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Hungarian Hussar Sabre and Fokos Fencing Vol1
Hungarian Hussar Sabre and Fokos Fencing Vol1

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Hungarian Hussar Sabre and Fokos Fencing
by Russ Mitchell

This is a heavily-illustrated, step-by-step guide for how to fence -- and how to teach! -- Hungarian sabre fencing, as well as how to use the "fokos," or long-handled axe traditional to Hungary and East-Central Europe. It covers everything from basic stance work and tactics to complete synoptic tables and how to troubleshoot students who are having difficulty with the material. The manual also provides translated comparative material in order to demonstrate how the lineage the author learned is -- and is not -- like other methods of fencing taught in Hungary and at the Wiener-Neustadt cadet school in the mid-to-late 19th century up through World War One.

Saber Series:
Hungarian Hussar Sabre and Fokos Fencing Vol1
Sabre Fencing: by Károly Leszák Vol.2
Sir Gusztáv Arlow's Sabre Fencing: Austro-Hungarian Sabre Series, V3
Franco-Japanese Military Sabre and Bayonet

About the Author
Russ Mitchell was born in Rhode Island and subsequently shipped all over the place as a "Navy Brat," attending eleven different schools before going off to college and obtaining Master's degrees in History in Texas and Medieval Studies in Budapest, where he suckered a Hungarian lass into marrying him.

Russ writes fantasy stories for his friends' and daughter's amusement, and teaches martial arts in his home-town and at regional seminars, with a special emphasis on movement structure and body mechanics.

Russ Mitchell's _Hungarian Hussar Sabre and Fokos Fencing_ is easily one of the best "HEMA" (Historical European Martial Arts) books I've had the pleasure to read. As approachable as it is informative, _Hungarian Hussar Sabre_ introduces the reader to more than Russ' first-hand experience and knowledge of a "broken" Hungarian sabre tradition--it provides a template for how one might best write about or teach such a tradition. In fact, Russ provides a wonderful model for anyone trying to explain a complicated martial system, from warm-up to tactics.

The author's experience with an instructor of the tradition is well laid-out; the descriptions and explanations for positions, techniques, and plays are explained clearly and accompanied by illustrations of everyday folk, the very folk you might know from your own club or school; the context for those positions and techniques are situated in context, and, in a way unlike many works on military sabre. As a quick example, the squared stance, the guards/parries make complete sense given the kit a late 19th/early 20th century soldier would have been wearing, and, given the contexts in which that same soldier may have found himself having to use a sabre--this information, given to Russ by his instructor (Prof. Csaba Hidán), provides a unique layer of know-how to this system. As someone intimately acquainted with late 19th century military sabre texts this sort of second-hand information, something Hidán learned from his grandfather and grandfather's friends, who were Hussars, fills in critical gaps that the official texts left out.

Added to this, Russ includes translations from key works that provide a window into his own tradition, such as Baron Samu Chappon's _Sabre Fencing_ (1891), and works that, to date, have not been translated into English. For students of Italian sabre like myself, who were trained in the mid-century blend of Hungarian and Italian fencing (i.e. the Italo-Hungarian tradition), what Russ reveals here supplies a much needed glimpse into what differentiates the Hungarian from the Italian systems. There are translations of most key Italian sabre texts, but precious few for Hungarian sources (of which there were far fewer).

_Hungarian Hussar Sabre and Fokos Fencing_ goes one step further and introduces a short section on the fokos, a form of "shepherd's axe," that is, again, unique. Students of axe, especially those familiar with the mss. of Fiore dei Liberi or the anonynous "Le Jeu de la Hache," will see much that is familiar. Taken together, the sections on sabre for foot, fokos, and the sabre for cavalry present, for the first time in English, a valuable introduction to Hungarian sabre. More than that this book fills in a critical piece many fencers know exists but which few of us, lacking Hungarian, have had access to.

If your interest is sabre generally, you need to read this book; if you are a student of modern sabre, you should read this book; if you, like me, were taught by maestri within the Italo-Hungarian orbit, you must read this book to understand better your own tradition; if you need a guide for how to write for HEMA, you need to read this book. Informative, fascinating, and fun, Russ Mitchell's _Hungarian Hussar Sabre and Fokos Fencing_ is a fantastic read.

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Average Rating: Average Rating: 5 of 5 5 of 5 Total Reviews: 6 Write a review »

  0 of 0 people found the following review helpful:
5 of 5 Excellent beginner book to Hungarian Fencing June 16, 2023
Reviewer: Austan Skidmore from CHESTERFIELD, MO United States  
I'm actually taking lessons from the author of this book. Russ is fantastic in person, and his instructions are very clear, humorous, and newbie friendly (which was what convinced me to pick up his book). I highly recommend it if you're interested in Hungarian style saber fencing :)

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  1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
5 of 5 Awesome book! February 15, 2022
Reviewer: Jordan Divinagracia from Fullerton, CA United States  
Excellent book for anyone who wants to dabble in a bit of saber, experienced people who want to expand their tree of knowledge, and more. The book has super useful pictures that clearly depict what concept the author is trying to convey. The author also presents the Hungarian system in a very easy-to-understand way and provides drills and diagnostic tools to help beginners and more learned people alike. It also has a bit of regimental military saber at the end to compare and contrast the two saber systems.

My only gripe is that the fokos section is very short, and only touches upon fokos vs. saber. However, it does provide a bit of insight on how the weapon was used.

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  0 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
5 of 5 June 2, 2021
Reviewer: Aaron Kavli from Dickson, TN United States  

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  0 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
5 of 5 May 14, 2021
Reviewer: from ,  

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  0 of 0 people found the following review helpful:
5 of 5 Good info... July 22, 2020
Reviewer: Uli K. Zangpo from Haiku, HI United States  
valuable learning material

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