The Art of Combat.

By Joachim Meyer

Printed: 2022

Publisher: Frontline Books. London

Dimensions 20 × 25 × 2 cm

Language: English

Size (cminches): 20 x 25 x 2

Condition: As new  (See explanation of ratings)

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Item information


Softback. Navy binding with white title on the spine. Warrior image with blue title on the front board.

  • F.B.A. provides an in-depth photographic presentation of this item to stimulate your feeling and touch. More traditional book descriptions are immediately available

                              A superb book

First published in 1570, Joachim Meyer s The Art of Combat is among the most important texts in the rich corpus of German martial arts treatises of the Middle Ages and Renaissance. Meyer is unique in offering full recommendations on how to train for various weapons forms. He divides his book into five parts by weapon types: longsword; dusack (a practice weapon analogous to a sabre); rapier; dagger; and staff weapons. For each weapon, Meyer lays out the principles of its use and the vocabulary of techniques, and then describes a range of specific devices , attack combinations for use in combat. This rational approach, along with Meyer s famous and profuse woodcut illustrations, make this a crucial source for understanding the history and techniques of medieval and Renaissance martial arts. In the first ever English translation of this important work, Jeffrey Forgeng has sought to improve accessibility of the text. His Introduction is the first substantial account to be published in English of the German Fechtbuch corpus, and the Glossary likewise is the first of its kind to be published in English.

Review: This very interesting contemporary renaissance martial arts book shows a step in the development of medieval fighting arts to fighting for sport. Only the section on the (cut and thrust) rapier is intended for ‘serious’ fighting. The longsword, dussack and halberd, knife and pike sections are for ‘sparring for sport’. As such it is a very interesting book which demonstrates George Silver’s statement that fight school masters teach no thrust and rapier school masters teach no cut.

As modern Western Martial Arts enthusiasts fight for sport and not in a life and death situation it may be thought that this style of fighting would suit them well. On the other hand they may feel that the lack of thrusting in the longsword section (the main section) leaves a gap which is better filled by the medieval manuals which exist.

I am not aware of any other contemporary manuals that deal with the dussack and this section is especially valuable for that reason.

On the whole a very interesting book which shows how the medieval style of fighting was changing into a sport during the later 16th century.

JOACHIM MEYER was born in Basel in Switzerland in approximately 1537, possibly the son of Jacob Meyer, a stationer, and Anna Freund. He became a burgher of Strasbourg by marrying a widow in 1560, most likely during his apprenticeship as a cutler. He made a living as both a cutler and a professional fencer until 1570, in which year he published his Art of Combat the book that made him famous. The making of this book, however, left him deeply indebted, and the search for potential buyers led him to leave Strasbourg and work as a Master-of-Arms at the court of the Duke of Schwerin. Unfortunately, he died shortly after his arrival, on 24 February 1571, at the age of just thirty-four, leaving the burden of his debt to his widow and brother-in-law.

JEFFREY L. FORGENG is curator of the Worcester Art Museum s Higgins Collection, the second largest collection of arms and armour in the Americas, and also teaches as Adjunct Professor of History at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. His academic work specialises in European treatises on the use of arms and armour. His publications include translations of Royal Armouries MS I.33, the earliest known treatise on swordplay, and of Joachim Meyer s Lund manuscript. Forgeng was for many years an editor for the Middle English Dictionary, and has published extensively on topics including the Robin Hood legend, the history of games and sports, and the history of daily life.

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