The forgotten fencing mannequin of Toldi (Toldi bábú)
Even in the Middle Ages every self-respecting fencing school used many kinds of mannequins to train fencing. The Toldi Miklós Institute was not an exception to the rule. The most advanced swordsmen had special tools to practise fencing. The tools were called “the mannequins of Toldi” (Hungarian: Toldi bábú).
Why the mannequin?
The Toldi Miklós institute trained some high-ranking officers. The swordsmen, who were their trainers, designed a mannequin which helped develop techniques needed during a fight. You could not practise foil or épée on them, just the sabre. It is clearly visible in the construction of the device. The arm of the mannequin was movable. It allowed to change its place and position it into various, sabre-typical parries (prime, seconde, septime, etc.). That is why a student did not need a swordsman or a partner to train with, but he could perfect his technique on his own.
After World War II the communist propaganda decided to cut the Poles and Hungarians off their roots. Anything that could bind the people with the history and tradition of their nations was destroyed. A sabre was one of such symbols. The officers and generals who survived were not able to rebuild the mannequin of Toldi for many years, because fencing was forbidden. Therefore the mannequin was hidden for many years. It was dismantled and put away in a cellar. All that remained was the torso (without the arms), which could have been stored without any suspicions.
After many years of working together with the last living fencer from the Toldi Miklós Institute, we managed to reconstruct the mannequin. It looks exactly the same as at the beginning of the 20th century. It also has all its training functions.