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German mensur combat in the New York Tribune, 1900

January 24, 2015


The above photograph, of a German mensur combat, appeared in the New York Tribune on July 7, 1900.

Mensur combats were fought with sharp swords called schlaegers. The combatants wore gorgets to cover their throats, and goggles to protect their eyes and noses. The intent was to cut (and scar) the opponent rather than kill. Although it was not a duel per se, the combat did adopt some rituals of the duel. The combat in this photograph probably occurred in Germany rather than N.Y., however, such combats did occur in New York City during the 20th century. The schlaeger was taught by New York City fencing master Frederick Rohdes until his death in 1984. Rohdes can be seen, pictured with his schlaeger, below:

The fencing traditions passed down by Rohdes are practiced today at the Martinez Academy of Arms in New York City.

The following images, showing the aftermaths German mensur combats, give an idea of the sort of damage the schlaeger could inflict:









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