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When and where did the practice of calling either a fencing teacher or a great swordsman "master" originates from? I am interested mainly in European primary sources, the older the better.

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up vote 5 down vote accepted

It was derived from the European guild system, most notably from German cities. Full members of a guild were called masters and allowed to teach others. Swordsmanship was simply another craft to be learned and taught.

For some additional sources, check out these online copies of historical European martial arts & fencing books and this Wiki on historical European fighting arts.

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LOL... I refused to post that answer due to "It can't POSSIBLY be that simple" :) But you are correct. +1 –  DVK Feb 23 '12 at 16:20
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