The Beginner’s Guide to the Long Sword by Steaphen Fick is intended as an introduction to the use of the long sword. What Fick actually presents is of more use as an example of the difficulty of writing a book about a martial art.
A Brief Guide
Fick breaks The Beginner’s Guide to The Long Sword into three parts. These cover basic concepts, handling of a sword, and concepts and drills for practice with a partner. It is a short book with only144 pages.
Fick seems to have tried to keep topics brief. However, almost every section feels like it would have benefited from being longer and more in depth.
The Beginning Guide to the Long Sword and Organization
The book is somewhat disorganized. Many paragraphs veer off topic or reference future sections with little explanation. This gives the whole book a feeling that Fick has much more to say on any given topic than he has provided space for.
This book also has organizational issues at the chapter level. The chapters proceed from one to another in what appears to be an arbitrary order. Most notably, the chapter on how to grip the sword comes after the chapters covering guards and how to move the sword.
Dealing With Safety
“Beginner’s Guide” is significantly lacking safety instruction. Fick encourages those using his text to practice safely but fails to give any meaningful guidance on what “safe” actually is. The descriptions of partner drills never include a discussion of how to ensure the safety of the participants.
One of the appendices does cover the subject of safety equipment fairly completely. However, between the position of the appendix at the end of the book and that all of the pictures show people without hand or head protection it is possible that someone using this book would start practicing without adequate safety preparations.
Beginner’s Guide to the Long Sword: Pictures
The pictures in the book are of high enough quality to be able to see most of what they are attempting to demonstrate. Some of the pictures are over-saturated causing some loss of detail.
The pictures showing specific actions seldom number more than two, only showing the beginning and ending of the motion. The book needs more intermediate pictures to fill in the gaps in the movement. This would make it easier to understand the motions demonstrated in the pictures.
In the final assessment, The Beginner’s Guide to the Long Sword contains many topics appropriate for beginner level instruction. The brevity of this book is one of it’s largest limitations. It attempts to cram too much information into too small a space and with too few pictures.
Instructors may find value here, as they are likely to have perspective to appreciate the compromises that Fick made when writing this book.
Overall Ranking: 2/5
Audience For This Book: Instructors
Picture Quality: 3/5