Guy's Blog

Guy frequently keeps this blog updated with thoughts, challenges, interviews and more!

Category: Books and Writing

What the world really needs right now is obviously a better beginners’ guide to training in Fiore’s Art of Arms, right? So I have created one. So what's special about that?

I always, always, try to instil self-direction into my students. My job is to make myself redundant. I do this in practice by giving even beginners in their very first class some agency to choose what we cover. By the time they get to the seniors class (usually in a year or two), classes are entirely student-led: we cover whatever they need my help with that day.

Books are a very linear model, and while I can lay out my usual path through the enormous range of the Fiore syllabus, that restricts the reader’s agency to an unfortunate degree. But actually, very few of my readers ever read from cover to cover. Everyone skips ahead to the things they are most interested. And why not? They’ve bought the book, they can do whatever they want with it. 

So I have figured out how to include gradually increasing levels of choice for the reader/student in these workbooks. The series will comprise several workbooks. The first is the Beginner’s Course, of eight lessons each with about as much stuff as I’d cover in a single 90 minute class. In the first class of the first book, you get one simple choice. In the second class, there’s more freedom.  At every stage, if you need prior material to successfully approach the topic at hand, that will be flagged up. So even if you skipped that section for some reason, you can go to the specific prerequisite material and practice that before returning to the thing you want to do next.

There are as many correct paths through the syllabus as there are students to walk them. In this new series I have finally figured out how to represent that on the page. 

Every technique, every drill, is presented as written instructions with images from the source manuscript, and over 40 video clips. Each video is linked to with a QR code on the relevant page, so you can just point your smartphone at the page and it will open the video for you. There is abundant space for your own written notes, which is especially necessary when you are not working through the material in the order it appears in the text. 

It’s a choose your own path training manual.

Part One covers the following material:

Unarmed techniques

The four guards of abrazare (wrestling)

The first six plays of abrazare

The four steps (footwork)

The three turns (footwork)

With the Dagger

The four blows of the dagger

Disarms against forehand, backhand, and rising dagger thrusts

Counters to the disarms

Arm locks and counters

How to fall safely

A basic takedown/throw

With the Longsword

Six ways to hold the longsword

The seven blows of the longsword

How to parry and strike

How to counter the parry with a pommel strike

How to counter the pommel strike

The exchange of thrusts

Breaking the thrusts

Training on the pell

 

That's a lot of material- but thanks to the format it’s presented in, it should be thoroughly attainable.

The book is in layout now; all the video clips have been edited and uploaded, the QR codes created, and so on. We even have the covers. 

There is a limited number of pre-order slots available, which will help pay for the layout and cover graphic design work, and the editing costs. Pre-orders are for the print version, but also include the ebook. 

I hope to get the ebook version out to those that pre-order in a week or so, and the print workbooks ready to ship by the end of this month.

The workbook should be more widely available in May.

You can preorder the right-handed layout here: https://guywindsor.gumroad.com/l/aw1RHpreorder

And the left-handed layout here: https://guywindsor.gumroad.com/l/aw1LHpreorder

It is hugely satisfying for an author to see their work put to work. I received an email recently from Anthony Klon, who is using my Rapier Workbooks. He described how he's using the area for notes to make cross-referencing the steps of the Rapier Footwork form with the translation he's using.

I’ve been working through the Rapier workbooks and hit upon this idea. I was really struggling with having to flip back and forth between workbooks, scanning the TOC, then finding and reading a section and going back to Tom Leoni’s translation to see the original context. So it occurred to me to organize the footwork form like this. Every step in the form has 4 entries in this outline:
1) the action described in your text (eg, step, step, lunge, recover)
2) the terminology, if applicable (eg, the scannatura)
3) the plate in Capoferro where the technique can be found
4) the workbook volume and page number where the corresponding lesson on the technique may be found.

Now there’s far less flipping back and forth. If I get stuck or want to perfect a part, it’s easy to go straight to the plate or page for revision.

You can see the footwork form here:

I read a lot. Most writers do. You may think I spend most of my time reading sword books, but it isn’t so. Probably the most important books I’ve read in the last year or so are entirely sword-free! My home is filled with books- and about half of them are in boxes in the loft- clearly we should have made one of the children sleep in the cupboard under the stairs and used one of the bedrooms as a library.

As you can see from this photo of one bookshelf in my study, I read on a wide range of topics, and I clearly have no idea how to organise a library. My current approach is to find a space on a shelf in which a new book can physically fit, and let my visual memory make finding the book possible. 

Much of the non-fiction I’m reading at the moment is to do with health in one form or another. As I see it, there are three pillars to physical health: sleep, movement, and food. Movement explicitly includes breathing.

Far and away the best book on sleep I’ve ever read is Why We Sleep, by  Matthew Walker. It’s a thorough description of the current scientific research on the subject, by a career scientist in the field, and includes a lot of actionable advice if you're having trouble sleeping. (Let me note here that all links are affiliate, which means I get paid a small fee if you buy the book, which costs you nothing but helps me keep the lights on. If that bothers you feel free to just search for the book by title and author.)

When it comes to food there are so many conflicting views on the subject. Some people still believe that dietary fat is bad for you! Probably the most important book I’ve read on the health implications of food is Personalized Medicine. It has lead me on a fascinating quest into the way my body reacts to certain foods. You can read more about that here. While on the subject of food, the best cookbook my wife and I have used in a very long time is Ian Haste’s The Seven Day Basket. Almost every recipe we’ve tried so far has been a family-wide hit: my younger daughter declared that the beef rendang we had the other night ought to be our Christmas dinner this year. 

Regarding movement, I regard all exercises as breathing exercises, and have done for a very long time. James Nestor’s new book Breath is an utterly unmissable overview of the subject, with in-depth examinations of a huge range of breathing styles and their effects. For a more complete review, see here.

And on the subject of health, ageing is becoming a more urgent interest as I near 50. The only book I’ve found worth reading on the subject (because it dives deep into the science of what’s actually happening at the cellular level as we age) is Lifespan, by David A. Sinclair. It’s excellent. If you want to know about rapamycin, mTOR, fasting, metformin, NMN, and a badgillion other ageing related things, read this book. It might literally add decades to your life.

Alright, a couple of martial arts books for you. 

Fear is the Mind Killer by Kaja Sadowski is essential reading for anyone running a club or teaching a class. It is an extraordinary resource, especially in the areas of creating the club culture you want, and in how to train for the real thing. I cannot recommend it too highly.

The Book of Martial Power by Steven J. Pearlman is also unmissable. It’s one of the very few martial arts books that goes deep into principles, and as such anyone training literally any martial art should read this book. It’s awesome.

And finally: a friend of mine is writing really fun thrillers starring an ex-porn star called Butch Bliss. I could describe the books at length, but why bother when you can get a free taste by joining his mailing list here: https://dl.bookfunnel.com/pyx8j9tgfm If you like the novella he’s giving away, you’ll love the two novels in the series so far: Hidden Palms, and Snake Road. Just the thing for a long flight (back when aeroplanes were a thing) or indeed for taking your mind off the plague. 

If you're enjoying reading my writing about books, then there are many more such posts on this blog! Here are all the ones I could find, there are probably more. My command of “topic” and “tag” is not what it could be.

7 great martial arts-as-a-path books 

My top 3 non-fiction books of 2013

5 essential non-martial arts books every martial artist should read 

Fiore scholars, you must have this book. A review of Flowers of Battle

Game of Thrones and the Medieval Art of War (Book Review)

A Gentleman’s Guide to Duelling: Review

Making History review of my father's More Sherlock Holmes than James Herriot

The Ill-Made Knight, well made indeed.

Let’s illuminate Invisible Women this lead to me starting a podcast

How to Sharpen Pencils: an Appreciation

Awesome fiction: Traitor’s Blade, by Sebastien de Castell

The best book on armour, ever?

14 good reasons why you should buy the new I.33

Book Review: The Essence of Budo

 

I’ve been practising various forms of breathing exercises for about 30 years now. They are the foundation of all my training, to the point that literally every exercise of any kind is always first and foremost a breathing exercise for me. You can see that in this recording of last Friday's trainalong class: the topic is hips, but it's all breathing really:

I’ve written a short training guide on breathing (which is included in Theory and Practice of Historical Martial Arts, and created a whole online course for it (bundled in with the Solo course). And I still learned a lot from James Nestor's Breath. Go buy it, read it, it’s one of those no-brainer must-reads. (All book links are affiliate, so I get a small commission if you buy them. It costs you nothing.)

In essence, the book covers Mr Nestor’s odyssey through the sometimes strange, sometimes wonderful, always interesting, worlds of breathing practice, starting with that age-old question- nose or mouth?

Of course you should breathe through your nose. Practically no exceptions, if the nose is available. But he has his nose plugged and does mouth-only breathing for ten days to find out what the consequences are- and they are really, profoundly, horrible. This is in the best tradition of self-experimentation. He has suffered so we don’t have to.

Unlike most books on the subject, and unlike most practitioners, Mr Nestor also looks at sinus and airway architecture and its importance for good breathing. He takes his study into dentist’s offices, the catacombs under Paris (looking at old skulls), and goes into detail about why our jaws and palates are smaller than they should be, and what to do to change that. Fun fact: though it’s often stated that you can’t add bone mass over 30, you absolutely can add bone mass in your face at pretty much any age. Nestor proves it by actually doing it, with medical scans before and after.

I won’t go into all of the breathing practices he does cover, suffice to say it’s a lot, and some I’d never heard of before. He highlights the work of people like Katharina Schroth, and Alexandra David-Néel, who have been mostly forgotten now but did amazing things with breath as recently as last century. Most interestingly for me, he goes in depth into Tummo breathing, the origin of the Wim Hof method which I practice most days. 

I do have three minor caveats. 

Firstly, he does the classic page-turner trick of getting half-way into a story then switching to another story, before circling back. It’s annoying to me, because I didn’t need the extra incentive to keep reading. This is a generally a well written, well researched, and utterly fascinating book about one of my core interests. It didn’t need the help. I understand why editors insist on such things but I found it intrusive.

Secondly, though he does describe a lot of anthropological studies and a lot of European, Russian, Indian, Tibetan and American breathing experts and practices, he skips right over the Chinese! Qigong gets a passing mention on page 188, but that’s it. It’s an odd lacuna. It feels to me like there’s a chapter missing.  Perhaps he’s working on a follow-up volume dedicated entirely to qigong? 

Thirdly, and most importantly, you need to watch out for the condition I think of as “popular science-itis”, which can be summarised as a) making unverifiable claims, b) imprecise use of language leading to misleading statements, and c) overstating the evidence.*

For examples:

a) describing a breathing technique as “a calming practice that places the heart, lungs, and circulation into a state of coherence” (p 221). What, exactly, is that supposed to mean? And how do you test it? There are similar descriptions of unverifiable effects elsewhere in the book, but to Mr Nestor’s credit he usually sticks to more verifiable/falsifiable statements. 

b) “The body has switched from anaerobic to aerobic respiration”, when what I think he means is that specific muscle fibres have switched: the body as a whole (and especially the brain) would have been generally respiring aerobically the whole time. 

c) Extrapolating more general conclusions than a specific study might warrant, or stating things in too-conclusive terms, such as “mouthbreathing was making me dumber”, a remark based on a single study done in rats regarding problem solving, and one in humans regarding oxygen supply to one part of the brain (p30). As a description of subjective experience it would be fine (“I felt that mouthbreathing was making me dumber”), or a more qualified statement to introduce the interesting research would also have been fine (“mouthbreathing may have been making me dumber”). 

He’s generally very good about such things, and he is having to balance telling a gripping story (that’s the “popular” bit in “popular science”) with getting the science across. This is not an easy trick to pull off, and he does an excellent, if not perfect, job. As with anything health-related, take what you read with a grain of salt, and go read the original studies before betting your life on their conclusions. 

But, and this is a huge but: there are so many things in the book that every human should know, and so many practices that you can simply and safely try for yourself, that you’d be a fool not to read it. Go! Even if you think you're already an expert, go. And if you know nothing about breathing, go still faster. I'm certain you won't regret it.

*and let the record state that I fall into the same three traps rather more than I should!

In From Medieval Manuscript to Modern Practice I took the innovative step of using redirect links to video clips instead of photographs to illustrate my interpretation. This is much better in terms of representing movement, but it can be tedious to type out the links in a browser. Given that you need a web browsing device to see the videos, I thought a pdf with all the links embedded would be helpful. That way, whatever device you're reading the book on, or especially if you're old-school and have a printed copy, you can load this pdf onto your video-browsing device and easily find whatever video link you want.

You can find the PDF here:

Free Handout: From Medieval Manuscript to Modern Practice video links pdf

I hope you find it useful!

It’s always the way. You bring out a new book, and somebody comes up with something that makes you jump up and down going “I wanted that in my book!!! Why couldn’t that have come out a month ago!!!”

It’s actually a good feeling. Because no book is the last word on any subject, and no non-fiction book is ever truly finished (which is why we have second editions, third editions, etc etc.).

You may have heard that I’m into bookbinding. I got into bookbinding while I was researching Vadi, and came across the auction house catalogue for the sale of the manuscript to the Biblioteca Nazionale di Roma. The catalogue included a collation of the manuscript, which is a description of the way the pages are bound together. It’s extremely important because it can give you a great deal of insight into what might be missing from the manuscript. I’ve written about that here.

So a couple of weeks after my new Fiore book came out, Mike Chidester (who was one of the inspirations for the book) sends me this email:

A few weeks ago, while trying to do preparatory work on the second facsimile project, I ran into problems with the Getty museum on the subject of how many pages are missing from their online offerings. The reproductions department sent me six scans (the inside and outside covers and one flyleaf) and swore blind that that was all of the missing pages. I was pretty sure that was wrong, and ultimately my questions were bounced to the manuscript department, which sent me this arcane formula:

This is an example of a collation statement, which tries to capture the exact way in which the manuscript is bound together. Manuscripts are built up out of quires, which are stacks of paper that are folded in half and then sewn down the middle, so that each sheet (bifolium) becomes two pages (folia). Medieval manuscripts are often bound in quires of 4 (quaternions), which is the number of parchment sheets of roughly A4 size that you can expect to harvest from a single goat. The number actually typically ranges from 3-5 (ternions to quinternions), because perfect plans rarely survive contact with reality.

The Getty manuscript is a normal-seeming manuscript of 49 numbered folia, so one might expect 7 quaternions (for 56 total folia), with several blank pages at the beginning or end. Instead, when I created a visualization of this diagram (inspired by work I've seen Daniel Jaquet and others do), it turned out like this:

Two single bifolia bound into the spine, and then a series of very large quires—quinternions and a sexternion. What's more, any student of Fiore knows that folio 38, which contains dagger plays, is misplaced; specifically, it belongs between folia 14 and 15, which are the end of quire III and the beginning of IV. Since folio 27 is also bound into the book as a single leaf, we can surmise that 27 and 38 were originally a single bifolium, forming the outside layer of quire IV—making it a septernion, or seven-sheet quire. At the time, I thought that this was a ridiculous number of pages for a manuscript quire. What little I knew. (Excerpt reproduced with permission. Personal correspondence, May 27th 2020).

Finally, finally, finally, we have a collation statement for Il Fior di Battaglia. And the mystery of how folio 38 ended up where it did is solved. It used to be the first page of the next quire, and at some point the vellum tore along its fold, the pages fell out, and what should be folio 15 got bound back in in the wrong place. That binder needs a good slap round the back of the head, of course. But it’s always a relief to get confirmation of a theory. Until now, there was no way to be certain beyond all doubt that the naughty folio 38 wasn’t in fact in its original place (if, for instance, it appeared in the middle of an intact quire), and Fiore just decided to strip a page of dagger plays and dump them between the pollax and the spear plays. 

O happy day, calloo callay! But now of course I have to edit the introduction section of From Medieval Manuscript to Modern Practice.

Not this year though. 

If I had to identify a single moment where I became irreversibly a Star Wars fan, it was when Luke Skywalker use the plank he was supposed to walk off on Jabba's barge as a springboard for a somersault, while R2D2 shoots his lightsaber into the air for him to catch. The closest thing we have in the historical record to a lightsaber is a longsword, and while I had all sorts of perfectly rational reasons for making longsword my primary focus, really, it's because it's a lightsaber that hasn't been turned on yet.

So there you have it. It's probably true to say that without Star Wars there'd be no Swordschool.

I've written reviews in the past about various Star Wars films: most notably The Force Awakens and have given  some thought to the new franchise. It's a very long way though from Jedi magic to serious scholarship on historical fencing manuscripts. What tends to happen is that the gleeful zeal which these texts light up in us sword nuts gets ground down by the nitty-gritty serious work of approaching centuries-old documents and teasing their meanings out of them in an academically supportable way.

What I have tried to do with my new book is keep hold of that child-like enthusiasm, because frankly, it's what we're all in this for. I think there is really no need for the defensive use of detached academese. So long as every assertion of fact is supported by evidence, and every unsupported opinion is flagged up as such, there's no advantage to be gained from writing a book about the specifics of medieval knightly combat in a tone that only a trained academic is comfortable reading.

The first review of the book (by the excellent Vojkan Selakovic, on Goodreads) suggests that the book is working as intended. He wrote:

The book From Medieval Manuscript to Modern Practice: The Longsword Techniques of Fiore Dei Liberi is, from my humble and inevitably limited experience, one of the most relevant books on historical swordsmanship that any practicioner, whether (aspiring) instructor or student can own. Particularly those focusing on Fiore. This was an ”all killer no filler” from Guy, obviously an experienced swordsman but an excellent tutor as well.

The book starts with a welcoming summary of various translations, and insight into the life and historical context of Fiore. Those with a particular fancy for the historical part of historical swordsmanship will be quite pleased and given enough guidelines for further research.

The core of the book itself is the Fiore's early 15th c manuscript Fiore di Battaglia, everyone who picked up this book is probably well acquainted with. However, rather than just a translation (which is by no means a minor task, on the contrary) of the sword plays – this is a proper, in depth analysis. A systematic, meticulous dissecting of Fiore's work.

No matter how slow you advance in this art, and how meticulous you are, unless you have vast experience behind you, interpreting medieval source and trying to ‘bring it to life' in practice will cause problems. There will be gaps in your understanding of this as you stretch your capabilities . The book is there to help you fill out these holes and complete your project. Sometimes, it's a sentence, sometimes a paragraph and sometimes a whole page, but there will be many ”aha” moments, even for those who aren't new to this. Fiore isn't as linear as we are used to in a ‘step by step guideline' era, so hearing from someone who is intimately familiar with all this and who dealt with the same problems we are having, is invaluable. His interpretation of Posta di Bicorno is the illustrative example. Through Guy's work, this book in particular, I've learned to ”read” Fiore in a different way, both the words and the pictures.

In this I applaud to Guy. He didn't invent the wheel with this book, he didn't make a breakthrough discovery, he simply (and I guess it wasn't simple at all) combined all the available knowledge on Fiore in a very digestible, practically useful and applicable form.

I was a bit disappointed when I realised I've reached the end of the book in what seems to have been just a couple of hours. And I really love it when a book makes me feel like that.

We needed this book.

If you don't have it yet, From Medieval Manuscript to Modern Practice: The Longsword Techniques of Fiore dei Liberi can be ordered from your local bookseller (use the isbn: hardback: 978-952-7157-54-1 paperback: 978-952-7157-55-8), if you prefer ebooks you can get it direct from me here, or if your best option is the world’s longest river, you can get it there too. Amazon US, Amazon UK.

As with my Solo course, if you need a copy of the book but can't afford it at the moment, email me and I'll send you a pdf free. No questions asked. These are not easy times for anyone.

Happy May Day! I know it’s not such a big deal in many countries, but in Finland it’s HUGE. So what better day to launch a new book? Especially when everyone is stuck at home.

From Medieval Manuscript to Modern Practice: The Longsword Techniques of Fiore dei Liberi is officially published today! You can order it from your local bookseller (use the isbn: hardback: 978-952-7157-54-1 paperback: 978-952-7157-55-8), if you prefer ebooks you can get it direct from me here, or if your best option is the world’s longest river, you can get it there too. Amazon US, Amazon UK.

I guess the question is why would you want to? Well, the book is an in-depth look at my interpretation of Fiore’s longsword material, on foot out of armour. It includes a transcription and translation of all of the longsword plays, with extensive digressions into the other sections. And most critically, every play is illustrated with a video clip (there are links in the text that you can click on in the ebooks, or type into a browser in the printed book). This is an innovative way to produce a critical study of a martial arts text, and I’m looking forward to finding out what you think of it.

If you have already read it, I’d very much appreciate a review! It’s currently languishing in algorithm hell, reviewless. Tell the world what you think of it!

The official blurb:

In the late 14th century Fiore dei Liberi, an Italian knightly combat master, wrote a magnificent treatise on the Art of Arms. He called his book Il Fior di Battaglia, the Flower of Battle, and it is one of the greatest martial arts books of all time, describing how to fight on foot and on horseback, in armour and without, with sword, spear, pollax, dagger, or with no weapon at all. Guy Windsor has spent the last 20 years studying Fiore's work and creating a modern practice of historical swordsmanship from it. In this book, Guy takes you through all of Fiore's longsword techniques on foot out of armour. Each technique (or “play”) is shown with the drawing from the treatise, Guy's transcription and translation of the text, his commentary on how it fits into the system and works in practice, and a link to a video of the technique as Guy interprets it. The book contains a detailed introduction describing Fiore's life and times, and extensive discussion of the contexts in which Fiore's art belongs.

This is essential reading for any scholar of the Art of Arms, and will also provide fascinating insight to all martial artists and historians of the medieval and early Renaissance eras.

So, if that sounds like your sort of thing, order it from your local bookseller (use the isbn: hardback: 978-952-7157-54-1 paperback: 978-952-7157-55-8), or get the ebook direct from me here, or even Amazon US, Amazon UK.

P.S. I made a mistake in the Gumroad settings, and quite a few direct buyers ended up paying for shipping on the ebook. I've now fixed that, and contacted the buyers regarding refunding the shipping costs. If you were one of them and you didn't get an email from me, please check your spam folder, and drop me a line!

In a sword fight there is no time to think. You see, you act. The essence of training is to adjust your instinct so that the instinctive response is also the correct one. I’ve spent decades training my instinct, and  I apply this to literally all parts of my life. I don’t decide what to do when I get up in the morning, and I certainly don’t plan my week/month/year. I do whatever my gut tells me is the right thing, and figure out why afterwards.

I’m spending a lot of time in my shed at the moment. Not to get away from the wife and kids- in fact the best times are when one or other of them join me, and sit in the chair I keep there for the purpose chatting to me while I chisel. Or when my youngest is cutting stuff up on the bandsaw, just for fun. I’ve completed the major project I was working on (a Pilates ladder barrel for my wife), and have spent almost all my time in there since re-organising my tools and making better tool storage solutions, such as this saw till.

Please note, I should probably be doing that sabre video class for the Solo course, but I’m not. I will, but not until my instinct tells me it’s time. I wondered why I was spending so much time out in my shed, and eventually it came to me. This is a period where the normal illusion of control (I can go here, I can do that) has been stripped away. We actually have exactly the same degree of agency we’ve always had, but as good citizens we are deciding to obey the government guidelines and stay home (yes really please do). The environment seems stranger and more hostile than usual, and it makes us feel helpless. So I have been spending my time in an environment I can control, and exerting that control in a clear and obvious way by making things, particularly things that change that environment for the better. This is the linear opposite of stressing about the plague. 

When I figured that out, I thought “good job, brain! nice one” and carried on making this:

Here it is from another angle.

What the hell is that? I hear you ask. Well now…

I don’t know if you have ever written a book. I have, several in fact. And every single one is like being constipated for a year or more, before finally it forces its way painfully out, and you lie spent from the struggle clutching this thing you’ve made. I should probably have written ‘pregnant’ for ’constipated’, but I was present for the birth of my children, and actually, giving birth seems to be orders of magnitude harder than producing a book. 

My latest extrusion is done and dusted, and the hardback pre-orders have been sent out. Hurrah!

In it I take you through all of Fiore's longsword techniques on foot out of armour. Each play is shown with the drawing from the treatise, my transcription and translation of the text that goes with it, my commentary on how it fits into the system and works in practice, and a link to a video of the technique as I interpret it. The book contains a detailed introduction describing Fiore's life and times, and extensive discussion of the contexts in which Fiore's art belongs.

You can get the ebook (in all formats) from my gumroad shop here: https://gum.co/longsword1

It’s available to pre-order from Amazon in any one of their national stores, just search for its ASIN: B08629VNKY

But before you go dashing off to buy it: it’s Fiore sword geekery in the extreme. Please ONLY buy it if you are really into the historical side of historical swordsmanship, and/or you want to know how I think Fiore’s art is put together. This is not a basic introduction to how to hold a sword.

Or you can get the ebook for free… if you can tell me what the object pictured above is for, let me know in the comments, and the first correct answer will get the ebook. Note, that the object is lying on my bench, and may or may not be correctly rotated in the images.

I will also give out a free ebook to the best answer, correct or not!

I will post a picture of the object in service, and the best answer(s) next week.

Producing a book is a marathon, not a sprint, but the finish line for From Medieval Manuscript to Modern Practice: The Longsword Techniques of Fiore dei Liberi is in sight!

I’m in my study plodding through the first draft of the the laid-out print file. This is simultaneously very exciting (my NEW BOOK! HURRAH!), very nerve wracking (I’ve got to find EVERY error!), and very tedious (I’ve got to go through every page with a fine-tooth comb. For instance, in the bibliography I had the publication year for Domenico Angelo’s School of Fencing wrong. Doh!). This is simultaneously the best and worst part of publishing: the best because you can see that the book is real, not just a thing in your head; the worst because the temptation to rush through the last few hurdles is extreme. 

I have Basil Poledouris’ soundtrack to Conan the Barbarian on repeat coming in through my noise-cancelling headphones. This helps.

Here’s the back cover blurb:

In the late 14th century Fiore dei Liberi, an Italian knightly combat master, wrote a magnificent treatise on the Art of Arms. He called his book Il Fior di Battaglia, the Flower of Battle, and it is one of the greatest martial arts books of all time, describing how to fight on foot and on horseback, in armour and without, with sword, spear, pollax, dagger, or with no weapon at all. Guy Windsor has spent the last 20 years studying Fiore's work and creating a modern practice of historical swordsmanship from it. In this book, Guy takes you through all of Fiore's longsword techniques on foot out of armour. Each technique (or “play”) is shown with the drawing from the treatise, Guy's transcription and translation of the text, his commentary on how it fits into the system and works in practice, and a link to a video of the technique as Guy interprets it. The book contains a detailed introduction describing Fiore's life and times, and extensive discussion of the contexts in which Fiore's art belongs.

This is essential reading for any scholar of the Art of Arms, and will also provide fascinating insight to all martial artists and historians of the medieval and early Renaissance eras.

What do you think?

I don’t have a draft of the cover yet, but my friend Siobhan Richardson is starring in the image above (by Dahlia Katz) for it. I think it looks fantastic, and really tells the story of the book.

Staring at the pages of the new book means that I will soon also be staring at the bills coming in from my editor (Andrew Chapman) and my layout artist (Bek Pickard). Both these fine humans totally deserve to be paid for their work. And of course they will be no matter what – I would never stiff a freelancer.

I used to crowdfund my books through Indiegogo to cover the costs before publication. I don’t do that any more because the platform fees are rather high, and they also tend to hold onto the money for weeks. Instead, for the last couple of books I’ve taken limited pre-orders for the hardback, through my Gumroad account. It’s much more efficient- I get paid at the end of the following week, and the platform fees are way lower. I’ve set it up to allow maximum 75  pre-orders.

If you pre-order the hardback I can’t guarantee that it will be faster than ordering it through your usual bookshop (online or bricks-and-mortar) when it's released, because sometimes the shipping takes forever. But you will get immediate access to a pdf of the current draft (no images, but the video links all work), the ebook version the moment it's ready, and your book will printed and shipped before the book goes into general distribution. 

So, if you would like to order one or more copies of the new book, go here! https://gum.co/longsword

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Max Your Lunge

I wrote Max Your Lunge in 2007, long before this blog was conceived. It’s past

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