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What happens when you listen to your readers? Eleven five star reviews!

“This should be the core book in every HEMA practitioner’s library”

Comments like this are what authors live for. My new book The Theory and Practice of Historical Martial Arts has picked up eleven five star reviews on in its first week in the wild. I couldn't be happier. The reviews come from beginners and highly experienced practitioners, which suggests that the book does what I designed it to do: to encapsulate my experience for the benefit of the entire community.

Here are some of the reviews:

Guy is one of the best authors writing about martial arts today. He offers a unique blend of knowledge and experience, always with an emphasis on safety. Guy really sets the standard for realizing historical training manuals, but in this book, he presents the reader with a broad based primer historical European martial arts. A great book and a good read.” — James Sanderson

“Though focused on historical European sword fighting this book is an excellent handbook on learning any martial art. As a four decade student of martial arts I especially appreciated his section on developing your own drills and his constant emphasis on safety. In short a guy who knows his stuff (Couldn’t resist.) I purchased a pre-release copy that’s how I can review a book that came out yesterday.”– “Rocky”

“This is a great introduction for anyone interested in getting into learning historical martial arts. Guy has many other excellent books covering various specific historical masters or weapon systems, but this book explains the thinking and process involved in recreating any historical martial art from historical sources. Guy covers topics such as how to read and interpret historical source material, how to construct a core drill, organize a practice group or teach a class as well as principles for monitoring your own skill level and determining what to focus on to improve.” — David Tehan

“Once again Guy has written an excellent book on Historical Martial Arts. This one distils his 20+ years in studying historical texts and applying them using today’s training methods, to provide beginners and more advanced students alike with the skills they need to take a manuscript, interpret it and develop and deliver a training course on it. I’ve been lucky enough to train with Guy at several workshops he’s run and this book feels like I am back in one of his classes, put now I’m getting the expanded and in-depth theory as well as the practice. Well worth the read for anyone into historical martial arts or those who want to improve their training in any discipline.”– “SLW”

“This is the book I wish I had when I started my journey into historical martial arts three decades ago. With the exploding popularity of the subject, we're seeing an abundance of translations and interpretations of the source material, but very few core sources on how to actually go about using them effectively. This book organizes these elements into a foundation for a personal practice, a study group, a school, or beyond. As an experienced practitioner, it's helped me reset my priorities and add depth to my practice. If you're new to the field, all I can say is start here.” — Eric Mauer

I could go on, but you can find them all here. I'd like to thank everyone who took the time to review the book; it's a major help, and it feels fantastic to know how much you liked it. Perhaps the most useful question is how did I do it? The answer is simple. When I had the first draft finished, I sent it out to a hundred beta readers, and asked for feedback. Most people have no experience in delivering useful feedback to a writer. “I liked it”, or “I didn't like it” are interesting, but not actionable. To help get the best, most detailed feedback, I created a form they could fill in to tell me what was good, what was bad, and what was missing. You can see the form here if you're interested in the specific questions I asked.

Then, when the feedback came in, I did what they asked me to do. The biggest single change was I greatly expanded the chapter on tournaments. So it's no wonder that these good people like the book: people just like them had a hand in creating it (and indeed some of the reviewers were also beta readers).

In other words, I asked the readers how to improve it, and then (and this is the difficult bit, and the most important by a million miles): I paid attention to their criticisms. Asking is easy, but actually listening when somebody tells you that something you've been slaving over for months or years actually needs quite a lot more work is hard. But the results speak for themselves.



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