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The author writes...
on March 3, 2003
I've read with interest the reviews posted here, and the many kind comments about my work that have appeared online at SwordForum, NetSword, and elsewhere. While I never overtly set out to produce a 'how-to' guide to Sigmund Ringeck's work, I am gratified that a great number of my readers have found the book to be of utility to them in their swordsmanship studies.
I do feel that I need to correct some misconceptions that may be created via the review by the 'Reader from Japan'. First, this book was in no way 'rushed to press'. Rather, my work here represents three years of intense study of this manuscript and the related material surrounding it (Martin Wierschin's transcription and comments, Hans-Peter Hils treatment of the Liechtenauer tradition). All of the interpretations depicted were evolved through practice with an enthusiastic core of students.
I am keenly aware of the existence of other illustrated works within the Liechtenauer tradition. Had the reviewer actually carefully read my work, he'd have noted several referenced to Hans Talhoffer's several surviving works (and please do purchase Mark Rector's excellent book "Medieval Combat", which treats one of Master Talhoffer's works). The reviewer is further in error about the corroborative nature of the illustrated manuscripts that he cites: while Talhoffer is within the Liechtenauer framework, he rarely shows techniques directly connected with Liechtenauer's verse; Codex Wallerstein is of a similar nature.
It's quite clear that the reviewer in question was much more keen to launch an attack than to cite errors of fact: his or her reference to some 'clique' trying to present me as an authority makes that clear. I'm not sure who the reviewer represents, or what the source of their ill will is, but for the record, of the reviewers posting here, the only one of any significant acquaintance is my friend and colleague Stephen Hand. I know Mr. McIlmoyle only through one meeting, while the others are strangers to me. Further, it's clear that the reviewer is unfamiliar with any of the major discussion fora related to Western Martial Arts - if he were, he'd be ashamed to accuse me of being unwilling to admit mistakes now that I'm a published author.
The accusation that I have in "many, many sections" willfully reversed the translation of the manuscript to fit my own conceptions of how the techniques should work is a very heavy one indeed, as it implies nefarious conduct on my part. Let me take a moment to address the reader's critique of my analysis of the techniques shown in on page 160, wherein he maintains that I simply ignore the words of Ringeck's treatise.
The reader begins by saying this technique involves "chopping down" on your opponent. He's off to a bad start here in trying to understand this action, as the technique begins with a rising cut from below originating from the guard called Nebenhut, where the sword is trailing beside one's left side. The reader then goes on to misread what Ringeck means when he refers to the sword's position in regard to one's left shoulder: he clearly says the point should be directed "to the rear of your left side". This ties in with remaining in the same relative position with one's hands, and thereby with your hilt. The 'snapping' action over the sword, called Schnappen in German (which also appears, perhaps more clearly on pages 87-88), is an action that frees one from a strong bind: by driving the pommel forward, your blade comes parallel to your opponent's and thereby 'snaps out' and over the bind. Now, I should note that picture 20.11 could have been presented better; my hands do withdraw too far back as the bind is released - in actuality all of this action happens with the hilt in very tight (such are the occassional failings of still photos showing complex physical actions). Lastly, and most puzzlingly, the reader believes that I ignore Ringeck's advice to strike the follow-on blow with the short, or false, edge of the sword. I most certainly *am* striking with the short edge in picture 20.12, which is quite obvious when the position of my right hand is examined: my knuckles are facing upward and my wrist is straight, neither of which would be possible if I were erroneously striking with the long, or true, edge of the sword.
In closing, I'd like to say that indeed there is always room for improvement in our understanding of these late Medieval fighting traditions. I, and the rest of the Western Martial Arts community, are still on a very steep learning curve. As I point out in the book's introduction, no one should fall too much in love with their current understanding, as it will continue to evolve with the passage of the years, and as more material is unearthed, translated, practiced. To the truly humble practitioner, whether he be author or reader, this is not a burden but rather a joy: there's still so much to learn!
Thanks again to the many wonderful readers who've bought this book. Your response has exceeded my expectations and made this endeavor (and its forthcoming successors) more than worth the effort!
[Note: The 'Reader from Japan' originally posted under a different identity and afterwards modified his review without noting that he had done so, thereby making my own original rebuttal look rather senseless. I've edited my own comments here to address his revised comments. - CHT 10/26/2003]