Western Martial Arts Illustrated
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This page highlights some books that the editors of WMA Illustrated feel confident recommending to the WMA community at large.

The images are live links to sites, primarily Amazon.com, where these books can be purchased. If you do buy one or more of these products from Amazon, please support WMAI by using one of the links below to get to Amazon, since we'll earn a small commission on the purchase if you do so.

The other links are mostly to Lulu.com, which has a sizeable and growing collection of WMA titles, especially related to 19th-century arts.

Overviews

 

The Martial Arts of Renaissance Europe
By Sydney Anglo, Ph.D.

For many people, the book that helped kick off the modern WMA revival. Not a how-to, rather a scholarly yet readable survey of exactly what the title says.


 

The Secret History of the Sword:
Adventures in Ancient Martial Arts

By J. Christoph Amberger

A quirky — yet fascinating and valuable — book that touches on topics from accounts of sword duels to the effects of sword cuts to the author's own experiences fencing with live steel in a German fraternity. Would benefit from an index.


 

English Martial Arts
By Terry Brown

If the title strikes you as an odd phrase, let the author, a former soldier and a veteran practitioner of both Eastern and Western martial arts, walk you through both the history of England's fighting arts and dozens of historical techniques for the bill, broadsword, staff and bare fists.


Early medieval

 

The Medieval Art of Swordsmanship: A Facsimile & Translation of Europe's Oldest Personal Combat Treatise, Royal Armouries MS I.33
Trans. and ed. by Jeffrey L. Forgeng, Ph.D.

An experienced teacher of the I.33 system calls this ”an essential book for anyone interested in the subject. The introductory material alone is essential reading for those reconstructing historical European martial arts.“


Longsword

 

The Swordsman's Companion: A Modern
Training Manual for Medieval Longsword

By Guy Windsor

According to a prominent German instructor, this is “an absolute must read for everybody who's even remotely interested in practicing Historical European Swordsmanship, no matter which style … I give it my unqualified recommendation.”

The dei Liberi tradition

 

Arte Gladiatoria Dimicandi: 15th Century Swordsmanship of Master Filippo Vadi
Trans. by Luca Porzio and Gregory Mele

A full-color reproduction and translation of the treatise on combat with the sword, dagger, spear and poleaxe, ca. 1482, by Filippo Vadi, a 15th-century master-at-arms who continued the lineage of the famed master Fiore dei Liberi (fl. 1400).


The Liechtenauer tradition

 

Medieval Combat:
A Fifteenth-Century Illustrated Manual
of Swordfighting and Close-Quarter Combat

By Hans Talhoffer, trans. by Mark Rector

A clear and straightforward translation, with reproductions of the original illustrations, of the 1467 manuscript of Hans Talhoffer's Fechtbuch.

 

The Art of Combat:
A German Martial Arts Treatise of 1570

By Joachim Meyer,
trans. by Jeffrey L. Forgeng, Ph.D.

From the review in WMAI #1: “a crisp and eminently useful translation of this famous work” that includes reproductions of the original woodcut illustrations.

 

Secrets of German Medieval Swordsmanship:
Sigmund Ringeck's Commentaries
on Liechtenauer

Trans. and interpreted by Christian Henry Tobler

One WMA instructor said this book “opened entirely new doors in the study of Medieval Western Martial arts,” while another reader said, “Nobody who picks up a medieval sword should miss this book.”

 

Fighting with the German Longsword
By Christian Henry Tobler

According to the review on MyArmoury.com, this follow-up to “Secrets of German Medieval Swordsmanship” “gives an excellent foundation in how to move, attack and defend, all based on the German tradition.”

 

In Service of the Duke:
The 15th Century Fighting Treatise of Paulus Kal

Trans. by Christian Henry Tobler

The review in WMAI #2 called this book “a sumptuous full-color facsimile” and praised the translator's technical commentary and “35 pages of analysis covering every technique in the manuscript.”

Rapier

 

Arte of Defence:
An Introduction to the Use of the Rapier

By William Wilson

A recommended first book or beginner's text for the use of the rapier and the earlier “cut and thrust” weapons of Italy.

 

The Art of Dueling: 17th Century Rapier
as Taught by Salvatore Fabris

By Tomasso Leoni

Another prominent rapier researcher/instructor calls this book “An outstanding translation, clear, accurate and easy to read, of the most comprehensive and well-written rapier text of the 17th century. An absolute must-buy for all WMA practitioners, and rapier enthusiasts in particular.”

 

The Duellist's Companion:
A training manual for 17th century Italian rapier

By Guy Windsor

From the review in WMAI #2: “in many ways, the book rapier enthusiasts have needed for years … an important work, the most rigorous and comprehensive rapier training manual currently available, by one of the leading teachers in the field.”

Early modern

 

Highland Swordsmanship:
Techniques of the Scottish Sword Masters

Ed. by Mark Rector

A compendium of Sir William Hope's “The New, Short and Easy Method of Fencing” (1707) and Donald McBane's “The Expert Sword-Man's Companion” (1728) that also includes an essay by Paul Wagner on Gaelic swordsmanship.

 

Highland Broadsword: Five Manuals
of Scottish Regimental Swordsmanship

Ed. by Mark Rector and Paul Wagner

Comprises “Anti-Pugilism” by Sinclair (1790), MacGregor's “Lectures on the Art of Defence,&rdquo “The Art of Defence on Foot with Broadsword and Saber” by Taylor, “Fencing Familiarized” by Mathewson and Henry Angelo's “On the Use of the Broadsword.”

Other

 

Blood Red Roses: The Archaeology of a Mass Grave from the Battle of Towton, AD 1461
Ed. by Veronica Fiorato, et al

In 1996, an excavation for a new garage in a northern England town unearthed a mass grave more than 500 years old. The research that grew out of this discovery shed new light on a variety of topics, including the trauma caused by medieval weaponry.