Book Review: Mastering the Art of Arms, Volume 2: The Medieval Longsword

I knew I this book would be well-written, having read other work by Guy Windsor. However, I didn’t expect that I would be so inspired by it! First, the information is so well-presented. The text is easy to understand, and the photos are absolutely clear, sometimes taken from more than one angle to be sure that the positions are unambiguous. But then, Guy goes far beyond simply presenting Fiore’s material with his own interpretation of the treatise. He presents a wealth of information in his introduction that, in my opinion, is critical to understanding, practicing and interpreting martial arts. These are only some of the topics covered: he discusses the treatise itself, prompting the reader to find their own copy of Fiore’s work so that they can refer to the original and decipher it for themselves; he lists suggested reading so that the reader can continue their education; he discusses the context of learning swordplay as a martial art in this current time when, clearly, we don’t use swords in our daily life; and he places the use of the longsword in its historical context (the longsword was used in several situations, from duels to battles). Furthermore — and this is what I, an actor/fight director/fight instructor, am so excited about — he discusses with historical examples how the mindset of a salle is different than that of a potentially fatal encounter. I won’t give away any more. Suffice it to say that Guy presents this crucial information so clearly and succinctly, that I recommend all of my colleagues and students in Stage And Screen Combat should purchase a copy of this book.

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