- Copertina flessibile: 284 pagine
- Editore: Chivalry Bookshelf (1 novembre 2003)
- Lingua: Inglese
- ISBN-10: 1891448439
- ISBN-13: 978-1891448430
- Peso di spedizione: 635 g
- Posizione nella classifica Bestseller di Amazon:
Medieval Sword & Shield: The Combat System of Royal Armouries MS I.33 (Inglese) Copertina flessibile – 1 nov 2003
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The strength of the book from a scholar's view point is the clarity with which they explain what is not being said in the original manuscript. For example, MS I.33 contains no references to footwork. I appreciate authors who do not blurr the line between their own inventions and those techniques clearly grounded in the source. (Readers interested in the source will want Dr. Jeffrey Forgeng's translation and facsimile of the original manuscript titled: The Medieval Art of Swordsmanship.)
The strength of the book from a practitioner's view point is the clarity of the text and photographs. It is a simple matter to work your way through the material following their explanations and illustrations. Given the limited source material, it is only natural that there will be disagreements on interpretation. Mine comes from Wagner & Hand's reliance on 16th-century Italian rapier and dagger sources for their footwork. Admittedly, MS I.33 provides no guidance in this area, but I find 16th-century Italian footwork so distinctive, even compared to other 16th-century styles, that I have reservations about its applicability here.
MS I.33 is an historically important fencing manual and Wagner & Hand have done the European Medieval martial arts community a service by providing a complete and rigorous interpretation. The quality of the presentation reflects their effort and dedication. This book deserves a place on any bookshelf devoted to the subject.
Since writing Medieval Sword and Shield, I have continued my research on this system. This has led to a number of changes in my interpretation and to some new insights into how the artwork, which lacks any perspective or sense of depth, should best be translated into physical movement. My latest thoughts on the system have been presented in a paper in the anthology Spada II, also published by Chivalry Bookshelf. Students of the I.33 system will find this paper a valuable addition to the book.
In closing, I must disagree with the comment by another reviewer that the use of Di Grassi's 16th century Italian footwork terminology was inappropriate. Di Grassi's footwork is not particularly distinctive. The basic forwards, backwards, angled and circular steps of Di Grassi are used in many other arts and in fact it would be difficult to imagine any sort of fencing system without most of these types of movement. The body mechanics of Di Grassi and the I.33 system are not identical, but that does not change a step forward into something other than a step forward. Di Grassi was unique in the detailed terminology he included to describe footwork, and that is why his terminology has become widely used in the historical fencing community.
The flaws in the book centre around the interpretation of the footwork. Even they admit that they didn't get the footwork right and published an addendum in SPADA II to correct this. The problem with interpreting the footwork lies in the lack of direction given by the manuscript and the tendency of whoever reads the manuscript to connect it to their own martial arts backgrounds.
I thought that they missed the mark with the footwork because in nearly all their pictures Hand and Wagner have upright stances which lock them into stepping instead of springing - like one does in Olympic Fencing. The typically low stance of Olympic Fencing gives one a lot of spring, and I found that adopting a nearly linear, forward learning stance - as is found in the I.33 illustrations also gives the same thing (a lot of spring). Which is curious because this stance can also be found in the sword & buckler illustrations in the much later fechtbuch by Jorg Wilhalm (whose work they point to on pages 25 & 100 of their book). The fact that two fechtbuch so seperated in time and yet have the same stance should have attracted more of their attention, I feel. If anything, Talhoffer's stance for sword and buckler is more in keeping with what they eventually adopted.
The book also seemed to lack a chapter on "counter-timing" - surely one of the most important principles underlying the art - in particular the "stepping through" and the "shield knock" maneuvers.
But here I am demonstrating my own prejudices. My own perception stems from an assumption that the initial engagement range of a fight is two steps apart - as both fencers agree to negotiate the intervening distance through feint and maneuver in the game of zufechten. Such a style naturally develops the process of feint and counter-time. But Hand & Wagner's interpretation seems to be in keeping with another style. The "wait and see" style of fencer, who perceives fighting distance as one step away by either party. So you stay where you are, allow your opponent to approach, parry his first attack and only then maneuver to take advantage of their newly exposed openings in his defence.
So the question is, what kind of fencer are you? Is this a book which suits your style, or will you have to re-examine their footwork?