Jess Finley has had a sword in her had for the past twenty years. Her initial interest was in stage combat, but not too long after beginning that pursuit began to ask “… but how did they really fight” and from that question branched out to German Medieval Martial Arts. She is the head instructor at Ritterkunst Turhalle in Lawrence, Kansas.
Jess began training Medieval Swordsmanship under Christian Tobler of Selohaar Fechtschule in February of 2003, after attending a weekend seminar held in Tulsa, Oklahoma. After that she asked for and received continuing instruction and mentorship from him, both virtually and in person, since that date. She also has a background studying Judo under the tutelage of Arden Cowherd of Topeka Judo Club.
She has taught and competed internationally at events like the Western Martial Arts Workshop in Chicago, USA; Paddy Crean International Workshop in Banff, Canada; Swordfish in Gothenburg, Sweden; and Longpoint in Baltimore, USA and has taught intensives at various events and schools, as well as weekend private intensives at her home.
Jess is a published author, having written a book entitled “Medieval Wrestling” on the fifteenth century Master Ott’s wrestling treatise of German wrestling techniques. She also researches medieval clothing construction and fabric armor, and has presented her findings at the International Congress on Medieval Studies at Kalamazoo and published an article in Medieval Clothing and Textiles (Boydell and Brewer) on her study of a 15th century quilted armor.
Jess currently lives in Lawrence, Kansas with her family. In between family management and remodeling her house, she writes books and does her assigned physical therapy exercises.