When it comes to German traditions, most of us are familiar with the popular ones like Oktoberfest. However, one of the weirdest ancient German traditions that you could still see evidence of on the faces of older Germans for decades thereafter was academic fencing.
In 19th-century Germany and Austria, the practice of academic fencing became quite popular among university students.
Academic fencing was a much less rigorous activity than traditional fencing. It also involved less protective gear. Student societies would get together, drink, and then duel each other. This usually resulted in more than a few facial and neck scars. However, the scars were usually seen as marks of distinction.
It was seen as favorable to have facial scars from dueling, as they solidified one’s standing with their peers.
Often it was seen as more courageous to be able to take a blow and receive a scar than to be the one inflicting the blow.
As you might imagine, these duels could get quite messy.
While the practice has been banned in modern Germany, you could still spot facial scars on some elderly Germans that were left over from their university years.
Now that might just be the most bizarre thing I’ve ever heard. That’s just one step away from a real-life Fight Club.