Kyohan (1909)

  Ten years ago a great post appeared at kenshi247 site, entitled Kenjutsu Kyohan. This post contained the English translation of an interesting Japanese source: local military sabre manual from 1909. At that time the Japanese military tried to copy European sabre systems, and established a rather interesting hybrid system: Japanese style protective equipment, shinai as fencing weapon, but many other components were definitely copied from the European sabre sources (mainly French). So I have been deeply disappointed when I saw that the translation and the whole post disappeared from kenshi247 homepage. [1] 

 Fortunately it is really hard to remove something from the net, once it was uploaded and widely available. So currently this interesting translation can be found at many places.
  1. Via Way Back Machine
  2. Via the BA's thesis (2010) of its translator (Appendix A). [3]
  3. Via another site.
 If you are interested in such a cross-cultural thing, then download the translation and save it, because who knows how long the above links will be alive. 

French (?) foil fencing & Japanese cadets [4]
  1. Original link. At the moment if we follow that link, only a „Page not found” message welcomes the visitor, without providing any further explanation.
  2. In November 2010 Matt Easton posted the link to this translation at Schola Gladiatoria's list of online treatises. Currently his site is under major transition from one provider to another, and therefore cannot be used. But a cached version can be seen here.
  3. Isaac Meyer: The Soul of a Nation: Swordsmanship in Japan’s Modern Period.
  4. Presumably the last decades of the 19th century.



  In 2019 Czech fencing master Leonid Křížek participated at a very interesting event. In October a local historical fencing group -- Tovaryšstvo bojových umení a remesiel (Fellowship of Martial Arts and Crafts) -- celebrated the 10th anniversary of the establishment of the group with a fancy dress party. Ladies and gentlemen in historical costumes and uniforms danced and fenced.

Mensur swords

  The most interesting were the pictures of simulated Mensur fencing. Naturally it wasn't actual academic fencing of German students. Nevertheless the participants used the same type of swords, and they were obliged to stay at a fixed distance from their adversaries. It must have been a very interesting fencing experience!

Ladies first!

...then gentlemen

  1. The original FB post: „Vzpomínka na nezapomenutelnou akci na statku šermířského guru Petera Kozy. V sobotu 12. října skupina historického šermu Tovaryšstvo bojových umení a remesiel uspořádala už desátý ročník kostýmního bálu a mensurního šermu, kam jsem měl tu čest být pozván. Dámy a pánové v historických kostýmech a uniformách tančili a šermovali a já jsem měl to potěšení zkřížit zbraně kromě jiných také s účastníkem napoleonských akcí Jaroslavem Pelíškem. Pořadatelům moc děkuji za nevšední zážitek. Několik dalších fotek zde...” (Leonid Křížek)
  2. The source of the photos. There you can find many other pictures about the event.



  In a recent interview, while answering a question [1], Maestro Ramon Martinez has mentioned the following encounter between a kendoka and an European fencer: „...another person using katana I don't know. I do know that in 1911 in Havana (Cuba) Maestro Julio Martinez Castello faced kendo master named Conde Cano (Kano?), I believe. And he used his saber against master's shinai, and I believe that Castello was victorious in that encounter. However Castello was so fascinated by the Japanese swordsman that he asked him to teach him it. In fact I remember that [...] he used to sell kendo equipment.” [2]

Ramon Martinez

 It might happen that Maestro Martinez just identified another person in an old photo, showing the encounter between Mitsuyo Maeda (aka Count Combat or Conde Koma in Spanish) and a European fencer. The exact location, where this picture was taken, isn't known yet, also we don't know when that encounter took place. (More about it.)

Maeda vs ??

Julio Martinez Castello in 1933 

  In a photo from the 1933 edition of his book -- The Theory and Practice of Fencing -- we see the fencing master at the age of 51. Without being too speculative, I think we can say that the following is true or highly plausible:
  • Martinez mentioned the name of Castello's opponent: Conde Kano;
  • It could be a corrupted or misremembered name of Conde Koma;
  • Castello was born in 1882. He learned to fence at the Royal Academy in Madrid and taught in Spain, Argentina and Cuba before coming to the United States in 1914;
  • Conde Koma was in Cuba between the end of 1908 and 1913;
  • The characteristic baldness of Castello (1933) and the very similar baldness of the person in the middle could indicate that indeed that European fencer is Castello, photographed in 1911. 
  Just to summarize the whole thing.

 It is rather plausible that the person who stands between Maeda and the another fencer can be Julio M. Castello. And the encounter indeed happened in 1911 in Havana, where Castello taught fencing before 1914, also we do know, that Maeda visited the Cuban capital between 1908 and 1913, during his American tour. Naturally only a good article from a Cuban newspaper of that period could resolve this uncertainty.
  1. Did a duel ever happen in which one man used a katana & the other a sabre?
  2. R. Martinez answers questions about Fencing & Fencing History (2020) [24:16]
  3. The United States has been fortunate over the years to attract many notable fencing masters. One of these was Maestro Julio Martinez Castello (1882-1973), a highly successful Spanish fencing master who was born in 1882. He learned to fence at the Royal Academy in Madrid and taught in Spain, Argentina and Cuba before coming to the United States in 1914. He taught at the New York Athletic Club, Yale and Columbia and coached the U.S. Olympic Fencing Team in 1924. Castello accepted the post of fencing master at New York University in 1927 where he stayed until the late 1940s. He produced numerous champions while he was there. While retiring in 1947, he continued to teach on an unofficial basis until his eighties. Furthermore, Castello wrote two books, "Theory of Fencing" (1931) and "The Theory and Practice of Fencing" (1933). His two sons, Hugo and James, were also respected fencing masters.” (Source)


Hornstein (1869)

 An absolutely splendid German fencing book -- Die Fechtkunst auf Hieb -- from 1869, written by Ludwig Hornstein. These masterfully crafted drawings speak for themselves. With my rudimentary German I would translate its title as The Art of Fencing with Cuts (or Based on Cuts).

Tafel I. (table)

 To those who are familiar with Six Cuts (Roworth, 1798): Horizontalquart = inside head = (5), Horizontalterz = outside head (6), Tief-quart = ascending inside cut = (3), Tief-terz = (4). Instead of one (1) Hornstein has two descending inside cuts: Steil-quart  = steep (1) and Hoch-quart = high (1). Naturally these cuts can be delivered at any valid target.

Tafel I.: Fencing saber (1869)

Tafel II.: Engaging guard [2]

An interesting peculiarity of the system 
(Tafel IX.)

 In the fencing guard the heels of the fencer are not on the fencing line. Hornstein wrote: „Der rechte Fuss steht... etwa 8-10 Zoll rechts seitwärts entfernt mit der Fussspitze nach vorn.” [3] So according to the author the right foot should be approximately 8-10 Bavarian inches -- 19.5-24cm -- to the right (from the left foot), with its tip forward. 

 With these short remarks I am just barely scratching the surface of this rather interesting Bavarian saber fencing source.
  1. Ludwig Hornstein: Die Fechtkunst auf Hieb. München, 1869.
  2. Regelmässige verhängte Säbelauslage” Standard hanging guard with a saber.
  3. Page 1 (Page 11:1 in the pdf).
  4. One Bavarian inch equals 2.43cm.