Today we will be reviewing one of the newest HEMA related books by Richard Marsden titled Bad HEMA the historical masters and how they disparaged the fencing of others. We will be exploring the general overview of the book as well as cost and who I would recommend the book to.
Marsden starts by exploring notable fencing masters and what they believed was bad practice in swordsmanship. Many popular fencing masters and their opinions are analyzed including (but not limited to) Johannes Liechtenauer, Fiore dei Liberi, Joachim Meyer, Giacomo di Grassi, George Silver, Salvator Fabris, and Miyamoto Musashi.
Next, Marsden categorizes the bad practices established in the first section of the book as “Universally Bad” and “Contentious Fencing”. In some cases, many of the fencing masters agree that some techniques are bad. In other cases, such as the discussion of cut verses thrust, the masters are split.
The last section of Bad HEMA explores what modern practitioners of swordsmanship can learn from the past regarding bad techniques. This section includes advice from other modern HEMA practitioners on their experiences in HEMA and what they have learned.
As of writing this blog, the book can be purchased on Amazon for $19.99 in paperback and $29.99 in hardback. The book is 122 pages excluding the bibliography and acknowledgements. This makes Bad HEMA one of the shorter books in the catalogue of books on HEMA and swordsmanship.
This book is an incredibly easy read and accessible for all levels of experience in HEMA. I read this book in one sitting and walked away feeling like I had learned quite a bit about former fencing masters and HEMA as a whole.
I purchased the book in paperback and I feel like I made the right choice. This is a compact sized book that fits well in a backpack or even just carried around. I believe that a hardback copy of this book would slightly take away from the ease of carry. However, I am also the type of person who enjoys the cost savings of paperbacks.
Who I Recommend It To
Even for its relatively short length, this book packs a lot of historical information in it. The information provided in this book appears relevant for all HEMA practitioners; whether they are experienced or not.
The most valuable part of this book is the comparison of many fencing masters on what they believe is bad practice. I appreciate the ability to have one reference to a topic from 15 different fencing masters all in one conveniently small book.
As an added bonus, the book includes sections on the personal experience of other HEMA practitioners. While not all of the advice is relevant to all HEMA fencers, all HEMA fencers will get something out of the concluding section of this book.
This is a great book for all practitioners of swordsmanship. At the price, this book is a must have.
Bad HEMA does something different than many other HEMA related books. Instead of deep diving into the interpretation of a system, the book explores a single topic across many different systems popular in HEMA. Furthermore, with the inclusion Miyamoto Musashi, the book expands outside of the typical HEMA sources to reinforce the claims of “universally bad” practices.
I hope this book can springboard into a whole new genre of swordsmanship-related topics to explore the universal truths of swordsmanship.
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