Warzecha, Roland and Tobias Wenzel.
Sword and Shield: Basic principles and
technique of medieval buckler combat.

DVD, Region Free,
29th September 2011

This DVD covers general medieval sword and buckler, as opposed to concentrating on a single source such as I.33 or Lignitzer's treatise. The running time is a little over 80 minutes.

The presentation is very good and the two demonstrators look professional in their outfits. The colour co-ordination gives a uniform impression and allows the viewer to distinguish between the combatants during demonstrations. When the combatants demonstrate sequences in fully protective gear, again it looks very professional and safety-conscious. From this point of view the DVD is an excellent ambassador for historical fencing!

There is a lot of good basic information like balance and lines of pressure for beginners. Even so, some of the basic information is put very concisely and is of benefit even to more experienced practitioners who have not thought about things in quite the same fashion before. For example: "in a blade bind, the edge is always stronger than the flat" in terms of how to apply pressure most effectively.

There is an excellent discussion about the reason why earlier manuscripts show a forward leaning stance and why it was not present in later sources, with reference to angles and geometry, and also the difference in length between the earlier medieval swords and the swords that were used over the following couple of centuries. There is also a discussion of vibratory points and the centre of percussion. This is useful knowledge for practitioners of sword and buckler (and indeed for longsword fencing as well!) and is quite valuable revision even for more experienced fencers. In a similar fashion footwork is discussed; valuable information for the beginner fencer, but with lots of salient points for revision by experienced fencers.

The DVD includes some solo drills for practicing the mechanics of some of the strikes, binds and follow-up motions that are quite central to the use of sword and buckler. These are described verbally and shown from several different angles, both slowly and at speed. This makes them nice and simple to follow and to reproduce for personal practice. Each of the solo drills can be applied against an opponent in a drilling or sparring situation, so practicing them would be time well spent.

When discussing the different wards, strikes and actions from the bind, plenty of details are provided. The motions are always shown from several angles, both slowly and at full speed; very helpful for observing how the motions are done and why they are done that way.

There are only two negative points to be made about the DVD, both very minor in nature.

The use of "red" and "white" as designations for the demonstrators was helpful, it made it easier to distinguish who should be performing the actions. That being said, both demonstrators wore red socks; the "red" fencer had a white buckler and the "white" fencer had a red buckler! Then when the demonstrators were performing actions without wearing the jackets but still wearing the masks, "red" was wearing a mask with white facings and "grey" was wearing a mask with red facings. Most of the time it was easy enough to follow who was being identified by which colour, but sometimes it was a bit more tricky.

The second issue was that the DVD had no "play all" feature. Every so often the flow of the DVD would be interrupted by returning to the menu screen, requiring some interaction with the DVD. A "play all" function would mean that the viewer could work through the sections without needing to break concentration. Apparently this feature was supposed to be included in the production, but for whatever reason it did not occur in the final version of the DVD.

The producers of the DVD are aware of these issues and intend to improve future publications with these in mind. Overall, the DVD is very well produced with a strong script. The material contained within the production is very helpful for beginners without going into too much detail, but also valuable for more experienced practitioners to revisit and revise. A number of the concepts discussed are also very relevant to longsword practitioners; the DVD is a very good exposition on the subject of medieval swordsmanship in general, sword and buckler fighting in particular.