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Sevillian Steel: The Traditional Knife-Fighting Arts Of Spain Paperback – September 1, 1999

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Sevillian Steel: The Traditional Knife-Fighting Arts Of Spain + Manual Of The Baratero: The Art of Handling the Navaja, the Knife, and the Scissors of the Gypsies + The Sicilian Blade
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 184 pages
  • Publisher: Paladin Press (September 1, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1581600399
  • ISBN-13: 978-1581600391
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.6 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,566,004 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

James Loriega was born and raised in New York City. While he holds instructor credentials in numerous martial disciplines, he is best known as the founder of the New York Ninpokai, one of the premiere training facilities for the traditional ninja arts. Over time, the Ninpokai hosted many foreign instructors and established numerous affiliate branches (shibu) around the world.

It was while visiting those affiliate branches in Western Europe that Loriega first learned of the existence of indigenous combat systems. Between visits and seminars at these dojo, Loriega would scour the cities' bookstores searching for native-language martial arts books to add to his library. It was while he was thus occupied in Seville that he happened upon a modern-day school that still taught the use of traditional edged weapons

The blade most associated with the Spanish, and the one used in the practice of these arts, is the navaja - the elegant folding clasp knife first developed during the 17th century. It is around the use of this folding clasp knife that these arts - known collectively as Acero Sevillano - developed and evolved.
Since 1990 Loriega returned to Spain on an almost yearly basis, as much to teach ninjutsu as to learn the regional styles of edged weapons. In 1996, Loriega received certification as an instructor de Armas Blancas Sevillanas.

In 1999, Loriega published Sevillian Steel, which presents an overview of navaja and its history of use among Spaniards and other Western Europeans. His well-received translation of Manual of the Baratero followed in 2005 The publication of these navaja-themed works brought Loriega a steady and continuous flow of requests to conduct navaja workshops at Western martial arts events. His participation and technical demonstrations in those events earned him a nomination to the International Masters at Arms Federation (IMAF) and Loriega was formally accepted as a master of historical Spanish edged weapons.

Since the inception of the workshops in 2006 Loriega, along with the fencing masters from the Martinez Academy of Arms, has been a steadfast instructor at the Annual Spanish Martial Arts weekend, which feature training in exclusively Spanish styles of rapier, saber, knife, and stick combat. To ensure participant safety in these formidable edged weapons arts, Loriega has designed a series of authentically-detailed knives in various navaja configurations, manufactured for him in aircraft quality aluminum by KeenEdge Knives.

Loriega continues to travel and train, in addition to offering instruction at the Raven Arts Institute, where courses are available in the use of the folding knife, stiletto, sword-cane, walking stick, improvised weaponry, and unarmed combatives.

Customer Reviews

Unfortunately, the book does indeed suffer from a rather glaring credibility gap.
Eric Gerry
While delving deep into training European martial arts, I found this book great to describe the culture, atmosphere and techniques concerning Spanish knife fighting.
Benjamin Bowles
If your intent is to read a knife fighting manual for self defense purposes then do not read this book.
Logan-James Randall

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Ben Miller on July 10, 2007
Format: Paperback
Sevillian Steel is a fascinating and highly informative book, and I wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone looking for an introduction to the history, culture, lore, and basic techniques of the navaja.

That said, I feel that I must address the few negative reviews posted here (many anonymously), which seem to be born out of either extreme ignorance or some sort of concerted campaign to attempt to discredit Maestro Loriega (at least two of the one-star reviews on this page seem to be from the same person, posting under different names). In many cases, negative reviewers appear not to have read the book at all. In others, they seem to deliberately mislead and even twist history itself to suit their own needs.

For instance, "Pankratos," who claims to be from Spain, discounts the possibility of a surviving navaja tradition by sarcastically commenting that "oh, yes...and if you go to central park in new york and look beetwen trees you can find a native americans'community living as they do 328 years ago." Actually, many Native American traditions are still very much alive here, including music, dancing, pottery, cooking, weaving, religion, etc., as is readily apparent to anyone who has visited the western United States. In fact, such traditions can be found even at some of the ten Native American reservations that still exist in New York State.

As to the navaja, we need not look nearly so far into the past to document its survival. For instance, in "The Story of Seville," Walter Gallichan, who visited the city around 1903, describes the widespread use of the navaja among the criminal class, noting that "it is too often drawn [there] in street broils and for vendetta purposes.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Logan-James Randall on March 1, 2000
Format: Paperback
If your intent is to read a knife fighting manual for self defense purposes then do not read this book. Mr. Loriega does an excellent job at describing the history of the spanish fighting arts and he obviously knows a fair amount about spanish culture. Sadly the book comes up short when it comes to demonstrating knife fighting techniques as the few techniques that are shown are very basic and can be found in most self-defense manuals. Read this book if you are a spanish history buff, but not if you are interested in using a knife for self defense.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Eric Gerry on August 18, 2005
Format: Paperback
I'll admit I was a bit skeptical going into this book after learning that Mr. Loriega was a student of Ronald Duncan, who's generally regarded as a rather... controversial... figure in the martial arts communty. However, I figured that so long as there is historical documentation to back up the information in the book, it may make a good addition to my library. Unfortunately, the book does indeed suffer from a rather glaring credibility gap.

As stated in other reviews, the few techniques shown are taken from the 1849 "Manual del Baratero". In addition to this, descriptions of Spanish "knife culture" are provided from contemporary travel guides penned by French and English authors. However, beyond that, most of the information is solely derived from the late Maestro Don Santiago Rivera. We are expected to accept without question bold statements about the superiority of the "Sevillian School" of knife fighting over all other Spanish methods, and by extension (according to Mr. Loriega's recknoning), all other Mediterranean styles of knifeplay. This "My kung fu is better than your kung fu" attitude is prevalent in the book, though most writers and practitioners of European martial arts take pains to avoid such chest-beating.

The other reviews also mention that the book is full of anecdotes, and as I was expecting these to be historical accounts of navaja encounters (we have volumes of such things regarding swordplay), I was again disappointed. Rather, we are treated to numerous stories from the author's time training in Seville, which to be perfectly honest, sound like they've been taken from various "Zorro" movies.
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17 of 23 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 7, 1999
Format: Paperback
This book attempts to teach authentic Spanish knife fighting, but it is more anecdotal stories than actual technique.
The little technique that is shown is more or less authentic, but is far from complete or representative of this style of combat. Manual del Baratero(1849) says more in 54 pages on this subject than Sevillian Steel says in 170.
There is no evidence whatsoever to support that this technique was used three hundred years ago. While navajas certainly existed in that time, no manuals on their use during the 17th century survive. Which isn't to say they didn't know how to fight back then, just that since we have no documentation of how they fought with navajas back then, we can't comment on it or make claims of such a long lineage.
This book also doesn't teach the jiros or contrajiros which form the base of this style's offensive and defensive footwork.
George Silver's Paradoxes of Defense is brought up in one chapter, actualy about the gitano, or Gypsy, style of knife fighting, which is very odd considering that Silver didn't say anything about navajas or Gypsies, only had a few short paragraphs to say on knives in general, held all schools of rapier(including Spanish) in low regard(indeed, that's what he wrote Paradoxes of Defense about) and on top of that Silver was a 16th century Englishman.
The author has obviously read Manual del Baratero, so I can't understand why he would withhold so much relevant technique that is essential to understanding this art, unless he considers it "botta secreta".
In short, if you truly wish to learn Spanish knife fighting skills, you are better served by reading the original 19th century Manual del Baratero, which presents a more complete and sophisticated system, one that is wholey historicaly accurate being that it is itself a historical document, and it provides cultural insight on the society that developed these techniques.
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