Guy Windsor's Swordschool

Ancient to Modern: the mysterious three turns of the sword, talus joints and green screens

Published about 2 months ago • 4 min read


I’m just back from Helsinki, where I had a marvellous time (as always). On Saturday we had an armoured combat and polearms seminar, which went really well. Some students were coming back to the Art after 20 years away! Which is always delightful to see. This terrible photo is from a moment in the class where we were looking at mixed weapons- how would you defend yourself with a dagger, against a spear?

On the Monday I was in a photography studio shooting preliminary footage for our VR/AR sword handling and solo training project. I don’t have any of the official footage yet, but the organiser took some videos of the process on his phone, so here’s a screenshot. A green screen shot!

And on Tuesday I went to see a physiotherapist. He was at my longsword seminar last November, and the organiser (Auri) encouraged me to see him about my knee (if you’ve been on this list for a while, you know all about my bloody knee). I’ve been seeing physios of one sort or another for about 35 years, off and on. And this chap, Erick Ellison at Fysio Sakura, is probably the best I’ve come across. Very knowledgable, very thorough, and he emphasised teaching me ways to fix myself, rather than intervening himself. For instance, the talus joint in my left ankle was stuck. It’s easy to pop it open for someone, but he showed me this exercise to do it for myself.

By all means have a go at the exercise if you like, but be careful, and if you’re having joint issues of any kind, go see Erick, or if you live more than 500 miles from Helsinki, find someone like him closer to home! I left with 8 such video clips, and a lot to practice.

Next month I’m off on my travels again, this time to Singapore and Wellington (New Zealand). Here are the seminar details, and contact details for the organisers. Please don’t ask me about the logistics: I just show up and teach.


April 6th: Fiore vs Lichtenauer, or, how to beat up your German friends.

Students will need a longsword training simulator of some kind, a dagger simulator, and a mask. Additional freeplay equipment is useful but not essential.

We will begin with some basic techniques and concepts from Fiore’s Art of Arms, and then apply them to Liechtenauer problems. How can a mezano counter a zwerchau? What do we do with a Zornhau Ort?

We will also look at skill development: bridging the gap between choreographic execution of the plays in the manuscripts and actually applying their lessons in a more competitive environment.

Students are encouraged to bring questions and suggestions. We will plan the content of the seminar together in the first few minutes of the seminar.

April 7th: "I counter with Capoferro" - the art of Italian Rapier

Students will need a training rapier and a mask. Additional freeplay equipment, and a dagger, will be useful but not essential.

The overall theme of the seminar will be understanding the specific mechanics and tactics of the system shown in Il Gran Simulacro, and adapting them to your specific body type and level of training.

We will also look at skill development: bridging the gap between choreographic execution of the plays in the manuscripts and actually applying their lessons in a more competitive environment.

Students are encouraged to bring questions and suggestions. We will plan the content of the seminar together in the first few minutes of the seminar.

If you’d like to register, or have any questions, please contact the organiser at


Saturday April 13th: Tidy up your rapier

We will spend the day working on fundamental and advanced rapier skills, and applying them at the level each student is ready for, developing technical precision in timing, measure, and mechanics. The exact technical content will be determined on the day by the students present. Want to work on plate 23 from Capoferro? Or plate 10? Just ask for it.

We will also cover how to teach these rapier skills to students at all levels.

You will need: a rapier, a mask. Optional: dagger (for sword and dagger plays) and fencing gear.

Everyone welcome, whether you’ve trained rapier before or not.

Sunday April 14th: Integrating Fiore’s Art of Arms

We will spend the day working on Fiore’s wrestling, dagger, and longsword (out of armour on foot), seeing how lessons from the wrestling apply to the dagger, and lessons from the dagger to the sword. As with the rapier workshop, we will determine the technical content on the day, so if you are struggling with a particular abrazare, dagger, or sword play, just ask and we can include it.

We will also cover how to teach Fiore’s art of arms to students at all levels.

You will need: a longsword, a dagger, a mask. Optional: fencing gear.

Everyone welcome, whether you’ve trained in armizare before or not.

The underlying theme of the weekend is how to teach historical martial arts to students at all levels from beginner to experienced instructor. If you spend any time teaching, or want to in the future, come to both days to see how the same teaching approach applies to both systems, and by implication, any system.

If you have never done one or other of these systems before, that’s fine: the more experienced students will benefit from having genuine beginners to practice teaching on.

If you’d like to register or have any questions, please contact the organiser at

This week on The Sword Guy: What is a volta? A very detailed examination of Fiore, with Dario Magnani

Dario Alberto Magnani, better known as Mr. Thokk, is a longtime scholar of the Italian single combat tradition from the late medieval/early Renaissance period, and a world renowned historical martial arts instructor and gear designer. As a swordsman, he specialises in northern Italian fencing from the early 15th to the 16th centuries, i.e., Fiore, Vadi and into the Bolognese.

In the late 2010s Dario became a historical martial arts professional, between his teaching activities and the founding of Thokk Personal Armor, a business through which he designs and sells innovative historical martial arts gear, such as the Thokk gloves.

The reason I'm chatting to Dario is because I met him in Spain at the Panoplia, and we ended up spending probably five or six hours of the weekend discussing details of Fiore stuff and other things. In the conversation recorded for the podcast, we pick up where we left off in Spain, with an in-depth discussion about the Three Voltas of the Sword in Il Fior di Battaglia. If you own a copy of From Medieval Manuscript to Modern Practice, you need to listen to this episode with your book and a red pen in hand!

You can find the episode here:



Guy Windsor's Swordschool

Dr. Guy Windsor is a world-renowned instructor and a pioneering researcher of medieval and renaissance martial arts. He has been teaching the Art of Arms full-time since founding The School of European Swordsmanship in Helsinki, Finland, in 2001. His day job is finding and analysing historical swordsmanship treatises, figuring out the systems they represent, creating a syllabus from the treatises for his students to train with, and teaching the system to his students all over the world. Guy is the author of numerous classic books about the art of swordsmanship and has consulted on swordfighting game design and stage combat. He developed the card game, Audatia, based on Fiore dei Liberi's Art of Arms, his primary field of study. In 2018 Edinburgh University awarded him a PhD by Research Publications for his work recreating historical combat systems. When not studying medieval and renaissance swordsmanship or writing books Guy can be found in his shed woodworking or spending time with his family.

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