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William M




Location: Buckinghamshire , England
Joined: 01 Dec 2004
Reading list: 7 books

Posts: 258

PostPosted: Mon 14 Oct, 2013 1:04 am    Post subject: Medieval Swordsmanship – John Clements         Reply with quote

Hi all,

I visited the Wallace collection over the weekend and I bought myself the above titled book as I thought that although I have decent collection of sword books I have none detailing their use. A brief flick through the book in the museum shop convinced me that this was a decent buy, however when I got back home my heart sank as I read the reviews on the internet, which criticised the book as being outdated and containing factually wrong information. Unfortunately it would be a big hassle to travel back to London and return the book for a refund and the prices on Amazon are not great so I will probably keep the book.

My question is what are the good bits that I can read and learn from and what parts are simply so wrong that I should just put a post-it note on top and blank it out?

Cheers,
William
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P. Frank




Location: Germany
Joined: 03 Jan 2010
Reading list: 1 book

Posts: 73

PostPosted: Mon 14 Oct, 2013 1:53 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I tried reading the book about two years ago but to be honest, I just stopped after a while. The way it is written made it impossible for me to tell the good info from the bad and after a while I was too worried of remembering the wrong things. As harsh as it may be, my tip would be to completely ignore this book and pick another one.
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Mikko Kuusirati




Location: Finland
Joined: 16 Nov 2004
Reading list: 13 books

Posts: 981

PostPosted: Mon 14 Oct, 2013 4:33 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

It's more of a very generic, academic overview of some basic principles of martial arts, not an instructional work or fencing manual, by now outdated and in many regards overly simplistic to begin with. The same goes for his Renaissance Swordsmanship. I own both, but wouldn't recommend either for anyone who actually wants to learn how swords were used, much less anyone who wants to learn to use swords. I also really don't think their problems can be isolated into this and that paragraph and thus neatly excised from the good bits.

I can personally recommend Guy Windsor's books on Italian longsword and rapier - The Swordsman's Companion and The Duelist's Companion, respectively - as well as David Lindholm and Peter Svärd's Sigmund Ringeck's Knightly Art of the Longsword and Sigmund Ringeck's Knightly Arts of Combat (sword & buckler, wrestling, armored fighting) for the German tradition.

The subtle tongue, the sophist guile, they fail when the broadswords sing;
Rush in and die, dogs -- I was a man before I was a king.
-- R. E. Howard, The Road of Kings
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Scott Hanson




Location: La Crosse, WI
Joined: 19 Jul 2006
Likes: 3 pages
Reading list: 6 books

Posts: 154

PostPosted: Mon 14 Oct, 2013 6:27 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I also own both of Clement's books, and I agree with Mikko's assessment.

I also agree that the Lindholm & Svard books are quite good. My club is currently working plays out of them and really enjoying it. I will warn that they are slightly outdated, and have some inaccuracies (at least IMO), but overall, they're great.

I'm sure there are nuggets in the Clements book. If I have time this week I'll skim mine and see if I can find any for you. It's been quite some time since I referenced it so it'll take awhile.

Proverbs 27:17 "As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another"

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Quinn W.




Location: Bellingham, WA
Joined: 02 May 2009

Posts: 197

PostPosted: Mon 14 Oct, 2013 9:43 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I also own the book, and while it looks nice the difficult part is that it doesn't site any of its sources in the actual technique section so it's impossible to tell where he's getting his information from and verify it yourself. Which is important when you're dealing with an art that requires such a high degree of interpretation. I just gave it a quick skim to see if there were any sections to read or avoid, but nothing really jumped out at me so maybe some other helpful forumite will have better luck. It's not like it's 100% garbage, and a lot of the information is correct, it's just hard to tell which is which. Although I, too, would like to know specifically what concepts are outdated out of curiosity so I'll follow this thread with interest.
I also own Christian H Tobler's "Secrets of German Medieval Swordsmanship" and have found it to be immensely useful when planning demonstrations.

"Some say that the age of chivalry is past, that the spirit of romance is dead. The age of chivalry is never past, so long as there is a wrong left unredressed on earth"
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Nathan Robinson
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PostPosted: Mon 14 Oct, 2013 9:55 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

There are 14 member reviews in the myArmoury.com bookstore.
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Lee O'Hagan




Location: Northamptonshire,England
Joined: 30 Sep 2003
Likes: 5 pages

Posts: 509

PostPosted: Mon 14 Oct, 2013 12:36 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi,
Why not ring the shop and ask to arrange an exchange by post, Wink
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Philip Melhop




Location: Wokingham, Berkshire, UK
Joined: 24 May 2008

Posts: 131

PostPosted: Mon 14 Oct, 2013 12:45 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

IMHO the only worthwhile sections of either of Clements books are the Bibliography pages. He doesn't reference to them and I doubt he actually consulted any of them before writing either book.
Phil
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Randall Pleasant




Location: Flower Mound, Texas
Joined: 24 Aug 2003

Posts: 333

PostPosted: Mon 14 Oct, 2013 2:04 pm    Post subject: Re: Medieval Swordsmanship – John Clements         Reply with quote

William

Clements would be the first to point out that his book was published in 1997, which means in was written in 1995, so without doubt the book is very dated. In 2009 Clements completely overhauled all of his interpretations which was summarize in the article Our New "Rosetta Stone: Advancing Reconstruction of Forgotten European Fighting Arts (http://www.thearma.org/essays/revealing-new-perspectives.html). I highly suggest you read his many other articles, especially his article on footwork.



Philip Melhop

Few people studying these arts today are as well read as is Clements. I would guess that Clements read each book twice, if not several times.


Ran Pleasant
ARMA DFW
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William M




Location: Buckinghamshire , England
Joined: 01 Dec 2004
Reading list: 7 books

Posts: 258

PostPosted: Tue 15 Oct, 2013 4:19 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

OK well it looks as if the book is a lost cause so I have sent an email to the Wallace collection to see if I can arrange a refund/replacement. Hopefully they have some of the books that Mikko and others have recommended! Thank you all very much for your advice and help.
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Ben Coomer




Location: Colorado
Joined: 06 Sep 2011

Posts: 184

PostPosted: Tue 15 Oct, 2013 11:34 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

It was a great book... back in the late nineties. Nothing else like it in trying to make an introduction to the idea of Medieval Martial Arts and make it accessible for lay people.

Unfortunately for the book, but fortunately for us, scholarship has moved on and we have better and more accurate (hopefully) things to work from. And from the rank beginners standpoint, its probably a good starting point as it is pretty accessible as a read and thorough in debunking some of the more pernicious things that exist in our ideas of medieval swords. Just be sure to move quickly to more timely works. I've spent years trying to get out of habits that were in that book and turned out to be not quite correct.
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