It's a Two-For-One! I'll be reviewing two books available from Freelance Academy Press
In The Service of Mars: Proceedings from the Western Martial Arts Workshop 1999-2009, Volume I
As the title says, this book is a compilation of lesson-plans and handouts from past WMAWs - except that most of the entries have been substantially fleshed out, pictures added, interpretations updated, etc. The book is divided into four parts based on content, which makes quick finding of a particular article easy. I had originally planned on reading this book cover to cover, but wound up skipping from article to article based on my level of interest, which is perfectly fine :) I wish I had the gumption to go through and give an article by article review, but that would spoil the reading too much. Instead, I'll just give a quick shout-out to my favorite / most helpful articles.
First up is Greg Mele's article on the poleaxe techniques presented in the Anonimo Bolognese. Big surprise huh? Greg gives a great succinct background on the weapon and the manuscript, then gives translation, interpretation, and pictures of each play. It's everything a poleaxe enthusiast could want about a fascinating little piece of axe combat.
Greg's other article on Fiore's Gioco Largo & Gioco Stretto, Jessica Finley's article on Ott's Ringen, Tom Leoni's article on the Spadone were some other highlights for me. However, there are four articles that I believe make this volume worth purchasing. They are Craig Johnson's "How a Sword Was Made", Tom Leoni's "The Judicial Duel in Sixteenth-Century Italy", Keith Alderson's "On the Art of Reading: An Introduction to Using the Medieval German 'Fightbooks'", and finally the article written by John Sullins, Sean Hayes, Puck Curtis, and Eric Myers on how to use Classical Italian pedagogy to develop lesson plans.
In reality, the best part of this book is that there is something for everyone.
I actually received this book last year, but realized I had yet to do a review of it. While I'm not a rapierist (and probably never will be) if I ever do start practicing and / or teaching rapier, this book will be the foundation of my studies. An English translation of Nicoletto Giganti's 1606 rapier curriculum. BTW, it is exactly that - an east to follow, builds upon itself, curriculum for learning the rapier. As with his other translations Tom Leoni manages to create a text that reads as if it were originally written in modern English, which enables the practitioner to read through and follow the instructions without any of the choppiness that can accompany a translation.