I've used a bunch of different swords over the years (and I'm very proud of that actually), but here is my list of the best.
- Albion Liechtenauer - regarded by many as THE training sword. Good balance, good flexibility, tough price. Really, the price is the only reason I don't own one yet.
- Arms & Armor Spada da Zogho - one of A&As three options for longsword trainers. All the A&As share the characteristic of having a tank-like blade. Darn-near indesctuctible, but still pricey.
- Arms and Armor Fechterspiel - similar to the Spada da Zogho, but with more flexibility, making it more ideal for sparring. Based on a historical design for a training sword. Just like the Spada da Zogho and the Albion, pricey.
- CAS Hanwei Tinker Longsword - perhaps the best mid-price sword available. Comes with a scabbard and the ability to replace blades. Some have complained because it's thin edge profile tends not to last when put against Albions or A&As thicker edges, but the Academy hasn't had any problems with ours.
- CAS Hanwei Practical Bastard - not a bad offering from CAS Hanwei. Comes with a natural colored (read - dye able) leather handle and soft leather scabbard. I've only used one of these for a short time, but I was impressed. It has a thicker edge than the Tinker longsword, but is thinner than an A&A. I like it because it is a little bigger and heavier than most of the swords on the market, but some may not like it.
- CAS Hanwei Federschwert - ordered two of the first series for the Academy and really did not like them - way too whippy. I've heard that the new versions are better, but I haven't handled one yet.
- Valiant Armoury Atrim I-Beam - another sword that I've only handled sparingly. Great design gives you a lot of strength without the weight. My only complaint is that they always seem back-ordered.
- CAS Hanwei Practical Hand-and-a-Half - almost universally regarded as the "if you have to" sword. If you can spend the money for one of these and really want a steel sword, you are better off saving a little extra and buying one of the other swords listed above.
- Purpleheart Armoury waster - a lot of people poo-poo on the idea of a wooden waster (mostly because the price of decent steel longswords is pretty reasonable) but I like them, you just have to know that they have their limitations. I use one for my solo training.
- Various synthetic swords - the new nylon or synthetic swords are getting a lot of buzz but honestly I haven't handled any enough to form an opinion.
- Arms and Armour - A&A offers three pollaxe varieties now: the Knightly Poleaxe, the Burgundian, and the Italian pole-hammer, as well as offering customs. These are the choice for solo drills or in order to have a usable poleaxe - my Burgundian is sharp and can do some real damage! Paired drills with steel should be very closely supervised.
- Purpleheart Armoury Pole hammer - this is my preferred axe training tool. Even if you plan on making your own hafts, their heads and thrusting tips are worth it. But be careful, in the words of Christian Tobler "As soon as you make a trainer that is enough like a poleaxe, it becomes a poleaxe". These trainers, even with the rubbers heads, hit HARD.
Armour is not cheap and my own kit is a hodge-podge of various makers works. Here is a list of those makers whose websites I frequent and drool over. These are not all of the websites, just the ones I frequent the most.
- Revival Clothing - the recommended choice for everything - arming clothes, soft kits, shoes, belts, hats, etc.
- Matuls - I believe it was Dvid Teague who pointed these guys out to me. They make a lot of nice stuff.
Honestly the only DVD I've checked out is Christian Tobler's German Poleaxe DVD, which, by the way, is awesome! See my review here.
I'm going to break the books section into three parts; WMA, History, and General martial arts.
- WMA - the best resources for WMA books and translations are Freelance Academy Press, Lulu, Amazon, or check your local bookstore, you might be surprised what you find.
- Tom Leoni's Getty Translation - simply the best translation of the Getty Manuscript available.
- Massimo Malipiero's book on the Getty - be warned, this book is in Italian. Features good resolution images of the Getty manuscript, a very god transcription, and many chapters worth of analysis.
- Arte Gladitoria Dimicandi by Greg Mele and Luca Porzio - a great transcription/translation/reproduction of Filippo Vadi's treatise. Vadi's introductory chapters deal with many matters on which the four Fiore MSs are silent.
- Fighting with the German Longsword, by Christian Tobler - a great book on the German tradition.
- Guy Windsor's Swordsman's Companion - a good overview of Fiore's system along with some really useful solo drills and exercises.
- Guy Windsor's Duellist's Companion - a good overview of Italian rapier work along with some really useful solo drills and exercises.
- In Saint George's Name by Christian Tobler - an anthology of articles dealing with the German tradition, including MS KK 5216, a sweet little poleaxe manuscript. See my review of the book here.
- Venetian Rapier by Tom Leoni - A translation of Nicoletto Giganti's 1606 rapier curriculum. Essentially, one giant lesson plan for learning rapier.
- The Medieval Art of Combat by Dr. Jeffery Forgeng - this is a reproduction and translation of Royal Armouries Manuscript I.33
- Polearms of Paulus Hector Mair - another German tradition book, this covers the pole-arms sections of the magnum opus of Paulus Hector Mair. This book gives a good impression as to how the techniques changed very little between halberd and poelaxe.
- Fighting with the Quarterstaff - a great book containing translations from many European masters regarding staff combat. While the pictures suffer somewhat in quality, the book itself is a good window into staff usage in the West.
- HISTORY - These are books that I own and use for their research value. Many of them are WMA related.
- The Martial Arts of Renaissance Europe by Dr. Sydney Anglo - this is really a must have. Much of Dr. Anglo's opinions and findings must be taken with a grain of salt (his views of poleaxe combat especially) but it is still a great resource.
- Hafted Weapons of Medieval and Renaissance Europe - the Holy Grail of pole-weapons study. While the book focuses on halberds, there are significant articles on almost every other variation of pole-arm. Chock full of information and pictures. If you can, buy it or get it from a library, it's well worth the trouble.
- Teaching and Interpreting Historical Swordsmanship - a nice collection of articles about how to do what we do.
- Both SPADA Anothologies (link to SPADA II) - two great collections of articles.
- A Distant Mirror by Barbara Tuchman - a revealing look into the life of one family during the 14th century.
- Land and Power in Late Medieval Ferrara - a dense slog of a read but provides a lot of background information on Ferrara and Northern Italy in Fiore's time.
- Arms & Armour of the Medieval Knight
- The Last Duel
- Anything by Ewart Oakeshott
- General Martial Arts Books
- The Little Book of Pushups by Guy Windsor - ebook that contains many fun variations on push-ups
- Book of Martial Power by Stephen Pearlman - an interesting read on the how to use principles that occur in many martial arts.
- Wrestling for Fighting by Randy Couture - a great book that features many Freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestling techniques.
- Dan Millman's Body Mind Mastery - may be a bit too new age for some people, but talks about good ways to approach training. Also check out his Peaceful Warrior Workout DVD