So only one amusing post: Swordfighting: Not What You Think It Is
To borrow a famous line, the problem with most people trying to understanding the true nature of historical sword combat is not that they’re ignorant — it’s just that they know so much that isn’t so.
. . .
Fortunately, during the Medieval and Renaissance eras, hundreds of detailed instructional manuals were produced by expert Masters of Defense. These knights and professional instructors in arms wrote and illustrated immense technical treatises and books on their “science of self-defense.” Intended to preserve their secrets or instruct their students and patrons, these little-known works, some in excess of six hundred pages, represent time-capsules of the actual fighting systems and proven combative disciplines used at the time. Focused mostly on swordsmanship, these handbooks and study guides reveal highly sophisticated combat teachings. Further, their content and presentation is unmatched by any martial-arts literature from anywhere in the world. And we have dozens of them.
Almost a disappointing article because it doesn’t go into a whole lot of detail, mostly the author telling us how great he is and how everyone else gets it wrong. Still, some of the illustrations are worth looking at. I remember some swordplay trainers saying as much — that they weren’t teaching actors how to actually fight with a sword, or even fence for that matter — but they were teaching them how to make a sword fight look good which they say is probably almost as difficult as the real thing: it has to look good but not hurt anybody.
I imagine he’s right that we’d probably not recognize a real sword fight; we’d undoubtedly find it incredibly brutal and inelegant, but effective. As he notes, these practices were developed over a long time by people who were literally learning it in life and death situations.