In the year 1890 you could become a „Fechtmeister“ if you bring 20 members to the “Deutsche Generalfechtschule” in Baden-Baden. If you open 10 own “Fechtschulen” or bring in 200 members you would earn the title “Oberfechtmeister”. You will get a fine certificate for the price of 50 Pfennige. No certification, no test, no examination needed.
It does not only sound like a modern pyramid-system (also known as snowball) it was as successful as such. In 1875 the “Deutsche Generalfechtschule in Lahr” was founded and the idea walked its way over Germany.