As a novice of the European sword, one of the hardest things to come to grips with can be 'Where do I start?'.
Due to the dedicated efforts of many groups and individuals over the past years, the re-creation of the medieval and renaissance martial arts has become a lot more accessible to the novice.
Want to learn the Italian Rapier style of Salvatore Fabris? Tom Leoni has made an excellent translation. German Longsword? Christian H Tobler has produced translations and instructions. Capoferro? Agrippa? Sword and Buckler? English Quarterstaff? Polearms? There are people around the world making it possible to learn a lot about these weapon styles.
It all sounds so fun, right? But where to start, and more importantly, where to STOP?
It is the latter point which poses the greatest difficulty for me. Because everything is still so new and shiny it is very hard to keep focused on any one style or weapon.
Now, keep in mind that every style has its merits, and learning about each will give a better overall understanding of the blade.
However, the peril lies in this: If one doesn't apply themselves to develop a basic level of competence in one style, constantly style-hopping with the frequency of a moth choosing between bright lights at a fireworks display, well, it all becomes a bit of a mess trying to keep all the information orderly in the old grey matter.
Regretfully, I cannot say that I have found an adequate answer to the dilemma yet.
However, I am trying to limit myself to the following areas of study:
Single Rapier, according to Capoferro.
(I am also dabbling in the Spanish approach, particularly the footwork, but my knowledge is too limited to be able to study it properly as a seperate thing.)
Sword and Buckler, following the Bolognese school.
Longsword, according to the German traditions.
It is my hope that by limiting my initial interests to these areas, I will gain a decent overall understanding of how technique and footwork variesy with the nature of each weapon style, whilst at the same time not overwhelm myself with so much information that my studies suffer overall as a result of lack of focus.