Sunday, March 12, 2006

Advanced Bowie Techniques
Text and drawings by Dwight C. McLemore
published by Paladin Press, or 1-800-392-2400, retail $35.00

reviewed by Allen Reed

I have had the honor to train with Dwight a number of times and found his first book on the Bowie knife, Bowie and Big Knife Fighting System, an excellent source of information on the history and use of this American icon. So when I heard that his second book on Bowie knife fighting was being published I really looked forward to pouring over it and adding more of his ideas on how to train with the Bowie knife to my training.

Dwight sets up five sections in the book. In the first section of the book Dwight explains the use of the Spanish Circle in his knife fighting system. An easily made training device the Spanish Circle is laid out on the floor so while you are training with the knife you can get an idea of the angles of attack and defense. This is one part of Dwight’s system that I plan to put in place in my own school.

Dwight then launches into the major portion of the book showing his system of what he calls engagement sets. These sets allow each student of the knife to work through different paired attack and defense scenarios. In this section Dwight has the students working with fairly simple attacks and defenses up to more complex sets.

In each set Dwight uses his excellent line drawings to show how to do the drill. I also like how Dwight suggests using a focus mitt to allow the student who “wins” the engagement to make full contact with his partner. I feel that too often knife training involves only minor, if any, contact.

Dwight also emphasizes that any real knife training must include full body contact sparring. He shows how to build a padded training knife and illustrates the full body padding he recommends for doing the sparring. Again, I like Dwight’s emphasis on full speed training in protective gear.

The third section introduces the use of kicks for use with the Bowie knife. Dwight emphasizes that if kicks are added into the mix, you must consider keeping the kick low and protecting yourself as you launch the kick.

In the next-to-last section of the book Dwight deals with how the Bowie knife can be carried and put into use. One style of carry that Dwight mentions is the Southern Comfort sheath from River City Sheaths ( I have one of these sheaths and can second Dwight’s comments that Mike Sastre makes an excellent sheath for carrying a big knife concealed.

Finally, Dwight finishes up the book with a section on dealing with multiple attackers. Fast aggressive movement is how Dwight feels you must deal with such situations. He shows two different engagement sets to work with when doing this kind of training.

Anyone who is interested in learning how to use a big knife in combat will find something to learn in this book. In particular I find Dwight’s drawings to help show how to do his drills. The drawings can show details that a photograph cannot.

However, there are problems with the book. There are some major copy-editing mistakes where the text calls for one move and the drawing shows another. Most of these problems can be dealt with by carefully following the drawings, as they show the correct application of the drill.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Scholars Weekend 2006, June 10-11, 2006

Instructors include: Allen Reed, Adam Velez, Tim Lyon, David Peck, Terrence Tindill, and Karl Jacobs.

Classes include (tentatively) Fiore's Bastoncello (short baton), Bare Knuckle Fighting, Bowie Knife, George Silver, and German Longsword.

$30.00 for both days, $50.00 at the door

Cinquedea Seminar with Scott Wilson (from Darkwood Armory) July 1-2, 2006, $50.00 until June 1, $100.00 thereafter

The Cinquedea was a civilian weapon in use from about 1450 to about 1530, primarily in northern Italy, but also in Germany where is it was known as the ox tongue, a broad-bladed cut and thrust weapon of any length from small dagger to full 32" sword. Since there are no extant manuals dealing with this weapon, Scott has taken material and nomenclature from period sources, primarily Fiore d' Liberi and Fillipo Vadi, but also manuals dealing with German single-handed sword and messer, such as the Lebkommer and Ringeck, to develop and round out the system. The class will consist of training with basic footwork taken from Fiore and Vadi and the guardia incorporated from those systems, as well as basic strikes and combinations, and simple tactics that would have been employed.

Go to or call 815-973-1064 for more information