There is a lot of information to cover about this journey and it all overlaps and bleeds into each other, the websites, videos, seminars and books. There is a lot of knowledge out there ready to be absorbed and implemented. So much, in fact, that I can see that it would be easy to take on too much, to skip to the cool stuff without mastering the basics. Even when grasping the basics I can see that there is such a temptation to just push forward on to the next bit of content and the next, but perhaps that is just me and how I think.
Just to cover some of the other material, Primoris: The Rob Lovett Fiore Dei Liberi Training System by Mark Lancaster is also a good resource but here I found that it seemed more like a companion to the Exiles class, which is exactly what it is trying to be I think. Getting all the way to the end of the material before really feeling I had grasped anything about the longsword makes me just want to read the long awaited Secundus, where I imagine that the material will really delve into the part I am interested in.
The primary resource I am working from is the Mastering the Art of Arms, Volume 2: The Medieval Longsword by Guy Windsor, though there are many other resources that cover the lessons of Fiore and his system. I have found that this book in particular is like a perfect distillation of the process of learning the material, for me at least, it progresses through in the manner of a deeply involved lesson plan and seems to reflect a cohesive methodology and approach to teaching the subject. It may well be too enthusiastic a review but when compared to other books I have read, even compared to the previous work, The Swordsman’s Companion by the same author, this work triggered the light bulb moment about a number of elements that I just had not absorbed previously. I have read and read sections and discovered that most of my questions are answered within. If I didn’t get something and came away confused about some detail, then the chances are I just didn’t read it closely enough.
As well as a clear and sequential process of learning that takes you through the core concepts to basic sword work, there are a range of other media that can be brought alongside that journey. The Sword School have a Wiki in place that sets out their syllabus and Guy has created a number of video sections which explain and demonstrate the key elements, such as the basic sword handling drills. Reading through the book these videos are essential viewing to get into the details of what is being explained in the book.
From the Sword School’s YouTube account there are links to Seminars and training sessions which again match up with the concepts in the book, as it follows his carefully crafted teaching method. The footage of a four day seminar taught by Guy Windsor in Melbourne, April 2014 goes over a lot of the information in detail and can be viewed as another way of expanding the details held in The Medieval Longsword, which in turn expands on the source material of Fiore.
I wonder if this was intentional or not. All these elements placed at our disposal can only be seen as a positive and proactive means to promote swordsmanship and the art of the longsword, yet in my case I imagine that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing.
One thing I am not going to do, I hope, is to simply regurgitate the teachings of others. I have no right in that regard to use this blog to try and teach what I have learned. I confess here and now that I know nothing. I also think that it would just be an odd way of replicating other people’s hard work; even though I am following The Medieval Longsword I can’t just repeat each stage and each bit of advice. I will try and provide some context though, demonstrate where I am over time and the progress I make or do not make.