Martial arts manual
Martial arts manuals are instructions, with or without illustrations, specifically designed to be learnt from a book. Many books detailing specific techniques of martial arts are often erroneously called manuals but were written as treatises.
Prose descriptions of martial arts techniques appear late within the history of literature, due to the inherent difficulties of describing a technique rather than just demonstrating it.
Not within the scope of this article are books on military strategy such as Sun Tzu's The Art of War (before 100 BC) or Publius Flavius Vegetius Renatus' De Re Militari (4th century), or military technology, such as De rebus bellicis (4th to 5th century).
Some early testimonies of historical martial arts consist of series of images only. The earliest example is a fresco in tomb 15 at Beni Hasan, showing illustrations of wrestling techniques dating to the 20th century BCE. Similar depictions of wrestling techniques are found on Attic vases dating to Classical Greece.
The only known instance of a book from classical antiquity is Papyrus Oxyrhynchus 466 from the 2nd century CE, detailing Greek wrestling techniques. There are some examples in the Chinese classics that may predate the turn of the Common Era: the Records of the Grand Historian by Sima Qian (c. 100 BCE) documents wrestling, referring to earlier how-to manuals" of the Western Han (2nd century BCE), which have however not survived. An extant Chinese text on wrestling is "Six Chapters of Hand Fighting" included in the 1st century CE Book of Han.
All other extant manuals date to the Middle Ages or later. The "combat stele" at Shaolin Monastery dates to 728 CE. The earliest text detailing Indian martial arts is the Agni Purana (c. 8th century), which contains several chapters giving descriptions and instructions on fighting techniques. It described how to improve a warrior's individual prowess and kill enemies using various methods in warfare whether they went to war in chariots, horses, elephants or on foot. Foot methods were subdivided into armed combat and unarmed combat. The former included the bow and arrow, the sword, spear, noose, armour, iron dart, club, battle axe, chakram and trident. The latter included wrestling, knee strikes, punching and kicking methods.
"Illustrations only" manuals do not become extinct with the appearance of prose instructions, but rather exist alongside these, e.g. in the form of the Late Medieval German illuminated manuscripts.
Historical European martial arts
Fechtbuch (plural Fechtbücher) is Early New High German for "combat manual", one of the manuscripts or printed books of the late Middle Ages and the Renaissance containing descriptions of a martial art. Usually, the term is taken to include 15th- and 16th-century German manuals, but the nature of the subject matter does not allow a clear separation of these from treatises from other parts of Europe on one hand (particularly from the Italian and French schools), and from manuals of later centuries on the other hand.
A list of Fechtbücher include:
- Royal Armouries Ms. I.33 ("Walpurgis Manuscript") (c. 1300, predating Johannes Liechtenauer)
- Nürnberger Handschrift GNM 3227a (c. 1389)
- Fechtbuch of Sigmund Ringeck (1440s)
- Codex Vindobonensis B 11093, kept in Vienna, and "Gladiatoria", discovered in Poland, both dating to the mid-15th century and largely uninfluenced by Liechtenauer.
- Fechtbücher of Hans Talhoffer (several surviving manuscripts dating 1443–1467).
- Fechtbuch of Peter von Danzig, Cod. 44 A 8, 1452
- Jud Lew Cod.I.6.4°.3 (1450s), Augsburg
- Fechtbuch of Paulus Kal (1460s)
- Cgm 558 a Swiss treatise of the later 15th century only loosely related to the German school.
- Codex Wallerstein (Vom Baumans Fechtbuch), 1470s, Augsburg
- Solothurner Fechtbuch, no text, dependent on Paulus Kal, 1470s, Solothurn
- Johannes Lecküchner Cod. Pal. Germ. 430, Heidelberg (1478), Cgm. 582, Munich (1482)
- Cod. Guelf. 78.2, Herzog August Bibliothek Wolfenbüttel (late 15th century)
- Peter Falkner P 5012, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna
- Hans Folz Q566 (c. 1480), Weimar
- Hans von Speyer (MS M I 29) (1491)
- MS 862, c. 1500, influenced by Kal and Falkner, drawn upon by Wilhalm.
- Glasgow Fechtbuch (1505)
- Hans Wurm, grappling, (c. 1505)
- "Goliath (manuscript)" (1510s)
- Albrecht Dürer's fechtbuch HS. 26-232 (1512), Michigan State University
- Andre Pauernfeindt, Ergründung der ritterlichen kunst des fechtens durch freyfechter czu Vienn, Vienna, 1516
- Cologne Fechtbuch, anonymous (early 16th century)
- Fechtbücher by Jörg Wilhalm (1520s)
- Egenolph: Der Altenn Fechter anfaengliche Kunst, anonymous, printed by Christian Egenolff, 1529, Frankfurt. This is largely derived from Pauernfeindt's 1516 manual.
- Hans Czynner MS. 963 (1538), Graz
- the compendia of Paulus Hector Mair (1540s).
- Johannes Lecküchner (1558) (this is a reprint from the Altenn Fechter anfaengliche Kunst, printed by Egenolph).
- Joachim Meyer "Gründtliche Beschreibung der freyen Ritterlichen vnnd Adelichen kunst des Fechtens in allerley gebreuchlichen Wehren mit vil schönen vnd nützlichen Figuren gezieret vnnd fürgestellet" (1570)
- Gunterrodt: "De veris principiis artis dimicatoriae" (1579), Wittenberg
- Codex Guelf. 83.4 (c. 1591)
- Jakob Sutor von Baden (1612)
- Hanko Döbringer «Cod.ms.3227a» (1389)
The Italian school is attested in an early manual of 1410, at which time it is not yet clearly separable from the German school. Indeed, the author Fiore dei Liberi states that he has learned much of his art from one "Master Johannes of Swabia". The heyday of the Italian school comes in the 16th century, with the Dardi school.
- Fiore dei Liberi's Flos Duellatorum (1410)
- Filippo Vadi's De Arte Gladiatoria Dimicandi (1485)
- Pietro Monte (1509)
- Anonimo Bolognese M-345/6 (c. 1510s)
- Antonio Manciolino (1531)
- Achille Marozzo (1536)
- Camillo Agrippa, Trattato di Scienza d'Arme (1568)
- Giacomo di Grassi, His True Art of Defense (1594)
- Vincentio Saviolo, His Practice (1595)
- Salvator Fabris (1606)
- Ridolfo Capo Ferro (1610)
- Francesco Alfieri La Scherma (1640)
- Giuseppe Colombani (1711)
Similar to the situation in Italy, there is one early manual (c. 1400, dealing with the pollaxe exclusively, and later treatises set in only after a gap of more than a century.
- Le jeu de la hache (c. 1400)
- Andre Pauernfeindt "La noble science des joueurs d'espee" (1528)—This is a French translation of Pauernfeindt's 1516 work. One notable difference between it and the original is that the "noble science" print has colored images, unlike the German.
- Henry de Sainct-Didier "Traité contenant les secrets du premier livre de l’épée seule, mère de toutes les armes, qui sont épée, dague, cappe, targue, bouclier, rondelle, l’espée deux mains, et les deux espées, avec ses pourtraictures, ..." (1573)
- Gérard Thibault d'Anvers "Académie de l'epee, ou se démontrent par reigles mathématique, sur le fondement d'un cercle mysterieux, la theorie et pratique des vrais et jusqu'a present incognus secrets du maniement des armes, à pied et a cheval" (1623)
- Monsieur L'Abbat "The Art of Fencing, or, the Use of the Small Sword" (1734)
- Harliean Manuscript 3542 ("The Man Who Wol"), late 14th early 15th century
- Cotton Titus 15th-century English greatsword and staff
- Additional Manuscript 39564, 15th century
- George Silver "Paradoxes of Defense" (1599)
- Joseph Swetnam "Schoole of the Noble and Worthy Science of Defence" (1612)
- Sir William Johnstone Hope, several books (1690s)
- Captain John Godfrey "A Treatise Upon the Useful Science of Defence, Connecting the Small and Back-Sword" (1747)
- John Musgrave Waite "Lessons in sabre, singlestick, sabre & bayonet, and sword feats" (1880)
- Alfred Hutton "Cold Steel, A Practical Treatise on the Sabre" (1889), "Old Sword-Play" (1892)
Scottish manuals detailing the use of the basket-hilted Scottish broadsword, besides other disciplines such as the smallsword and spadroon, were published throughout the 18th century, with early and late examples dating to the late 17th and early 19th centuries, respectively:
- The Scots Fencing Master (the Complete Smallswordsman) - Sir William Hope (1687)
- Advice to his Scholar from the Fencing Master - Sir William Hope (1692)
- Complete Fencing Master - Sir William Hope (1691–1692)
- The Swordsman's Vade-Mecum - Sir William Hope (1692)
- New Short and Easy Method of Fencing (1st Edition) - Sir William Hope (1707)
- New Short and Easy Method of Fencing (2nd Edition) - Sir William Hope (1714)
- A Few Observations upon the Fighting for Prizes in the Bear Gardens - Sir William Hope (1715)
- A Vindication of the True Art of Self-Defence - Sir William Hope (1724)
- Expert Swords-man's Companion - Donald McBane (1728)
- A treatise on backsword, sword, buckler, sword and dagger, sword and great gauntlet, falchon, quarterstaff - Captain James Miller (1737)
- The Use of the Broad Sword - Thomas Page (1746)
- Anti-Pugilism - Anonymous (Captain G. Sinclair, 1790)
- Cudgel Playing Modernized and Improved; or, The Science of Defence, Exemplified in a Few Short and Easy Lessons, for the Practice of the Broad Sword or Single Stick, on Foot - Captain G. Sinclair
- Lecture on the Art of Defence - Archibald MacGregor (1791)
- The Guards of the Highland Broadsword - Thomas Rowlandson (1799)
- Hungarian & Highland Broadsword - by Henry Angelo and Son (1799)
- The Art of Defence on Foot with Broadsword and Saber- John Taylor (1804)
- Fencing Familiarized; or, a New Treatise on the Art of the Scotch Broad Sword - Thomas Mathewson (1805)
There are some manuals containing training advice for the medieval tournament and jousting such as the early Portuguese work A ensinança de bem cavalgar em toda a sela by Edward of Portugal (1391–1438). A riding instruction manual that also included martial information.
In 1599, the sword master, Domingo Luis Godinho wrote the Arte de Esgrima, the only fencing manual preserved that preserved the older "Common" or "Vulgar" system of Spanish fencing which has its traditions in the Middle Ages.
17th-century Spanish Destreza is very much steeped in the Spanish Baroque noblemen mindset, so doesn't contain much graphical explanations of the fencing techniques so much as hard to understand explanations based on mathematics and philosophical sciences in general. The subsequent difficulty on interpreting the theory and practice of Destreza correctly has led many times to this school of fencing being misunderstood.
- Jerónimo Sánchez de Carranza, De la filosophia de las armas y de su destreza... (1582)
- Luis Pacheco de Narváez, Grandezas de la espada (1600)
- Gerard Thibault, Academie de l’espée (1628)
- Luis Pacheco de Narváez, Nueva ciencia (1632)
- Luis Méndez de Carmona Tamariz, Compendio en defensa de la doctrina y destreza del comendador Gerónimo de Carranza (1632)
- Cristóbal de Cala, Desengaño de la espada y norte de diestros (1642)
- Diogo Gomes de Figueyredo Memorial da Prattica do Montante Que inclue dezaseis regras simplez (1651)
- Miguel Pérez de Mendoza y Quijada, Resumen de la verdadera destreza de las armas en treinta y ocho asserciones (1675)
- Francisco Antonio de Ettenhard y Abarca, Compendio de los fundamentos de la verdadera destreza y filosofia de las armas (1675)
- Álvaro Guerra de la Vega, Compreension de la destreza (1681)
- Thomas Luis, Tratado das liçoens da espada preta, & destreza que hao de usar os jugadores della (1685)
- Nicolás Tamariz, Cartilla y luz en la verdadera destreza (1696)
- Manuel Cruzado y Peralta, Las tretas de la vulgar y comun esgrima de espada sola y con armas dobles (1702)
- Francisco Lórenz de Rada, Nobleza de la espada (1705)
- Nicolás Rodrigo Noveli, Crisol especulativo, demostrativo, práctico, Matemático de la destreza (1731)
- Manuel Antonio de Brea, Principios universales y reglas generales de la verdadera destreza del espadín (1805)
- Jaime Mereló y Casademunt, Tratado completo de la esgrima del sable español (1862)
Historical Asian martial arts
Some texts on unarmed combat survive from Han China (c. 1st century). A list of wrestling techniques is contained in the Malla Purana of 13th century Gujarat, India. The Chinese Jixiao Xinshu dates to the 1560s. The Korean Muyejebo dates to 1598, the Muyedobotongji dates to 1790. The Japanese The Book of Five Rings dates to 1645.
- Henning, Stanley E. (1999). ""Academia Encounters the Chinese Martial arts"" (PDF). China Review International. 6 (2): 319–332. Retrieved 2015-11-06.
- Zarrilli, Phillip B. (1992). "To Heal and/or To Harm: The Vital Spots (Marmmam/Varmam) in Two South Indian Martial Traditions Part I: Focus on Kerala's Kalarippayattu". Journal of Asian Martial Arts. 1 (1).
- P. C. Chakravarti (1972). The art of warfare in ancient India. Delhi.
- J. R. Svinth (2002). A Chronological History of the Martial Arts and Combative Sports. Electronic Journals of Martial Arts and Sciences.
- "Actualizing Power and Crafting a Self in Kalarippayattu". Spa.ex.ac.uk. Retrieved 2015-11-06.
- fechten is cognate to English fight and still meant "fight, combat" in general in Early Modern times; in contemporary Standard German, fechten translates to "fencing", while the noun Gefecht retains the generic meaning of "fight, battle".
- "Transkription der Fechthandschrift cgm582, Johann Lecküchner, Bayerischen Staatsbibliothek". Pragmatische-schriftlichkeit.de. Retrieved 2015-11-06.
- "The Fight-Lore of Mertin Siber, 1491 AD". Thearma.org. Retrieved 2015-11-06.
- "Goliath". Thearma.org. Retrieved 2015-11-06.
- "Codex Guelf". Thearma.org. Retrieved 2015-11-06.
-  Archived June 21, 2006, at the Wayback Machine
- "Discover your martial heritage with the English Martial Arts Academy". Mymartialheritage.org. Retrieved 2015-11-06.
- "Harleian". Thearma.org. Retrieved 2015-11-06.
- "Additional Manuscript 39564 - 15th century English sword text". Thearma.org. Retrieved 2015-11-06.
- "Joseph Swetnam -- Part One". Thearma.org. Retrieved 2015-11-06.
- "Scots Fencing Master: Hope: Library: The Linacre School of Defence". Sirwilliamhope.org. Retrieved 2015-11-06.
- "Vade Mecum: Hope: Library: The Linacre School of Defence". Sirwilliamhope.org. Retrieved 2015-11-06.
- Highland Swordsmanship: Techniques of the Scottish Sword Masters, by Mark Rector (editor) and Paul Wagner (editor), Published by The Chivalry Bookshelf (Nov 15, 2001)
- Jonathan Miller, The Linacre School of Defence. "Hope: Library: The Linacre School of Defence". sirwilliamhope.org.
- "Observations: Hope: Library: The Linacre School of Defence". Sirwilliamhope.org. Retrieved 2015-11-06.
- "Vindication: Hope: Library: The Linacre School of Defence". Sirwilliamhope.org. Retrieved 2015-11-06.
- "Miller: On-line manuals: Library: LSD". Sirwilliamhope.org. Retrieved 2015-11-06.
- "Page: On-line manuals: Library: LSD". Sirwilliamhope.org. Retrieved 2015-11-06.
- Highland Broadsword:Five Manuals of Scottish Regimental Swordsmanship, by Paul Wagner (editor) and Mark Rector (editor), Published by The Chivalry Bookshelf (July 2004)
- Anti-Pugilism, or The Science of Defense Exemplified In Short and Easy Lessons for the Practice of the Broad Sword and Single Stick Illustrated with Copper Plates, By a Highland Officer, London, Printed for J Aitkin, NO 14, Castle-street, corner of Bear Street, Leicester Fields 1790, www.hroarr.com/manuals/boxing-pugilism/Anti-pugilism.doc
- "Cudgel Playing: Sinclair: Library: The Linacre School of Defence". Sirwilliamhope.org. Retrieved 2015-11-06.
- "Thomas Rowlandson / The Guards of the Highland Broadsword / 1799". Davidrumsey.com. Retrieved 2015-11-06.
- Peter Valentine. "Digital Historical Documents" (PDF). Thearma.org. Retrieved 2011-11-06.
- John Taylor (1938-06-22). "Art of Defence on Foot, with the Broad Sword and Sabre: Adapted Also for the ..." Books.google.com. Retrieved 2015-11-06.
- Wiktenauer: A Wiki database dedicated to the masters, manuals, and techniques of Historical European Martial Arts hosted by the HEMA Alliance
- THE ARMARIUM: Online Historical Fencing Manuals & Texts of the Doctrina Armorum by The Association for Renaissance Martial Arts (ARMA)
- Online Library of Historical Fencing Treatises hosted by the Academy of European Medieval Martial Arts (AEMMA)
- Genealogy of the German "Fechtbücher" hosted by the Academy of European Medieval Martial Arts (AEMMA)
- Destreza Translation & Research Project