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Forum Index > Off-topic Talk > DVD Review: German Medieval Martial Arts Vol 1, The PoleaxeProduct Review Reply to topic
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David E. Farrell




Location: Evanston, IL
Joined: 25 Jun 2007

Posts: 156

PostPosted: Wed 16 Jun, 2010 4:12 am    Post subject: DVD Review: German Medieval Martial Arts Vol 1, The Poleaxe         Reply with quote

I recently received a copy of Christian Tobler and crew's new poleaxe DVD made available through Freelance Academy Press (http://www.freelanceacademypress.com/poleaxedvd.aspx), and figured I would post a review of it for those interested.

Overall, I think the quality is excellent compared to other martial arts instructional videos I've seen. The organization, videography and music all come together nicely giving the production a sense of 'nobility' that suits the topic well. Having taken classes from Christian, I think he does very well in trying to bring the instructor role to video though I think he is even better in person.

I think the selection of techniques, their explanation and the background material make it best suited to a new WMA practitioner wishing to get a taste for what the Pollaxe is like under the German tradition. But I think it is accessible enough for those from other backgrounds to at least come away learning something. For more experienced WMA practitioners, it is a handy collection of basic techniques - many of which show up in other traditions with slight variations.

That said, I have a couple of criticisms. I think Christian comes off a bit too artificial in the introduction, but that may be a product of this being a first video outing of this kind. I would have like to seen more attention given to the mechanics and completion of the throws illustrated, though the disarms and wider measure stuff is quite good. I also thought the explanation of training safety procedures was good - but one important one was missed (it was done by the folks in the video)... thrusts off-target to be kind to the partner's less armoured bits and head.

All in all, I'd gladly recommend it to those who want to learn a bit about the use of the pollaxe in the German tradition, but also those who are interested in the pollaxe and other hafted weapons in general.

AKA: 'Sparky' (so I don't need to explain later Wink )

For he today that sheds his blood with me shall be my brother
-- King Henry, Henry V, William Shakespeare

Before I came here I was confused about this subject. Having listened to your lecture I am still confused... but on a higher level.
-- Enrico Fermi
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Christopher Valli
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Location: Vernon, CT
Joined: 28 Sep 2007
Reading list: 3 books

Posts: 42

PostPosted: Wed 16 Jun, 2010 7:10 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

As I said over on the other forum, thanks David for the feedback.

When we started talking about this video, Christian and I (and all the others involved) set out to make something more than the usual martial arts DVD; we wanted the entire thing to have more of an informative feel. This was especially the case for a weapon like the poleaxe and I very much enjoyed directing and editing the 'documentary' portion.

As for your criticisms, let me say these were decisions made on the fly and addressed months later in post production- specifically the throws. Before this was released, we made the decision to show those to more completion in the next two volumes (which we will be filming this summer).

As for Christian's acting, well, I'll see if I can find him some acting lessons Big Grin

And has anyone besides Todd Sullivan seen the easter egg yet?

Asst Instructor, Selohaar Fechtschule

Director, Speaking Window Productions, LLC
www.speakingwindowproductions.com
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Christian Henry Tobler
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Location: Oxford, CT
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Posts: 688

PostPosted: Wed 16 Jun, 2010 7:29 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

@Dave - thanks much for the review!

@Chris - Actually, I've done quite a bit of acting in the past. The problem here was *not* acting. Generally, when I present in public, it's rather animated (even with a bit of goofiness thrown in). The problem is that doesn't transfer to the setting we chose, so the more staid approach seemed right at the time. I imagine the 'right' feel lies somewhere in between.

Cheers,

Christian

Christian Henry Tobler
Order of Selohaar

Freelance Academy Press: Books on Western Martial Arts and Historical Swordsmanship

Author, In Saint George's Name: An Anthology of Medieval German Fighting Arts
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David E. Farrell




Location: Evanston, IL
Joined: 25 Jun 2007

Posts: 156

PostPosted: Wed 16 Jun, 2010 8:08 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Christian Henry Tobler wrote:
@Dave - thanks much for the review!

@Chris - Actually, I've done quite a bit of acting in the past. The problem here was *not* acting. Generally, when I present in public, it's rather animated (even with a bit of goofiness thrown in). The problem is that doesn't transfer to the setting we chose, so the more staid approach seemed right at the time. I imagine the 'right' feel lies somewhere in between.

Cheers,

Christian


No problem guys, I figured it is good to hear some unsolicited feedback once in a while Big Grin

Probably the biggest reason I think Christian came off as artificial to me is because I have chatted, drank (even once conspired with), trained and fenced with him on several occasions and the guy on screen at the beginning wasn't quite that same guy. Others may not notice so much, though some of the framing did enhance the artificiality I think. I'm interested to see how future ventures work out.

I must say, I think the most impressive bit was how well the instructions were conveyed by the video and audio - a tricky thing for an instructor to do well (funny - but I bet it is far closer to writing a book than teaching in person).

Bravo! for a job well done.

edited: and yes, I was sure to go back and check out *all* the special features links Wink

AKA: 'Sparky' (so I don't need to explain later Wink )

For he today that sheds his blood with me shall be my brother
-- King Henry, Henry V, William Shakespeare

Before I came here I was confused about this subject. Having listened to your lecture I am still confused... but on a higher level.
-- Enrico Fermi
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Christian Henry Tobler
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Location: Oxford, CT
Joined: 25 Aug 2003

Posts: 688

PostPosted: Wed 16 Jun, 2010 8:29 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Yes, you nailed it Dave: my presentation on the DVD is actually my "writing voice", and all the more so because I wrote out the narration much like my written instruction in my books.

Part of how I instruct in person is very 'interactive' - I solicit agreement from the students, respond to and riff on their reactions, etc. In the DVD, there isn't (and can't be) any of the "now that I've pretzelled Jesse on the ground in armour, I..." kind of banter people are used to from me.

Hmmm...that kind of stuff might make for fun easter egg material in the future though!

As for conspiring with you...that's a very vicious rumor that's going around. It also happens to be.......true. Wink

All the best,

Christian

Christian Henry Tobler
Order of Selohaar

Freelance Academy Press: Books on Western Martial Arts and Historical Swordsmanship

Author, In Saint George's Name: An Anthology of Medieval German Fighting Arts
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David Teague




Location: Anchorage, Alaska
Joined: 25 Jan 2004

Posts: 409

PostPosted: Wed 16 Jun, 2010 8:58 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hello All,

Well I just ordered the DVD in question... now the waiting begins.

Since I've seen "Goofy Christian" I now can look forward to seeing "Stiff Christian"...

Hmm, that just doesn't read all that right.

Wink

Cheers,

David

This you shall know, that all things have length and measure.

Free Scholar/ Instructor Selohaar Fechtschule
The Historic Recrudescence Guild

"Yea though I walk through the valley of death, I will fear no evil: for Thou's sword art is with me; Thy poleaxe and Thy quarterstaff they comfort me."
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David E. Farrell




Location: Evanston, IL
Joined: 25 Jun 2007

Posts: 156

PostPosted: Wed 16 Jun, 2010 9:03 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Christian Henry Tobler wrote:

As for conspiring with you...that's a very vicious rumor that's going around. It also happens to be.......true. Wink

Oops, the Tom is out of the bucket, it seems Wink

AKA: 'Sparky' (so I don't need to explain later Wink )

For he today that sheds his blood with me shall be my brother
-- King Henry, Henry V, William Shakespeare

Before I came here I was confused about this subject. Having listened to your lecture I am still confused... but on a higher level.
-- Enrico Fermi
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Jean Thibodeau




Location: Montreal,Quebec,Canada
Joined: 15 Mar 2004
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PostPosted: Wed 16 Jun, 2010 10:29 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Will be ordering soon but I find that a good DVD like this served two purposes: A) An instructional purpose for those wanting to learn the techniques and B) An academic interest in showing how a fight with poleaxes would look like using real techniques as opposed to " Hollywood/Stage Fighting ".

In the case of (B) more background information rather than just explaining the moves/techniques is very valuable and interesting.

I know that my first viewing will be more to get a general " feel " about the use of the Poleaxe and later it might serve well in learning to actually do the techniques. ( I have taken polearm classes with my group, mostly staff, but the poleaxe is an option and the classes include instruction on both. We also bout with poleaxe versus plain staff. So at some point I will be able to apply the instruction ).

You can easily give up your freedom. You have to fight hard to get it back!
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Christopher Valli
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Location: Vernon, CT
Joined: 28 Sep 2007
Reading list: 3 books

Posts: 42

PostPosted: Wed 16 Jun, 2010 11:06 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jean Thibodeau wrote:
Will be ordering soon but I find that a good DVD like this served two purposes: A) An instructional purpose for those wanting to learn the techniques and B) An academic interest in showing how a fight with poleaxes would look like using real techniques as opposed to " Hollywood/Stage Fighting ".

In the case of (B) more background information rather than just explaining the moves/techniques is very valuable and interesting.

I know that my first viewing will be more to get a general " feel " about the use of the Poleaxe and later it might serve well in learning to actually do the techniques. ( I have taken polearm classes with my group, mostly staff, but the poleaxe is an option and the classes include instruction on both. We also bout with poleaxe versus plain staff. So at some point I will be able to apply the instruction ).


One of the fantastic things about WMA is the fact that everything is more 'principle' than 'technique.' Its one of the things that converted me from EMA Happy. You should be able to utilize everything but the 'hooking with the axe' types of moves with a staff. I'd try for the disarm from the vom Tag chapter Wink

Asst Instructor, Selohaar Fechtschule

Director, Speaking Window Productions, LLC
www.speakingwindowproductions.com
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Dustin Faulkner




Location: BOERNE, TX
Joined: 20 Jul 2008

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Posts: 118

PostPosted: Wed 16 Jun, 2010 10:53 pm    Post subject: I ordered Mr. Tobler's and Mr. Valli's poleaxe DVD!         Reply with quote

Hello:

I just wanted to share I ordered the Poleaxe DVD from Freelance Academy a couple of days ago. I can't wait to watch it. I just happen to have Windlass's poleaxe, GDFB's cheap poleaxe head that resembles A&A's "Knightly Poleaxe," and a Lucerne hammer head based on an original at the Higgins museum.

So ... I don't doubt the Poleaxe DVD will help me finally begin practicing such material along with Hugh Knight's book .... just in case guns stop working. Laughing Out Loud

DUSTIN FAULKNER
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David Teague




Location: Anchorage, Alaska
Joined: 25 Jan 2004

Posts: 409

PostPosted: Thu 17 Jun, 2010 12:18 am    Post subject: Re: I ordered Mr. Tobler's and Mr. Valli's poleaxe DVD!         Reply with quote

Dustin Faulkner wrote:
just in case guns stop working. Laughing Out Loud


Just remember this:

Guns run out of bullets, swords and poleaxes don't.

Wink

This you shall know, that all things have length and measure.

Free Scholar/ Instructor Selohaar Fechtschule
The Historic Recrudescence Guild

"Yea though I walk through the valley of death, I will fear no evil: for Thou's sword art is with me; Thy poleaxe and Thy quarterstaff they comfort me."
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Jean Thibodeau




Location: Montreal,Quebec,Canada
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PostPosted: Thu 17 Jun, 2010 9:40 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Tried ordering twice and hit an impassible wall or " GLITCH " that wouldn't calculate the shipping or ship to my location. WTF?! Worried Cry

Gave more details on the other thread discussing and announcing the availability of the DVD.

The problem seems to be with the " shopping cart " programming or if it does work from Canada it isn't obvious where or how one places and finalizes the order.

Link to the other Topic on the Makers Forum:
http://www.myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?p=194377#194377

You can easily give up your freedom. You have to fight hard to get it back!
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Dustin Faulkner




Location: BOERNE, TX
Joined: 20 Jul 2008

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Posts: 118

PostPosted: Mon 21 Jun, 2010 9:31 pm    Post subject: Freelance Academy's medieval poleaxe DVD - WOW!         Reply with quote

Hello:

I just got Christian Tobler's poleaxe DVD today. It is excellent in my opinion! I particularly enjoyed the effort to give some historical background at the Higgins museum. At first glance, it is well organized into different types of moves (or plays) according to different situations. The narration is clear and effort was made to ensure the narration was synchronized with the moves.

One must pay close attention to the brief explanation of terms in order to understand subsequent jargon. If you are a novice and/or not familiar with German, you can find yourself thinking "what's this Von Tag stuff?" Personally for me, this applies to any medieval German martial arts material. I had German in high school and I'd be lost without that knowledge.
However, the use of period jargon is appropriate and adds to the authenticity of Mr. Tobler's work. Authentic armor, costumes, music, and weapons are used throughout the program.

To give an indication of Mr. Tobler's thoroughness, this is not a DVD whose contents a layman can completely absorb in one viewing with total comprehension - even if you are blessed with good spatial abilities. Though it's about one hour long, its instructional nature requires repeated study for those with a serious interest in this genre. However, the material is fun to watch too so repeated viewing will be welcome by all viewers. I am very happy with Mr. Tobler's/Free Lance Academy's Poleaxe DVD. Most people would never guess this is a first effort - such is the professional style with which it was filmed.

Ultimately, Mr. Tobler achieves the Poleaxe DVD's goal: to show how the Poleaxe was used and what a vicious weapon it was in the hands of an expert.

I look forward to a DVD about the use of the Longsword and the Zweihander sword.

DUSTIN FAULKNER
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Christopher Valli
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Location: Vernon, CT
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PostPosted: Mon 21 Jun, 2010 9:50 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Its great to hear you enjoyed it!

We'll be starting production on the next few volumes soon and hope to have the next available around fall.

Asst Instructor, Selohaar Fechtschule

Director, Speaking Window Productions, LLC
www.speakingwindowproductions.com
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Alex Spreier




Location: Central Oregon
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Posts: 82

PostPosted: Mon 21 Jun, 2010 11:37 pm    Post subject: DVD Review of Christian Tobler's "German Medieval Marti         Reply with quote

I know that David Farrel already posted his review, but I have received requests to put my own up, so here goes:

Today's review will be on Christian Tobler's new DVD “German Medieval Martial Arts Vol. 1: The Poleaxe” available from Freelance Academy Press. As the title suggests, this is the first in a proposed series on German Martial Arts.

First off, the production quality is excellent! As someone who dabbled (briefly) in the video production world, I can appreciate the obvious hard work that Speaking Window Productions put into this DVD. There was only one point during the Drills section where the sound editor missed an audible “cut” - and I only caught it because I was paying very close attention. Wonderful job guys! The music adds a very nice ambiance to the video without being too distracting.

The DVD opens with a re-enacted judicial duel, which is just great fun!

Following this is the Introduction, a mini-documentary detailing just what a poleaxe is, the etymology of the word, as well as interviews with Christian Tobler, Dr. Lee Jones and Dr. Jeffery Forgeng.

This is followed by a section covering the Guards and an overview of what can be done from each guard. In this section, Tobler finds the perfect medium between being too brief and going into too much detail. The participants are in period clothing and armour (of which there is a wonderful variety!) which adds to the experience. Each guard is shown simultaneously in a side and front view, which is very helpful, and all the actions are clear and precise.

The Drills section covers handling the axe (i.e. being comfortable moving the axe around and using both hands as leads) – I would have liked a mention of the importance on practicing this while wearing gauntlets, because gauntlets do change things about how you grip (and Christian is shown wearing gauntlets during this spot). Then the DVD moves into paired drills for practice, which highlight in greater detail the actions shown earlier.

The Special Features include the trailer for this volume, as well as a video trailer for Tobler's book “In St. George's Name” and a quick video about the Selohaar Fechtschule. Also, be sure to check out the Special Features menu very carefully Wink

This is perhaps the best instructional DVD I've ever seen – clean, concise, & informative without trying to do too much. It is a great volume for beginners and long-time WMA students. For those well-versed in the axe, don't expect any ground-breaking, brand new techniques here – a poleaxe is a poleaxe after all. That said, fighting from Nebenhut is a little different than anything in the Italian system (although you could use Vera Croce the same way).

The only negative I have about the DVD is the massive amount of “toy-envy” I developed after watching the copious amounts of beautiful arms and armour parade across the screen!

Compagno, Northwest Fencing Academy

http://bunkaijuju.blogspot.com/
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Nathan Robinson
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PostPosted: Mon 21 Jun, 2010 11:55 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Rather than have a bunch of separate topics that are discussing the same thing, I've combined the various review topics into this single topic.
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Christian Henry Tobler
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PostPosted: Tue 22 Jun, 2010 7:20 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thank you gentlemen for the reviews - I'm really glad you enjoyed the DVD and have found it helpful!

All the best,

Christian


PS. Thank you Nathan for consolidating the threads.

Christian Henry Tobler
Order of Selohaar

Freelance Academy Press: Books on Western Martial Arts and Historical Swordsmanship

Author, In Saint George's Name: An Anthology of Medieval German Fighting Arts
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Alex Spreier




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PostPosted: Tue 22 Jun, 2010 8:11 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Nathan Robinson wrote:
Rather than have a bunch of separate topics that are discussing the same thing, I've combined the various review topics into this single topic.


Oops, sorry about that! I posted after a long day of training & driving. My bad. Thank you Nathan!

Compagno, Northwest Fencing Academy

http://bunkaijuju.blogspot.com/
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Greg Mele
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PostPosted: Tue 22 Jun, 2010 8:27 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thank you for the great reviews, but please, let's draw attention to Chris Valli and Speaking Window Productions - he is the man behind the camera and in the editing room, and if the final product is polished and professional, that's because we were blessed with a professional filmographer who is also an HES practitioner. My hope is that we will all keep Chris *verye busy* in the years to come!
Greg Mele
Chicago Swordplay Guild
www.chicagoswordplayguild.com

www.freelanceacademypress.com
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Dustin Faulkner




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PostPosted: Tue 22 Jun, 2010 9:19 am    Post subject: Hopes about Mr. Tobler's DVDs         Reply with quote

Hello Everyone:

On a serious note, I hope that Mr. Valli's possible contacts in the film world, and subsequent DVD volumes with Mr. Tobler, could somehow lead to a medieval movie that is groundbreaking in its realism - and perhaps based on actual events. I can imagine a medieval "Private Ryan" movie. I don't doubt there are true historical scenarios that folks can relate to today. Such a movie would not only use real weapons and tactics, but convey a true historical sense of medieval culture & politics. I believe it is possible to have an entertaining movie that'd also be educational in a subtle way. It is possible. Just don't turn it into a sappy love story like they did with "Pearl Harbor."

On a humerous note, if such a movie is ever made I look forward to modern marketing techniques being applied to promote it. I look forward German knight happy meals, Christian Tobler action figures, and associated toys at Wal-Mart! I think boys need Nerf foam armour & helmets and foam weapons to play with. Cool

By the way .... might a poster of the Polaxe DVD's cover be available? That's a cool picture of a Gothic Knight and I really like that Bed de Corbin he's holding.

Take care everybody. I have to go work so I can buy a new toy - A&A's knightly poleaxe. The thing costs more than a rifle I want.

DUSTIN FAULKNER
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