162 of 178 people found the following review helpful
Perhaps worse than his first book,
This review is from: Medieval Swordsmanship: Illustrated Methods And Techniques (Paperback)
The author's first book, Renaissance Swordsmanship was a shocker. This book is perhaps worse, and it's a mystery why it continues to receive favourable reviews. I guess you can fool some of the people, some of the time.
The book covers two main weapons, longsword and sword and shield. As with his earlier work, both sections betray a very superficial understanding of any historical source. Despite showing some historical longsword guard positions, the author chooses to give his own guards, some of which resemble some historical guards, many of which don't (for example he claims that his hanging guard is the German Ochs or the Italian Posta di Donna, it doesn't really resemble Ochs and is completely different to Posta di Donna).
Clements teaches the withdrawal of the arms when cutting, something which should offend anyone with the most rudimentary understanding of tempo. He teaches what are essentially modern sabre parries with the longsword, which if he understood German theory, he would know is exactly what you are told not to do. The techniques he shows bear no resemblance to anything that can be seen by looking at original manuals.
The sword and shield section is even worse. Clements claims that his method of shield use is historical, yet it violates every principle of historical shield use. He holds the shield flat in front of the body, which authors like Marozzo tell you to do against polearms or multiple opponents, but NOT in single combat against another sword armed opponent. Clements' guards leave him vulnerable to having his shield bound by his opponent's. It also means that practically every cut he shows commits the cardinal sin of shield combat, exposing the arm in front of the shield. Lastly, Clements advocates moving the shield to block attacks, when historically combatants moved their bodies around large shields, not the shield around their body. All of the fundamentals that he could get wrong he does.
While in the longsword section you can see some effort (albeit poor) to follow historical practice, it is clear that the sword and shield section was simply made up. It is ironic that the author spends so much time criticising others for making up techniques and then does it himself.
This book was poorly researched and out of date when it was written, but it was the only book out there on medieval swordsmanship. This is no longer the case. There are a great many books, almost all of them a massive improvement on this sorry tome. For the longsword we have Christian Tobler's Secrets of German Medieval Swordsmanship, followed by his Fighting with the German Longsword. David Lindholm's Knightly art of Swordsmanship and Zabinski's Codex Wallerstein are both good works on the German system. There is also an excellent DVD by a German group called Ochs. The Italian system has Arte Gladiatoria, a translation of Vadi's manual, and the Swordsman's Companion, an excellent training manual. Sword and shield is less well covered. The Art of Medieval Swordsmanship translates the I.33 sword and buckler manual, while Medieval Sword and Shield explains it. There are also two excellent articles on the use of large shields in Spada and Spada II. Any of these books is preferable to Medieval Swordsmanship.
It is shocking to think that less than ten years ago, academic standards in this field were so low that this dreadful book was actually considered acceptable. There are so many good books in this field, with more being produced every year. The thought of anyone buying Medieval Swordsmanship in 2006 is apalling.
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Showing 1-10 of 10 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Apr 15, 2007 6:31:52 AM PDT
[Deleted by the author on Jan 31, 2013 4:30:09 PM PST]
Posted on Nov 5, 2007 6:56:25 PM PST
Jonathan Appleseed says:
What are some of the other books that are so much better?
Posted on Nov 26, 2008 9:43:04 AM PST
Tat Brat says:
Where do your credentials come from? I'm curious, because it sounds like you should have written a book on the topic, given the broad expanse of your criticism.
In reply to an earlier post on Mar 16, 2009 10:21:16 AM PDT
When I first read this review I was really worried because I just bought the book and was scared off by these comments. When I got it I was relieved. There is no book like this book. It teaches more than just an interpretation of some manuals, it teaches an attitude, approach, and starting point to training with medieval weapons. I have read many of the books this review says are much better and they are not worthy substitutes for this book.
In short, this reviewer was trying too hard to find fault with this book so he could discredit it for his own personal reasons. I don't think there is a better book out there to give someone a starting ground to build from. I know for a fact that the author of this book does not believe this book is authoritive, comprehensive, or current; in fact this book will teach you to be skeptical of such silly notions, a tone that I truly appreciate.
Please note that some of this reviewer's claims are true (few of them) and many of them are just not properly grounded in evidence. I just want to add, there is some good stuff in this book and if you like it there is a whole lot more where that came from. Just check out the ARMA webpage.
In reply to an earlier post on Jul 19, 2009 10:44:16 PM PDT
With T. Burger. I would like to know what books (or even websites) out there this person would recommend so I could actually compare hard info.
In reply to an earlier post on Sep 13, 2009 12:46:46 PM PDT
[Deleted by the author on Dec 23, 2014 12:11:27 PM PST]
Posted on Nov 8, 2009 4:06:08 PM PST
Phillip Cha says:
Yeah the shield section of this book is laughable. I mean honestly, even the SCA that he rails so much against has a better sense of shield usage then the drivel n this book.
In reply to an earlier post on Apr 25, 2010 7:24:50 PM PDT
Amazon Customer says:
"There are a great many books, almost all of them a massive improvement on this sorry tome. For the longsword we have Christian Tobler's Secrets of German Medieval Swordsmanship, followed by his Fighting with the German Longsword. David Lindholm's Knightly art of Swordsmanship and Zabinski's Codex Wallerstein are both good works on the German system. There is also an excellent DVD by a German group called Ochs. The Italian system has Arte Gladiatoria, a translation of Vadi's manual, and the Swordsman's Companion, an excellent training manual. Sword and shield is less well covered. The Art of Medieval Swordsmanship translates the I.33 sword and buckler manual, while Medieval Sword and Shield explains it. There are also two excellent articles on the use of large shields in Spada and Spada II. Any of these books is preferable to Medieval Swordsmanship."
Posted on Jul 12, 2011 9:36:24 PM PDT
W. B. Johnson says:
Best review I've seen of this excriable manual.
Posted on Jun 24, 2014 7:15:55 PM PDT
i actually read to the bottom of this review, so i know what books to look for that are better than this one. thank you for the honest review and for taking the time to list them.
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