I had a pretty interesting book offered to me for review recently. Schiffer Publishing has a new book that came out not that long ago written by Clemens Nimscholz and Ralf Schoetzau, simply titled “Dagger Fighting.”
Footage of the authors in action
This ain’t no book on Systema or Krav Maga knife fighting. This is legitimate medieval dagger fighting, based on the teachings of Hans Talhoffer, a 15th century German master fencer and knife fighter, whose knowledge was also passed down from hundreds of years of swordsman who created the system that Nimscholz and Schoetzau exhibit in this manual.
The weapon of choice is the Rondel and Bollock dagger, but most of the techniques will be just fine to use with a modern weapon. After a brief history lesson on European blades, the book jumps right into the actual fighting tactics, which includes basic and advanced attacks & defenses against an armed or unarmed attacker.
Similar to my thoughts on The Bubishi book review, the interest to me in this book is the historical value. As a martial arts manual on fighting, you can find something more modern in other places. For someone interested in history, reading this traditional style of European fighting is very educational. Similar to the Filipino tradition of Knife-fighting, this is the European counterpart to it, hundreds of years old and still being passed down as a tradition, and still with very realistic results and often-brutal techniques. There is no playing around here, the moves you will learn are not about disarming – they are about killing. Since the type of dagger used in this book is a kind use to stab more than slice, there is plenty of organ and eye-gouging, so these maneuvers are serious business.
Can you use this to learn more about knife-fighting? Yes, absolutely, but I think the best use of this is as an educational resource. To me, the best customer for this type of book is someone interested in history, or who likes Renaissance faires or cosplays like that and wants to add some authenticity to what they do. Especially for re-enactors, understanding the battle tactics from that era will liven up your routines.
“Dagger Fighting” is a flashback to the past of swordplay and touches on a topic that is glossed upon by many, as most are interested in swords and not their smaller and “stabbier” cousins. This is not a book of sport fighting, this is a book that shows techniques used to defend someone’s life and often take them in retaliation, and anyone interested in weapons in their combat arsenal will certainly enjoy this book and get a lot of mileage out of it.