My Bookshelf

You canít learn to fight with a sword from a book but many of them have certainly helped my understanding of swordplay. The better fencing books have influenced my style of coaching and have given me a thorough knowledge of the sport. The Stage Fighting and Sword History books have helped me greatly in teaching historical accuracy, realism and safe working with weapons. Here are a list of the books I have and which ones I would recommend. Theyíre in no particular order.


Fencing, Techniques of Foil Epee & Sabre by Brian Pitman
Brian played a part in teaching me to coach on a couple of B.A.F. courses. While my style of coaching is hugely different to Brianís he taught me a valuable lesson in simplicity. Look for the obvious answer to your problem and if it works, stick with it. This book is for the fencer rather than the coach in my opinion, and is best served as a reference guide to the techniques you are learning. All the basic moves are listed with a short guide in how to execute the moves.

On Fencing by Aldo Nadi
Nadi is incredibly arrogant and opinionated. I donít particularly like this book because of the way it is written but he does talk some sense. If you are prepared to put up with his self-worshiping youíll find a lot of good techniques and tactics.

Fencing with the Foil by Roger Crosnier
I canít recommend this book enough. This is my bible on classical fencing. For the trainee coach this is a must. The langage is easy to understand yet teaches terminology well and the descriptions are clear. There are good lesson plans at the end of every chapter.

Fencing with the Epee by Roger Crosnier
This is just as good as his foil book. Pretty rare this one though so expect to pay a pretty penny if you can find a copy.

Fencing with the Sabre by Roger Crosnier
OK, so I donít own this one. If you have a copy to sell then let me know!

Fencing by G.V.Hett (Games and Recreation Series)
A little simple for my liking and some of the terminology is a bit dated. It crams all 3 weapons into 134 little pages.

Tackle Fencing by Bob Anderson (An Introduction to the Foil)
This is great fun! Remember flick books? Flick the pages of this book to see 10 different strokes being demonstrated. Hours of entertainment. Definitely my most well-thumbed book.

Fencing Comprehensive by Felix Grave
Only for the hardened fencing book enthusiast. This is heavy reading even though it doesnít go into very complex actions. It even changes language into French occasionally without giving translation.

Fencing the Foil by Tom Norcross
This has some good tactical ideas, especially on second intention. It does ramble a bit though. Itís really for beginners but tries to explain everything in words without showing enough diagrams.

Fencing, A Practical Treatise on Foil, Epee and Sabre by R.A. Lidstone
I like the way the author has his real name (Charles Alexis) printed underneath his pseudonym. This is a poor manís Roger Crosnier. Itís a thorough book but itís not as clear and concise as Crosnierís. There are a lot of good lesson plans for coaches.

Foil Fencing (Skills, Safety, Operations and Responsibilities for the 1980‪s) by Maxwell R. Garret and Mary H. Poulson
This teaches very little about fencing. You learn what the positions are but not how or why to use them. Itís an American book so expect terminology like Parry four instead of parry quarte.

Fencing and the Master by Laszlo Szabo
This is a fantastic book for the advanced to top level coach. Individual moves arenít described. Instead it gives an insight into the essence of coaching. Sections such as communication, use of rest periods and role of the weaponless hand really help you to perfect your skills as a coach. Some of his stuff involves a lot of brain power - best of luck with Direct help for proper orientation in space.

Fencing (The All England Series by H.A. Colmore Dunn)
This book will ruin your eyesight. Lots of big words printed too small. Almost all text and not very good explainations.

The Fencers Companion by Leon Bertrand
Good for itís definitions but the excercises it suggests take some time to figure out. Not very clear and itís photoís try to show step by step techniques but really donít help much.

The Methology of Sabre Fencing by Zoltan Beke and Jozsef Polgar
Wow! Youíve got to know your stuff to really appreciate this book. There are no pictures or diagrams and the text is heavy going yet this still manages to be a brilliant book on sabre coaching. There are oodles of exercises for individual lessons and group work. Iím particularly impressed the way the exercises are competitive. Both fencers are trying to win the hit even though conditions are controlled. If you want to teach distance and timing well then buy this book (if you can find it, and afford it!).

Fencing by Nancy L. Curry
An American book. Itís very simplistic and really just covers the very basics. The photos are good as a lot of them are taken from directly above. This makes it clear to see how small your parries should be.

Fencing, The Skills of the Game by Henry de Silva
This has a very good balance of text and photos and Iíd recommend it for beginners. It gives excellent instruction and is easy to follow and there is a very good section on stretches.

Complete Fencing, A definitive Guide to the Sport by Albert Manly
Iím not certain that this book lives up to itís title. Perhaps a basic guide to the sport would be more appropriate. I do like this book as it is thorough on the basics and has a lot of good information. I just wish it was organised more into sections so it could be used easier as a reference guide.

Secrets of the Sword by Baron Cesar de Bazancourt

Written as a series of after dinner speeches this is quite a strange book on learning to fence. It was written in the 19th century and argues the case for modern fencing as opposed to classical. Whatís really fun about it is that the arguments apply just as well 150 years later. Although I consider myself to be a mostly classical coach this book has pulled me slightly towards modern training techniques.


The Sword and The Centuries by Alfred Hutton
This is a thorough history of the sword told using lots of little stories. Itís a great read even if you arenít into the history of swords. Lots of duels and quarrels.

The Rapier and Small-Sword 1460-1820 by A.V.B. Norman
This is strictly reference only. If you want to accurately date a sword you wonít find better than this. It lists and pictures 93 different styles of pommel, 113 hilts and 39 inner guards and thatís just for starters.

The Secret History of The Sword, Adventures in Ancient Martial Arts by J. Christoph Amberger
There are a lot of interesting stories in this book. It is well referenced and gives good insight in to how the sword developed. Itís much more of a commentry on other works than being an excellent book in itself though. I frequently got bored reading it.

Schools and Masters of Fencing, From Middle Ages to the Eighteenth Century by Egerton Castle
Iíve just started reading this but I love it already. It was written in the 18th Century and really shows the varying contrast in fencing styles between different masters and different countries. It does exactly what it says on the tin.

Codex Wallerstein by Grzegorz Zabinski with Bartlomiej Walczak
A Medieval Fighting Book from the 15th Century on the Longsword, Falchion, Dagger and Wrestling
Iíve just borrowed this book from a friend. Itís a literal translation from the original manual with the original in German/Bavarian shown on one page with the translation opposite. It takes some work to figure out exactly what is going on the pictures because there is a serious lack of terminology. Itís a fasinating historical document though which I intend to study at length.

A Collectors Guide to Swords Daggers and Cutlasses by Gerald Weland
Lots of pictures of cool weapons. There is a brief description of each one but itís not very comprehensive.

Ancient Scottish Weapons by James A. S. Drummond
This oneís a bit special. Hand printed in colour in 1881 with only 500 copies ever made. This shows a huge range of weapons, armour and targets in fine detail. An excellent reference book if youíre into making replica weapons. And in case youíre thinking of asking - no I wouldnít consider selling it.

Medieval Combat (A Fifteenth-Century Illustrated Manual of Swordfighting and Close-Quarter Combat) by Hans Talhoffer
Iíve just bought this one so havenít read it yet. First impressions are very good Itís all plates of the original manual with a brief description of each action. Lots of techniques for shields, daggers, pole axe, mace and wrestling as well as the sword.


Old Sword Play by Alfred Hutton
Great for its pictures. I give this to my stage fighting students to give them ideas for en guarde positions. The text is very sparce but gives clear instruction and great insight into old terminology.

Techniques of the Stage Fight by William Hobbs
The best book there is on Stage Fighting. From pie fighting to fighting to music this is an excellent book to accompany your training.

Sword Fighting, A Manual for Actors and Directors by Keith Ducklin and John Waller
This is quite a simple book but the instruction is very good. At the back there a some actual fight scenes from films in script form. A must for Monty Python and the Holy Grail fans.

Actors on Guard by Dale Anthony Girard
A chunky book which is very thorough on Stage Fighting. Itís written by someone who received an injury to the face so itís very strong on safety. It gets bonus points from me because itís an American book using European terminology.


The Fencing Master by Arturo Perez-Reverte
A first class read and a great story. The sword fights and fencing lessons are written in fencing terminology so you can follow exactly whatís going on. This is also a great film (Spanish with subtitles).

The Sword Decides by Marjorie Bowen
One day Iíll get round to reading this.

The Incredible Fencing Fleas by Alan Sillitoe
OK, this is actually a childrenís book. Itís about two fleas that fight with pins. Very surreal. Donít read after youíve had a couple of beers - it gives you really weird dreams.