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45 of 48 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Significant Contribution to the Field
People interested in European Medieval martial arts have to realize that these systems were kept secret at the time. Medieval manuscripts on fencing were written for a very select audience and are brief, deliberately obscure, and cryptic. It requires a great deal of effort and dedicated study to try to reconstruct personal combat techniques from period sources with any...
Published on March 28, 2004

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1 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Horrible pictures
The pictures are shot in grey scale black and white against a gray stone wall! Grainy and all the same color. Horrible and irritating to look at. Poor quality. I'd skip it since the point of such a book IS the pictures! I just threw it away.
Published 14 months ago by William F. Caton


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45 of 48 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Significant Contribution to the Field, March 28, 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: Medieval Art of Sword & Shield: The Combat System of Royal Armouries MS I.33 (Paperback)
People interested in European Medieval martial arts have to realize that these systems were kept secret at the time. Medieval manuscripts on fencing were written for a very select audience and are brief, deliberately obscure, and cryptic. It requires a great deal of effort and dedicated study to try to reconstruct personal combat techniques from period sources with any hope of success. Paul Wagner & Stephen Hand have done an excellent job in that regard with their book. Royal Armouries MS I.33 is the oldest illustrated fencing manual in existence and is devoted exclusively to a single weapon system: the arming sword and buckler. Wagner & Hand have studied all the available period sources on this weapon system and combined that with a lot of hands-on trial and error to come up with a complete and plausible interpretation of the system.
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.
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31 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Author's Comments, December 7, 2005
By 
Stephen Hand (Hobart, Australia) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Medieval Art of Sword & Shield: The Combat System of Royal Armouries MS I.33 (Paperback)
Medieval Sword and Shield has been well received, but it is not the final word on medieval swordsmanship or on the I.33 system. Research into historical martial arts is like any other historical research. It is an ongoing process, which calls for open minded honesty, and a willingness to update your findings, even if that means admitting that you got some things wrong.

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.

Stephen Hand
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not to be underestimated!, March 10, 2007
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This review is from: Medieval Art of Sword & Shield: The Combat System of Royal Armouries MS I.33 (Paperback)
Wagner & Hand's interpretation is spot-on in a number of very unexpected ways and although its becoming a bit dated now, its still clearly the best companion book for understanding the I.33 manuscript.

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?
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Easy to comprehend, March 25, 2013
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This review is from: Medieval Art of Sword & Shield: The Combat System of Royal Armouries MS I.33 (Paperback)
So many ancient books on swordplay and martial arts are difficult to understand if you haven't had some sort of previous training. I get what this book is trying to tell me at all times, they really take everything step by step, from both the side and front angles. It's been a lot of fun working through and we've just barely scratched the surface. I bought the Cold Steel medieval waister and buckler (both made from high impact plastics) to use for training purposes.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly recommended, February 14, 2013
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This review is from: Medieval Art of Sword & Shield: The Combat System of Royal Armouries MS I.33 (Paperback)
I'm teaching my sons self-confidence, poise, and balance, all in the form of medieval sword fighting. They got Nerf swords for a gift last year, and they each were wildly waving the swords, jumping and hopping around, as one might expect from a 7 and 9 year old without experience. This book, combined with Liechtenauer's Part I DVD from Agilitas.TV, has taught them to stand, use appropriate footwork, and hold the sword, or sword and buckler, in the right way. And most importantly, they are having a great time. I highly recommend it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great guide to I.33, December 21, 2012
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This review is from: Medieval Art of Sword & Shield: The Combat System of Royal Armouries MS I.33 (Paperback)
This is a fantastic guide to the teachings of the I.33 manuscripts. The book breaks down each move into step-by-step instructions that are easy to understand. A fantastic book for anyone want to learn this powerful sword fighting technique.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, November 25, 2011
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This review is from: Medieval Art of Sword & Shield: The Combat System of Royal Armouries MS I.33 (Paperback)
This book, Medieval Sword and Shield by Hand and Wagner, arrived quickly and in the best condition. It's both insightful and offers the beginner a good grounding in basic techniques before diving into the wards, attacks and counters.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars AWESOME BOOK!, August 1, 2010
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This review is from: Medieval Art of Sword & Shield: The Combat System of Royal Armouries MS I.33 (Paperback)
This is a well written modern interpretation of Royal Armouries I.33. The origional I.33 is one of the earliest known manuscripts on Western sword and Buckler fighting techniques. This book goes over many different strikes and defenses that help you gain an advantage over your opponent. It shows numerous ways you can get passed whatever guard your opponent is using. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in early Medieval sword fighting. A well written and interesting book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Good representation of the I33, February 8, 2014
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This review is from: Medieval Art of Sword & Shield: The Combat System of Royal Armouries MS I.33 (Paperback)
I'm a beginner at Historical European Martial Arts (HEMA). It's helping me along with professional guidance. This book is full of clear modern photo representation of the Famous I33 manuscript. This is a representation and not a side-by-side translation. You will not find much of the original sketches but much care was obviously taken to be faithful to the original and in filling all that was NOT said in the original.
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5.0 out of 5 stars odd duck, October 30, 2013
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This review is from: Medieval Art of Sword & Shield: The Combat System of Royal Armouries MS I.33 (Paperback)
this is a GREAT FIGHT BOOK!!!! one of the oldest. I study and play and needed a copy. I.33 is very informative in the older style of swordsmanship I already had Talahoffer and many others. this is a GREAT addition. Thankss
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Medieval Art of Sword & Shield: The Combat System of Royal Armouries MS I.33
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