Read an excerpt from Renaissance Swordsmanship

5th Year Anniversary Note

Second Edition comments and Notes from the Author

First Edition Errata

8 1/2 x 11, softcover, illus., 152 pp.
ISBN 0 87364 919 2

For information on ordering, visit Paladin Press.

For more information on the ARMA Houston Study Group, click here.


Renaissance Swordsmanship:
The Illustrated Use of Rapiers and Cut and Thrust Swords

by John Clements

This book dispels the many myths and misconceptions about swords and swordsmanship that swashbuckler films like The Three Musketeers have generated. This scholarly, entertaining guide is the most thorough work on historical European swordsmanship ever undertaken. It serves as both a general reference and an instructional guide for advanced and beginning sword enthusiasts, students of military history and martial artists.

But this is a user's guide as well. To write this book the author combined exhaustive research with hands on practice in fencing, contact weapon sparring and training with historically accurate replicas. He then illustrated the text with more than 100 pages of drawings depicting authentic Renaissance sword fighting techniques and how you can use them today.

book4.gif Carefully controlling the distance and timing to deliver a "stop thrust" as the opponent's attack falls short.


A dagger thrust with forward pass as the rapier parries.

An example of one method
of holding the rapier.


About the Author
John Clements has had a lifelong pursuit (some say obsession) of nearly all forms of swordsmanship. He has practiced cut & thrust swordsmanship for over 21 years. John is an ardent promoter of contact-weapon sparring and test-cutting with historically accurate replica swords.

John has researched swords in seven countries and taught seminars in five. He lectures on historical weaponry and has written several magazine articles on swords and European weaponry.

He is a full time researcher-practioner and instructor in Houston, Texas. He is director the ARMA (the Association for Renaissance Martial Arts) and trains in long-sword, sword & shield, sword & dagger, sword & buckler, spear, rapier, and rapier & dagger methods. 

For more information on the ARMA Houston Study Group, click here.

What This Book Will Do For You

When it comes to our Western martial heritage, there are a great many common misconceptions and errors held by the general public (and even by most experienced martial-artists). This is particularly so with regard to Renaissance cut & thrust swords and to the rapier. For the reconstruction and practice of historical European swordsmanship today there is no book as detailed or instructive as Renaissance Swordsmanship: The Illustrated Use of Rapiers and Cut-and-Thrust Swords.

  • It is the only work of its kind to present an in depth look at rapier and sword techniques through the use of hundreds of illustrations.
  • It takes the leading historical manuals of renaissance sword instruction and condenses their major ideas.
  • Rather than give a detailed examination of any one manual, it instead combines their principles with extensive modern hands-on study from a martial-arts perspective.
  • The book presents Western swordsmanship as a true martial art.
  • It makes the point of quickly distinguishing rapier play from modern sport fencing and from theatrical play.
  • Renaissance Swordsmanship is a work which was the product of extensive research and hands-on practice in fencing, contact-weapon sparring, and training with historically accurate replica weapons.
  • It makes the historical lethality of sword fighting paramount, and the modern re-creational aspect secondary.
  • The intention is to return historical fencing to more of a true Western martial-art.
  • It serves as a short reference for sword enthusiasts and acts as a guide in directing their study.
  • It is intended primarily to dispel the many myths and misconceptions permeating sword enthusiasts and propagated by the media and popular entertainment.
  • It is meant to serve as a source for all those people who over the years have asked "what is a good book on Western swordsmanship?".
  • Renaissance Swordsmanship: The Illustrated Use of Rapiers and Cut-and-Thrust Swords is an impressive compendium on swordsmanship that anyone practicing historical fencing or living history will find an invaluable reference.

Renaissance Swordsmanship has received acclaim from magazines such as Renaissance Magazine, Chivalry Sports, Renaissance Herald, Firepower, Tactical Knives, and Hammerterz Forum.

See Also: "Medieval Swordsmanship: Illustrated Medthods and Techniques"


Note: The word "ARMA" and its associated arms emblem is a federally registered trademark under U.S. Reg. No. 3831037. In addition, the content on this website is federally registered with the United States Copyright Office, © 2001-2022. All rights are reserved. No use of the ARMA name and emblem, or website content, is permitted without authorization. Reproduction of material from this site without written permission of The Association for Renaissance Martial Arts and its respective authors is strictly prohibited. Additional material may also appear from "HACA" The Historical Armed Combat Association copyright © 1999-2001 by John Clements. All rights are reserved to that material as well.