to made there and the connection of researchers of all kinds is amazing. I am looking forward to exchange and discuss with them more in future.
All pictures and video with kind permission of the http://www.klingenmuseum.de