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Three Elizabethan Fencing Manuals Hardcover – December, 1972


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"Natural Born Heroes" by Christopher McDougall
Just as "Born to Run" inspired readers to get into the natural world, this book will inspire them to leave the gym and take their fitness routine to nature. See more
$75.00 FREE Shipping. Temporarily out of stock. Order now and we'll deliver when available. We'll e-mail you with an estimated delivery date as soon as we have more information. Your account will only be charged when we ship the item. Ships from and sold by Amazon.com. Gift-wrap available.
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"Natural Born Heroes" by Christopher McDougall
Just as "Born to Run" inspired readers to get into the natural world, this book will inspire them to leave the gym and take their fitness routine to nature. See more

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 634 pages
  • Publisher: Scholars Facsimilies & Reprint (December 1972)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0820111074
  • ISBN-13: 978-0820111070
  • Product Dimensions: 1.8 x 5.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,277,660 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Language Notes

Text: English, Italian (translation)

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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Jay Rudin on August 31, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This is not a modern re-telling or history book. It's not even re-typed - just a facsimile reprint of three fencing manuals of the Renaissance. If you want to know how it was really done, this is the place. It's real.
But don't assume you'll have an easy read. Saviolo is not writing in his native language, and it shows. He doesn't describe motions very well, and occasionally appears to leave out a foot move in a long sequence. Di Grassi never wrote in English. This manual is a sixteenth century English translation of his Italian manual. People who deride the "negative campaigning" of today will get quite a surprise when they read Silver's virulent contempt for the rapier and the foreigners who teach it.
There is also the language issue. Yes, it's written in English, but sixteenth century English doesn't always mean what you think it does. Saviolo tells you to come on guard with your right wrist against your knee, your right foot against your opponent's right foot, and your point against his face. Obviously, something has been lost in four centuries. In this case, it's the fact that "against" meant "opposite or across from", not "touching". You are now armed against one problem, but it's still not the language you think it is. (Hint: an Oxford English Dictionary is a very useful companion volume.)
Also, don't assume you can do this in modern fencing. The blades were longer and heavier, and they don't work like modern fencing weapons. Furthermore, these are very basic lessons. We know that the advanced moves were jealously guarded, and not written in books.
With all the difficulties, this book remains essential - it's a direct link to the fighting methods of the Elizabethan fencers.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By M. Ramos on October 14, 1998
Format: Hardcover
This book is a facsimile of three fencing manuals of the XVI century covering two major traditions: the rapier techniques, mainly italian but also used in Spain and Portugal at the time; and the short-sword techniques, probably british in origin.
The time in which these manuals were published was crucial: there was a gradual transition from the medieval sword techniques to the renaissance rapier ones. At the time (and long afterwards) the french schools of fencing were not existent and the main flow was latin: two of the manuals were written by italians and the swords used in latin countries were rapidly evolving from medieval sword towards the rapier. Those were times of frequent wars and of deadly clashes involving different cultures and ways of fighting. Very different from the later "civilized" duels between long-haired make-uped "gentlemen" which originated the french schools of fencing from which our childish fencing appeared.
This work is the real thing! It shows the experience of three sword masters, in a time where expertise was gained by fighting often and staying alive doing it, and mastery was achieved by recognition from a world where everyone was a swordsman ready to challenge such a person just to get fame.
Forget for a moment modern sword-"play" and read this book about real swordsmanship!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Sean McCullough on March 24, 2003
Format: Hardcover
This book is wonderful on so amy levels. First of all, it is a wonderful reference for fencers to see where it all began. It is also a wondeful book of you have a desire to read and want to be able to speak and understand old ELizabethan English. There are also many wonderful woodcuts showing costuming of the period. It is a great book to have in ones library.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Adam Sroka on August 11, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a tough read, but worth it for the insights into the early seventeenth century masters. Don't expect to learn how to fence from reading this book. It is tough enough to learn a physical skill from a book. Tougher still without pictures. But this would be like learning how to fight by reading Shakespeare. Pay attention to the concepts and patterns of thought exposed. Leave the technical analysis to the experts.

BTW, if you are interested in the scholarly aspects of reconstructing historical martial arts I would expect that this would be a good place for an English speaker to start. If you already know German or Italian there are some potentially more accessible works in those languages.
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