Tried watching the Olympic sabre matches yesterday. Lost interest after five minutes. It’s a terrible cultural travesty that over the course of the 20th century we lost our European martial arts tradition. The noble art of defence has degenerated into an electrified wrist-flicking, weenie-wire speed-reflex test with no relation to its dueling antecedents. You can be sure the Japanese would never let such a thing happen to their sword traditions. They know that form follows function. I know I’m biased–but I actually did foil and epee as an undergraduate, and played with sabre as well before discovering something better. Thank the stars above that over the last 20 years, enthusiasts all over Europe and North America are rediscovering true European martial arts through sword academies that resurrect the fencing manuals and techniques of the renaissance and 17th centuries. This isn’t some choreographed stage fighting but actual practice and sparring under controlled conditions, fought in the round, not on a piste. No one wants to skewer their best friend. Many groups are in federations now, with proper certification, training, and structure to make it more than a lark. They are claiming back European swordsmanship using real swords and not kebab skewers. There are many examples on the web and I’ve included a few videos here. Maybe we can take back the Olympics in another 20 years.