I am a swordsmanship practitioner, instructor, researcher, writer, and also an entrepreneur. My mission in life is to restore European martial arts to their rightful place at the heart of our culture. Be prepared for earth-shattering revelations regarding the art of swordsmanship, and how it is the single best path through life yet invented. Check out my blog, my books, and the syllabus I have developed. I am also involved in crowd-funding, and you can see my campaigns here.
I’ve been doing this a long time; a brief overview of my work is here:
1994: I founded The Dawn Duellists’ Society with Joe Calise and Paul Macdonald; it is still running today, and many of its members have gone on to found their own groups, such as the Hotspur School of Defence, the Black Boar Swordsmanship School, and others.
1999: I helped to found the British Federation for Historical Swordplay, with Paul Macdonald and Bob Brooks. It is still running today.
2001: I founded The School of European Swordsmanship in Helsinki. It has spread to Singapore (possibly the first HEMA school in Asia), Australia, Sweden, Germany, the United States, Canada, as well as all across Finland. The prevalence of Finns in the modern HEMA scene is directly due to the School: Ilkka Hartikainen, Kristian Ruokonen, and many others got their start there.
2004: I published The Swordsman’s Companion. It broke new ground and got a generation of students across the globe started with HEMA.
2006: I published The Duellist’s Companion. This was the first comprehensive training guide to the rapier, and is still the foundation of many schools’ training regimes.
2010: I began uploading free videos of the School’s syllabus, and published the entire school syllabus online for free. Pioneered the use of crowdfunding for HEMA projects, starting in 2011.
2011: I published The Medieval Dagger.
2012: I began blogging, providing useful free content to the HEMA community.
2013: I published Veni Vadi Vici, a translation of Vadi, and released the translation online for free.
2014: I published The Medieval Longsword. Over 100 training videos already online, including many full-length seminars. Published the first two decks of Audatia, the first ever card game that teaches historical swordsmanship.
2015: I published Swordfighting, and the first four instalments of The Swordsman’s Quick Guide, and two more Audatia decks.
2016: I published Advanced Longsword: Form and Function, the final two Audatia decks, three more instalments of The Swordsman’s Quick Guide, and put over 30 HEMA treatises online for free, including Fabris, Marozzo, Agrippa and Girard. Released the first ever online course to help students research HEMA; called “Recreate historical swordsmanship from historical sources”.
1) Why Swordsmanship?
The art deserves the place I want for it because it has the capacity to hook people out of mediocrity and into their best, dare I say knightly, selves. For a significant subset of the population, the sword is the best, most effective, most natural tool for getting in touch with who they aspire to be. And it is my job to help them with that difficult and often painful process. I do this by providing training opportunities: organised classes, a space to train in, a set of authentic, historically accurate combat systems to study, and by teaching classes, seminars and private lessons.
For a fuller answer, see here.
2) Why Finland?
Why not? It’s a great place to live and to bring up my kids. No, my wife is not Finnish, and no, I don’t like snow very much. For a fuller answer, see here.
But, as of May 2016, I’ll be living in Ipswich, in Suffolk. Where’s that? seems to be the usual response, so here’s a helpful map:
3) How do I start training?
My school has branches and study groups in all sorts of places, and an excellent url: www.swordschool.com
4) What else do you do?
I am married with two kids, which doesn’t leave a lot of time (or inclination) for extra stuff, but every now and then I get into the shed to do some woodwork.