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Pamela Muir

Location: Arlington, VA
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PostPosted: Thu 22 Aug, 2013 12:38 pm    Post subject: Sword, Buckler & Messer DVD - a review         Reply with quote

It’s been a long time in the making and I wasn’t able to go to Pennsic to purchase a copy, but I finally have the Sword, Buckler & Messer DVD from Freelance Academy Press in hand. This is the second in the German Medieval Martial Arts series. If you have high hopes after seeing the first one on the poleaxe, it doesn’t disappoint. Learn some history and enjoy the feel of the period atmosphere, with music provided by the Paul Butler Consort. Students of these arts will further appreciate the quality instruction of techniques and drills. You could also use this as a way to introduce your family and friends to that “thing you do.”

As a practitioner of the German medieval martial arts, I have collected several DVDs on the subject over the years. My usual method for viewing one of these DVDs is to first watch it, in its entirety, all the way through. My next couple of viewings are done a chapter at a time, in order, with notebook in hand. Subsequent viewings will be of specific chapters, likely going back and watching specific segments over and over again for clarification or memorization. The set up for this DVD is perfect for that type of viewing. The chapters on the techniques and drills are divided into subchapters, making this extremely useful for going back to look up a specific item when the need arises.

The opening sequence sets the mood with Mr. Christian Henry Tobler and one of his students engaging in combat with messers and with swords and bucklers in an atmospheric setting that can have you believing you have stepped back in time. This seques into history lessons given by Mr. Tobler and also Dr. Jeffrey Forgeng, curator at the Higgins Armory Museum. We get to see historical examples and quality reproductions of these weapons, learning about the time periods in which they were used, who used them, and how they were constructed. Illustrations from medieval manuscripts, the text and illustrations being the basis of our knowledge for techniques using these weapons, are shown in this section and throughout the DVD.

Following the documentary section is the beefy presentation of techniques and drills for these weapons. As the messer is a single handed sword and sword and buckler is a single handed sword with an added off hand weapon, a great deal of the techniques, starting with the basics, such as the guards and footwork, are shown first with the messer and then with the sword and buckler, providing the viewer with both comparison and reinforcement of the movements and stances.

After a good grounding in the basics, we move into more detailed actions with the messer, such as attacks, actions from the bind, parries and disarms. For each action of the messer, and for the sword and buckler as well, we get an explanation of proper technique and we also get to see the action repeatedly from various angles and at different speeds. From messer we transition into sword and buckler with a review of the guards, noting the differences now that we are using an off hand weapon in conjunction with the sword. Besides learning attacks and defense with the weapons joined, we learn how to separate them and use the buckler to bind, press, or grapple with the opponent.

My favorite sword and buckler section is the one focusing on the six techniques attributed to Andres Lignitzer which appear in many of the treatises of the time. Each of these techniques is a strung together series of actions which might describe how a fight goes down. For a practitioner of these arts, they are a useful mnemonic allowing one to mix and match actions on an as needed basis. The first three of these techniques are often described in the manuscripts as “working on both sides” without a more detailed explanation. Mr. Tobler presents us with logical and workable interpretations on how to do these on the off side.

The drills section starts with excellent equipment advice, showing examples of training messers, single handed swords, and bucklers, plus recommendations for needed safety equipment. Mr. Tobler talks us through and demonstrates solo and partnered drills for messer and sword and buckler. With the subdivided chapters, a practitioner can use this sections as a handy reference when working alone or with a partner.

I think my only complaint with this presentation is that we never get to see historical examples or even reproductions of the goofy face bucklers such as those shown in the Paulus Kal manuscript.

The combination history and practical advice along with the quality production has me heartily recommending this DVD. If you are a history buff, casual or academic, and/or a student of the chivalric arts, belonging to a small study group or an established school, this DVD is an informative and enjoyable resource.

Pamela Muir

Founder/Lead Instructor
Academy of Chivalric Martial Arts

"I need a hero. I'm holding out for a hero 'til the end of the night. He's gotta be strong, And he's gotta be fast, And he's gotta be fresh from the fight." ~Steinman/Pitchford
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Jean Thibodeau

Location: Montreal,Quebec,Canada
Joined: 15 Mar 2004
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PostPosted: Fri 23 Aug, 2013 5:03 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Pamela, thanks for the review, I was planning to buy this DVD soon in any case, but your review was a timely reminder and motivated me to place my order just minutes before sending this post/reply. Big Grin Cool
You can easily give up your freedom. You have to fight hard to get it back!
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