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Guy Windsor

Guy Windsor knows a thing or two about historical sword fighting. Since co-founding the Dawn Duellist’s Society in 1994, he's set up a school for swordsmanship in Helsinki, written several books and earned a PhD.

Name Guy Windsor

MA(Hons), PhD by Research Publications

Year of graduation 1996, 2018

Your time at the University  

Guy Windsor holding a sword

Between 1992 and 1996 I did an MA (Hons) in English Lit. I did minors in English language, biology, physiology and pharmacology, and Spanish. My Director of Studies was at first surprised, but then very supportive! In addition to my studies, I was fencing on Mondays and Wednesdays, doing T’ai Chi on Tuesdays and Thursdays, Kobudo on Fridays, and Karate at the weekends. When an informal Aikido club started at 8am on Wednesday mornings, I did that too.

Becoming frustrated with the artificialities of sport fencing, I started researching how sword fighting used to be done. In 1994 I co-founded the Dawn Duellist’s Society (with a Napier student), to study historical sword fighting. I spent my third year as an exchange student in Helsinki, and of course dived into the martial arts clubs there too. It’s a miracle I got my 2.1.

Over the last 15 years I have written nine books on historical swordsmanship, and in 2014 I submitted three of them to the University for a PhD by Research Publications. The first viva did not go well! But I was given the chance to re-write one of the books, and duly passed my second viva in 2018, and graduated that year.

Your experiences since leaving the University

After graduating in 1996, I decided to work as a cabinet-maker and antiques restorer, first with Georgian Antiques in Edinburgh, and then with Patrick Baxter in Lanarkshire. This was a wonderful learning opportunity, not least I learned that not all hobbies make good jobs. I still love woodworking, but it was definitely not the right career for me. During this time I was still running classes at the DDS, and in 2000 made the decision to move to Helsinki and open The School of European Swordsmanship. I’ve been making my living researching and teaching the Art of Arms ever since.

My first book ('The Swordsman’s Companion') came out in 2004, and I’ve been writing books ever since. 'The Duellist’s Companion' (2006, a training manual for Capoferro’s rapier style), 'The Medieval Dagger' (2012, a training manual for the dagger techniques of Fiore dei Liberi), and 'Veni Vadi Vici' (2012, and that’s not a typo- it’s a pun: the book is a translation and commentary on Philippo Vadi’s 'De Arte Gladiatoria Dimicandi', written in the 1480s) formed the “Publications” that I submitted for my PhD. The latter was not up to scratch, so I re-wrote the entire book, which was published as 'The Art of Sword Fighting in Earnest'.

My school grew branches all over the world, so I spend much of my time travelling to teach seminars, as well as producing online courses to teach swordsmanship, and of course writing the next book.

I’ve been married to Michaela since 2006, and we have two daughters, Grace and Katriina. We moved to the UK from Helsinki in 2016 to be closer to ageing parents. I still do woodwork for fun, and get back to Edinburgh to visit friends as often as I can.

Find work to do that you believe is valuable for its own sake, and which suits your nature. You may have to invent your own profession. That’s ok.

Guy Windsor

Alumni wisdom

Find work to do that you believe is valuable for its own sake, and which suits your nature. You may have to invent your own profession. That’s ok.

No matter what happens, as Neil Gaiman said: "Make Good Art." Whatever "Art" means to you.


Please note: Guy's profile was written before the UK COVID-19 lockdown.