John Clements' work is an essential addition to the library of the Arms and Armour Historian, the Historical Reenactor of the 16th and 17th Centuries, the student of Renaissance Swordplay, and anyone with an interest in Western martial heritage and antagonistic personal combat. John Clements has spent years of exceptionally hard work in researching authentic Renaissance Sword technique, studying original period manuals, practicing full-contact sparring with historically-accurate padded or blunted swords and rapiers, and test-cutting with fully sharp high-quality replica blades against soft but resistant target materials. If you are looking for a deep analysis of the sword or rapier style of a particular period master, this is not the place to find it. Clements work is rather a synergy of effective, basic sword and rapier technique, rather than a precise and exacting presentation of a particular Renaissance style. For extraction of useful, effective, sparring-tested sword technique and strategy, Clements book has no equal in print in the English language. "Renaissance Swordsmanship" is one of the harbingers of a small but steadily growing wave of interest in resurrecting Renaissance Swordplay as a true martial art, using the highest standards of research, accurately reconstructed cut-and-thrust swords and rapiers, and a devotion to the high level of excellence and martial ability of the period masters. Clements' book is by no means perfect, but it is highly recommended, and certainly a bold and commendable effort by an obvious zealot of a nearly lost segment of Western heritage.
Only one practical, illustrated guide to the lost art of Western swordsmanship exists, and it is John Clements' Renaissance Swordsmanship. Clements, along with several colleagues, has been engaged for several years in the ambitious project of separating the true fighting practices of the Renaissance Masters of Defense from all the nonsense you see in the movies. His approach combines a careful reading of the period manuals with live-steel experimentation and testing. The result is a book that serves as a practical handbook for the student who wants to learn not how to "fence" but how to fight with a sword. Clements' illustrations are ideal -- much better than photographs at communicating the necessary movements. In addition, Clements provides useful commentary on modern abberations such as stage combat, sport fencing, and SCA-style fantasy fighting to set the true art in contrast to false resonances in contemporary culture. At a time when our memory of the Western martial tradition is all but eclipsed by the illusion of Hollywood sport fencing and an inordinant reverence for the martial arts of the East, this book is essential for anyone who wants to understand what Renaissance Swordsmanship was really all about.