Watching police formations during the London riots, it is easy to look back centuries.
The use of shields, the desire to attack whilst defending, to break up and put opponents to flight, are all familiar images from centuries past. It is perhaps timely then that this evening National Geographic has a one hour documentary devoted to Talhoffer's Medieval Fightbook.
European martial arts are much neglected, but Talhoffer's fifteenth century book, shows the depth and range of these forgotten practices. Replace the swords with a baton and a scaffolding pole, and you could almost be in contemporary Hackney.