Last night, I got home to find a mysterious package outside my door. It was addressed to me and it seemed to have come from England but for the life of me, I couldn’t remember what I had ordered. An unexpected package is among life’s most sublime mysteries.
I immediately grabbed a knife and opened the box. Maybe there would be cookies (or biscuits, as I guess the British would call them) inside! Okay, so there were no cookies, but what waited for me inside the box was exciting too!
Massimiliano Longo’s book About Fencing is a wonderful instructional and educational book aimed at beginner fencers, both young and young at heart. You can purchase a copy of it for only $15 here. I discovered this book back in September while I was doing research for my post on why people like fencing. At that time, the author was running an Indiegogo campaign to raise money for translating his fencing manual for kids and adults into English and producing a UK and USA edition of the book. I helped fund the project and promptly forgot about it. I think forgetting about and then being surprised is one of the best aspects of crowd funding. The text suffers a little in some parts from having been translated from Italian but the author’s spirit and excitement about fencing shine through. Longo (like a good fencer should be able to do) masterfully walks the thin line between simplifying enough for children to understand while not talking down to them in any way.
Here are a few of my favorite parts of the book.
Interactive diagrams that show the correct target area for each weapon on a line-drawing in green and ask you to “use your finger as a” sword and start training with the book.
Amazing visualizations that show how a fencing sword is put together.
My favorite written section of the book provided full coverage of fencing for the disabled, including a description of the mechanics of fencing in wheelchairs and the various divisions based on what type of capabilities the fencers have. Best of all, it introduced the concept of fencing for the blind! I know, this sounds like an incredible training exercise that the Inigo Montoya and the man in black may have done, but according to Longo, it’s also an increasingly popular worldwide sport. It’s also egalitarian; sighted fencers can join in with the aid of a simple blind-fold.
If you contributed to the crowd funding of this fine book, you’ll probably be enjoying your copy soon. If not, it’s never to late to purchase one for you or the aspiring fencer in your life. You can find a copy on the Leon Paul website.