Mythologising medieval swordsmen

One sentiment sometimes expressed by HEMA practitioners is that we modern swordsmen have no chance of ever becoming as proficient as historic swordsmen, and that these swordsmen would have been trained so extensively and from such an early age that they would have had amazing mechanics and tactical awareness. For an example of this attitude, please see this quote from a recent Facebook post on the Dimicator page.

As an instructor of historical swordsmanship, this confirms my suspicion, that it is close to impossible for modern practitioners to even come close to the skill and expertise of our forebears, who, since early childhood, must have had a clear idea of what fighting practice or even true combat looked like and they certainly imitated it in their play, much like modern kids imitate their personal sports idols today. Later they were trained by veterans of the respective arts, be it in a fencing guild or a military unit. They exclusively used the correct weapons and tools and had participated in according sports contests. They had never made all the stupid mistakes we see at every single HEMA event, simply because they had always seen what expert distance management, sound tactics, correct body and weapon mechanics look like and how they are to be applied.”[1]

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