The Knightly Art of the Longsword
Paperback, 342 Pages
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Johannes Liechtenauer, the father of German martial arts, created a system of combat that was second to none. Later authors wrote books detailing his art, some for earnest combat and others for a sportive version, that have survived to the present day. This book attempts to draw together the writings of various masters of Liechtenauer’s school into a single, comprehensive source detailing the art of fighting in earnest. Not limited to a single author, nor to just the basics of the art, this book attempts to show the full range of Liechtenauer’s art without mixing in any of the more sportive sources from later authors. In addition to the techniques themselves, The Knightly Art of the Longsword includes information on strategic concepts, fundamentals, equipment, finding a school, training, and even how to teach the art. NB: This is the spiral-bound edition.
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Jan 11, 2012I just received my copy of ‘The Knightly Art of the Longsword’, by Hugh Knight. Straight out of the packaging, there is an immense sense of value in it. At just under an inch thick, there are a lot of pages which in instructional material is a Good Thing. Additionally, for about $20 delivered (I got it on sale, but even without it’s affordable), the price of cellulose per pound is pleasingly low. The very affordable price is made possible by the plain matt paper, black and white photography, and simple yet tasteful layout and design. Some of the pictures are less than ideal, but that is more a function of the size of the photos (to which there must be a limit to fit them on the page in a meaningful way), and not really something that can be rectified without colour photography/gloss paper. But this isn’t about economics, it’s about learning to fight with a longsword. As any cursory peruse of the fechtbucher will show, the original fighting manuscripts are arranged in a manner that is... More > not exactly logical, neither is it particularly accessible for the beginning fencer. What Hugh has done is take the structure of the fechtbucher and rearrange it so that tactics and body mechanics are at the start, followed by simple or fundamental techniques, progressing to more complex pieces. He has preserved some of the structure of the fechtbucher, for example all the plays of the Zwerchhau are still under ‘Zwerchhau’ etcetera. At the end of the book are a number of chapters regarding how one should learn the art: how to run a class; what protective equipment to wear; what One should and should not strive for…the list goes on. What Hugh has produced is a book that someone who, never having studied the German sword arts of the 15thC before, can pick up, read and come to learn not only about the art, but learn how to learn about the art. I am sure that a beginner (or rather: a pair of beginners) can use this book to become acquainted with, and at least moderately proficient in, the art of the unarmoured longsword. Throughout the book are listed and described some formal training drills to emphasise the important aspects of the techniques or principles just discussed. These are a valuable training aid, and are made all the more useful by the chapter at the end of the book describing how progressive drills of increasing complexity can be used to develop a fencer from someone who is good with a sword to someone who is truly great with a sword. Being so big, it does of course contain a lot of material. There must be (I haven’t counted) somewhere in the hundreds of plays/pieces/devices described in this book. Does it contain every single play as described within the fechtbucher? No. There are a few that I may have missed, and one or two that I’m fairly sure are not there. Nevertheless, there is enough material here to keep aspiring fencers busy for a long time. Hugh’s scholarship and encyclopaedic knowledge of the subject is excellent, and nothing less than this would have sufficed for a book of this nature. His interpretations of the material from the fechtbucher have been meticulously researched and thoroughly tested. I don’t agree wholly with the interpretation of every single piece presented in the book, but our differences in interpretation are minor quibbles really. A beginner will not be led astray by following his instruction. Quite the opposite. For those that want to check his interpretations, Hugh has referenced every single play so that not only can the reader know that Hugh has not made any of these plays up, but the reader can also go to the source material to check it for themselves. The new fencer will find this an invaluable tool for learning the history, fundamentals, basics and advanced points of the art of the longsword. The intermediate fencer will find this a valuable tool as reference material for class (the spiral binding is a great feature) or as a quick reference to jog the memory. The advanced fencer will find this a great way to show students a progression of a play or again, as an aid to memory for class. For anyone wishing to get an introduction into the German sword arts of the 15th century, or for anyone that wants to supplement or add to their already existing library, I can highly recommend this book.< Less
Feb 9, 2010The Knightly Art of the Longsword is Hugh Knight's most current work on the Longsword. While Mr. Knight has published a previous work on the longsword, it was admitted to be more of a study guide for his Western Martial Art students, rather than a stand-alone book. As one who has been studying Western Martial Arts for some time now, I found his previous work to be a useful adjunct to other works I've seen, particularly because Mr. Knights martial interpretations seemed to work better than others I've read. This has been very illuminating while my friends and I have been doing our "study group", where we try to replicate the moves illustrated in the books in real-life. And in that vein, Mr. Knight really delivers on this book, his "Magnum Opus", if you will. It is considerably larger than his previous longsword book, and while it does add a few techniques that were left out of his previous work, the real reason for this volume's heft is because of all of the... More > explanatory detail that Mr. Knight goes into. In my opinion, where Mr. Knight really sets himself apart from other Western Martial Artists is his extensive background in other martial arts and as a teacher of this one. This gives him an excellent understanding in body mechanics and martial soundness that a mere translator is unable to "bring to the table". As such, this new version is jam-packed with subtleties of technique to help a student, without benefit of a live teacher, *make* those techniques work. Unfortunately, the Medieval fechtbuchen (fight books) often do not go into critical details such as footwork or hand positions, which can make interpretation of these techniques maddening. It is apparent from Mr. Knight's work that he has repeatedly taught these techniques enough to troubleshoot common problems for students. Any modern author of Western Martial Arts will readily admit that their interpretations often change as better understanding/translations come about. In the last ten years, there has, indeed, been a great evolution of understanding of the Western Martial Arts, and a concurrent trend towards more and more agreement among various authors and interpretors. So, with that in mind, I'm going to go out on a limb here: I believe this work of Mr. Knight's will prove to be a classic. While it may have some minor revisions as time goes on, I think that in 20 years time this book will be a staple in the Western Martial Arts community, and a "must have" for any serious student of the Lichtenauer school of Medieval swordsmanship.< Less
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- Hugh T. Knight, Jr. (Standard Copyright License)
- January 15, 2010
- Interior Ink
- Black & white
- 2.21 lbs.
- Dimensions (inches)
- 8.5 wide x 11 tall
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- longsword ,
- sword ,
- liechtenauer ,
- ringeck ,
- von danzig ,
- talhoffer ,
- fechtbuch ,
- hugh knight ,
- schlachtschule ,
- medieval ,
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