The importance of books 27: Mike Edelson

Image by Thomas Kelley, from

This is a series of interviews with well-known HEMA practitioners from around the world. The subject is the importance of books in the HEMA community. Personally, I think books are immensely important to the community (and in general!), but I am interested to find out more about how other people see the issue.

This week’s interview is with Mike Edelson, who is a well-known international instructor, fencer, competitor, and author.

1) Do you feel that modern publications are valuable for the HEMA community? Whether yes or no, can you explain your answer briefly?

Yes. The sources do not resonate with everyone, and even if they did, they are only a starting point. It is our understanding of the sources that is of value, and that understanding can be written down and shared with others. Furthermore, the sources do not encapsulate the whole of the art. There are always missing elements that are required to translate from the page into the real world. Body mechanics are an excellent example. Modern publications can address these missing bits.

2) Was there a book that inspired you to become involved in HEMA, or that inspired you to study HEMA more seriously than before?

Christian Tobler’s Fighting with the German Longsword is what got me started. Although extremely outdated and filled with what I consider gross inaccuracies, it is nevertheless an excellent resource for a beginner. He has a new version out, but I haven’t seen it. Maybe it addresses some of the issues with the first one. But regardless, if you have no instruction available, such a book is a great start.

3) Can you list between three and five books that you feel are invaluable to your study of HEMA, and say something briefly about why each book is so important to you?

Cutting With the Medieval Sword by Mike Edelson 🙂

But seriously, not really. Although books were very important to me when I began studying HEMA, these days I only use translations, and prefer translations by Cory Winslow of MEMAG.

4) Are there any kinds of publications you would like to see become available to the community?

I’d like to see more beginner guides, in both video and book format. Much of the information out there is bad, and the more people put out, the more the overall quality of available information will improve.

Keith Farrell

Keith Farrell teaches HEMA professionally, often at international events (why not hire me to teach at your event?), and has an interest in coaching instructors to become better teachers.

I have authored Scottish Broadsword and British Singlestick and the award-winning AHA German Longsword Study Guide, and maintain a blog at where I post regularly.