Journal of Martial Arts Anthropology

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Abstract - The Humanist Component within Renaissance Martial Arts Teachings

Renaissance martial arts were an integral part of the Humanist culture of their times, as well as a collection of closely related systems of physical self defense. These martial arts not only taught effective armed and unarmed hand to hand combat skills, but they also taught the ethical, appropriate use of those skills. The goal of this ethical instruction was to improve society as a whole, through improving the personal moral character of the martial arts practitioner.
This can be seen by examining both the Humanist literature of the time, and the Renaissance martial arts manuals themselves. Both genres show the same concern that education be well-rounded, including mental, spiritual and physical aspects. They also both acknowledge that training in arms plays an important role in that education. And they encouraged the use of that training only in ethically appropriate circumstances, such as defense of women and the sick.
One explanation for this correspondence is the way that both genres shared the same origins in not only the Judeo-Christian and Classical traditions, but the medieval chivalric tradition as well. Examining the medieval chivalric literature in addition to the Renaissance Humanist and martial arts literature shows this to be true.