Monthly Archives: January 2012

Book Review: The Art of the Dueling Sabre

I just posted this over on SFI, but thought I’d cross-post on my own blog, too.


My wife gave me a copy of Chris Holzman’s new book, The Art of The Dueling Sabre for Christmas. While it’s been mentioned here on SFI, I haven’t seen a real review of it here yet, so I thought I’d write one. Short version: go buy it! Long version: keep reading:

The bulk of this book is a translation of Settimo Del Frate’s 1876 textbook on Maestro Guiseppe Radaelli’s sabre and sword method, but Holzman has added a wealth of supporting materials (more on that below). It’s a hardback, with a very stylish cover. This is a gorgeous book – I particularly enjoy the 19th-century feel of the fonts used, and how the design feels “old-timey” without being annoying or inconvenient. The crowning touch is that the the oversize fold-out plates from the original are reproduced here – there are ten 21.5″-long plates at the back of the book. These are fantastic – beautiful artwork, and also quite useful for the fencer studying the material.

One of the things I liked in Holzman’s introduction was his acknowledgement of the historical fencing community, and the reality that many in this community must practice without regular access to instructors. As we shall see below, it is clear that he kept this in mind while writing the additional materials for the book. The Historical Note does a nice job of putting Del Frate’s book in it’s historical context – some biographical information about both Radaelli and Del Frate, some context of who this was written for, and even a little bit of information about Maestro Parise, the great rival to this system of fence.

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