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Arms & Armor
Arte of Defence: An Introduction to the Use
of the Rapier
by William E. Wilson
$24.95 / Chivalry Bookshelf
The art and science of historical fencing, in contrast to modern
or classical fencing, has recently come into vogue with the translation
and publication of several texts written in the 16th and 17th
centuries by Italian masters of arms. Disseminating these often
complex and esoteric writings into a clear and usable format
for those unaccustomed to the traditions of fencing is a Herculean
task, one beautifully conquered by William E. Wilson, founder
of the Tattershall School of Defense.
Lavishly illustrated with superb photographs and woodcuts from
the original texts, Arte of Defence covers both basics
and advanced techniques. Beginning with a brief yet comprehensive
history of the rapier, Wilson follows the development of the
weapon as a response to the popular, although illegal civilian
duel as a method of settling disputes.
Alone or paired with a dagger, main gauche, buckler, or even
a cloak, the rapier rapidly became the weapon of choice among
civilians all over Europe. It was never, however, used as a military
weapon. So Wilson also discusses its anachronistic use in films
and novels such as The Three Musketeers, where Dumas'
intrepid heroes are improperly depicted fighting with rapiers
on the battlefield.
In this book, every drill and technique has corresponding illustrations
that further clarify the text, which is a tremendous boon in
visualizing how to execute certain maneuvers. In addition to
covering many variations in fighting a bout- from single sword
to sword and dagger, buckler or cloak, or even with two swords-Wilson
also discusses safety precautions, types of weapons available,
and what to look for when purchasing a historically accurate
weapon that can stand up to the rigors of actual fencing. Finally,
he gives pointers on teaching historical fencing to students
of the sword.
Whether as a companion to historical fencing classes, as a historical
reference, or even as a guide to help an author accurately reconstruct
fencing techniques for action scenes in a novel, Arte of Defence
is a valuable and accessible resource for all.
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