I posted on MartialTalk about this show that I watched last night. It was the first of 5 hour-long episodes of this series on the Military History Channel. It focused on the sword as used in the War of the Roses (15th century England). Future episodes will cover other weapons, including the spear and longbow. An expert in historical swordsmanship, Mike Loades, hosts the show in a way that is reminiscent of the History Channel's Conquest but with much more of a documentary flavor and less of a reality-show flavor. In this episode he discussed the types of swords, the need for strength and flexibility in a sword, sword-making, tactics, and so on, with an emphasis on tactics, and also described a particular battle in great detail (the 1471 Battle of Barnet). A group of his students were trained in the use of the sword. It was interesting to see the techniques. One thing that was very noticeable is that they assume the use of a gauntlet, for they grabbed their own blade constantly for pommel-strikes and the like. Also, they were taught stances, then basic strikes, then they drilled in a standardized pattern that, in my opinion, could only be termed a kata. The instructor felt the pattern was important for ingraining the techniques and the transitions between positions/stances/guards. It could have been a Japanese martial art, based on the training methods! Of course they practiced techniques in pairs as well. There was a segment on swordfighting from horseback and they drew extensively from certain old swordfighting manuals (though no English swordsmanship manuals from that period survive, they said). They showed some historic swords, and tested swords against one another in cutting and thrusting practice (on a block of clay), and against a helmet. Since armor was worn, the sword was effectively a bludgeon rather than a cutting weapon. There was also a segment showing in some detail the forging of a layered sword. Seeing the twisted form that would be heated again, and seeing how it lead to the pattern on the sword after etching, was fascinating. The battle itself--and why it lead to such a preponderance of swordfighting rather than artillery/archery carrying the day--was covered in detail, including the motivations of the opposing armies. I really enjoyed this show, and am looking forward to further episodes. There are a few relevant links in post #4 in the thread on MartialTalk.