Education: Beer & Blades

Outwardly stern and arrogant, inwardly trembling, the two lads stand face to face in a room that smells of beer, blood and disinfectant. Each is dressed in a padded leather torso jacket, but except for steel-mesh goggles and noseguard, the head is vulnerable. Now each lad lofts a yard-long rapier with blunt point but sharp edges. At the umpire's "Los!" (go), they slash away—again, again, again—steel against steel for 15 minutes. The noise, astonishingly, is deafening. When steel slashes flesh, a doctor rushes in for repairs. Everyone happily retires to toast the prize: a fine Schmiss, or scar, the old Teutonic...

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