Books to read

A random bibliography of books on fencing, physical and mental training. These are in no particular order.


The Complete Guide To Fencing: edited by Barth and Beck, English, published by Meyer and Meyer Sport (UK) in 2007. When a fencing textbook includes a chapter on media manipulation and how to promote the sport you know it is a serious work. There are dozens of great how to books about fencing, but precious few about how to publicise and promote it – this is the first I have seen. For that reason alone it is worth reading as fencers, coaches and administrators tend to forget the importance of the Media. Yes, the web and its interactive components are great for the converted, but what about the other 99.7% of the population? How do they discover our ancient art and modern sport? A survey done some years ago in Christchurch interviewed 65 beginners, mostly young adults, 56 of them mentioned Movies (Zorro) or TV coverage of as their first point of contact with fencing. The other nine had parents or siblings involved in the sport. Another investigation last year, this time among Uni students and adults showed much the same results with many reporting they read or saw something in the local media (print or TV) and then Googled fencing to find a local club. Lets hope the Complete Guide To Fencing is widely read!

Science of Sports Training: Thomas Kurz. Published by Stadion, 1991. English. I bought this at Martial Arts Supplies in High Street Christchurch in 1996. It marries the Eastern European and Western methods of planning and training for peak performance. Some good fencing specific stuff, but also great sections on agility, speed and tactics.

Fencing and the Master: Laszlo Szabo, Published by Franklin Printing House 1979. English. Purchased through Technical Books Christchurch in 1984 after I was asked to coach at the University of Canterbury Fencing Club and referred to thousands of times since. Probably the best general text on teaching fencing I have read.

Fencing with the Foil: Roger Crosnier. Published by Faber and Faber, 1951. English. The first fencing textbook I purchased. Dated, but still and example of clear thinking and exposition. I used his examples of lesson plans while at Secondary Teachers College and still do today.

Esgrima: A collaboration between the ROYAL SPANISH FENCING FEDERATION and the Spanish Olympic Committee. Published in 1993. Spanish. Good coverage of the history of fencing in Spain and great sections on foil, epee and sabre. Also chapters on nutrition, psychology, sports medicine and a great selection of photos and diagrams. As a coach it has been interesting in meeting with many of the contributors to this work during visits to the National Training Centre in Madrid and implementing some of their ideas into my own coaching style.

Electric Foil Fencing: Istvan Lukovich. Published by Corvina 1971. English. One of the greats and still referred to today. Intimate and intricate dissection of foil fencing.

La Scherma: Gabriele Aru. Published by Liberia Meravigli Editrice. Italian. Purchased in February 1996 in Milan in an effort to assimilate the wizardry of Gianni Muzio and Oleg Putzanov while visiting the Giardino Club in Milan. Yes, a child’s introduction to fencing the Italian way, but interesting and well written so even I could understand it.

Modern Fencing. Foil, epee, sabre from initiation to competition: Michael Alaux. Published by Charles Scribners’s Sons 1975. English. Bought in June 1980. Good coverage of the sport by French-trained master working in America.

Tactics. The Art And Science Of Success. Edward de Bono. Published by William Collins, 1985. English. Distillation of the experiences of 50 successful people by the master of lateral thinking with clear illustrations.

Epee Fencing: Imre Vass. Published by Corvina 1965. English. Comprehensive coverage of epee with those neat line drawings that give credence to the old saw, a picture is worth a 1000 words.

Better Fencing – Foil: Bob Anderson. Published by Kaye and Ward, 1973. English. Clear ideas on how to up your game. Not a book for beginners, but more for those competing fencers looking for an edge. Does any one know if he wrote others on epee and sabre? They could be worth getting hold of if he did!

The Anatomy of Judgement: M L J Abercombie. Published by Pelican Books, 1969. English. A bit old, but still a fascinating work on free group discussion, which I use from time to time with more advanced fencers under the guise of a Saturday Soviet to improve tactical judgment and stroke selection.

Fencing is for me: Art Thomas. Published by Lerner Publications Company 1982. English. Diary of a kid learning fencing in America.

Fencing. Ancient Art And Modern Sport: C-L de Beaumont. Published by Nicholas Kaye Ltd, 1960. English. Fabulous how to manual on foil, epee and sabre. A bit dated now, but highly readable if only for the author’s asides on his lifetime of fencing starting before the Second World War. Buy it if you can.

5BXPlan for Physical Fitness. Published by R E Owen, 1964. English. Also known as the Canadian Air Force exercises, one of the first and still one of the best in a long line of do-it-yourself get fit books. Programmes for teens to the over 60s to follow. Long out of print, but worth getting hold of.

Fencing with the Sabre: Roger Crosnier. Published by Faber and Faber 1954. English. Follows on from his successful book on foil fencing. Good, structured view of sabre, but now a tad dated. Still worth a read and you can update much of what is covered from the internet.

The Living Sword. Aldo Nadi. Published by Laureate Press.1995. English. Fencing from turn of the century Europe to post-Second World War America. The autobiography of a top Italian fencer, Aldo Nadi.

Stretching: Bob Anderson. Published by Shelter Publications, 1980. English. Comprehensive book on stretching complete with hundreds of diagrams and programmes for most sports – including fencing! Well worth buying.

This is Karate. Masutatsu Oyama. Published by Japan Publications, 1973. What has a book on karate got to do with fencing? Read it and find out. Recommended reading for any competitive fencer and required reading for any serious teacher of a martial art. One of the instructors mentioned in this book, Tadashi Nakamura, went on to found Seido Karate. It was he along with Professor Bob Crowder and Sensi Renzie Hanham who instilled in me the idea that beginners should have the best coaching possible to make the most rapid and satisfying progress.

The Modern Fencer: Captain T Griffiths. Published by Frederick Warne and Company, about 1880. English. I don't know the background of the author, but he started a fencing school in Westminster, London, in 1864 and offered lessons in fencing, broadsword, single stick, gymnastics and boxing. Many drawings showing the moves, but with none of the models wearing a mask - in fact a mask is not mentioned in the section dealing with the necessary apparatus for fencing! A fascinating little volume.

Fencing: Brian Pitman. Published by the Crowood Press 1988. English. Good, basic textbook on foil, epee and sabre to intermediate level. Bought it at Whitcoulls, Christchurch, on Thursday 27 July 1989 on the recommendation of Benoit Upton.

Arthur Lydiard - Master Coach. Garth Gilmore. By Exisle Publishing 2004. English. Voted the Best All-time Running Coach by Runners World, Lydiard records his experiences of life and coaching. Worth a read by those who coach or are involved with athletes of any persuasion.

Interval Training - Conditioning for Sports and General Fitness: Fox and Mathews. W B Saunders Company 1974. English. a brilliant read for any coach or athlete. Once the basic text for conditioning athletes and still worth reading today. Their later works also became texts for many sport physiological classes.

Problem athletes and how to handle them: Ogilvie and Tutko. Pelham Books 1968. English. Research and writings on problem athletes has moved on, but this is still useful read particularly as it cost 50 cents in a second-hand book shop.

The Sportsman's Glossary: F C Avis, Souvenir Press London 1960. English. Old time jargon buster for major sports and well out of date, but interesting for all that. It mentions that the Amateur Gymnastic Association was one of the earlist bodies to promote fencing in the United Kingdom and went on to become the Amateur Fencing and Gymnastic Association in 1896.

Fencing to Win: Professor A T Simmonds and E D Morton. The Sportsman's Press. English. An Interesting read for the more competitive fencer. I bought my copy at Scorpio Books some years ago. It has great tactical advice on foil, epee and sabre and is still worth study even today. The definition of Counter Time as "...malice with aforethought." Is one of those phrases which stick in the mind. Read it if you can.

The Fencers’ Workbook: A collection of four workbooks based on the manual Le Cahier des Escrimeurs by Maitre Thirioux and translated into English by Nanette McCallum, David Laloum and John Fethers with help from Alwyn Wardle, Helen Smith and Susan Shahin. Melbourne 1997. Excellent coverage of foil, epee and sabre with a volume on equipment, lessons and definitions. Worth acquiring!

FENCING Essential Skills Training: Ed Rogers, the Crowood Press Ltd 2003, English. A great wee read that could be renamed Foil, epee and sabre (FES) training for it covers the three weapons in some detail. Good, sound explanations with illustrations and a good read for any fencer or coach.