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The Martial Arts of Renaissance Europe
The Book by Sydney Anglo
© 2013 James LaFond
The Martial Arts of Renaissance Europe
Sydney Anglo
Yale, 200, London, 384 pages
This is one of those big, beautiful, fully illustrated books on combat. More importantly it is written by an academic with a deep dry sense of humor. This is not a tough read. The illustrations are excellent copies of museum and private collection pieces, some of which are rare, and plenty in color, particularly the Austrian paintings of Emperor Maximilian kicking much armored butt.
In many ways this is far superior to the illustrative ‘how to’ manuals by people like myself, and the straight up modern reprints of ancient manuals. Anglo gets into not just the how, but the why, and does a very insightful job of exploring the culture of combat. This is not just an exploration of the combat arts, but of violence and ritual as well.
This book has aided me greatly in reconstructing fights from the period for my fiction. I am reviewing this title now, though I have not read it cover-to-cover for six years, because I just used it as a reference for God’s Picture Maker, to assist me in describing the arms of characters, and in writing a really disgusting brawl.
If you are an FMA enthusiast, you are probably familiar with discussions concerning how much the Filipino arts were influenced by the Spanish arts. Although the subject is not broached by this author, I refer the reader to pages 123 and 124. On these pages are reproduced five illustrated strike counts: an 8-count; a 9-count; an 8-count; a 14-count and a 10-count. I do recall seeing count diagrams in 18th and 17th Century American and English manuals at the Peabody Library as well. I currently practice two 8-counts, a 12-count, and two 13-counts, all promoted as original FMA learning tools.
If you are an FMA practitioner I highly suggest you buy this book and decide for yourself how much of FMA is of Spanish origin. I personally think it is a mix, just based on the mix of Spanish and indigenous terminology in the Filipino arts I have trained in.
There is also coverage of jousting, military combat, wrestling, and even Dutch MMA. Baas Rutten apparently hails from a longer line of Low Country knuckleheads than we could have imagined.
Get this book and do not lend it out.
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