Fencing: Modern fencing as an organised sport involving the use of the foil, epee or sabre is derived from exercises preparing both noblemen and burghers for actual combat (in war, trial by battle, or duel). A first guild-like organisation of swordsmen was established under Emperor Friedrich III in 1487. Swordsmanship proper did not, however, develop until after fencing had lost its importance in war. The first printed book of instructions (by A. Paurnfeindt) was published in Vienna in 1516. The tradition of fencing was subsequently kept up by noblemen, officers, the cavalry and students (Mensurfechten, ritual sword-fights, often with the intention to produce visible scars). The institution of regional fencing-masters gave rise to the establishment of fencing clubs, the first of which, the Styrian Fencing Club, was founded in 1876. Important stimuli came from the military (Central Military Fencing School from 1852, k.u.k. Military Fencing and Gymnastic Teachers' Training at Wiener Neustadt from 1881). Around 1900 the new Italian foil and sabre technique (L. Barbasetti) was adopted. The Fencing Academy (Akademie der Fechtkunst) founded in 1904 was at first an organisation for both fencing masters and amateurs. In 1929 this association split into a fencing-masters' association and the Austrian Amateur Fencing Association; the latter comprises 47 clubs with 1303 members (1993).
Since the 1880s women have increasingly adopted fencing as a sport; in 1932 Ellen Mueller-Preis won the gold medal in foil-fencing. Other successful Austrian fencers were: Josef Losert (World Champion 1963, epee), Michael Ludwig (European Champion 1992, foil), Joachim Wendt (European Champion 1993, foil), Elisabeth Knechtl (World Cup 1993, epee).
Literature#F. Chrudimak, Vom Duell zum Sport, vol. 1, 1987.