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Dustin Faulkner




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PostPosted: Tue 18 Jan, 2011 9:33 am    Post subject: Clements is on TV tonight! ("The Fight Book")         Reply with quote

Hello Everyone:

For those of us in the USA, I just saw a TV commercial for a show on the National Geographic channel titled "The Fight Book" or "Fight Book."

It looks like a survey of Talhoffer's manuscript, and John Clements of ARMA was shown. It looks good! They even showed those strange spiked shields being used. Of course, swords and polearms were shown too, but the polearms looked like poleaxes on steroids! It's on tonight at 10 EST / 9 CST.

I look forward to it.

DUSTIN FAULKNER
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Martin Wallgren




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PostPosted: Tue 18 Jan, 2011 10:56 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

It´s Tod who made those shields I belive!
Swordsman, Archer and Dad
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Roger Hooper




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PostPosted: Tue 18 Jan, 2011 12:09 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Go Here to see that preview

After watching it, you may agree with me that we now know the origin of the word, manhole


Last edited by Roger Hooper on Tue 18 Jan, 2011 12:46 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Randall Pleasant




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PostPosted: Tue 18 Jan, 2011 12:34 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Clements also has a blog of his experineces during the project. However, the blog cannot be made public until after the film is shown tonight. I will post a link to the blog in the morning.

Ran Pleasant
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A. Spanjer




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PostPosted: Tue 18 Jan, 2011 2:12 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks for the heads up!

I'll be sure to watch it.

Na sir 's na seachain an cath.
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Darrell Engelbrect





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PostPosted: Tue 18 Jan, 2011 7:57 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Wow, that was an awesome show!!
"I speak not against masters of defence indeed, they are to be honored, nor against the science, it is noble, and in my opinion to be preferred next to divinity, for as divinity preserves the soul from hell and the devil, so does this noble science defend the body from wounds & slaughter. And moreover, the exercising of weapons puts away aches, griefs, and diseases, it increases strength, and sharpens the wits. It gives a perfect judgement, it expels melancholy, choleric and evil conceits, it keeps a man in breath, perfect health, and long life. It is unto him that has the perfection thereof, a most friendly and comfortable companion when he is alone, having but only his weapon about him. It puts him out of fear, & in the wars and places of most danger, it makes him bold, hardy and valiant."

George Silver - Paradoxes of Defense
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Nathan Robinson
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PostPosted: Wed 19 Jan, 2011 1:31 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I watched it earlier this evening. I really enjoyed it. If left me wanting more, of course, but this is not a critique but in fact quite a compliment. I hope they add more installments to it! I found it a nearly perfect introduction to the layman to a topic not really at all familiar to their audience. People like ourselves in a community of "enthusiasts" who already have some context into many of the themes discussed might not find it tremendously insightful, but are likely to still find it worthwhile even if often silly. As I said, I certainly did!

It was also good to see Owen Bush and others represented on the show.

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Randall Pleasant




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PostPosted: Wed 19 Jan, 2011 7:35 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Scholars

Below is a link to John Clements blog on his experiences during the project.

http://www.historicalfencing.com/Talhoffers-Fight-Book-Blog.html


Ran Pleasant
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James Head





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PostPosted: Wed 19 Jan, 2011 8:20 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

It seems that the producers only included a fraction of the total material filmed. What a pity.

By the way, scroll all the way down to the bottom of the blog for behind the scenes bonus clips!!!!
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Sean Flynt
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PostPosted: Wed 19 Jan, 2011 9:09 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

From the Arms Curmudgeon:

I thought the crayfish, in particular, was unmitigated hooey. "It might look ridiculous and impractical, but if you invent a scale for them, imagine dozens, create out of whole cloth a complex system of deployment that requires significant architectural alteration (assuming the castle isn't designed and built over 50 years to anticipate the invention and deployment of these machines), overlook the fact that a single use of even one of the bombs we designed for it would destroy it and its deployment system on the first go...why then it looks like GENIUS!"

The siege bell was slightly more convincing, but it involved the same kind of intellectual gymnastics--"yes, the drawing seems to show a thick iron bell carried by two men, which could not be carried if made, but, see, it really works if instead of iron you use leather, and if instead of actually trying to defeat the defense you drop small stones on it and shoot it with arrows from a 'very strong' 80 lb. bow". Come on. When a Python tells you something is ridiculous, take heed. Test that walking codpiece at the same range against a military crossbow of the strength used in Talhoffer's day, then tell us if it still seems like a good idea.

There are many such fanciful drawings around and one has to overlook some serious problems to think these were practical machines. It's even more than a stretch to suggest, as Loades does, that obviously faulty concepts were deliberately left incomplete so Talhoffer could offer the solution for a fee.

Then there's the demo of the rock-and-veil against a dried-up old sheep skull on a stump. Would anybody here give that a passing grade on anything but an entertainment exam?

I suggest that the serious, live-action wma sequences are the only aspects of the program that keep it out of the territory of the "Ancient Sex Prophecies of Hitler's Bodyguards" genre that has come to dominate most of these channels.

Enthusiastic thumbs up to JC, AP and the woman from the medieval center drafted for the male-female fight demo. ARMA's SAFE system gave a good accounting of itself.

-Sean

"Everywhere I have searched for peace and nowhere found it, except in a corner with a book"- Thomas a Kempis (d. 1471)
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Christian Henry Tobler
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PostPosted: Wed 19 Jan, 2011 9:45 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Sean,

I haven't seen the show in question, so take the following as general backdrop, rather than commentary in the show's interpretations.

The war machinery in Talhoffer is a part of a family of works known as Kriegsbucher - War Books, essentially. Talhoffer's derives, whether wholly or in the main, from the most famous of these, by the German Konrad Keyser, who was active early in the 15th c. There a many copies of this work, and some related works that don't appear to derive from Keyser.

Likely, Keyser's work contains a mixture of the prosaic, the possibly practical, and the outright hair-brained. Certainly, the Danes have been able to recreate something that looks like his diving suit, using only period materials. What use this might have had is debateable, of course. On the other hand, there are drawings for things that at least seem no more probable than Da Vinci's flying machines.

Cheers,

Christian

Christian Henry Tobler
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Nathan Robinson
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PostPosted: Wed 19 Jan, 2011 9:55 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Christian-

That's how the show portrayed that stuff, too. I found that it wasn't explicit enough about it, so perhaps to the laymen would take a leap of faith and interpret these things are being presented as fully-working, fully realized concepts, but luckily it wasn't how it was presented on the show. I took it more as a fun exploration of some of the more odd things found from history and an attempt to test, in an entertaining way, the possibility that these things may have existed beyond a page.

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Sean Flynt
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PostPosted: Wed 19 Jan, 2011 10:09 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

My point exactly, Christian, and one largely ignored by the producers, although some of the presenters express doubts. They do have a sequence on the diving suit you mentioned, by the way, and even that fails to suggest any practical use, as it's used with difficulty by five men at a depth one could easily explore alone without any apparatus at all.

It's not that speculation and interpretation has no place--I love experimental archaeology--but in this case it's overheated, detached from reality and, in the case of the siege bell, rigged in favor of the interpretation. More importantly, it pales beside the genuinely impressive wma discussion and demonstration.

I acknowledge that this is a glass-half-empty interpretation of the program. It's just very frustrating to me that the producers who clearly can give us a look at medieval wma that is both objective and entertaining feel they have to pack so much fluff around it. That may be the only way it will sell, but Loades himself set the bar so high with The Weapons That Made Britain that it's hard to overlook the ways this production falls short. This has more in common with Weaponmasters.

I wish the producers had made two programs--The Medieval Fight Book and Secrets of the Medieval Inventors.

-Sean

"Everywhere I have searched for peace and nowhere found it, except in a corner with a book"- Thomas a Kempis (d. 1471)


Last edited by Sean Flynt on Wed 19 Jan, 2011 10:13 am; edited 1 time in total
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James Head





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PostPosted: Wed 19 Jan, 2011 10:13 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Since it seems that this is the main thread to talk about the program's merits, I'll repost my thoughts from the other topic about Leo's Dueling Shields...

I was fairly pleased with this program. I think the producers and 'experts' did a good job of putting together a nice show. There were very few (if any) real 'cringe moments' concerning poor information. Of course, deciphering much of the mysterious stuff in 'Thott' is only ever going to be guesswork.

Off the top of my head, here's a list of things that I found interesting or had questions about.

First of all, Leo's Langenschilts were not featured in the hour program. Mad But I did notice a picture of John Clements and Aaron Pynenberg on the NatGeo website demonstrating their use.



It would have been very cool to see a clip of these in action. Maybe it will be released online?

But... I do want to point out that the spiked shields in the picture are employed when fighting with wooden clubs according to the Frankish dueling shield tradition. The image shows the spiked shields being used with swords, when hooked shields would have been used in conjunction with swords. It is actually Talhoffer's 'Thott' that makes this specific distinction about particular shield and weapon pairings. I am not aware of any other Langenschilt sources that specify spiked shields for Frankish duels and hooked shields for Swabian duels. Maybe I am expecting too much, but I thought that since the NatGeo project was specifically about 'Thott', they would have sorted that bit out.

Also, Talhoffer is called a 'Knight' a few different times in the show. Could someone who knows more about Talhoffer clarify his status as nobility in the Holy Roman Empire? I've often seen images of him standing before a coat of arms, but for some reason I always thought he did not hold any titles of nobility, only charters to teach as a fight master. I could be way off here...

I loved the attempts at turning Thott's two dimensional siege weapon schematics into three dimensional digital models (or real models) ... Looking at those old paintings will eventually warp your mind. Not even M.C Escher could create such confounding perspectives. I was fairly convinced by their interpretation of the cannon wagon. My brain never would have extracted a simple wagon out of that convoluted, tangled mess.

I was also intrigued by Mike Loade's assertion that Talhoffer's 'Siege Bell' would have actually been made of many thick layers of boiled leather instead of metal. Right now, my mind has just as many reasons for and against boiled leather. It is an interesting approach that I had not considered before watching the show.

The 'crayfish' is freaking great. I'm convinced by most of the show's ideas about this odd contraption. My only difference of opinion is that instead of cranking a windlass to move the crayfish across the floor of a castle gateway, it was probably ratcheted up tightly and hidden in the wall, then released when invaders had entered the gateway. The crayfish would fly out of the wall at a much faster speed than one could accomplish by turning a windlass by hand.
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Peter Remling





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PostPosted: Wed 19 Jan, 2011 10:20 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

For those of us who missed it, the next airing is Jan 25@ 6pm. I planning on catching it then.
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Christian Henry Tobler
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PostPosted: Wed 19 Jan, 2011 10:58 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I just visited the website showing some stills. Question for those who watched: did they really present an unarmoured vs. armoured fight in the program?

All the best,

Christian

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James Head





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PostPosted: Wed 19 Jan, 2011 11:08 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Christian Henry Tobler wrote:
Question for those who watched: did they really present an unarmoured vs. armoured fight in the program?


Sort of. It was meant to highlight the unarmored Mordhau vs opponent in plate shown in the Fight Book. So it ended up being this strange mix if acting, experimenting and technique all rolled into one. I think John C. mentioned on his blog that he had never tried something like this before. They weren't sure how it was going to pan out. So there is a lot of jumping around at first, then some attempts to land a Mordhau while still staying away from the Armored opponent's attacks. And then finally a few strikes with the pommel on the sallet. You can tell that they had to work within the confines of what the director wanted, and that they were sorting out things on the fly because it was unfamiliar territory. So the clip certainly didn't look anything like a martial challenge, but the end result was fascinating. Aaron (the one in plate) got sick to his stomach after just a few bangs to his helmet and had to sit out.
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Christian Henry Tobler
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PostPosted: Wed 19 Jan, 2011 11:16 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi James,

The problem: it's almost certain that an unarmoured vs. armoured fight is *not* what Talhoffer's showing. For those interested, have a look here: http://www.flaez.ch/talhoffer/teil5.html

The artist is saving time and effort by not continuing to draw the complexities of the harness for each play.

If you look at folios 86v and 87r, you can see the transition. This is one extended play, but the artist is transitioning away from depicting the armour each time. 86v says "the other parries the cast [of the spear]". The action continues on 87r with "the running in after the casting". One guy casts his spear, then finding the spear parried, rushes in at the half-sword. Surely, his armour didn't fall off on the way in.

Beyond that, look at the remainder of the half-sword plays from this manuscript - those that 'hit home' with the point do so in areas where the harness could be circumvented, rather than more obvious, and harder-to-miss targets like the chest, which a breastplate would defend.

Such 'shorthand' is common in fechtbuch artwork. Another example is the armoured combat manuscripts known as the 'Gladiatoria group' by some scholars. In them, the gauntlets aren't generally drawn: it's really difficult to render steel gauntlets in a way that makes hand positions clearly visible, so the artist omits them...except in a couple of cases where the gauntlets are integral to the technique.

Beyond that, if you were in harness, facing an unarmoured man, you wouldn't half-sword; you'd walk up and cleave him with impunity. His edge can't harm you, but yours can harm him, allowing you to fight at a greater measure.

All the best,

Christian

Christian Henry Tobler
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Author, In Saint George's Name: An Anthology of Medieval German Fighting Arts
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Sean Flynt
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PostPosted: Wed 19 Jan, 2011 11:23 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

On that armoured/unarmoured fight: The comments/actions by AP and JC were very interesting. AP said the momentum provided by the armour complicated his ability to strike at JC safely. JC noted that he had the mobility advantage and he used it in good combination with half-sword. He pressed his attack after AP turned away after the head strike, calculating and moving in for a pulled thrust under AP's arm. AP appeared to get in a good slice at JC's torso and sword arm early in the exchange. With sharps, that might have ended it.
-Sean

"Everywhere I have searched for peace and nowhere found it, except in a corner with a book"- Thomas a Kempis (d. 1471)
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Christian Henry Tobler
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PostPosted: Wed 19 Jan, 2011 11:32 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Sean,

It's not impossible for an unarmoured man to defeat an armoured one. But naturally, your odds go down quickly.

I can't speak to Aaron's problems with striking at JC, but at least in the stills, he's in half-sword, rather than cutting with his longsword. You don't fight at the half-sword because *you're* in harness, you do so because your opponent is.

Mr. Clements' blog however states that Talhoffer is showing such a contest. My response above details why that's almost surely not the case, and a quick read of Talhoffer's text shows that the two plates (one with both in armour, the other with only one) has continuity.

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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