tores are abuzz with special “Black Friday” sales and extended hours. No doubt, the sun will barely have dawned this Friday before the “Cyber Monday” announcements begin. Amidst all of the flurry and hullabaloo of these special sales, we also can’t help but note that “Black” and “Cyber” seem more like appellations for the release of a new Matrix movie than they do the start of the Christmas season…
Nevertheless, the Christmas season is officially here. So, we decided to bring you a little something special to inaugurate the holiday season.
Sometimes called “the most well-known verse ever penned by an American”, the poem “A Visit from St. Nicholas”, also known from its first line as “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas”, was first published anonymously in 1823 and generally attributed to Clement Clarke Moore. Written far from the land of his birth, it forever blended the Dutch images of St. Nicholas and the British Father Christmas into today’s conception of Santa Claus, including his physical appearance, the night of his visit, his mode of transportation, the number and names of his reindeer, as well as the tradition that he brings toys to children. So perhaps it is only fitting for our holiday surprise that an Englishman in Finland composed a poem of his own about a long dead Italian swordsman, Fiore dei Liberi in the Armizare Vade Mecum.
What do all of those funny words mean? We’re glad you asked!
Armizare (ar-mē-zah’-ray): 1. (v.) “to be in arms”, to be prepared for battle, 2. (n.) the name the warriors of medieval Italy gave to their martial art, which combined the wielding of sword, axe and spear with wrestling, knife-fighting and mounted combat. Archaic Italian for arte dell’armi, “the art of arms.”
Vade Mecum (vā-day-ˈmay-kəm) 1: a book for ready reference; a manual; 2: something regularly carried about by a person. From Latin, “go with me”.
Dei Liberi’s tradition is preserved in four distinct, beautifully illustrated manuscripts, which have formed the basis for a world-wide effort at reconstructing this ancient fighting art. What many students of the art do not realize is that Fiore wrote in the loose verse common to many medieval authors, who used rhyme to aid in memory. However, the size of Fiore’s work and length of each passage makes memorization difficult. By contrast, mnemonic “teaching verse” was part and parcel of the German masters of the same era. To balance the scales, Guy Windsor, one of the most renowned authors, researchers and teachers of armizare has sharpened his quill and penned this reference book for the modern student. Both pithy and profound, at times comically gory, the Armizare Vade Mecum is both an homage to this famous swordsman and a practical aid in learning his deadly art.
The Armizare Vade Mecum is our first ebook, and we’ve tried to make it something a little special. Featuring a beautiful design that harkens back to the medieval manuscripts that inspired it, we are certain you will find Guy’s “little book” to be as charming to view as it is to recite. With line art by Robert Charrette, it also forms the perfect companion in look and theme to his incredibly popular Armizare: The Chivalric Martial Arts of Il Fior di Battaglia.