New I.33 Book!

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New I.33 Book!

Postby Cosmoline » 11 Oct 2015 04:07

[note--note sure if this should be here or in marketplace reviews] I just received Herbert Schmidt's second volume of "Sword Fighting," which is the first book in some years to focus on I.33 and the most comprehensive I've seen to date. I really like the format Mr. Schmidt uses. I've loaned his longsword treatise out to a few people already as a good intro to the basics.

Of course, while I would never say longsword is easy, its interpretations have already had their teething period. So many people have been working with these methods over the past 20 years, using so many different sources, that there's a lot we can say with some certainty that we "know." In contrast, I.33 is a cryptic Medieval text written by secular clerics of uncertain motivation. It was already regarded as a strange relic when it surfaced in the 16th century. From there it's weaved its way through history like a real life Maltese Falcon. So right off the bat we have to understand we're not in Kansas anymore.

And to make matters more difficult, while longsword is the default HEMA training ground, I.33 tends to be a side study for most practitioners and schools. Chris Brecht's Fiddlebow Fechtschule up here in Anchorage, Roland's current operation in Berlin, and maybe a few others in Europe and are the only exclusive I.33 operations I know of. All of which is a long way of saying that there's much still to learn about this art, and it will be some time (if ever) that we can truly say we "know" what the Priest was trying to tell us. That makes it a difficult area of study, but also a very rewarding one.

So with that grain of salt, I think this new text is a worthwhile companion to the study and marks another step foward. Mr. Schmidt's approach tends to be more direct than our own. He omits much of the more complicated sword rotations we've been doing. For example the thrust from crutch can be as simple as just sticking your sword out more and thrusting, without spinning the sword or rotating the buckler. At this stage I'd say our prima plays are probably a bit better developed, but I think our prima is the best anywhere :D I keep telling Chris he needs to do a whole class on his insights into prima. On the other hand, I really like Mr. Schmidt's approach to some of the shield strikes better than the way I've been doing it, and I think they're closer to the text. I may well be stealing them. And I think we do sometimes get lost in our own crazy rotations and forget to just hit people with the sword. I'll be playing around with the text in the months to come to compare and contrast, which we all need to be doing.

It's well worth getting for anyone interested in the oldest and in I think the most interesting of the European sword fighting manuals. If nothing else, a study of I.33 will disabuse you of any assumption that sword styles have "progressed" in some march of technology since the middle ages. The Priest's approach was in no sense primitive or crude. And the open guard of the swords was not inferior to later protected hilts--it just offers a different set of trade-offs.
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Re: New I.33 Book!

Postby Herbert » 12 Oct 2015 17:52

Hello Cosmoline,

first of all thank you for buying my book and finding such kind words for it.

As you know any interpretation is an ongoing process. Personally I think it is very important to maintain an exchange of ideas and knowledge. This helps us all and the art as such to develop.

I would be very interested to get to know your viewpoint and interpretation of the I.33 and especially the things you mentioned (your prima custody etc.) It is really a pity that we live so far apart but maybe we can get in touch in a different way. With modern technology it is easier than ever. I would of course be very interested to meet you in person and learn from you and get to know your insights.

If you are interested in a further discussion, work or exchange, please write me.

best wishes

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Re: New I.33 Book!

Postby Cosmoline » 12 Oct 2015 21:51

If you're at the buckler bouts I'd suggest cornering Chris and asking him to show you his ideas.
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Re: New I.33 Book!

Postby Herbert » 13 Oct 2015 06:04

This year I will finally be able to attend the Buckler Bouts. Chris…Chris who? I am very bad with names.
If I can spot him, I will certainly ask him.

Thanks a lot!

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Re: New I.33 Book!

Postby Cosmoline » 13 Oct 2015 19:22

Chris Brecht. I sent you a PM with some more details. Our focus has really been to get as close to the illustrations as we can, even when they seem somewhat wonky. The odd thing is that even the wonky bits actually seem to work if you follow through. Things like when the buckler seems to be facing the wrong direction or is pointed thumb-down. The thumb-down orientation turns out to be a simply spectacular setup for a sword grab that we've uncovered from one of the more troublesome spots of the text. But we're still ironing out the details on that sequence.
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Re: New I.33 Book!

Postby janner » 15 Oct 2015 04:59

Many thanks for the heads up. I'm with one of the smaller groups that focus solely on I.33, so H's book is now on pre-order :D

Edited for biff spelling :lol:
Last edited by janner on 15 Oct 2015 09:01, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: New I.33 Book!

Postby Herbert » 15 Oct 2015 07:04

Thank you for your giving my work a try.

Would it be preposterous to ask for a review of my book(s) on Amazon?

Thanks a lot!

If you have any questions, please ask.

best wishes

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Re: New I.33 Book!

Postby MEversbergII » 15 Oct 2015 13:44

I will add this book to by buy-queue. I.33 was my "first love" in HEMA, but it has been many years since I've grasped the sword and the buckler.

Thanks for putting this out there.

M.
When I was a fighting-man, the kettle-drums they beat,
The people scattered gold-dust before my horses feet;
But now I am a great king, the people hound my track
With poison in my wine-cup, and daggers at my back.

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Re: New I.33 Book!

Postby Herbert » 15 Oct 2015 13:57

MEversbergII wrote:I.33 was my "first love" in HEMA, but it has been many years since I've grasped the sword and the buckler.


By all means: pick it up again! You will see that it still rocks!
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Re: New I.33 Book!

Postby Cosmoline » 16 Oct 2015 22:33

There are a number of pretty different approaches to I.33 going around right now. IMHO the best method if you're looking to start up a program is to get as much exposure to these various styles as possible. Whenever Roland's magnum opus comes out I will likely advocate for it, since I'm helping to fund the danged thing :D But in the mean time there's his DVD from a few years back and a bunch of stuff on youtube. There's also Rawling's Obsesseo from Boar's Tooth, which requires you to liberally use the "pause" button but is worth going through in detail. Even if you don't end up agreeing with an approach, I think it's very important to see and consider the possibilities. I.33 has a lot of gaps between positions and some missing plates that raise a lot of questions. Something as seemingly insignificant as how you interpret "the priest must mind his head" or "sub brachia" can have major implications to how you actually carry out the sequences. Obviously our group favors Roland's approach with our own tweaks to things like prima. Your group may end up leaning another way. In any case I think the key is to constantly refer back to the text and illustrations of I.33.

That's not to say other styles can't be brought in to help flesh the system out by showing what it *isn't* doing. We borrow from the wicked Wallerstein codex to create some alternative responses, including one we've named the "ice cream scoop of death" that turns out to be incredibly effective. Doing this with the understanding that it's not I.33 can help see what's going on the text. In that case in particular, the Wallerstein response to a thrust is to lightly bind on the inside of his sword then as he thrusts, drive the pommel toward the foe and flip the blade around to the outside while making a shuffle step. This has the effect of thwapping him in the head. But it's not the head threat we think the text refers to. Walerstein is also helpful for fund raising as it gives practical tips on hauling in criminals for the bounty money and robbing peasants. Other groups use the better-known Bolognese system to help to interpret I.33. By that time--some two centuries later AFAIK--the swords had become longer, thinner and had protected hilts. Bucklers were still around, but became more optional and took a decidedly back seat role in the game. But by seeing where things ended up, you can perhaps rewind back a few hundred years where the buckler is coming out further and playing a more important role, and the sword is less free to make big swings as a result.

I can also recommend WMAW and the Berlin Buckler Bouts as training grounds. Racine this year had a ton of buckler stuff all four days. Ideally, if there are enough North American groups focusing on I.33, we might be able to start having our own get-togethers and bring some folks over from the old country too.
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Re: New I.33 Book!

Postby Mink » 17 Oct 2015 13:37

Cosmoline wrote:Other groups use the better-known Bolognese system to help to interpret I.33. By that time--some two centuries later AFAIK--the swords had become longer, thinner and had protected hilts. Bucklers were still around, but became more optional and took a decidedly back seat role in the game.

I wouldn't say the buckler had taken a backseat yet. Manciolino for example introduces pretty much everything - guards, blows, long solo drills, close play - with the sword and buckler, and treats other weapon combinations more briefly. It is true that there is frustratingly little explicit advice on how exactly to use the buckler, but then it's the same in I.33.

This does not prove that the styles are the same of course.

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Re: New I.33 Book!

Postby Cosmoline » 18 Oct 2015 22:50

That's a good point. But there's always a trade-off in these things. If you want to keep your buckler out in I.33 style, it's going to interfere a certain amount with the sword's movement. And if you pull it back, you won't be able to control space with it as well. My sense is that most of the martial traditions outside of Scotland and Spain gradually drifted away from shield and buckler use outside of special purpose shields. IIRC Silver complains about this decline. We were just talking about this in class this morning, and it is curious that shields seem to have evaporated by the 17th century in most of western Europe. Even after heavy armor faded you just don't see the bucklers or shields coming back in most places. Maybe they just lost the art? I don't know. But bucklers are arguably still useful to this day, and are in some respects better at dealing with knives than handguns.
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Re: New I.33 Book!

Postby Mink » 19 Oct 2015 21:03

I suspect the advent of firearms and artillery has much to do with the decline of large shields. Then, when there is no culture of large shields, maybe the small shields tend to disappear as well...

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Re: New I.33 Book!

Postby Cosmoline » 21 Oct 2015 17:43

That's a large part of it of course. IIRC there were "targets of proof" built with the intention of being used to block early firearm projectiles, but that didn't last long :D Granulated and sorted powder amped up the potency considerably. But then again the Scots did pretty well against massed musket-and-bayonet infantry with their mix of skirmishing firelocks and broadsword/targe. At least until Culloden.

But for civilian confrontations, I'm not convinced the buckler at least ever should have vanished. The open left hand doesn't offer any major advantage over a buckler as far as I can see. You can still grab swords while using a buckler. In fact a well designed buckler will protect your hand in the process as we've discovered in sharps drills. Even today a buckler has utility against knife attacks and there's no reason it couldn't be incorporated into handgun use.

For police use you do see bulletproof shields and riot shields in use, but the tactical application remains very primitive as far as I've seen. Basically standing in a line as rioters throw things or lining up behind a large bullet proof shield as you snake forward. We know the shield, if designed to be lighter and easier to manipulate, has an enormous range of uses in a fight. But for some reason we don't do any of that.
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Re: New I.33 Book!

Postby MEversbergII » 21 Oct 2015 20:12

One of the higher quality HEMA presenters put forward buckler use in England as being around even in the 19th century, largely as a stick fighting sport piece. Will see if I can find it tonight.

M.
When I was a fighting-man, the kettle-drums they beat,
The people scattered gold-dust before my horses feet;
But now I am a great king, the people hound my track
With poison in my wine-cup, and daggers at my back.

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Re: New I.33 Book!

Postby Mink » 21 Oct 2015 22:14

Cosmoline wrote:But for civilian confrontations, I'm not convinced the buckler at least ever should have vanished. The open left hand doesn't offer any major advantage over a buckler as far as I can see. You can still grab swords while using a buckler. In fact a well designed buckler will protect your hand in the process as we've discovered in sharps drills.

As far as I can see, the small hand-held shields (buckler, but also the typically italian targa) got displaced by the dagger and the cape in civilian contexts. The dagger is easier to carry, less visible, and is a weapon in its own right (I mean can and was used alone in some circumstances, whereas I haven't seen evidence of a buckler used without a sword), as well as potentially a tool. The cape was an item of dress that was never banned anywhere - as daggers could be, and covers even more than a buckler. You could go full-on and use a dagger and a cape on the same arm (seen in Agrippa) :)

In both cases they are less useful than a buckler against forceful cuts. The cape is not solid enough, and it is trickier to parry cuts with a dagger. In both cases you'd want to primarily parry with the sword, and involve the secondary weapon afterwards. But civilian fencing got gradually away from these moves.

Even today a buckler has utility against knife attacks and there's no reason it couldn't be incorporated into handgun use.

Handguns I don't know, against a knife I'd think it's better to have two hands to grapple with than a buckler.

For police use you do see bulletproof shields and riot shields in use, but the tactical application remains very primitive as far as I've seen. Basically standing in a line as rioters throw things or lining up behind a large bullet proof shield as you snake forward. We know the shield, if designed to be lighter and easier to manipulate, has an enormous range of uses in a fight. But for some reason we don't do any of that.

Well, they are using shields for their primary purpose in my opinion, which is to protect against missile weapons. They are not generally facing other people with shields, and they are quite restricted in their use of force. They also avoid single combat, for obvious reasons. So there is a range of contexts that their shield use is not going to address.

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Re: New I.33 Book!

Postby MEversbergII » 22 Oct 2015 00:57

Found the vid in question:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YmDo02rCsrA

At about 5 minutes he mentions sporting buckler play. It dies out in the early 19th century, according to this one guy.

I know nothing.

M.
When I was a fighting-man, the kettle-drums they beat,
The people scattered gold-dust before my horses feet;
But now I am a great king, the people hound my track
With poison in my wine-cup, and daggers at my back.

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Re: New I.33 Book!

Postby Cosmoline » 22 Oct 2015 18:11

I hadn't heard of sporting bucklers, but it's an intriguing reference. I'll keep my eye out.

With handguns I'm thinking specifically of the Tueller Drill, and the problem with handguns offering no defense for any quadrant. So you can be stabbed freely even as you're shooting. It's a huge problem for law enforcement and has led to injuries and deaths both from officers terrified of knives and from officers not being scarred enough of knives. The idea of a kevlar buckler sounds goofy, but I actually think it would give you a lot of additional options dealing with a knife attack. The big risk is shooting your own hand, but that's a matter of training. And certainly the idea that you had to keep your off hand well away from the gun vanished half a century ago with Jack Weaver's approach. It's off topic but a hobby horse of mine :D
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