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Old 07-18-2010, 09:35 PM   #1
lolepicfailimo
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Ask me about Academic Fencing in German Fraternities

Hey everyone,

I'm a member of a German fraternity, and as such we perform academic fencing. There is not a lot of public information available on the topic, even though it is still very much alive and has been for about 400 years and about 150 years in its current form.
An article that appeared in the Financial Times in 2004 describes some of the features of german fraternities and academic fencing today. Some things are inaccurate and it only scratches the surface but it paints a good picture if you have never heard about it. Read it here if you are interested.

Some questions I may not be allowed to answer but we are not as secretive as we are perceived. So ask anything you are interested in and I will do my best to answer your questions accurately.
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Old 07-18-2010, 09:48 PM   #2
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Re: Ask me about Academic Fencing in German Fraternities

Lol. Sounds ******ed. Care to justify why it's not?
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Old 07-18-2010, 10:13 PM   #3
lolepicfailimo
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Re: Ask me about Academic Fencing in German Fraternities

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Originally Posted by OsTornado View Post
Lol. Sounds ******ed. Care to justify why it's not?
Well, first of all, you learn all kind of things that will come in handy in life. For example, not starting questions about stuff you know nothing about with an insult...
This thread is intended for people who are actually interested in the topic. Maybe you are and I misinterpreted your post. In that case, please pose more specific questions, and I will be glad to answer them.
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Old 07-18-2010, 10:16 PM   #4
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Re: Ask me about Academic Fencing in German Fraternities

Well that was one of the dumber things I read today. It could be the next big thing though, sort of like this.
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Old 07-18-2010, 10:26 PM   #5
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Re: Ask me about Academic Fencing in German Fraternities

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Originally Posted by pwncakery View Post
Well that was one of the dumber things I read today. It could be the next big thing though, sort of like this.
i had never heard of extreme arm wrestling but wow that video just did not go the direction i thought it was going, pretty awesome
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Old 07-18-2010, 10:38 PM   #6
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Re: Ask me about Academic Fencing in German Fraternities

how about a couple sentences explaining what the hell it is?
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Old 07-18-2010, 10:44 PM   #7
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Re: Ask me about Academic Fencing in German Fraternities

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Originally Posted by furyshade View Post
i had never heard of extreme arm wrestling but wow that video just did not go the direction i thought it was going, pretty awesome
Yeah, wow. It didn't even look like it was over when the video ends. I love how they're wearing underarmour and look all intense.


To OP- This thread is the definition of attention whoring. I mean it's not like this came up in another thread or something (did it?) and you found some article from like 6 years ago about it. It's not like it's been all over the news or something. I think we're just reacting to how random the topic is. For most of us it's probably extremely obscure and you act kind of like we've all heard of it but have been curious to know about it or something.
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Old 07-18-2010, 11:48 PM   #8
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Re: Ask me about Academic Fencing in German Fraternities

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To OP- This thread is the definition of attention whoring. I mean it's not like this came up in another thread or something (did it?) and you found some article from like 6 years ago about it. It's not like it's been all over the news or something. I think we're just reacting to how random the topic is. For most of us it's probably extremely obscure and you act kind of like we've all heard of it but have been curious to know about it or something.
Point taken. I couldn't care less about attention whoring though, I haven't made a post in months and nobody knows me on here.
I just had some free time and thought this might turn into an interesting thread and people might be interested in the topic. Especially since there are fraternities at North American universities as well. I may have been wrong, meh.

Anyway, I can see how this topic may bewilder you, having heard nothing about it, so I will try and give a quick summary.

Student fraternities have existed in Germany for over 500 years. They were forbidden most of the time (they aren't today) but existed anyway. About 400 years ago students were granted the right to carry weapons, because they needed a way to defend themselves on their long and dangerous journeys to their universities. Up to that point only the aristocracy was allowed to carry weapons. As they started to fight duels among each other to solve affairs of honour, the "mensur fencing" slowly developed. Back then people died on a regular basis. Around 1850 the weapons and the stance changed, and since then death is not possible anymore. The "mensur" is a highly ritualized battle with clearly laid out rules. Strokes go towards the head, but serious injury is made impossible by protective clothes. Cuts however are possible. You only fence against members of other fraternities. Every member of a fraternity has to fight a certain number of "mensurs" in his student life that differs from fraternity to fraternity. I myself have to fight 3 of them, others have to do 2, some 5 and very few even 7. This doesn't mean I can't do more when I'm done with the 3 mandatory ones if I want to.

The fencers can't move their feet or their body. Only the arm that carries the weapon can move. It serves as a protective shield at the same time as does the blade. Here is a picture of a student in full protective clothes that is about to fight a mensur.



Taking photos and videos during the mensur is strictly forbidden. There is however a german movie that shows the mensur fighting kind of realistically. Watch it on youtube, around the 4:40 mark. The real thing is faster, they couldn't train the actors long enough. Apart from that it comes pretty close to the real thing.

Every fencer gets photographed after his "mensur", but there are hardly any photographs on the internet. That's because they are kept private by the fraternities. Here are some pictures that I did find on google. Viewer discretion is advised.

Very old Mensur picture
I assume about 20 years old
stitching afterwards

Now, this may look a bit crazy. Truth is, that most "mensurs" end without anyone getting hurt. The only way to get hit is to make a mistake. If both fencers fence without flaws then nothing can happen.

One last thing, the article I posted in the OP mentioned that most members of fraternities come from rich families. That is NOT true, nor is it a requirement to be admitted to a fraternity. In fact, most of my fraternity brothers are normal guys from normal families who do normal things any student does. We party with lots of "normal" people so it's not like we only hang with each other and indulge in weird rituals all day. Some of us live in the Fraternity house, some don't, it is not a requirement.

Ok, this shall be enough for now. Ask any questions.
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Old 07-18-2010, 11:53 PM   #9
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Re: Ask me about Academic Fencing in German Fraternities

i really dont know what's going on here, but im intrigued
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Old 07-19-2010, 08:06 AM   #10
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Re: Ask me about Academic Fencing in German Fraternities

Sounds awesome. Next time someone from sigma chi pisses me off, instead of chucking beer bottles across the street I'll challenge them to a duel!
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Old 07-19-2010, 10:40 AM   #11
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Re: Ask me about Academic Fencing in German Fraternities

Since there haven't been any questions I'll just write a bit more.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dkgojackets View Post
Sounds awesome. Next time someone from sigma chi pisses me off, instead of chucking beer bottles across the street I'll challenge them to a duel!
Hehe. If that was an actual threat he might not piss you off in the first place. Fraternities here proceed cautiously when it comes to dealing with each other because they might have to fight a duel if they misbehave. Not every mensur is a duel however. The mandatory mensurs I mentioned in my previous post are no duels. Since every fraternity needs to get their mandatory mensurs done, they are arranged. There is a "Mensurtag" - mensur day - about 3 times a semester in most big university cities. On that day there are sometimes 10 or more mensurs.
Duels happen though. In order to challenge another frat student to a duel, the student rips his business card and hands it to the other one. That gesture is understood all over Germany. The other student now may accept or decline, but he needs a damn good reason to decline if he doesn't want to lose his face. Of course, if he was given the business card without a reason, there is no shame in declining the duel.
Then there is another form of the duel where one fraternity fights against another one. This happens when one fraternity defames another one harshly. They will meet on one frat house and there will be 3, 6, 9 or 12 mensurs. They will not talk to each other until all mensurs are fought. After that, the despute is considered settled.
For duels the rules are much looser than for mandatory mensurs, meaning that almost every stroke combination is allowed and chances to get injured are much higher. I have seen 5 duels up to now and all of them were very bloody.
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Old 07-19-2010, 10:48 AM   #12
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Re: Ask me about Academic Fencing in German Fraternities

Do you pregame mensurs?
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Old 07-19-2010, 10:53 AM   #13
lolepicfailimo
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Re: Ask me about Academic Fencing in German Fraternities

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Originally Posted by dkgojackets View Post
Do you pregame mensurs?
No, that would not be a good idea, since you would make more mistakes when fencing drunk. Besides it is not allowed.
We do however postgame mensurs if you will
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Old 07-19-2010, 11:03 AM   #14
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Re: Ask me about Academic Fencing in German Fraternities

Obv I would only pregame to watch, not participate.

How big are these fraternities? Are the rest of the bros allowed to spectate the duels? Are you allowed to chant or heckle during them? Do you practice at all against each other? Is seniority determined based on who is the best duelist? Is it public knowledge which fraternity you are in? Does it get you mad pussy?

This seems really awesome iyam.
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Old 07-19-2010, 02:24 PM   #15
lolepicfailimo
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Re: Ask me about Academic Fencing in German Fraternities

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Originally Posted by dkgojackets View Post
Obv I would only pregame to watch, not participate.

How big are these fraternities? Are the rest of the bros allowed to spectate the duels? Are you allowed to chant or heckle during them? Do you practice at all against each other? Is seniority determined based on who is the best duelist? Is it public knowledge which fraternity you are in? Does it get you mad pussy?

This seems really awesome iyam.
Oh yeah, spectators drink lots of beer usually.
The size differs from fraternity to fraternity. You are a member for your whole life. New members are called "Fux". They remain Fux for about 1 year. During this period he gets to know the ins and outs of fraternity life, and the fraternity brothers get to know him. They have all duties but not all rights yet. Every semester an older member is elected as "Fux Major". His job is to introduce new members to everything and talk to them about problems or question they may be having. After the Fux has fenced at least once and has done an oral exam he can become "Bursch". As such, he is a full member of the fraternity, with all rights and duties. His ribbon that is worn on all fraternity occasions now has all the 3 colors of his fraternity. When you look at the picture I posted earlier, you can tell that the student still was a Fux because he only wears 2 colors. After graduation he becomes a "Alter Herr", translated that means "Old Gentleman", and he remains Alter Herr until his death. Our Fraternity has about 20 Fux and Bursch, and about 120 Alter Herr, so 140 members overall, ranging from 19 years old to 90 years old.

During duels the impartial arbitrator announces "Silencium!" and after that nobody is allowed to talk, or chant for that matter. Even when someone is hit, there is no chanting. That is because there are no winners and losers. It's about conquering your own fear, not about winning, so everyone wins.

Every member of a german fencing fraternity is allowed to spectate, provided he fulfills the dresscode: suit, tie, clean leather shoes.

Seniority doesn't have anything to do with your fencing skill. Even though some people are better than others, the fear they have to overcome is the same. Everyone who is willing to fence for the colors of our fraternity deserves the same respect.

It is public knowledge in what fraternity you are in.

I can't say that all women are turned on by what we do, but some certainly are. Having a huge house with home cinema, big party room with a bar and big parties certainly helps. Also, we wear suits on official occasions and have a big ball twice a year. Women like that kind of stuff
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Old 07-19-2010, 02:53 PM   #16
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Re: Ask me about Academic Fencing in German Fraternities

im calling all pledges this fall "fux"
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Old 07-19-2010, 03:24 PM   #17
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Re: Ask me about Academic Fencing in German Fraternities

One thing i forgot to answer earlier. Yes, we practice against each other. Similar to the Fux Major, there is an older member that teaches new members how to fence and prepares them for their mensur. Also he has to arrange mensurs for his fraternity brothers. He is elected every semester.
We have fencing class 5 times a week. We wear helmets and the blades aren't sharp, so nothing can happen.
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Old 07-20-2010, 04:15 AM   #18
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Re: Ask me about Academic Fencing in German Fraternities

Quote:
Originally Posted by lolepicfailimo View Post
Similar to the Fux Major
Sorry, but hahahahahahaha. How come I didn't learn about this in the 4 semesters of German I took at college?
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Old 07-20-2010, 05:10 PM   #19
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Re: Ask me about Academic Fencing in German Fraternities

you are a freak and a very weird dude
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Old 07-20-2010, 08:12 PM   #20
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Re: Ask me about Academic Fencing in German Fraternities

I have friends who do this.

Still...

This is ******ed, you guys are backwards and kind of "gay". You accept being mutilated to look tough and you without your comrades you feel weak and hide behind this facade.

How do you feel about excluding the jews from your ranks long before Hitler closed you down? Was it all done to smooch the system to postpone prohibition a little longer?

However do what you want. Enjoy your life. In the end I sympathize more wih you than with hippie-socialists.
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Old 07-20-2010, 08:38 PM   #21
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Re: Ask me about Academic Fencing in German Fraternities

GFY
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Old 07-21-2010, 08:00 AM   #22
lolepicfailimo
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Re: Ask me about Academic Fencing in German Fraternities

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Originally Posted by BurningSquirrel View Post
I have friends who do this.

Still...

This is ******ed, you guys are backwards and kind of "gay". You accept being mutilated to look tough and you without your comrades you feel weak and hide behind this facade.
Your assumptions are wrong. We don't think that scars look tough, some of my frat brothers are not happy with theirs. 100 years ago that was different, people would sometimes put horse hairs into the wounds so that it would not heal as easily and leave an uglier scar. That has totally changed, nobody wants a scar in their face nowadays.

So why do we do it then? One aspect is self conquest. Standing in front of someone who has a 88 cm long sharp blade in his hands with which he intends to cut open your head makes the toughest people **** their pants
My first mensur was one of the most intense things I have ever done. Before I was like "WTF am I even doing??" and afterwards I got a big feeling of accomplishment. It kind of schools you for life. When you encounter a huge task you can think back and tell yourself "I fought 3 mensurs, so how is this gonna be a problem". Doesn't matter if the things don't have anything to do with each other. It's the aspect of overcoming his own fear and what you gain from the experience.

Also, it tightens the bond among frat brothers. When I go out there, I'm not on my own. My mensur team consists of 3 people, all of which have certain tasks. The most important one is the "second". He jumps in and protects me with his body, should my opponent attempt a blow that is not allowed. I need to have full trust in him. Also, my frat brothers taught me fencing in the first place, and I need to have full trust they did a good job.

The other thing you said is just stupid. Why would we feel weak without our fraternity brothers? If anything, fencing makes a person stronger, not weaker. Just because we have a strong bond doesn't mean we are weak individuals. Quite the opposite is the case, there are remarkable personalities in our fraternity.

Quote:
How do you feel about excluding the jews from your ranks long before Hitler closed you down? Was it all done to smooch the system to postpone prohibition a little longer?
As you said, that happened long before Hitler was even born, so there was no system to smooch.
In 1817 antisemitism began to develop all over Europe. Around that time the first fraternities started to turn down Jews. Around the time the German Reich was constituted (1871) antisemitism was raging all over Europe. There were Jewish fraternities that basically did the same things other fraternities did and pledged themselves to the German patriotism. Then there were also zionistic fraternities.

During that time fraternities were not prohibited. Quite the opposite, they were regarded an important part of society. Almost every male student was part of a fraternity. So there was no need to avoid prohibition because it was never gonna happen. Not accepting Jews had to do with the spirit of the age. Fraternities have never sold out to make advances to the government.

Quote:
However do what you want. Enjoy your life. In the end I sympathize more wih you than with hippie-socialists.
haha now thats a relief
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Old 07-24-2010, 01:04 AM   #23
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Re: Ask me about Academic Fencing in German Fraternities

i read the OP first post, lol'd, then read the wikipedia first 3 lines, LMAO'd, then alt +f4'd as fast as i could, resulting in a bottle of bud flying all over my desk and on to the floor



**** i'm german and never knew about this **** wtf man
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Old 11-23-2010, 12:20 AM   #24
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Re: Ask me about Academic Fencing in German Fraternities

pushing this.
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Old 11-23-2010, 03:26 PM   #25
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Re: Ask me about Academic Fencing in German Fraternities

Chessboxing is superior.
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