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on 19 June 2017
This is my first book on the subject so I should say that I cannot compare this with other related works.
This is a good book, the reason I've given it 4 stars is because I think the title is slightly misleading; it should be called something like Medieval Swordsmanship; a beginners guide. Its not comprehensive. I would like one work that if you work at it long enough, could turn one into a competition level fighter.
This book is very good about telling us the state of hema and other sword related groups, equipment and training methods. I think this can help a beginner greatly and get him started with guards, parries, strikes and a few manoeuvres. Of course you will still need someone to spar and train with and an instructor would be more than helpful. No book can change that. The author is very confident in his beliefs of how its done and there is one particular area where he is probably wrong in his assertion. I actually don't think this is a big problem I just thought I'd mention it.
There are descriptions and illustrations but they are not comprehensive and can be hard to follow. To get the most out of this book you would have to study it very hard and of course the subject matter is a skill that will a lifetime to master. Unfortunately there is no shortcut but I think this book is a great start on that journey.
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on 18 July 2007
Mr. Clements's enthusiasm shines through in the sheer volume of content he aspires to cover in this book. Unfortunately that is one of he drawbacks of the book, he tries to cover too much ground. The weapons and techniques he uses do have a basis in historical fact, but very often he'll move from a simple move to a complex one with nothing in between. As a pure training manual I'd have to say that he fails in that aim. Mr. Clements is also unduly dismissive of techniques and arts not close to his own. This attitude can be misleading as many non-European martial arts have similarities to European ones on the simple basis that the human body can only move in so many ways. As an introduction to the plethora of available arts and techniques associated with the medieval sword I think it's a good entry level publication to whet appetites.
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on 24 July 2007
It is a good book into which the author has put a lot of effort and inspiration.
However it should not be treated as an ultimate guide to sword fighting, rather additional material for one's study of sword. While the text is interesting (even though a bit over stretched and vague in places) and the diagrams are informative, one should not base his or her training entirely on this publication.
The main drawback of the book is the fact that the author has attempted to cover too wide a field which resulted in the main subject being somewhat neglected, or so it seems at times.
Still it is an interesting work which may give someone with previous experience in sword fighting a few new ideas.
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on 9 February 2004
I was rather excited when I found this book, but left it feeling rather disappointed. The diagrams are very good, indeed better than other books in the field; The author's writing style sadly does not match. He adopts a "my way or nothing" approach, spending almost as much time talking of how bad or unrealistic modern fencing, kendo or re-enactment fighting all are that he does talking of his own techniques. The book desperately needed editing to remove this rather unnecessary annoying rubbish. While I applaud the author's notion of restoring western fighting techniques as martial arts, I did not even bother to finish, but put the book down rather sadly, just too frustrated with it to continue.
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on 10 February 2003
First; the bad. Clements could use a better editor, and he often lets his frustration at other sword users (fencers, theatrical choreographers, Historical Societies) get the better of him.
That said, there's much here to love. Clements deals with sword fighting, so the intention is to present historically accurate, practical means of injuring an opponent with a sword. This is very different from the sport of Fencing and, to a lesser extent, the Oriental martial arts - to claim his technique is "poor" is missing the point - it's not meant to be Fencing technique, but rather the styles used before there even was the sport of Fencing.
The book is copiously illustrated and reasonably clear throughout, although it is not a substitute for personal instruction from a professional. Clements uses many of the Medieval sword manuals as sources, although he does not annotate each example with a specific source. He has also made some logical guesses to extrapolate how you *would* fight with such a weapon, based on the available historical data and his own 18 year experience with blades.
The result is an excellent entry into the growing field of Medieval Martial Arts, without requiring you to know latin, Italian or German. If you want to learn more about practical, historical sword-play, this book is a must.
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on 20 March 2001
John Clements' latest book is a welcome and valuable resource in the international effort to revive traditional European swordsmanship as a martial art. It is well-illustrated by the author (a professional graphic artist)and covers a great deal of technical and historical ground.
Unfortunately, "Medieval Swordsmanship" is not well organised and does not present a structured guide to learning the art. In his enthusiasm to cover a wide variety of techniques, the author has omitted to discuss many of the fundamental principles of swordsmanship, such as body mechanics. This would not present any real obstacles to experienced practitioners but could be confusing or even dangerous for novices.
The main fault in this book lies in the author's writing style, which is undisciplined and tends towards egotism. He appears to confuse his own motivations with those of fantasy-game enthusiasts, fencers and fight-scene directors and to waste a great deal of space comparing apples and oranges. Some of these critiques seem rather petty and detract from the otherwise positive tone. Footnotes would also have been welcome, in that the author cites a great diversity of sources but seldom follows through with specific details.
Any future editions of "Medieval Swordsmanship" will benefit from some professional editing and accurate citations, and several of the more vociferous appendices could usefully be dropped or replaced.
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on 27 November 2004
This is an amazingly detailed book. Both a practical fight manual and a historical guide, it contains a wealth of information on fighting with the Sword-and-Shield and the Longsword. It is useful for beginners and experts, providing a wide range of information on all aspects of swordsmanship.
I thoroughly recommend this book to anybody interested in how medieval swords were used.
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on 4 March 2012
John Clements is a professor. He speaks without egotistical embroidery.His descriptions , instruction and suggestion , are clear and concise .He is a 'hands on' professor unlike the legion of 'arm chair experts'.No fancy footwork or spins . Just a serious study and practice of debilitating , winning or killing an oponent.
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on 15 October 2002
This book is an absolute must for any keen swordsman of any discipline. As a fencing instuctor and medieval re-enactor I found this book very insightful. The writer clearly understands the concepts of fighting with a sword. He also demonstrates the limitations of differing styles of modern swordfighting. This gives the reader a more subjective view of real medieval swordsmanship. For the novice medieval re-enactor this is a good starting point. For the experianced swordsman it provokes thought about realistic sword play. For the historian it gives a very good description of how swords would be used. An excellant read about sword play, swords and fighting principles during the Middle-ages.
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on 25 August 2009
Whilst the book does contain useful information about the weapons and techniques it aims to cover, I felt much space was wasted in repetitive and long-winded criticism of methods and views of modern re-enactors and enthusiasts. A more structured approach to the practise and development of techniques would have been more useful. Having said that, I would still buy it for the information it does contain.Medieval Swordsmanship: Illustrated Methods and Techniques
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