Instructor
Michael Chidester

Michael Chidester is the Editor-in-Chief of Wiktenauer and owner of HEMA Bookshelf. He is a Research Scholar of the Meyer Freifechter Guild, a founding member of the Society for Historical European Martial Arts Studies (SHEMAS), and a Lifetime Member of the HEMA Alliance. He has lectured on historical martial arts across North America and Europe and authored or edited many books. Michael has been studying HEMA since 2001 and currently trains at Athena School of Arms in Cambridge, MA.

At SoCal Swordfight 2023 Michael Chidester will be presenting the following:

Piecing Together the Teachings of Johannes Liechtenauer

Course Description:
Johannes Liechtenauer, grand master of the oldest known German fencing tradition, recorded his art in a 358-line poem called the Zettel. To unlock the secrets of this poem, we rely on the writings of his students and associates, as well as later masters in his tradition.

This lecture consists of two parts. The first will explore the different kinds of fencing manuals that have been preserved and how they relate to and inform each other, tracing the evolution and expansion of this literary tradition from early recordings of the Zettel, through the process of glossing and commentaries on the glosses, and eventually into lavish illustrated artbooks.

The second part will take a step back from the raw instructions in those sources and consider what they tell us about the fencing system itself. It will argue that the Zettel and its glosses are not intended to describe a system of fencing in an orderly or comprehensive fashion, but rather contain a syllabus for teaching that system to students. At the same time, clues in the text can lead us toward an understanding of the shape and nature of the system or method of fighting that underlies that syllabus, and suggest ways in which we can escape the trap of "fencing according to the lessons".

Required Gear:
None.

Course Level:
Open to All Levels

Course Format:
Lecture

Book History through the Lens of Joachim Meyer

Course Description:
There is much more to a book than just the words printed on its pages. Why and how was it made? Who bought it and what did they do with it? Who read it and what did they think of it? And did anyone in the 16th and 17th centuries actually use the fencing treatises to learn about fencing?

In 2019, Sarah Barsness and I set out to examine these and other questions by creating a definitive catalog of the surviving copies of the treatise of Joachim Meyer. This lecture will discuss my preliminary findings from personally examining two copies of the 1570 edition, and what we've learned from assembling descriptions of most of the other 70 known copies (based on studying scans or sending other researchers to examine them in person).

Required Gear:
None.

Course Level:
Open to All Levels

Course Format:
Lecture

Your must register for the event to attend classes

SoCal Swordfight 2023