Guy's Blog

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

Category: What I’m Working On

I do like a bit of woodwork. And what is a jaegerstock if not a very long stick with some pointy bits attached?

This instalment takes place entirely in my workshop, as I’m fitting the heads to the shaft.

This is part two of the Jaegerstock series. You can find part one here:

Taking up the Jaegerstock

And all jaegerstock posts here:

https://guywindsor.net/tag/jaegerstock/

I recently interviewed Reinier van Noort for my podcast, and while we were talking he mentioned a documented set of solo forms for the Jaegerstock, a nine-foot long spear with a point at both ends. The source is Johann Georg Pascha’s book Kurtze ANLEIDUNG Wie der BASTON A DEUX BOUS, Das ist JAEGERSTOCK/ Halbe Pique oder Springe-stock Eigentlich zu gebrauchen und was vor Lectiones darauff seyn. This was originally printed in 1669, and is a translation of a French work. Reinier has published his translation (along with many more of Pascha’s works) in his book The Martial Arts of Johann Georg Pasha. I love solo training, and so promised in the show to figure out those solo forms and video them.

This turned into something of a project, including doing the research, making the weapon, figuring out the forms themselves, and so on. It struck me when I was starting out that it has been a long time since I approached a new source from scratch, and that it may be helpful to other scholars of historical martial arts to see how I get from the page to the physical action. It’s never just a question of read the whole book and then do all the actions- I always start with a small chunk of text and try it out. The process is iterative and cumulative, not linear.

I don’t intend to write this up in a formal way, but instead create a video log of the process, which will include asides, digressions, mistakes, ruminations, plenty of expletives, and eventually lead us to a working interpretation.

One note before we begin- there are several existing interpretations already out there, including Reinier’s own. In the normal run of things, if I was just trying to come up a working interpretation I would study those at the same time as creating my own- there is no sense in re-inventing the wheel. But because I want to illuminate my process of ab initio interpretation, I’m wilfully ignoring the existing ones. This is not best practice if other interpretations exist, but I’m doing it here to simulate the situation of being the first or only person working on a given text.

I’ve got half a dozen videos shot and edited already, so am planning to release them here on a weekly schedule. This gives you a chance to train along in real time, if you’d like to.

So, without further ado, here’s the first video:

This is part one of the Jaegerstock series. You can find the rest here as they are produced:

Jaegerstock Posts

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

Watermelon is worse for me than Skittles.* Who’d have thought?

If you haven’t read my post on testing blood sugar response to foods, you’d better do that before proceeding. Just to recap briefly, here are the assumptions/opinions/beliefs I’m working from:

1) it is better to avoid spiking your blood sugar levels

2) your blood sugar response to specific foods is unique to you. What spikes mine may not spike yours.

And let me re-state for the gadgillionth time: I’m not a medical doctor. I’m not a biochemist or a nutritionist. I’m a martial arts teacher, documenting the results of some experiments I’m conducting on myself for my own reasons and following my own approach, and sharing for your entertainment and/or interest. It’s up to you what you do with your body. 

I have been testing my blood sugar levels before and after meals, to determine what foods I’m eating regularly that I should actually avoid, and in the hopes that there will be foods I avoid for health reasons that I could actually eat without causing damage. By far the best part of this has been testing things like Skittles, FOR SCIENCE.

Let’s start with the testing techniques and process:

First, the finger prick. They say it doesn’t hurt. They lie like bastards. It hurts exactly as much as you would expect jamming a steel spike into your finger would hurt. But it gets much less painful over time, and it is quite subjective. My wife started doing the blood sugar tests and it doesn’t hurt her at all. My younger daughter decided to try too, and it didn’t hurt her much either. And, it’s a skill like any other. Especially for my wife, getting enough blood out to take a reading took some practice, as her skin is apparently quite thick, and her capillaries quite far from the surface. Shaking the hand before testing, and doing some fist clenches, both helped.

I bought an iPhone-compatible GlucoRX HCT blood sugar monitor. But it had a headphone jack on it, and didn’t work through the dongle. There was nothing on the sales page to say that the lightning port version existed for those of us on jackless iPhones, which was very annoying.

So then I bought a lightning-port GlucoRX HCT monitor. And that barely worked either. I kept getting weird error messages, and my first round on the phone to GlucoRX support came to not much- I got told to hold the monitor vertically. When in fact it should be at about 45 degrees, and the problem was a defective monitor, which I found out when I rang them back at lunch time and got not a customer service person, but an actual engineer! He was super-helpful, diagnosed the problem (“that error message ought to be impossible on that monitor as it doesn’t have an internal battery”) and got a new monitor, plus one of the standalone (no-phone-required) monitors added in for free, into the post to me that very day.

If I was to start this all over again, I would go with a continuous blood glucose monitor. It’s more expensive for a diabetic taking maybe 5 readings a day, but it’s about the same price as using the measuring sticks 20+ times a day for a month, but without the damn finger pricking, and with (as the name suggests) actual continuous monitoring. Matching up that data to a food diary would give a very complete record, with much less fuss. 

So armed with a monitor that worked, and with a large supply of very expensive test strips (about 32p per test, plus a few pence for each new lancet, which when you’re doing 20+ tests a day adds up pretty fast), I started taking some readings and recording them. First on the GlucoRX app, which is ok, and then I tried to add them to the Personalized Nutrition app. Oh my goddess, that app is a disaster. 

Here are the functions that that app is supposed to have: 1) record blood sugar readings. 2) record food intake. Those are the two critical ones. 

But it gives you three options for things to record: Exercise, Sleep (which you have to select right before you sleep- you can’t record it after the fact, so it’s 100% useless), and Food. But the much-vaunted massive database of foods to choose from doesn’t include toast. Toast!! 

And can you tell what’s missing? Right. You have to dig through two sub-menus to find the option to record your blood sugar. Every single time you need to record it. That’s 20+ times per day if you’re tracking every meal.

Seriously, somebody at the app design agency needs a beating with a very big stick.

So if you’re going to try this protocol, stay TF away from the Personalized Nutrition app. It’s shit.

Here’s what I’m doing instead:

1) I’m not tracking every meal every day. I did that for a couple of days, and it’s a pain. So I focussed on breakfast as the place to start, and I have already made some changes.

2) I record the time and the blood sugar reading, with a note about what I’ve been eating, in an actual notebook with an actual pen. Old school, baby.

3) I use my phone to photograph each meal I’m tracking. This gives me a time-stamped visual record to flesh out the notes. That way I don’t have to measure anything, and can tell meal sizes and details from the photos. This is important because quantity matters, as does what else you’re eating at the same time.

4) I’m only tracking meals I eat often. There would have been no point (other than curiosity) in tracking my mum’s killer chocolate cake that we ate last weekend, as it was a one-off.

5) I put the numbers into a spreadsheet (I’m on a Mac so using Numbers), and use that to create graphs to show blood glucose levels over time. 

7) I keep track of which meals don’t spike my blood sugar, and which ones do, and the overall shape of the spikes.

8) For the ones that do spike me, I try the meal again but removing the most likely culprit, and test again. Sadly, my breakfast oranges have to go 🙁

9) I put those graphs into a Pages file with the photos and notes, so I can see, for example, the effects of:

  • my usual breakfast; 
  • the same meal minus the orange; 
  • the same meal minus the toast but with the orange 
  • the same meal minus the orange and minus the toast; 
  • and so on.

The critical thing is to change only one thing at a time, so I can be sure what is having the effect.

Here are three breakfasts, and their results:

Breakfast 1: toast with smoked salmon; toast with peanut butter and blueberries; orange; coffee; crossword.

Breakfast 2: toast with smoked salmon; toast with peanut butter and blueberries; no orange; coffee; crossword.

Breakfast 3: smoked salmon with lettuce, peanut butter and blueberries, coffee, crossword.

And the results from those three versions:

In general, I can predict the effects of most foods. Eating Skittles after dinner sent my blood sugar predictably up to 10.7 mmol/L (about 194 mg/dL for my American friends). There was no immediate crash though, it took about two hours to get gently back to baseline. I don’t usually eat Skittles at all, but I love them, so had to try…. Bye bye Skittles 🙁

But eating watermelon after a vegetarian chilli with sweet potato… that got me over 11.1mmol/L 202 mg/dL, and I was back to baseline in an hour. My poor pancreas. What a trooper. (This one result is my entire basis for the somewhat misleading blog post title.)

The chilli by itself put me up over 8mmol/L (145 mg/dL), the springboard from which the watermelon leapt into action, but salmon with white rice and vegetables (which preceded the Skittles) got me only up to 6.9 (125 mg/dL). White rice! I was amazed- I was very much expecting it to be a metabolic hand-grenade.

Some meals push me up to over 8mmol/L, and keep me there for over two hours (such as my daughter’s favourite gluten-free pumpkin pasta). With others I stay under 7, and get back to baseline in an hour. Incidentally, it’s very clear that I’m in no way diabetic or pre-diabetic (I wasn’t concerned, but it’s nice to know anyway).

I am not planning to share my data here because it would take me hours and hours to make it presentable, and indeed most of it is still in the notebook. I can read the numbers just fine off the page- the handy graph visualisations are unnecessary for me at this point. Besides, spreadsheets and I do not get along well. Also, while this protocol may be useful to you, my data is not: the whole point of this exercise is that your blood sugar response is unique. Knowing what’s bad for me doesn’t help you.

Now that I’m familiar with the system and the effects of some foods, I can cut some corners and am taking fewer readings (which further reduces the usefulness of the data to an actual scientist). Having established the ranges of my sugar spikes, I have a general goal of keeping my level at 30 minutes after eating (timed from the beginning of the meal) to below 7.0. This is quite easy to accomplish. I would also like to drop my fasting blood glucose level to the middle of the normal range. At the moment, it’s hovering a safe margin below the top of the normal range. I’m already seeing it trend in the right direction, now that I’m able to predict and therefore avoid sugar spikes.

And of course, I have a lot of foods left to try. Including Nutella. I couldn’t quite bring myself to face the awful truth… 

*I am well aware that blood glucose response is not the only measure of a food’s healthiness, and that watermelon may have components that are helpful, and Skittles may have components that are actually harmful, beyond the sugar issue. Adding cyanide to food completely prevents a blood sugar spike- because you’re dead before the sugar hits your system! Also, I massively overstated the difference between watermelon and skittles, and haven't taken the pre-existing rise from the dinner into account, and not discussed the time taken to recover back to baseline into account. So it's not objectively true, I am taking massive licence for rhetorical effect. But this is not a scientific paper, it’s a blog post. M’kay?

Meditation is a crucially important practice for martial artists. It enables you to gain control over your state of mind, your level of arousal, and above all teaches you to be able to direct your attention. I have been teaching meditation in one form or another for many years, but never before over the internet. I began by running a live class over Zoom for six weeks, then took the insights from that and created a complete online course. Interested?

In this course I will teach you four different types of meditation, beginning with a simple awareness of breathing, then the body scan, using mantras, and moving meditation. This will enable you to make informed choices about what kind of meditation you want to include into your daily life.

Awareness of breathing meditation is the foundation practice, in which you learn to pay non-judgemental attention to your breathing, and to return your attention to the breath when it wanders. This improves your ability to direct your attention.

Body Scan meditation is the practice of paying attention to one part of the body at a time, moving through the whole body, noticing what is going on without interference. This is helpful for many reasons, not least it can make you more aware of the side-effects of our other training.

Mantra meditation is the practice of using a short phrase, repeated over and over. This can be a way to enter a meditative state, and also serve as positive self-talk leading to better outcomes.

Moving meditation is the practice of moving mindfully. It can be extremely helpful for learning new techniques, as well as for smoothing out and improving any kind of movement. The class includes moving meditation while seated, for students who are unable to stand.

The course includes some very short meditations (the shortest takes only six breaths), which are useful on their own and can plant a seed that may grow into a solid practice habit.

The course is organised into six weeks of practice (which may take longer- there is no rush- but should not be compressed into a shorter timeframe unless you are already quite experienced). Week 1 is for Awareness of Breathing; week 2 for Body Scan, week 3 is for consolidating our practice so far; week 4 is for introducing mantras, week 5 for introducing movement, and week 6 for consolidation and revision. At the end of the six weeks you will have an informed base from which to create your own meditation practice, suited to your mind, your body, and your needs. Once you have bought the course you own it outright, so you can keep using the content forever: six weeks is just the minimum normal time to work through the whole course. All of the content is available straight away, so you can survey it all before you begin, if you like.

Meditation is a very subjective practice, and its effectiveness can only be judged by the practitioner. If you practice for at least ten minutes a session, five sessions a week, for two weeks, you should experience an improvement in your state of mind. If you have done the practice and are getting no results, then I invite you to apply for a refund, no questions asked, and no offence taken. I do not expect this course to work for every mind, but there is good reason to believe it will be helpful to many minds.

You can find the course here: https://swordschool.teachable.com/p/meditation

This raises the thorny problem of what and how to charge for it. On the one hand, meditation is too useful, especially to people in stressful situations (such as, oh I don’t know, a global pandemic), to keep it behind a paywall. On the other hand, I have to feed and clothe my children, so I need people to actually pay for the things I produce. Here’s my current solution:

1)  I have put the first section of the course in the free Body Maintenance course. This way everyone can get started, regardless of income. Go, meditate, it’s good for you.

2) I will also be adding the complete meditation course to the Solo Training course curriculum in a month or so. Anyone who has bought the Solo Training course (which can still be had at a 95% discount (look for the Corona price), or free if you email me and ask for the code) will get full access to the meditation course then. 

3) It will also be added to the Mastering the Art of Arms subscription plan (which gives access to every course I have, for a monthly fee) in due course.

4) In the meantime, if you’d like to buy the course, and have the funds to do so, please do! It’s only $129 (plus tax if applicable) payable as one lump or as 6 monthly payments of $21.50 (plus tax), and comes with the usual 30 days money-back guarantee. You can find the course here: https://swordschool.teachable.com/p/meditation

See you on the course!

There is a lot going on in the House of Windsor.

The Sword Guy podcast is live, episode one with Jess Finley is up here. It will trickle through to the normal platforms (such as Apple’s itunes etc.) in due course. The second episode will go live on Friday.

I’ve got another 7 episodes in the bag, and have three more interviews set up for this week alone, so it looks like the first season will be at least 12 episodes long.

Jess and I will also be doing a webinar AMA soon, for follow-up questions you may have from the podcast. We’re aiming for some time around 9pm GMT (that’s 4pm in Kansas, 10pm in the UK at the moment) on the weekend of July 11-12, but I’ll keep you posted.

I am running another AMA on Reddit on Wednesday evening (July 1st) at 10pm UK time, 5pm Eastern Standard. The last one went really well, so I thought I’d do another. I think it’ll be on the wma subreddit, here: https://www.reddit.com/r/wma/

I’ll send out a reminder with the exact details on Wednesday.

My morning training sessions are going swimmingly. If you’re free at 8.15am UK time (currently BST) then do join us! You can book in here.

I’m recording them and uploading them to the Solo Training course so you can do them any time. I occasionally forget to hit the record button, so the only way to be sure not to miss one (and to ask for specific exercises or help with training problems) is to join us live.

Here’s one from last week:

I’ll be on BBC Radio Devon tomorrow at 12.30 BST, being interviewed about the solo course.

And I’m charging ahead with a new book idea, about how sword training applies to real life decision-making. The draft is forming before my very eyes…

Lockdown has been tough for a lot of people, and I wrote something a while ago about not feeling bad if you’re not buzzing with creative energy right now. 

But something happened in me after about 10 weeks of lockdown- perhaps I adjusted to the new reality, or just got bored enough, and for the last couple of weeks I have been madly creating stuff. In addition to several blog posts, there are several major projects in the pipeline. This sort of fallow period followed by a productivity explosion is my normal modus operandi (especially after producing a new book). I lie dormant for a while, then things start to sprout. Here's what's coming down the pipe:

1) I’m starting a podcast. It’s called “The Sword Guy”.

Because why not? I have been thinking about it for a long time, and the thing that tipped me over the edge was when I realised I don’t have to do it every single week forever. I can do it in seasons. The first season, provisionally titled “Voices of Historical Martial Arts” is a series of interviews with interesting sword people. Some I’ve never met, some I’m close friends with, and some in between. I have seven episodes in the bag, with three or four more scheduled to be recorded. I’ll be launching probably next week (just getting all my ducks in a row). I was planning a six-episode run, but it’s already grown to at least ten.

I’m coming out with all guns blazing- my first guest is none other than the legendary Jess Finley. We talk about all sorts of things, including medieval tree diagrams, gambeson shoulders, and even horses. 

I’ll let you know when it goes live!

One of the triggers for starting the podcast was an interview I did recently with a writer, Scot Hanson, who contacted me for help with a fight scene. He came back with a bunch of questions, and it was obvious we’d need to talk over the phone, so I thought we’d record it. You can find that interview here.

2) On the subject of audio- I’m in the process of getting The Theory and Practice of Historical Martial Arts professionally recorded as an audiobook. Most of my books are too illustration or video heavy to make good audiobooks, but Theory and Practice will work just fine. The process is obviously quite expensive, so when I’ve selected a narrator and we’re good to go, I’ll open up pre-orders on my Gumroad shop to help cover the costs.

3) I have two new books at the 30,000+ words draft stage. They are Solo Training, the book to go along with the Solo Course, and another work I’m not going to share the working title of yet, but it’s an attempt to write a book about lessons from sword training for the general reader. Two large drafts may seem like a lot of typing, but it's not, because I cheat. Particularly for the Solo Training book, I’m using AI-generated transcriptions of the Solo Training course videos as a starting point. A couple of hours work extracting the audio and running them through the transcription service rendered me a 64,000 word manuscript without any typing at all! It is much, much, easier to edit a crap first draft into a good second draft, than it is to write a good first draft straight off the bat. I’m a big fan of doing things the easy way.

On the subject of books- you know my Rapier Workbooks? I’m giving up on the spiral bound editions, at least for now. Distribution has been an expensive nightmare, so I’m putting them into my regular distribution channels as perfect-bound paperbacks. It’s a shame, really, because spiral bound is better for this format, but I can’t argue with the economics any longer. Still, there’s nothing stopping people from re-binding the books when they get them.

4) We are half way through the live Meditation for Martial Artists course, and it’s going very well. The BookWhen scheduling service seems to work pretty well, and I’m going to re-shoot every class for a standalone online course soon. I thought we could use the zoom footage, but it’s not quite right for a pre-recorded course. The zoom footage is going up on the course platform too, but at present only people on the live course have access.

5) My Monday, Wednesday and Friday trainalong sessions are going wonderfully. Just having some students depending on me to show up makes me train harder, longer, and better. So as a positive constraint, it has worked extremely well. If you can be awake at 08.15 UK time, then join us! You can join for free or pay a token £5. You can see a sample session here:

I’m enjoying it so much I’m thinking about running a sword-handling-indoors-with-low-ceilings class on Thursdays at 16.00 UK time (so our Western friends can join in). Sound like fun?

6) I’m scheduled to be on a few local radio stations over the next few days, talking about the online courses and lockdown. BBC Hereford and Worcester tomorrow (Friday 19th June) at 10.05am; BBC Leicester at 16.50 tomorrow afternoon; and BBC Somerset at 13.15 on Monday ( June 22nd). Tune in, and I'll try not to flub.

7) I have just finished a major woodworking project. I made this box for our friend Mike’s widow to keep his ashes in. He died in April from COVID-19. We couldn’t attend his funeral because of the lockdown, so when his widow was distressed about the fact that he was in a cardboard box and there seemed to be no good options available commercially, I offered to make something.

It's walnut and ash, with a gently rippled birch veneered panel with his initials inlaid proud in walnut. As a craftsman all I can see are the mistakes, but that’s ok- it’s not supposed to be a tour-de-woodworking-force, it’s supposed to be a gesture of love.

So that's what I've been up to. It seems like a lot, and perhaps it is, but you should be aware of the following things: 1) my kids are at an age where they require very little direct intervention. If they were only a few years younger, I'd probably have got nothing done at all. 2) I don't have a day job. This is my day job. 3) I've got 20 years experience of being self-employed. 4) We live in a house where I have a separate study room and can shut the doors when I need to work. My situation is completely different to that of most people experiencing lockdown, so please don't compare yourself to me unless you can look down your nose and say “Guy, you're a slacker”.

To which I'll reply: “absolutely!”

 

 

One of the hardest parts of this lockdown business is the feeling of helplessness it generates. The plague is amorphous, invisible, and very hard to pin down and beat the shit out of.

The other day I went along to the Ipswich Makerspace to use the woodworking machine shop. I have a key and usually go there when it’s empty- and during plague times, it’s usually empty! I was surprised when I got there to find Steve Chalkley and David Atkins socially distanced but working together on something. Steve roped me in to make a stand for a hole-punch. I was baffled at first- not least as Steve is more than capable of making one himself!

But then he explained that they were making face shields for frontline workers and needed the hole punch thingy for the visors. I practically broke a leg leaping at the chance to actually do something. He had his hole-punch holder thing an hour later (because glue takes time to dry). 

The process of making the masks is quite straightforward. They are using the laser cutter to cut out three plastic strips that make up the headband, and then punching holes and trimming off the corners from acrylic binder sheets (from Office Depot!). I am entirely incompetent to manage a laser cutter, but I can punch holes and use scissors like a champ, so I stuck in and got about a thousand cut that afternoon.

These parts get boxed up in sets of 100, and delivered by David to various volunteer households who assemble them. David then collects the finished masks and delivers them to the NHS. Naturally, I took a box home for my family to have a go at!

The team is well supplied with volunteer assembly people so we’ve only done three boxes so far, and I’ve only had the chance to cut another 600 face shield acrylics. It’s tedious work, but damn, it’s nice to feel useful. 

These masks have a maximum lifespan of four hours, and are changed more often if the patient has COVID-19. There are thousands of nurses, ambulance crew, doctors, carers, and other medical staff who need them, so we have to produce as many as we possibly can. At maximum capacity we can produce about 500 per day- the limiting factor is the speed of the laser cutter. But we can only do that if we have the materials.

The materials cost quite a lot, and they have a justgiving campaign to raise money for it. If you’re still employed, have some spare cash, and feel like helping out, please do!

https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/facemasksforipswich?utm_id=106&utm_term=gwnKBXyyJ

In lockdown some people have a lot of time on their hands, and others are busier than ever (especially those with younger kids). If you fall into the first category, you may be able to find something close to you that you could help out with. I know my elder daughter’s high school has a sewing room, and it’s currently in full-time use by volunteers making scrubs. There’s probably an initiative of some kind going on somewhere near you that could use a willing pair of hands (however unskilled), or some other kind of help. Its probably the best thing you can do for your mental health. This was certainly very good for mine!

Five years ago, I hired Jessica Finley to come teach a medieval wrestling seminar for my School in Finland. It was awesome, and my students all thoroughly enjoyed it, though I think their favourite bit was the way she bashed me on the floor like the Hulk dealing with Loki.

But Jess is nothing like the Hulk. She doesn’t turn green when she’s angry, for a start. 

And she uses skill and speed not raw brute strength.

The effect is much the same though.

Why am I telling you this?

Because she has kindly produced a series of solo wrestling videos for my Solo Course. It turns out that there’s a lot of wrestling practice you can do alone; and yes, conditioning is even more important for any unarmed arts than it is for fighting with weapons.

The new material covers:

  • Introduction and Warm-Up
  • Falling practice- how to do back falls, side falls, forward rolls, backwards rolls, and how to get up off the ground when you’re in armour
  • Mat exercises, like the shrimp, and sit-outs.
  • Footwork exercises
  • And training with a dummy, learning to throw, and practicing setting up throws.

This is great stuff, and I’ve learned a lot just editing the videos. Imagine if I actually practised the content!

This is included in the Solo Course, which you can either buy outright, or subscribe to through the Mastering the Art of Arms package at Swordschool Online.

I got back from a wonderful trip to Swordsquatch last week, and am writing it up… but at some point there has been yet another technical snafu with PrettyLink, and my blog's urls- for instance it's just lucky that I'm already signed in to the back-end of the website, because the url for the login is now going to a 404 error message.

Most critically, this means that some or all of the links in my workbooks and the Fiore Translation Project books are not working. I will get them fixed of course, but I don't know how long it will take. All the videos are currently hosted on Youtube, but they are ‘unlisted', so can't be found without a direct link. But as I'm in the process of transferring all my videos to Vimeo, at the moment all of them can be found with a bit of searching on my Vimeo account. They are totally unorganised, but they are there if you look… my Vimeo account is here: https://vimeo.com/swordschool

For those of you frustratedly pointing your phone's QR code scanner at a book of mine and wondering where the hell your videos have gone, I can only apologise, and say “I'm working on it”. I'm also paying competent people to work on it, so there's light at the end of the tunnel…

 

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

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