Fencing Books - Great Books for Fencing
Books on Fencing
- Basics of Foil Fencing
Fencing as a pure sport began only in the 18th century. Before that, the art of swordsmanship was studied for its practical utility- as a weapon to settle disputes, for instance. The original swords were...
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- Basics of Epee Fencing
The épée is a pointed weapon designed to simulate a duel without causing bodily harm. It is not bound by right of way rules, and double hits are valid. Until the 1930’s épéeists were so committed to...
- Olympic Fencing: A Look at Fencing and its Historica...
Looking back 113 years ago, when the Olympic Games first started in Athens, Greece in 1896, you will find that fencing was one of the original nine sports that were featured at that time. Today, it remains to...
Fencing Books - Great Books for Fencing
There are hundreds of books on fencing. If we include notes and manuscripts of techniques that were practiced but were never published (the legendary Jean Louis, for instance, never got to publishing his remarkable technique emphasizing economy of movement, point control, accuracy, and speed, although a manuscript is said to be in the possession of a student of a student), or those that simply died with the master, there should be hundreds more.
A very short list of the more popular fencing books should include around 57 titles ranging from Questions sur l’art en faint d’armes by Labat (1796), and Hungarian and Highland Broad Sword by Henry Angelo (1798) to Fencing Everyone by William Gaugler (1987), and Martini A-Z of Fencing, by E.D. Morton (1992).
The list here covers only fencing using bladed weapons, primarily foil, epee, and sabre. In going over this list, it’s worthwhile remembering a couple of things:
1. The preferred weapons of today- foil, epee, sabre—haven’t always been the favored weapons in the history of fencing. They came only as a result of an evolution occasioned by the diminished role of duels in the settling of disputes, changes in gentlemen’s sartorial preferences, and the evolution of swordplay techniques.
2. Techniques change over time.
3. Even within the same discipline, foil, for instance, there would be differences in styles and techniques.
4. The development of fencing mask, and, later, electronic scoring, further sub- divided the fencing world. There are, however, generally two: “classical,” and “modern.”
The Swordsman: A Manual of Fence Foil, Sabre, and Bayonet by Alfred Hutton.
Alfred Hutton (1839-1910), the same author of Swordplay – The Systems of Fence During the VXIIth and XVIIIth Centuries, and another book Cold Steel, a manual on sabre and other weapons, was an English military officer whose chief contribution to the fencing world has been his remarkable synthesis of the development of fencing techniques and weapons going back many centuries, as tempered by his own skills (which was significant) and theories. Remember that the English language of only a couple of centuries back might as well be Greek to the modern reader. (Try reading Brief Instructions on my Paradoxes of Defence by George Silver , and see if the English is understandable to you.)
How to Fence Foil and Epee by Maurice Grandiere
The techniques described here are old school, showing traces of Jean Louis.
Modern Fencing: Foil, Epee, and Sabre by Michel Alaux (1975)
Michel Alaux (1924-1974) was a well-respected French-American master who emphasized fencing as a science and an art that goes beyond the mere quest for golds. In his book, he dissects tactics, as well as the psychology of the game, primarily, that fencing is not merely the flawless execution of movements, but is something that must always be in furtherance of some strategy, imbuing each movement with a specific purpose. Alaux was a member of the L’Association Jean Louis.
Epee Fencing: A Complete System by Imre Vass (1965, 1976, revised edition 1998)
An excellent, comprehensive (some would say “the most comprehensive”) book by the trainer of Olympians Bela Rerrich of Sweden and Jozsef Sakovics of Hungary written primarily for advanced fencers and coaches.
Modern Fencing: A Comprehensive Manual for the Foil, the Epee, the Sabre by Clovis Deladrier
Belgian-born coach of the U.S. Naval Academy and US Fencing Hall of Famer Clovis Deladrier (1885-1948) gives readers a good fundamental understanding of the epee. Deladrier looks at the epee as a weapon completely different from foil and sabre, and which is best studied by itself owing to its twin features: the removal of all target limitations and the Right of Way.
Foil Fencing by Muriel Bower (1996)
Beginners would especially like this one.
Understanding Fencing by Zbigniew Czajkowski 2005
The master has students winning Olympic golds and other world championships, so it might be good to consider what he has to say.
The Encyclopedia of the Sword by Nick Evangelista and Willaim Gaugler 1997
A fencing tour de force, this book gives a snappy and easy-to-understand encyclopedia of fencing from types of swords, fencing masters, swashbuckler films of note, actors who fenced in movies, and film fencing masters. Perfect for the casual fencing visitor who wants to know what the fuss is all about.
The Art of the Foil by Luigi Barbasetti (1932)
This is a modern fencer’s view of classical fencing shortcomings.>
Complete Fencing a Definitive Guide to the Sport of Fencing, (Foil, Epee, and Sabre) for Beginners, Intermediates, and Teachers by Albert Manley
This comes with 130 action pictures and drawings.