Guy Windsor: Welcome to this special behind the scenes episode of The Sword Guy Podcast. I’m here today with Katie Mackenzie, who is the organising principle behind the show, as well as an author’s assistant par excellence. It would be great if I was better at pronouncing things on this audio show. And she is an author herself, of the very approachable, Easy Fitness for Quitters: How to Become a Happy Exerciser. So without further ado, Katie, welcome to the show.
Katie Mackenzie: Thank you for having me.
Guy Windsor: And whereabouts in the world are you?
Katie Mackenzie: I’m about two metres away from you in your study. It’s your first in-person interview. A great honour.
Guy Windsor: Right here in lovely Ipswich, in the U.K.. Brilliant. Okay. Now, I ask a lot of my guests this. I’m expecting a slightly different answer than usual. So how did you get into historical martial arts?
Katie Mackenzie: I am not and have never been into historical martial arts.
Guy Windsor: That’s your story and you’re sticking to it?
Katie Mackenzie: Yes. I am only a theoretical sword person.
Guy Windsor: Okay. So everything you know about historical martial arts pretty much has come from hanging out with me and doing transcriptions for the show. Is that a fair statement?
Katie Mackenzie: Yes. Apart from I was big into Lord of the Rings and all those sorts of things, but I’ve never actually moved into picking up a sword and trying to hit anyone with it.
Guy Windsor: That can be arranged.
Katie Mackenzie: That’s fine.
Guy Windsor: Have you ever felt like stabbing anyone?
Katie Mackenzie: No. No, I really have no desire to have anyone run at me with something sharp and pointy and, I don’t want to do it to anyone else.
Guy Windsor: In the wider world that makes you normal, but in this community, that makes you an outlier. So what exactly do you do for the show?
Katie Mackenzie: I do a lot of the behind the scenes stuff. So what happens is I get the audio file from you, and then I do the transcription and I schedule the episode, write the show notes, come up with a snappy title, and just make sure it goes out on time every Friday morning.
Guy Windsor: Yeah, because I am not gifted at the whole scheduling regularly stuff. Okay, so all right, while I’ve got you here, I should actually probably ask, what is your favourite thing about working on this show?
Katie Mackenzie: Working with you, of course.
Guy Windsor: Katie, you’re supposed to tell the truth.
Katie Mackenzie: I am telling the truth. You know, it’s been incredibly interesting for me because my previous career before this was as a director of a small charity, social enterprise, working with new parents. So I’ve moved from knowing a lot about babies to knowing about swords.
Guy Windsor: There’s not a lot of difference. I mean, you have to clean swords like you have to clean babies. You have to be taught.
Katie Mackenzie: I think the sword world is probably less fraught.
Guy Windsor: Really?
Katie Mackenzie: Oh, yeah.
Guy Windsor: Less fraught. Less political.
Katie Mackenzie: Yeah. Looking after babies. Coping with new parenthood.
Guy Windsor: That, from experience is definitely intense. I can see that swords are less emotionally impactful to the person doing them than babies, I guess the stakes are lower.
Katie Mackenzie: I would say so, yeah. So I have really enjoyed learning about this whole new world that I didn’t know anything about before, any other than what I know from chatting to you about it.
Guy Windsor: Okay. So, all right, I should ask, what is the absolute worst thing about working for me? Be honest, Katie. I can take it.
Katie Mackenzie: I think for me, because I’m doing the transcription every week and I am listening to it in far more detail than anybody else, I get to know what you’re going to say next.
Guy Windsor: I am predictable.
Katie Mackenzie: Yeah. As soon as you say, I’m a woodworker.
Guy Windsor: Oh, God.
Katie Mackenzie: I am learning to fly. I’m like, here we go again. And the transcription software we use called Trint is brilliant. I mean, it’s amazing that it listens to all the audio, and then the little robots inside say, “Oh, what’s Guy saying now?” They sort of make a decent stab at what everybody’s saying. But it does come up with some absolute crackers, which I then have to try and sort out. So I do a lot of googling. A lot of “What is the Italian word that someone saying with an American accent or an Australian accent?” I’m trying to get to the bottom of what the word actually is before I can then Google it and try and work it out. So some of the episodes, some of the transcriptions, go back with a lot of highlighted red pen on sort of saying, “What is this?”
Guy Windsor: But in the beginning, every episode had at least a dozen like requests for clarification from me. And these days, maybe one episode in three might have two or three. Is that the software getting better or is that you getting better?
Katie Mackenzie: It’s both. Mainly me, I think. But I’ve made little quiz for you. So this is called, What Did You Say? And what I’m going to do is I’m going to tell you what Trint thought you said. And then you have to try and work out what you actually said.
Guy Windsor: Okay.
Katie Mackenzie: Okay. So the first one, this is a recent one. This is from your interview with Ian Davis and you’re talking about a Vadi technique.
Guy Windsor: Okay.
Katie Mackenzie: So which technique is this? Right. “The section at the end. Yeah. Particularly dagger venereal potato.”
Guy Windsor: Dagger venereal potato. I mean, there is dagger versus sword at the end of the Vadi. And so I would guess that that’s where the V comes in. Dagger versus something. Dagger versus sword?
Katie Mackenzie: No.
Guy Windsor: What was it?
Katie Mackenzie: I have to say, I don’t actually know it is. But what it sounded like was “Partito di dagga fineri del partito.”
Guy Windsor: Partito di dagga fineri del partito. That’s what the text says in Vadi, which is dagger technique, end of technique. That’s Italian. Okay. So I was I was trying to work it out in English.
Katie Mackenzie: Sorry, that was Italian.
Guy Windsor: Which Trint failed.
Katie Mackenzie: Really fails.
Guy Windsor: It’s probably my Italian accent because that’s not great.
Katie Mackenzie: It doesn’t know any Italian. It doesn’t know any German or especially Japanese or Korean when you get the terminology.
Guy Windsor: Well, I have just interviewed someone in Taiwan. So that’s going to be super fun for you.
Katie Mackenzie: Okay. The next one is from your episode called Talking Tempo with Guy and Cornelius.
Guy Windsor: Oh, right, that should be fun.
Katie Mackenzie: Yeah, we know what’s coming with this. There’s a lot of technical language for poor old Trint.
Guy Windsor: A lot of Italian.
Katie Mackenzie: So here’s just one choice example from that episode. “So, for example, the safe way to gain the Missouri strategy is to first ensure that you are in a strong category, then establish the weight of your body upon the left foot. So, it may not already be there in your account to God if you have to get it there before you can, cautiously lifting the right foot, the right one to move forward before you can pick up your Fechtschule. Now, the pharaoh, of course, is already on the left.” You’re never going to get all that.
Guy Windsor: Okay, okay, okay, okay. Start from the beginning.
Katie Mackenzie: Okay. The safe way to gain the Missouri strategy.
Guy Windsor: Okay. The mesura stretta. Close or tight measure.
Katie Mackenzie: So it may not already be there in your account to God.
Guy Windsor: No idea.
Katie Mackenzie: Counter guard.
Guy Windsor: Oh, it’s Fabris, it’s not Capoferro. I had to put on my Fabris hat.
Katie Mackenzie: Wait though. “Lifting the right foot, the right one to move forward before you can pick up your Fechtschule.”
Guy Windsor: Left foot, I’d guess.
Katie Mackenzie: Front foot.
Guy Windsor: Front foot.
Katie Mackenzie: “Now, the pharaoh, of course, is already on the left.”
Guy Windsor: Now the pharaoh? No idea.
Katie Mackenzie: Now with Capoferro, of course, it is already on the left foot.
Guy Windsor: Right. Okay. Yeah. So we are comparing Capoferro and Fabris. That makes sense.
Katie Mackenzie: So it never, ever gets Capoferro.
Guy Windsor: Why would it? I mean.
Katie Mackenzie: No, it gets Fiore most times. It has learned that one, but it never gets HEMA. HEMA is always “humour.”
Guy Windsor: Right? Okay.
Katie Mackenzie: So if anyone ever reads the transcriptions and comes across random things like that, it is because I missed it.
Guy Windsor: Yeah. And honestly, I don’t ever use the term, HEMA either. Fair enough.
Katie Mackenzie: And finally in episode 100 when you’re being interviewed by Ariel Anderson, apparently this is your governing principle.
Guy Windsor: My governing principle for what?
Katie Mackenzie: Life.
Guy Windsor: Life.
Katie Mackenzie: Certainly for swords. All right. “You have a set of governing ideas and a way of moving them, right? And the governing principle is control your pantsuit.”
Guy Windsor: Control your opponent’s weapon.
Katie Mackenzie: Control your opponent’s sword.
Guy Windsor: So, yeah.
Katie Mackenzie: So that’s what I’m dealing with on a weekly basis.
Guy Windsor: So this is by way of telling me I don’t pay you enough. Right. Okay. So how is the podcast doing?
Katie Mackenzie: It’s doing really well. Okay, well, I mean, I don’t compare it with any other podcasts.
Guy Windsor: It is unique, it stands alone.
Katie Mackenzie: You’ve had 92,000 downloads so far. Nearly at a hundred thousand downloads.
Guy Windsor: I thought it was more than that.
Katie Mackenzie: Sorry, 96,000.
Guy Windsor: Oh, there we go.
Katie Mackenzie: I can’t read.
Guy Windsor: You don’t need to, to do the transcription.
Katie Mackenzie: 57% of the audience in the US.
Guy Windsor: Yeah. That makes sense.
Katie Mackenzie: 10% UK, 6% Canada, 5% Germany and Australia, 2% Finland.
Guy Windsor: Finland is actually quite well represented then, given that Finland has 5 million people and the UK has 60 or 70, and the US has what, 350. So we’ve had 150 episodes, 96,000 downloads, about 650 average downloads per episode.
Katie Mackenzie: Yeah.
Guy Windsor: Okay. I’m guessing that weights to the earlier episodes because when people find the show, they quite often go back and listen to previous episodes.
Katie Mackenzie: Yep. The most downloaded episode on time is Jess Finley, which is number one. Then you’ve got Eleanor Janega, the first Eleanor Janega. That was early on. Kajetan Sadowski.
Guy Windsor: Yeah. That was like episode 4 or something.
Katie Mackenzie: Katy Bowman, Tobias Capwell.
Guy Windsor: Okay. He was relatively recent.
Katie Mackenzie: Yeah. And Ruth Goodman. So those are your top six. It’s heavily weighted towards your female guests, which is obviously what the podcast was set up to do. So that’s good news.
Guy Windsor: Yeah.
Katie Mackenzie: And then so last year, the most downloaded was A Whole Lot of Tasty Bolognese, with Josh Wiest.
Guy Windsor: Okay. Yeah. I think people really do like the deep dive technical nerdy episodes.
Katie Mackenzie: Yeah. Because Talking Tempo was number three in 2021.
Guy Windsor: Right. Yeah. Okay. So what we’re saying is maybe we should do a series of, you will love transcribing this, a series of episodes where it’s specifically getting someone like Cornelius to nerd out on tempo, like Josh to nerd out on like one specific technical topic rather than these more general interviews. Yeah, I sort of haven’t gone into that, mostly because the overall goal of the show is to get lots of different kinds of people on the show and how they came to historical martial arts and that sort of more general practice stuff is more in line with the overall goals of the show than like deep dive technical nerdery. But clearly there’s space for that. Okay, I need to have a think about who I should get on to discuss something like, I don’t know, weight placement in Meyer?
Katie Mackenzie: Yay. Definitely those and then the history ones, the historians. Because you’ve got Eleanor Janega, Ruth Goodman, those are popular ones, too.
Guy Windsor: Yeah.
Katie Mackenzie: And the Mastering Movement with Dan Edwardes.
Guy Windsor: Oh, that was good. Yeah.
Katie Mackenzie: Yeah.
Guy Windsor: I think that also there’s a correlation between how many downloads of a show gets and how active the guest is on social media. There does seem to be a pretty strong correlation, which is kind of a shame because I would have hoped that by now, there would be like a core constituency of listeners who would listen to every show and share the ones they liked quite vigorously. And so episode popularity would have more to do with how much the core audience liked it rather than how famous the guest was. But I guess, like Neil Stephenson is probably our most famous guest so far, and his episode’s done pretty well.
Katie Mackenzie: It has done well, but it’s not in the top, and neither is Steven Pressfield.
Guy Windsor: Okay.
Katie Mackenzie: So I think the core listeners are definitely driving a lot of the popularity of the episodes.
Guy Windsor: Yeah, but then neither Neil nor Steven Pressfield are particularly active on social media, so they’re are famous, but they tweet out to 100,000 followers because they haven’t spent the time getting sucked into the vicious quagmire that is social media. Speaking of which, you help me build the SwordPeople platform.
Katie Mackenzie: Yes.
Guy Windsor: How is that from your perspective?
Katie Mackenzie: I love it. I mean, I must admit I don’t use it as a user.
Guy Windsor: You’re not a sword person, so that’s fair.
Katie Mackenzie: But building it was very easy. I put all the courses on there and I think with all these new social media you’ve just got to get enough people using it regularly, haven’t you, to build the momentum is that people will just go click on the app rather than click on Facebook. As soon as you open your phone, swipe, press the app. But are you finding that there’s a lot of discussion going on?
Guy Windsor: Yeah, it is. There’s about I guess 400 members at the moment, which is not as many as I’d hoped we would have by this stage, because, of course, these things always follow the Pareto principle. So 20% of members do 80% of the posts. Actually in this case, it’s closer to 5% of members do 90% of the posts. But there’s good discussion about all sorts of things from prevention of concussion with various kinds of head protection and where to get a single stick and how to get rust off your sword. We haven’t got much in the way of academic geeky shit on there yet, but that is coming, because Michael Chidester has joined the platform recently. So I’m expecting academic quotient to go up considerably. Okay, so the absolute worst thing about working for me is the difficult translation, right?
Katie Mackenzie: Yeah. I mean, that’s the only bits of it that is the time consuming bit, really.
Guy Windsor: Okay, so I’m wondering how necessary the transcriptions actually are. Do you see any data on whether people actually look at them?
Katie Mackenzie: No, and I don’t know how you get that data because it’s all combined within the blog post.
Guy Windsor: Yeah. Okay. So we can see how many people are clicking on the actual show notes but we can’t see how many people are actually reading the transcriptions.
Katie Mackenzie: No, on Patreon, it’s just within the same text. People don’t even have to click to look at the transcript. So I don’t know how you would do that. What I also don’t know is whether it helps drive people to the show notes, if it’s doing some SEO.
Guy Windsor: It should be.
Katie Mackenzie: It’s a lot of keywords.
Guy Windsor: It’s somewhere between like seven and 15,000 words every week on topic going up on the swordschool.com website, which should do good things for the swordschool.com SEO by itself. But I’m really not fan of the whole SEO thing. I don’t put much work in sales pages. My feeling is if I have to persuade you to buy this thing, you probably shouldn’t buy it. And if I have to basically seduce Google into showing you my stuff, you may well not be that interested.
Katie Mackenzie: Yeah, you’d think that if people were looking for historical martial arts, they would type that into Google.
Guy Windsor: And we should come up pretty easily. It’s just the whole kind of popularity, social media, SEO in my head is all bundled together into this great big, there’s a whole lot of people out there and you have to shout really loudly about this one thing many, many times a day. And then eventually people will notice you. It’s yuck, I don’t want to do that.
Katie Mackenzie: I hate all that. But I guess that’s a question for the listeners, isn’t it? Does anyone ever look at the transcription and see if they do, does it help? Can they find what they’re looking for?
Guy Windsor: Thing is, I know you have plenty of other things you could be doing other than transcribing episodes. You have your author assistant work, for example. Which I imagine is more fun than the transcriptions.
Katie Mackenzie: It varies. It is very variable what I do. So quite often it can be populating a website.
Guy Windsor: What is populating a website?
Katie Mackenzie: One of my authors has got about 80 books and she has just had a new website. So all the books have to go on to the new website. All the links for all the different retailers.
Guy Windsor: Which you did for my swordschool.com.
Katie Mackenzie: Yeah. So there can be a lot of data inputting stuff.
Guy Windsor: Fairly tedious.
Katie Mackenzie: You have to be very detail oriented.
Guy Windsor: Methodical.
Katie Mackenzie: Methodical, not sort of go off on one and do something else. And so it’s a real mix between marketing, doing newsletters and doing that kind of data entry behind the scenes stuff. It’s quite varied.
Guy Windsor: Right. All right. So basically, I don’t want to talk you out of a job.
Katie Mackenzie: Sounds like you might be.
Guy Windsor: The show absolutely does not make money. And the patrons are wonderful and they’re lovely. And they just about cover some of the costs. Although I did get approached for sponsorship a couple weeks ago. A company called Manscape, I think, approached me about basically asking what are my terms and stuff and what are my stats because they’re interested in sponsoring my show. And this is a company that provides that equipment for men to shave their testicles or at least shave their scrotum. You don’t shave your testicles, that would be extreme.
Katie Mackenzie: Is this a big market?
Guy Windsor: I have no idea. And I replied saying, well, I can’t in good conscience recommend your products because I don’t use them. And so, yeah, so I’m not averse to the notion of accepting sponsorship for the show, but it would have to be for stuff I actually use where I think I’m doing the listeners a favour by recommending this products to them.
Katie Mackenzie: Presumably they’ll send you some free ones so you can have a go.
Guy Windsor: Just no, that’s just not something I want to do.
Katie Mackenzie: You never know, it might open up a new world to you. Fresh air.
Guy Windsor: Well it could be and maybe other companies with similar products might go, well, obviously sword people like shaving their ‘nads. They are the only company that ever actually approached me for sponsorship and your average historical martial arts supplying company doesn’t have the budget for that kind of thing.
Katie Mackenzie: No.
Guy Windsor: And again, it would have to be a company that I know and have worked with so I can in good faith recommend them. But to get back to what we’re talking about, the transcriptions are a significant portion of the cost of running the show. And if they are not actually useful to the listeners, that we might as well stop doing them. But, I mean, there are people who are deaf who might be reading them, for instance, or people who just much prefer reading to listening who might be using them. I tell you what, if you’re listening to this and you think the transcriptions are jolly good, send me an email telling me that and if I get enough of them, then we’ll carry on doing them.
Katie Mackenzie: Keep me employed!
Guy Windsor: You’ve got loads of other things you could be doing. Like, for instance, writing your next book, we should maybe bring up your first book.
Katie Mackenzie: Well, I think that might be the answer to the penultimate question.
Guy Windsor: Okay. The question being, what’s the best idea you haven’t acted on yet.
Katie Mackenzie: I know the questions.
Guy Windsor: Yes, you’ve heard them like 150 times already. Okay. So what is the next book? It is the best idea you haven’t acted on yet?
Katie Mackenzie: Yes, Except I don’t really have an idea, but the best idea I haven’t acted on is to write another book.
Guy Windsor: Okay. Why?
Katie Mackenzie: But that’s about as far as I’ve got. Because I really, really enjoyed writing the first one. I loved writing it. What I don’t love is trying to sell the bloody thing. And the impression I get from other indie authors is that the more books you have, the better.
Guy Windsor: The easier it is to sell them.
Katie Mackenzie: Yeah. So that’s two reasons. One is because I enjoy writing, and the other is it would help with the general selling of my books.
Guy Windsor: Okay. So you enjoyed writing the first one? I do remember, though, when we’ve been on some walks in the countryside and whatnot, you have given me the impression that you weren’t particularly enjoying the book producing process at that time.
Katie Mackenzie: Was that when I was trying to edit it?
Guy Windsor: Yeah, exactly.
Katie Mackenzie: Yeah.
Guy Windsor: Okay. So you enjoyed producing the first draft?
Katie Mackenzie: Yes.
Guy Windsor: Yeah, that is the fun bit of writing a book.
Katie Mackenzie: It was fun.
Guy Windsor: Everything after that is just fucking grunt work.
Katie Mackenzie: It’s quite tedious. I really enjoyed coming up with the ideas.
Guy Windsor: Just for people who haven’t read it yet, and shame on them for being so behind in their reading. What was the first book about?
Katie Mackenzie: Well, it’s called Easy Fitness for Quitters. I am not a sporty person, I’m not a sword person, but I do keep myself fit. And really it’s a book for people like me who don’t like competitive sport, who find the whole going to the gym: ugh. And how to then find ways to make keeping fit fun and worthwhile and enjoyable and also not too onerous in terms of time because we all know that exercise is really good for you. But I think there is a bit of a misconception that you have to go out and run 5K or you have to go to the gym or you have to do this class or you have to do that and actually you don’t. And you can get quite a lot of exercise and quite a lot of movement just through your daily activities.
Guy Windsor: Right, now, Katy Bowman was saying the same thing.
Katie Mackenzie: Yeah, exactly. I’m heavily influenced by Katy Bowman.
Guy Windsor: Yeah, actually it was I think it was you who to encourage me to get Katy Bowman onto the show.
Katie Mackenzie: Yeah, well, I think you brought up the name, and I was like yes please! It’s not a very long book. It’s about 200 pages.
Guy Windsor: Nice, gentle read.
Katie Mackenzie: It’s easy to read. Everyone says is easy to read. What I’m trying to do is not to lecture people. Because I think also, if you’re someone like me who listens to a lot of podcasts and is always trying to learn new things, you can get a bit overwhelmed by how much advice is out there. And you feel like, oh God, I need to be doing yoga or I need to be doing this, I need to be doing that. And then it can just become like, well, I’m not to do any of it, because it’s just too much.
Guy Windsor: Yeah. If I can’t do it properly and then I’m not going to do it at all. Yeah, it does depend on your goals, though. Like, if you just want to be reasonably active and healthy, reasonably late in life, then it doesn’t really take very much, a twenty minute walk around the block every day and bit of strength training, you know? But of course, if you want to compete seriously in some sport, then probably getting enough exercise isn’t your problem. Figuring out how to defeat your opposition is the problem. Actually for a lot of people they get into swords because they’re looking for some way to be more physically active and swords just seems like a lot more fun than lifting weights. They just kind of get into the physical training side of things because they get hooked by the swords and they want to get better at the swords and they realise they need to increase their arm strength, for example. So they start taking up weights.
Katie Mackenzie: Yeah. And that’s what I found with climbing, because when our local climbing centre opened four or five years ago.
Guy Windsor: Four years ago.
Katie Mackenzie: I’d never liked climbing before. In fact I’d actively hated climbing.
Guy Windsor: Really?
Katie Mackenzie: Oh yeah. Because my husband is really, really into climbing.
Guy Windsor: Ross is a very, very, very, very, very, very, very good climber.
Katie Mackenzie: Very good climber.
Guy Windsor: Annoyingly good climber.
Katie Mackenzie: He took me climbing once and sent me up the wall and I got to the top and I didn’t know how to get down. And I had a complete panic at the top of the wall.
Guy Windsor: Was this with ropes?
Katie Mackenzie: Yes, with ropes.
Guy Windsor: So you’re supposed to let go and you get lowered down, right?
Katie Mackenzie: Yeah, but he hadn’t told me that. And I hadn’t practised jumping off from six feet, I was right at the top. So that was not a fun experience. And so after that, I was like, what’s the point of this? You just go up to the top of the wall and then you have to come back down again. Then when Avid opened in Ipswich, which is bouldering, so you only go up to about four metres and you don’t have ropes so you can sort of usually get yourself down again. Not always. I have had some freakouts at the top when I haven’t been able to get down.
Guy Windsor: I’ve had panic attacks on the wall. Because I’m scared of heights. One of the reasons I like going climbing with you guys is that I get to practise not freaking out when you’re scared of something. It’s good fear practise.
Katie Mackenzie: Yeah, it is. But anyway, I got into climbing at Avid and going with you was really fun because we were beginners together, which is a lot better than going with just with Ross, who’s really good.
Guy Windsor: Not a beginner.
Katie Mackenzie: He’s just “You do it like this.” Well, no.
Guy Windsor: Yeah. Well first, you have your DNA blended with that of a lizard and then you do it like this.
Katie Mackenzie: So then it was like, well, I want to get better at climbing. So to get better at climbing, it really helped me if I improved my strength in these areas. And so it makes doing squats or push ups or pull ups or whatever much more bearable if you’re doing them for some other goal.
Guy Windsor: Yeah. For a specific, pointful reason.
Katie Mackenzie: Yes. Rather then I just need to do some push ups to get fit. Yeah, that’s really boring.
Guy Windsor: Yeah, of course it’s fit for what? This is an odd interview because we actually spend a lot time together. And so I’m trying to think of what are the right questions to ask me that the listeners would be interested in hearing the answers to. But the thing is, because we’ve already had many, many, many hours of conversation, and you’re not a sword person I’m sort of like, okay, shall we talk about this thing or that thing? I should have prepared better. I do find that the preparation side of the programme is one of the fun things about it because you go internet stalking people. But it’s totally legit because you’ve got a reasonable reason. Like doing push ups to get better at climbing, you’ve got a reasonable reason.
Katie Mackenzie: You don’t normally just go stalking people?
Guy Windsor: No, not generally.
Katie Mackenzie: Not that you’re going to admit to.
Guy Windsor: Well, I mean, who’s got the time? And also who cares? It does strike me that we have an opportunity here, because you are not a sword person and yet you have this sort of bird’s eye view of the sword world through scheduling my newsletter, running the podcast, doing loads of authory assistant stuff for my books. So you have seen all the various parts of the sword world that I interact with. So what does it actually look like from your point of view?
Katie Mackenzie: I think it’s great and I would love to be in a sword club. It’s a shame I’m not interested in swords and sword fighting because I think the clubs look great and being in a club is fantastic because you got a bunch of people, you can all geek out about tempo, whatever it is. Go to the pub and have a nice time. I think that side of it seems really, really good and I like the breadth of the scene because you’ve got your Michael Chidesters and you and people who are really into the translations and finding the sources.
Guy Windsor: The academic stuff.
Katie Mackenzie: The academic side of it. Then you’ve got people who just want to rock up on a Thursday night and whack someone. So, it is probably as far as I can tell, it’s a more interesting scene than, say, football or some other club people not guilty for keeping fit or even cricket. Cricket’s probably similar in that you’ve got the whole social side of it and there’s a lot of nerding out about stats and things, but you don’t really get the historical stuff. So yeah, so I think it’s great and it looks very healthy and you all seemed to get through the pandemic and not being able to meet up in person just about okay. And it’ll be interesting to see where goes and whether anything changes.
Guy Windsor: You are seeing it kind of filtered view of the sword old world because I don’t invite any of the stinkers on my show. We do have them. It’s just I don’t invite them on the show, but I don’t want to give them air time. Okay. So I’m interested to hear that you’d quite like to join a sword club, if only you were interested in swords. That’s a nice way to put it. Okay. So we were talking about what your next book might be.
Katie Mackenzie: It’s not going to be about swords.
Guy Windsor: Well, it could be a memoir of, of, of.
Katie Mackenzie: The podcast?
Guy Windsor: Or of this weird rabbit hole you’ve fallen into. It’s like a travel memoir where somebody from culture A goes off and spends a year in culture B and they come home with stories.
Katie Mackenzie: There’s an idea.
Guy Windsor: But are you thinking you want to follow up Easy Fitness with something else health related or?
Katie Mackenzie: I really don’t know. I think with Easy Fitness for Quitters, I did feel that there was a gap in the market there for a fitness book for people who aren’t into fitness.
Guy Windsor: Yeah that is it by itself a difficult sell because if you’re not in to fitness, why are you looking for a fitness book? How do you find the people who want to get fit but aren’t interested in fitness?
Katie Mackenzie: Yeah. I know.
Guy Windsor: Yeah that is a tricky marketing proposition.
Katie Mackenzie: Yes. But I haven’t come across anything else that I think “I need to write that” at the moment.
Guy Windsor: I mean having had a look at physical health, mental health might be another place to go.
Katie Mackenzie: Yeah. Yeah.
Guy Windsor: Like easy mental health for mad people.
Katie Mackenzie: Hmmm, maybe.
Guy Windsor: Maybe you want a slightly less offensive title.
Katie Mackenzie: Probably. Yeah, it is hard enough to sell Easy Fitness for Quitters. I don’t want to put people off by saying they’re mad.
Guy Windsor: Yeah. Are you madder than a box of frogs? Well, that you need this book. Okay. There’s also you’ve got experience in, like, babies and parenting.
Katie Mackenzie: Yeah, I have. I’m a bit out of touch now. It’s been a few years.
Guy Windsor: You have children.
Katie Mackenzie: I do. But, yeah, I have to do some reading, I think. But yeah, there are various areas that could go down this the whole self-publishing and writing sort of area as well.
Guy Windsor: Interesting, actually I don’t think that is a how to do more creator owned publishing or indie publishing, whatever you want to call it, from the perspective of an author’s assistant, I haven’t seen anything like that. That could be quite interesting. And some of it is mechanics, like how do you upload a file to KDP? But also in these things, all that stuff changes.
Katie Mackenzie: It would be out of date by the time it was published.
Guy Windsor: Yeah. I think of my direct sales stuff. We’ve got the Shopify store now which is swordschool.shop everyone. Fuck off and buy books. Thank you very much. But before that there was Gumroad, which is actually still active. I’ll be closing it down eventually. And before that it was Selz. I think I opened the Selz store during 2012 maybe. And I closed it when I moved everything over to Gumroad because Gumroad had lower monthly operating costs. Selz required a bunch of apps and things you have to pay for to get various aspects of the thing to work. And Selz actually went out of business maybe two years ago, not because I abandoned them, but yeah, they struggled one without me for about four years. So I think I don’t think that was my fault. But yeah, so like the specifics of how you actually publish a book will change as new tools develop. But maybe something on the organisational side. Because I mean, you’ve seen the inside of my Dropbox account.
Katie Mackenzie: I’ve been involved in trying to tidy up the inside of your Dropbox account.
Guy Windsor: Yeah. I do actually like having things organised, I just don’t have any knack for organising them. Maybe some kind of, this is how you keep all the ducks in a row and these are the kinds of swipe files you want for metadata and keywords and that kind of stuff. And how do you figure out what keywords to use and all of that sort of thing that you do for me and people like me? Although I don’t think your other authors are terribly like me, being romantic novelists and whatnot.
Katie Mackenzie: Very different subject.
Guy Windsor: But the process of publishing of the book is identical.
Katie Mackenzie: The back end is the same.
Guy Windsor: And how they sell their books, is that the same?
Katie Mackenzie: Similar. Yes, very similar. The newsletters and things look different, but it’s selling through newsletters. The other thing with the romance writers, because they have these long series of like 6 to 8 books, they’ll often make the first book free. So it’s getting that free book out in the hope that then people read through and buy the rest of the series.
Guy Windsor: I’ve tried that, I didn’t find it worked very well. Mostly because most of my proper books are fairly big chunky things, and while they might be part of a series, it might take ten years to produce four books in that series, each book is a lot of work. Some of these romance writers, they are writing a book a month.
Katie Mackenzie: Oh, yeah, it’s incredible.
Guy Windsor: Yeah. With my Theory and Practice book, the first half of the book had already been published as seven Swordsman’s Quick Guides. The first one is free, the Seven Principles of Mastery, and the second one was Choosing a Sword and so on. I think the third one was Preparing for Freeplay, anyway. I didn’t feel it really worked in the way that series are supposed to work which is why I haven’t put any of them on my shopify store. Just get Theory and Practice, it’s all in there. It’s tricky with non-fiction. Again, I did same thing with the From Medieval Manuscript to Modern Practice where we’ve got these four ebooks, say, I should know my own fucking books are. But it’s Sword in One Hand, Guards and Mechanics, Zogho Largo, Zogho Stretto. Did I produce the Zogho Stretto separately? I think it’s just in the full book. But yeah, there are four parts somewhere. I need to actually look at what I’ve published. Making first bit free doesn’t really work, because the people who are interested, they’re quite happy just to go buy the book. It’s just more effective just to put the whole book in front of them.
Katie Mackenzie: Yeah, it’s a very different audience. I mean, you can read these romance books in practically a sitting or two. There’s a high turnover of books and they are nearly all e-books, there is not very much not so much emphasis on paperbacks. So it’s filling up your e-reader.
Guy Windsor: They’re basically selling books to my wife because she downloads and reads God knows how many of these various romance stories, like here Kindle, is constantly filling up and she has to delete books off them that she’s read. So she’s reading them about as fast as they can be written. Which is a rather different business model, I guess, and a very different product.
Katie Mackenzie: It is. I don’t think you should even try and go down that route with your sword books.
Guy Windsor: That’s definitely not where my strength lie. We have this opportunity to have you on the show and it’s episode 150, whatever. Is there anything you think that the listeners should be aware of or whatever that maybe they’re not?
Katie Mackenzie: In what way?
Guy Windsor: How the show is produced or how incredibly disorganised everything actually really is in this organisation. It’s just this thin skin on the surface.
Katie Mackenzie: I think we do a reasonable job of putting out a podcast that looks like a real podcast.
Guy Windsor: Well, I think you do. I think “We” is a bit strong.
Katie Mackenzie: Well, you do the interviewing. You do the important bit. You have to find the guests, which is a lot more difficult after 150 episodes.
Guy Windsor: Yeah. A lot of the low hanging fruit has been plucked. And a lot of guests are coming to me now because previous guests have recommended them, which is great because they can reassure the person that they’re in safe hands when they come on the show, they’re not going to get blindsided with weird questions or have stuff that they didn’t mean to say put on the air or whatever. So that helps. And I also think that if a guest has been on the show they will have an idea of what the show is about. And so they would be recommending people who are likely to fit in with the show’s values, But we still don’t get nearly as many pitches as I expected.
Katie Mackenzie: No.
Guy Windsor: Really don’t get many at all, and precious few from women still. But this best idea you haven’t acted on. We are going to come back it to just one more time. Because I have found that you ask the question the first time and you get a top level answer and we’ve come back to it once already. We come back to it a third time, we might actually dig out something underneath.
Katie Mackenzie: What are you hoping I’m going to say?
Guy Windsor: I’m not hoping to get anything. I’m just thinking that this is a useful opportunity to kind of scrape away the surface. The thing is, I don’t think anybody just wants to write a book. Because the book could be a billion different things. It’s too general. Normally when somebody says they want to write another book there is some topic there that they want to look at.
Katie Mackenzie: Maybe it’s just because I work with authors and I have several authors in my family as well, that it feels like something I ought to be doing.
Guy Windsor: Oh, right. Okay. But you’ve done it.
Katie Mackenzie: And that is a sort of visible measure of success for me, is having a book on my shelf.
Guy Windsor: Honestly, absolutely. When I look back over the last 20 years, I can go, okay, book one 2004, book two 2006, child in 2007, child in 2008, book three in 2010. And then yeah, there’s a book in 2012 and I can just look at the shelf. Okay. Yes I have actually been alive for the last 20 years. Here is the evidence. So it is useful for that.
Katie Mackenzie: I think I’ve always wanted to be a writer.
Guy Windsor: Well, maybe you should write fiction. Maybe if you’re going to write fiction, what would it be about? It would be a handsome and dramatic sword instructor.
Katie Mackenzie: Yes.
Guy Windsor: Mm hmm. Who goes off having adventures.
Katie Mackenzie: Who gets into all sorts of scrapes. Solves mysteries with his sidekick.
Guy Windsor: Psychic?
Katie Mackenzie: Sidekick.
Guy Windsor: Sidekick. Oh, right, Right.
Katie Mackenzie: Not psychic, I’m not into the paranormal stuff.
Guy Windsor: Okay. Yeah. So, you know, the Wolf Hall books, by Hilary Mantel, the TV series. It was so beautifully done. The visuals were immaculate. Everything was so perfect produced and it was so incredibly boring.
Katie Mackenzie: A lot of standing in darkened rooms.
Guy Windsor: Yes. And each frame is a picture that you can hang on the wall and say oh my God, that’s beautiful. But that’s not what you’re watching TV for. Some people loved it. I loved the idea of it, and I thought it was beautifully produced, but the direction just stank. I was so bored at the end, that while Anne Boleyn was on the scaffold about to have her head chopped off by that mincing French executioner person who I don’t think that was very well done. But to be fair to the historical person, he was French and he was a very good executioner and he lopped her head off in one go, which is actually no mean trick with a big sword and a big crowd. A lot of pressure. You don’t want to screw it up. You’re actually beheading a queen. It’s not like you do that every day. But I was so bored while this is going on. I thought wouldn’t it be cool if actually Anne Boleyn was a secret agent who had been sent into Henry’s court to seduce him, to engineer the break with Rome, to free Britain from the hegemony of the Pope. And so what happens actually on the scaffold is as the executioner swings, she ducks underneath, kills him, it escapes over the wall, there’s a dummy in her dress, thrown into the Thames, so that everyone thinks she’s jumped into the water and drowned. But she doesn’t want to go back to Europe without her daughter. So she goes to where Elizabeth is being looked after. And sneaks into the window, whatever, and she finds Elizabeth’s nursemaid dead on the floor with her throat cut, blood everywhere, and the cradle is empty. That’s about as far as I’ve got. But if you want to just, like, take that and finish it off, great. No problem, because I’m never going to get back to it.
Katie Mackenzie: Yeah, well.
Guy Windsor: Anyway, writing fiction is really hard to do. Well, yeah, So I think maybe you should try.
Katie Mackenzie: I should try.
Guy Windsor: And I’ve got, like, eight other similar things on my hard drive, you know, if you want to write other things. But a lot of fiction writers start out with fan fiction.
Katie Mackenzie: Yeah.
Guy Windsor: Right. So they had this idea, wouldn’t it be cool if Aragorn was secretly in love with Frodo?
Katie Mackenzie: I bet that has been done.
Guy Windsor: It has been done many times. I remember the day when one of my students who’s actually been on the show introduced me to the notion of slash fiction. I’d never heard of it, and she told me, Google this. Or even before Google was that popular or search for this. So I did. And I yeah, I was horrified. Oh my God. I think it was Harry Potter and Draco Malfoy being secretly madly passionately in love. It was scarring.
Katie Mackenzie: Yeah. Yeah. If you hit on the right formula, you’re made.
Guy Windsor: But I think maybe start with fan fiction, and if you ever want to publish it, just change the names and certain identifying features like the whole, E.L. James, 50 Shades of Grey fan fiction. You could be a millionaire, but actually that’s a terrible idea because then you wouldn’t be working for me any more.
Katie Mackenzie: I wouldn’t be doing transcriptions.
Guy Windsor: So OK let’s not do that.
Guy Windsor: Right. So, as you know, I do have like other questions, and one is somebody gives you a million quid to spend improving historic martial arts worldwide. How would you spend it, given that you’ve listened to everybody else’s?
Katie Mackenzie: I’ve listened to everybody else’s answers and they all sound pretty good to me. I think I really like the idea of the protective equipment that actually fits people. I think that sounds like good idea.
Guy Windsor: Particularly women.
Katie Mackenzie: Particularly women. I know how hard it is just to get clothes to fit, normal clothes. Getting protective gear and you can actually move in seems like a sensible thing to be doing. Start up funds for clubs to get equipment seems like a good idea to make it more accessible to people who don’t have a spare hundred quid to drop on a sword.
Guy Windsor: A cheap sword. A sword you can get for a hundred quid is probably not worth having. 300 quid.
Katie Mackenzie: No? OK. 300 quid. So, yeah, I mean, how much would it cost to get yourself kitted out?
Guy Windsor: It depends what for. So, like, just for basic training, you need a fencing mask and a sword. That’s what most of my students start with.
Katie Mackenzie: How much is a fencing mask?
Guy Windsor: 80 quid maybe. And a sword, you can get something that’s worthwhile for maybe £300. So shall we say 400 quid. It’s a lot of money.
Katie Mackenzie: It is a lot of money.
Guy Windsor: Which is why a lot of clubs have loner gear. I remember the time before last I went to Germany to teach, the club that I teach regularly at there is Osnabruck. They almost sheepishly hold out this big bag of plastic wasters. They were like, Guy, we know you hate plastic swords, but we needed loner gear for the club. And these are durable and cheap and we can afford them. Like, that’s absolutely fine. Don’t worry, it is all right. You’re allowed. It is difficult for a lot of people to just drop that kind of money on a hobby. But that said, there are an awful lot of hobbies that people do that are a lot more expensive. Woodwork being a great example. Okay. If you’re willing to go round flea markets and whatnot and spend dozens and dozens of hours restoring stuff, you can get most of the things you’re likely to need for not very much money, but good equipment, you’re going to end up spending thousands and thousands of pounds on planes and chisels and saws and benches and wood. I mean, just the wood these days costs a fortune.
Katie Mackenzie: It does. It has got so expensive. And yeah, all sports. I mean, I used to do quite a bit of running.
Guy Windsor: That should be free.
Katie Mackenzie: It should be free.
Guy Windsor: You just go out of your house and start to run.
Katie Mackenzie: You could go out of your house just in your trainers that you have on. But you can very quickly start spending money on trainers, sports bras, special clothing, people will find ways to spend money to get the best gear.
Guy Windsor: Yeah. Or even like GPS watches.
Katie Mackenzie: Oh, yeah. You’ve got to have your watch, because if you don’t track it, did even happen? If it’s not on Strava.
Guy Windsor: Well, I mean, your physiology would say it did, but I guess it kind of depends on what you are doing it for. So did you use Strava?
Katie Mackenzie: Yeah.
Guy Windsor: My niece was using Strava and I told her very sternly to stop because.
Katie Mackenzie: I don’t any more, but I have.
Guy Windsor: It has massive data problems with that where, you know, if dodgy blokes see a woman running past that can figure out who she is on Strava and watch her run home and then find out where she lives.
Katie Mackenzie: It’s not ideal.
Guy Windsor: Not positive.
Katie Mackenzie: No. And the other thing I think would be great would be to invest money in more youth courses. More youth activities. Because my son is 12 and he’s mad keen on lightsabers and he loves swords. He reads a lot of books that are very, very swordy or adventurery.
Guy Windsor: So how come he never comes round my house to have a go? I mean, we live within walking distance. He’s known me for the last five years.
Katie Mackenzie: He’s a bit shy. But I mean he does judo. And the judo club is great. It’s absolutely brilliant, the local club. And that’s not very expensive to get started, but you still need your Gi and you need to pay your fees to the association and the fees to the club. So there is a cost involved but I think if he could go to sword fighting classes on a Monday night, maybe he would and I’m sure a lot of his friends would. So I think if you can sort of catch the kids when they’re still into that sort of thing and open to trying new things, before they get into grumpy teenagerhood and then come out the other side.
Guy Windsor: One of the best students I have a trained started when he was ten.
Katie Mackenzie: I think that’s an ideal age to start.
Guy Windsor: But he was a he was a ten year old in a room full of adults. He was the only child on that particular beginner’s course. And he was he was extraordinary. Because we were all doing this exercise where you take the sword up, down, around, around or whatever. And after about a minute or so, most of the adults were leaning on their swords, because their poor little armikins hurt, and this child, the same size sword as everyone else. I hadn’t stopped so he wasn’t going to. I want you to do this exercise, this many times a week, he would just do that. And so within fairly short order, I remember when his growth spurt hit and we had him doing my forearm exercises and stuff. Oh, my God. He was a machine. It would be good to have that kind of training. I’d never ran kids classes in Finland because my Finnish was never good enough. But I have students around the place who do run kids classes. Actually now were here in the UK, it’s not out of the question, but is I don’t really feel it’s my area of expertise.
Katie Mackenzie: No.
Guy Windsor: So probably better to get somebody else to because I don’t like watering stuff down. You need to have safer ways of doing things than you do with adults. I mean, plastic swords are for children, for instance.
Katie Mackenzie: Yeah. You’ve got to invent the games and things to get the fitness training in by stealth a bit.
Guy Windsor: But you have to do that with the grown ups as well. Because honestly, an awful lot of people, who start swordsmanship, they are allergic to exercise in any form, but they’re just seduced by the swords. And so that’s what gets them into that the very first physical activity that they have ever willingly done in their entire lives and so yeah they’re not there to do push ups but you sneak them in because it’s good for them. It’s not out of the question to start something. There are also many people in Ipswich who would probably be better at teaching children than I am.
Katie Mackenzie: Because I don’t think there is a club. Is there a fencing club in Ipswich? I have looked before and not come up with anything.
Guy Windsor: I don’t know if there is a sport fencing club here or not. I should know that.
Katie Mackenzie: There used to be, I think.
Guy Windsor: And of course the pandemic killed a lot of clubs.
Katie Mackenzie: Yeah.
Guy Windsor: My local re-enactment club, Suffolk Swords, they are pretty active and they’re pretty active in going around to scouts and clubs.
Katie Mackenzie: I know a few of the members and they have got kids. Yeah, one of his best friends’ dads I think is in the club.
Guy Windsor: Yeah. So maybe stick some of the money into producing a kids’ programme which is easy enough for interested adults to acquire the necessary skills, even if they’re not high level swordsmanship people themselves, they can pick up enough quickly enough that they can run such a thing.
Katie Mackenzie: I guess you’ve got to have all the safeguarding stuff with kids.
Guy Windsor: I would imagine so. Again, I’ve never run a kids’ class, so I don’t know what the legalities are, but in this country there’s bound to be lots.
Katie Mackenzie: I think so. Something I think that possibly needs to be done. And certainly there’s been a lot of discussion about concussions on the podcast. And that worries me. That doesn’t sound like the head protection’s good enough either or not the right kind of head protection that people can actually get hold of. Maybe they need to stop getting hit in the head.
Guy Windsor: It’s too many different things. Fundamentally you get concussion because somebody hit you wrong. Wrong for the equipment that you’re wearing or wrong for your particular brain or whatever. Generally wrong for the equipment they you’re wearing. These fencing masks or anything based on fencing mask has not been designed from the ground up to deal with the problem of concussion, when you’re being hit by something relatively heavy, like a longsword or a rapier. It is designed to deal with very flexible weapons that are very light like a foil, which is like 750 grams. So the solutions that have been designed from the ground up for this specific problem, like the That Guys Products masks designed by Terry Tindall for instance, or actual armour from the period, it works really well. But the problem is you’ve got people clonking each other in the head because they are wearing fencing masks that have extra padding on. Which the fencing mask has not been designed for this. And I’m a fan of suspension, but like one of my students pointed out on SwordPeople actually, when this discussion came up that the modern military helmet used by the United States military, the army particularly, has padding rather than suspension. But the whole helmet has been designed to deal with heavy strikes to the head from either, you know, you’re sitting in the back of a Humvee or whatever, being smashed around, or an explosion or shrapnel or whatever else. It has been designed for that from the ground up. So it actually works quite well. But just throwing some generic foam padding into a fencing mask is not going to help. So, yeah, I think it’d be a good idea to put some serious research money into a modern technological and therefore cheap to produce solution. That would be sensible.
Katie Mackenzie: Maybe you could look at the technology behind riding helmets and things like that, because people fall off horses from quite great heights and at great speed.
Guy Windsor: And break their necks. I’m not actually sure how good those riding helmets are. I mean my riding helmet is one of those classic kind of black ones with a brim. And, you know, they were designed, I think, in the 19th century.
Katie Mackenzie: Yeah, the modern ones are more similar to a bicycle helmet.
Guy Windsor: A helmet that is designed to protect you from a single catastrophe is fundamentally different to one that’s designed to protect you from multiple strikes.
Katie Mackenzie: Yes. You don’t want to have to buy a new helmet every time you get hit.
Guy Windsor: Yeah, I did this as a demonstration for the STEM Week at Sidegate Primary school when my kids went there, where I took my steel armour helmet. The proper thing over there. It’s an armet, technically, and a bicycle helmet. I had several cheap bicycle helmets. And a sharp sword. And I was like, okay, if you’re riding around the streets of Ipswich, what should you wear on your head? Which would be better? They could try them on. Definitely bicycle helmet. But it’s lighter, it’s designed for it. Okay, but what happens when you hit a bicycle helmet with a sharp sword? Or any sword? It fails, boom. It just cut in half. And even with a blunt sword, you just smash it. Which would make fencing your friends very expensive.
Katie Mackenzie: It’s like modern cars, isn’t it? One hit and they just crumple. It’s written off.
Guy Windsor: Which saves lives and is a great thing. But the solution we’re looking for something that allows you to take multiple hits to the head. And honestly, the absolute best solution that I’ve ever come across is training students to actually control themselves properly and make that strike to the head in such a way that you could get 100 of them and not suffer any ill effects. Again, because you have this problem of risk homeostasis. As soon as the equipment gets really good, people take more risks with it. So the actual injury level remains the same. There’s that famous study, was it taxi drivers in Munich, I think, where they equip some taxis with ABS brakes and some taxis didn’t have them. And there was a brief dip in accident rates for the ABS brakes and then the drivers just started taking the brakes for granted, going faster than they were before and whatever. And the accident rate went back to where it was because human beings do that. So I mean, the thing is, if you’re wearing like concussion proof gear people can hit you are hard as they like and they will. And maybe you don’t get concussion but you get your neck broken because you got hit hard enough that it knocked you over and this big heavy thing on your head in just the wrong place at the wrong time and bad things happen.
Katie Mackenzie: And that’s why I don’t do swords. You make it sound so fun.
Guy Windsor: But that kind of stuff only really happens when you’re competing at a fairly high level. And it also only really happens where you allow the fencers to trust the equipment to keep each other safe. And that’s a cultural problem. It’s one that I don’t allow, not in my classes, but because if you trust the equipment to keep each other safe, then you’re doing something wrong, because the reason you have the equipment is to allow people to hit you. So if I’m wearing steel gauntlets, that means you can hit my hands. If I’m not wearing steel gauntlets you can’t hit my hands. So you don’t. And yeah, I mean, there might be an accident and it would be better to wear the gauntlets, but generally speaking, the more equipment you wear the more dangerous it gets. Well, that was a bit of a rant. I could ask you who’s been your favourite interviewee. Who has been your favourite interviewee, Katie? I’m guessing Katy Bowman. So you can’t have here because you were a super fan of Katy Bowman already. So let me rephrase the question.
Katie Mackenzie: I’ll tell you the ones I prefer are the historians.
Guy Windsor: You like the historians best.
Katie Mackenzie: The historians like Ruth Goodman, Eleanor Janega. Those ones, Toby Capwell, because I understand them, I know what they are talking about. Whereas tempo? Straight over my head. I think that I had worked out by the end of the episode, what tempo was, but I certainly didn’t know before I went into it. And I because I can’t picture a lot of this stuff either. So my favourite ones are the ones that I can understand. I’ve liked all the guests.
Guy Windsor: Well I know from other comments that you’re not going to put on record that you like some guests more than others.
Katie Mackenzie: Well there were some early ones where the audio was terrible.
Guy Windsor: And the audio has got a lot better.
Katie Mackenzie: The audio has got better. So my view of whether I like it or not really depends on how well Trint transcribes it as much as anything.
Guy Windsor: So you like people who speak slowly and clearly in complete sentences.
Katie Mackenzie: And I’ve worked out who Trint really likes. Trint really likes American women who speak slowly and clearly. Then I can whizz straight through them, there’s barely a thing to change. Trint doesn’t like Australians, I’m sorry to say. It struggles with Australians. But surprisingly it did really, really well when you had Schwertgeflüster on. And you said, I’m interviewing two Germans. And I thought, oh God, this is going to be a nightmare. And actually it was fine with them. It thought you were three different people. Every time you spoke, it broke it up into three different speakers. And it was absolutely fine with the Germans and the accent and everything. So you never know what you’re going to get.
Guy Windsor: All right. So who would you like me to have back on?
Katie Mackenzie: Katy Bowman.
Guy Windsor: I can ask. Let me rephrase. Okay. If you have the opportunity to have up to four of my guests round your house for dinner, who would you pick? Who are you calling? You can’t pick Katy. She should be living in your house at this point.
Katie Mackenzie: That’s mean. There are 145 of them, roughly, isn’t there? With some repeats.
Guy Windsor: You don’t have to answer the question. You’d rather not answer that question?
Katie Mackenzie: I don’t know. I mean, Ariel Anderson sounds like she’s great fun.
Guy Windsor: Oh, she is lovely. We have had her round for dinner here. Even the kids really liked her. She’s super fun.
Katie Mackenzie: Yeah, there’s loads. I mean, nearly all of them I’ve thought they sound really nice, I’d happily have them round for dinner.
Guy Windsor: So my filtering process is working then?
Katie Mackenzie: Yeah. What was it you call them, the stinkers. There haven’t been any stinkers.
Guy Windsor: There haven’t been any stinkers and I wouldn’t invite any of the stinkers on. You don’t want to give air time to people like that.
Katie Mackenzie: But it’s always nice listening to people talk about stuff that they’re passionate about, even when it’s something I don’t know anything about. It’s really nice to hear you guys having a good chat about stuff you love to do. That’s really nice and infectious and it sounds good.
Guy Windsor: Yeah. I don’t think we get any listens outside of the sword community though. I don’ t think there are any non-sword people who tune in, for good reason.
Katie Mackenzie: Is that what you’d like?
Guy Windsor: Well, I mean more listens is always nice, but not really. Actually, when I think it through, yes. Because there are lots of people in the world, I believe this is an article of faith, I don’t have the proper data for it, but it does seem to be true. It seems to match my experience. There are people out there who, if they only knew about historical martial arts would practice them. And so people who were not particularly sporty listened to show, shared the show, whatever, people would stumble upon it by accident and thus realise that actually they were secretly inside somewhere unbeknownst to themselves, even, actually a sword person. So it would bring people into the fold who don’t even know the song exists. That would be good.
Katie Mackenzie: It’s kind of hard for people to stumble across a podcast.
Guy Windsor: It is now.
Katie Mackenzie: If it’s not in the top 50, top 10.
Guy Windsor: Yeah, I don’t think we’re anywhere close to the top ten, I would imagine.
Katie Mackenzie: Top ten of sword podcasts.
Guy Windsor: I would hope so. I only know of like three others and one of them is German.
Katie Mackenzie: Yeah. You guest on other people’s podcasts.
Guy Windsor: I do. I do that precisely so that hopefully there will be people out there who go hang on. You can actually do swords for real? Really? And then they come into the art that way. I haven’t done it for a while, because it’s honestly, it’s a pain and it’s usually the same questions over and over again. And it never feels very effective.
Katie Mackenzie: Do you think people think coming on your podcast is a pain?
Guy Windsor: Well, I don’t think so, because they wouldn’t do it if they did. Because almost everyone who comes on the show, comes on the show because I have explicitly invited them and quite a few people do say no and they come on the show and usually, they don’t have some kind of strategic goal in mind or even a tactical goal in mind. Most of the time they’re not explicitly trying to sell a particular book, for instance. Or explicitly trying to spread the word about their particular interpretation of Fabris or whatever.
Katie Mackenzie: But you see that all the time on other podcasts, the same guests pop up at the same time of year because they’re flogging whatever their latest book is.
Guy Windsor: Exactly. So you hear the same interview on this show and that show, and this show and that show. Which of course I do, occasionally. But I don’t really time it with a book launch. Because I don’t really do book launches, I just let the book go out into the world, which maybe I should get better at?
Katie Mackenzie: Gently nudge it into the world.
Guy Windsor: Yeah. I should probably get better at launching books with more fanfare because it would maybe help get the word out a bit. But actually, I think also it’s a question of having the right book. Imagine if I could if I could put an excerpt from one of my books in the back of every copy of Lord of the Rings. Imagine what that would do. Or at the end of every episode of whatever the latest Game of Thrones equivalent is, have some kind of, you know, “Did you know that you can actually do swords for real? Go to swordschool.com and find out.”
Katie Mackenzie: Yeah. You could put an advert on the side of a bus.
Guy Windsor: But yeah, that kind of stuff doesn’t work terribly well, I don’t think. It kind of reinforces existing fame, but I don’t think it creates it from scratch. It is not very targeted. Actually, I do know of one historical martial arts school that goes to the local bookshop and puts flyers for their classes in things like Lord of the Rings or whatever. Just quietly stick it back on the shelf and hope for the best, which is genius. But again, that’s very local. And also maybe just writing the right book, something actually aimed at the wider potential sword world. I had an idea for book, which is basically you take the main sword types and have a chapter on the sword type and a historical example, a modern reproduction example. Some idea of the sources that are available for a couple of sample plays taken from those sources. So, you know, you have a kid who’s interested in swords and they are twelve, that would be perfect. They go, Falchions are super cool. Oh, in Germany they are called a Messer, and there’s Lecküchner and then that would get them to go on the Internet and start searching, using the right terms and maybe find their local swordfighting club and who knows where it goes from there.
Katie Mackenzie: Send them all to SwordPeople.com.
Guy Windsor: Yeah that would be good.
Katie Mackenzie: Find your local sword club through swordpeople.com
Guy Windsor: That is something that I haven’t figured out how to make it better for clubs to have a kind of like a club page. This is the way I just do things. This is a great idea. And we should have a sword people social network thing. Right. Okay, this will work, right? Let’s do this. And then it’s like, well, how do I actually get this specific thing to work? No clue. I have had emails from people who have clearly assumed that I have watched all of the videos that Mighty Networks have created and how to do things on there.
Katie Mackenzie: You’ve read the manual? As if.
Guy Windsor: Thing is, if there was a manual I would read it. But there isn’t, there’s just endless fucking videos and I do not want to watch a video unless it’s a very specific problem or I need to know, Okay, go to this page, click on this bit of the menu, click on that menu option that takes you to the click on this button ended up then. Yeah, video’s helpful, but I don’t want somebody standing there telling me what to do because they talk slower than I can read.
Katie Mackenzie: Yeah. Drives me mad as well. You just want to search through the text to find the thing you need.
Guy Windsor: Which is again what the transcription is useful for. So yeah. Figuring out some way of getting clubs to be able to have a useful presence on SwordPeople would be helpful, maybe like sub for a for each club. We could quite easily create a section in the sidebar where there’s a space, well you probably want to organise it geographically, and then within those regions have clubs in America, clubs in Europe and clubs in Asia or Africa or whatever.
Katie Mackenzie: So are they mainly doing Facebook groups?
Guy Windsor: Well, a lot of clubs have a Facebook page.
Katie Mackenzie: Yeah.
Guy Windsor: And then they organise events using their Facebook page.
Katie Mackenzie: It’s probably WhatsApp groups as well, isn’t it.
Guy Windsor: Yeah, that sort of thing. But being able to get everything onto SwordPeople would be really good. It would be nice if you could say, you’re interested in swords and you’re looking for your local club? Just go to SwordPeople and we’ll sort you out, that would be fantastic. And we’re not even close to being there yet, but it’s nice to have goals. Yes, it’s going to be a lot of work involved. Also, one of the issues is at the moment, users can’t create their own spaces, but you can go on Facebook and you can create a Facebook page. Users on SwordPeople can’t create a space.
Katie Mackenzie: Right.
Guy Windsor: Only hosts can do that. So the thing to do, of course, is to appoint various people who want to do it as hosts. And ideally, I would like to be able to pay people who are doing that kind of work or moderation or whatever. But the platform is just past the point where it is just about covering its monthly costs.
Katie Mackenzie: That’s good. It’s only been going for a couple months.
Guy Windsor: It hasn’t begun to recoup the costs I’ve already sunk into it like several months of hosting fees before we actually launched. So yeah, that kind of stuff and some of your time of course.
Katie Mackenzie: There was a fair amount of that.
Guy Windsor: But yeah, it’s like at least at this point it’s still in the red but it’s cash neutral so that’s good. But it needs to be a lot more active, a lot more users, a lot more people paying for subscriptions before we started thinking about paying people to do stuff like moderation. So far I’m the only moderator. That’s not true, a couple of very nice people have volunteered to do moderatey stuff. But so far there has been one thing reported for moderation, that was I reported my test account to make sure that the reporting system worked properly and I knew how to do it. So, yeah, I mean, it’s small and it’s not anonymous. Everyone is behaving themselves. Like pretty much the first interaction after I made it go live was Jessica Finley and I disagreeing about something. But it was like, this is how colleagues should disagree with each other online.
Katie Mackenzie: You didn’t threaten her?
Guy Windsor: No, or suggest that the fact that she disagreed with me made her in some way a bad person or stupid or and any of those other things like that, it was just like, okay, we have different opinions about this particular aspect of this particular thing, that happens. So, yes, it is a nice place to spend time online, if you’re a sword person, which you are clearly not. So you get paid to go in the back end and do stuff.
Katie Mackenzie: I’ll go there if I have to.
Guy Windsor: Well, thank you so much for joining us today, Katie. It has been lovely seeing you.
Katie Mackenzie: Thank you for having me.