Sword Fighting is Not What You Think...
So, your sword fighting with Medieval and Renaissance blades ...How to do so effectively? How do you so authentically? Well, what it's about is as much a matter of what you don't do as it is a matter what you must do. And in both cases virtually everything you think you know is wrong.
To borrow a famous line, the problem with most people trying to understanding the true nature of historical sword combat is not that they're ignorant; it's just that they know so much that isn't so.
It's amazing really, how a subject that so permeates our modern pop culture and is so ubiquitous is one which virtually no one any longer has any real world experience in nor pursues for it's original function. The truth is, that most all our conceptions of sword fighting get it wrong. The reality of it is not what you think it is.
Face it, some readers will really get offended if you dare to suggest that they don't have an accurate conception of sword fighting. Fanboys especially will take it as a personal insult to their very identify when you challenge their assumptions. It's pretty silly, since no one of them relies on this skill for self-preservation nor makes it their profession. Plus, nearly everyone gets their information and opinions on it from the same essential sources: TV, movies, fantasy literature, video games, cartoons, comic books, dinner-theaters and renn-fairs fight shows. But where do those sources get their notions?
Almost entirely from experience with sport fencing, Asian martial art styles, and pretentious historical role-playing societies. Yet, all these sources derive their conceptions of it from still earlier ones. And so on and so on. Where then did most of today's ideas on historical sword fighting originate? When we trace it all back, we find romantic beliefs about the nature of swordsmanship among knights and cavaliers almost all started with ignorant Victorian-age prejudices.
Fortunately, during the Medieval and Renaissance eras there were produced hundreds of detailed instructional manuals by expert Masters of Defence. These knights and professional instructors in arms wrote and illustrated immense technical treatises and books on their "science of self-defense." Intended to preserve their secrets or instruct their students and patrons, these little-known works, some in excess of six hundred pages, represent time-capsules of the actual fighting systems and proven combative disciplines used at the time. Focused mostly on swordsmanship, these handbooks and study guides reveal highly sophisticated combat teachings. Further, their content and presentation is unmatched by any martial 1arts literature from anywhere in the world. ...And we have dozens of them.
Only recently in the last decade or so has this extraordinary and all but forgotten material finally come to be properly examined and studied. Reconstruction of these remarkable teachings offers an unparalleled view into how fighting men prepared and trained themselves for duels, street-fights, and battlefield encounter. Their manner of fighting with swords is not the classical Western style we see today, which is largely a contrived 19th-century gentleman's version of a narrow, aristocratic Baroque style. What the surviving sources show us is wholly different from the familiar pop-culture version as well as being dramatically distinct from what has gone on for years in assorted reenactments and contrived living-history efforts. Rather, Medieval and Renaissance sword fighting was a hell of a lot more violent, brutal, ferocious, and astonishingly effective. The way in which these swords were held, the way they can be maneuvered, and the postures and motions involved, differ substantially from common presumptions and modern-era fencing styles.
What we know now about sword fighting from the documented historical teachings and methods is that in earnest combat: You don't stand still. The sources specifically...