The art and tradition of swordsmanship

By SUSAN FOURTANÉ
HELSINKI TIMES

A brave knight in heavy armor, Highland Scots and medieval castles is what
probably comes to our mind when we first hear of The School of European
Swordsmanship in Helsinki.

Guy Windsor (left) and Ilkka Hartikainen Photo by Matti Hartikainen

Guy Windsor (left) and Ilkka Hartikainen Photo by Matti Hartikainen

A brave knight in heavy armor, Highland Scots and medieval castles is what
probably comes to our mind when we first hear of The School of European
Swordsmanship in Helsinki.

GUY WINDSOR, author of The Swordsman’s Companion and The Duellist’s
Companion, founded the school in March 2001 under the principle that the
practice of historical martial arts is good for the mind, body and soul.
The success of the school and the fast increase in the number of students
in Helsinki gave rise to the opening of five branches in Finland and
sister schools in Sweden and Singapore. The school offers training and
research, hosts seminars by visiting instructors in western martial arts,
and presents free demonstrations.

Helsinki Times: What was it like to start this non-traditional kind of
business in Finland?
Guy Windsor: Lots of paper work and red tape. It happened that I was the
right kind of foreigner- Finns are used to importing specialists, so I got
the benefit of the doubt. It was relatively easy except for finding an
accountant who speaks English.
HT: How did the idea of starting a school in Helsinki develop?
GW: I was working as an antique restorater in Edinburgh, which was making
me miserable. I thought I had two options, either move to the United
States or stay. Then it hit me: move to Helsinki and open a school. So I
did.
HT: Are there different courses or there is only one type of course?
GW: After the beginners’ course, students usually continue with basic
training in medieval foot combat, before adding other stylesm such as
rapier.
HT: How long does it take to achieve a good level of practice?
GW: It depends on the student, and how much they practice. I’ve been
training since 1986, and still have a long way to go.
HT: What kind of background has someone who wants to learn
European Swordsmanship?
GW: We have different sorts of people, from tax experts to journalists and
history students, united by a common interest in swords.

Guy Windsor learned from his grandfather, Dr Hector Apergis, the most important skill: extension first! Photo by Ilkka Hartikainen

Guy Windsor learned from his grandfather, Dr Hector Apergis, the most important skill: extension first! Photo by Ilkka Hartikainen

The regular 90 minute practice with the longsword includes five basic
drills, taken from an Italian Swordsmanship Treatise from 1409, Fiore
battaglia by Fiore dei Liberi. The classes are usually of mixed levels,
where the more advanced help the others through their own experience. This
helps the seniors with their understanding of the material, and boosts the
beginners.
After the practice, I had a chance to speak with the students and learn
more about this fascinating discipline. Johanna Rytkönen told me she
enjoyed reading every fantasy book she could find in the library, so it
was easy to be lured by the magic of seeing herself mastering the sword.

HT: What motivated you to come to the school?
Johanna Rytkönen: When I was sixteen I saw a demo in a Middle Ages
Festival. That was six years ago. I joined the school and since then I’ve
been practising, with some breaks. Now I want to try back word, (a
one-hand sword). The practice gives me a secure feeling, something for not
being afraid when I walk alone in the dark streets.

The School of European Swordsmanship
Luiskatie 8, 00770 Helsinki
http://www.swordschool.com
Beginner’s course starts on 6 October

Published first in the Helsinki Times on October 1st, 2009
http://www.helsinkitimes.fi

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About Susan Fourtané

As a citizen of the world, Susan began her search for her place in the world back at the beginning of the year 2000. After many travels looking for her place in the world, her soul found that place in Finland in September 2006. She has been living in Helsinki ever since, where she combines fiction and non-fiction writing with Philosophy studies and teaching.
This entry was posted in Helsinki Times, Interview with . . ., Published Articles. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to The art and tradition of swordsmanship

  1. Wishing you the best this new year!

    Tom

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