Guy Windsor: I’m here today with Cain Maxwell, who is an instructor of physical culture, who’s been teaching physical skills his entire life, from swimming to military firearms to ballroom dancing, even. And now he is teaching mounted martial arts and runs a school called Martial Equestrian, a mounted combat school in Hinckley, Ohio. So without further ado, Cain, welcome to the show.
Cain Maxwell: Hello, Guy.
Guy Windsor: It’s nice to see you again. So, are you at the moment in Hinckley, Ohio?
Cain Maxwell: I am. I am. I’m at my school. I’m in we call it the lab where we do our experiments on physical phenomena to see if it works or not. And it’s also a good place to do ground practice stuff off the horse.
Guy Windsor: Yes, I can see bows and arrows and spears and things in the background.
Cain Maxwell: Yeah, we have a skeleton back here and a wooden horse as well.
Guy Windsor: What is the skeleton for?
Cain Maxwell: Well, because a lot of, I think, misinterpretations of physical movement get inserted into institutional movement practice. And so with a skeleton, we can say, look, the human skeleton only moves so many ways. The horse skeleton only moves so many ways. And you can say, well, but look, you know, I have this technique or my teacher always said to do blank. But, you know, but when I say, but look, this is how the human skeleton works, I have a physical skeleton to demonstrate with. So I do a lot of stuff with the hips. And so having this physical skeleton to work with, we can see how the spine joins the hips, where the legs join the hips. It’s an easier visual aid than the human body which has all this meat and guts around it.
Guy Windsor: Okay, is that a male pattern pelvis or a female pattern pelvis?
Cain Maxwell: Good question. I don’t know.
Guy Windsor: Because it does make a difference.
Cain Maxwell: It does. It does. However, what I mostly do with the hips has to do with the riding. And the things that I explain about how the pelvis moves on the horse and its relationship to the spine and the legs, the advice is the same for males and females.
Guy Windsor: Okay, fair enough. I would guess it’s probably a male skeleton. They usually are.
Cain Maxwell: It looks male, but I’m not an expert in that sort of thing. I don’t know.
Guy Windsor: Is it actually a real skeleton or is it a plastic dummy.
Cain Maxwell: No, it’s a resin or resin copy.
Guy Windsor: Okay. I mean, I have been to places where they had real skeletons. It was very strange.
Cain Maxwell: You know, the thing is, everything here has to be replaceable because everything here gets broken.
Guy Windsor: Fair enough. Yeah. So, okay, we are definitely going to get into the equipment in a little bit because. Because looking at it on the wall behind you is making me think, oh, right, I need to talk to you about this. But before we get into that, how did you end up where you are? In other words, how did you get into martial arts of various kinds? What was your path from? Presumably kid made about weapons and swords and stuff to your current position.
Cain Maxwell: Okay. You know, I really want to give a 25 word answer about this and I think saying, well, you know, I trained under so-and-so. I trained with the gang yard champion of Pencak Silat in Bali and I trained with so and so and started this historic European martial arts club. And I got a belt in the system and you know, so on, so forth, you know. But really honestly, Guy, I got into martial arts because I grew up unpopular. I grew up unpopular in a rough neighbourhood. I grew up unpopular in a rough neighbourhood and I learnt to fight by fighting. Let me plug real quick on that also. To that end, if your interest in the martial arts is purely self-preservation, learn to be funny.
Guy Windsor: Yeah, that’s good advice.
Cain Maxwell: You know, if you really just want to stay out of trouble and people not to hurt you, you should be more popular. You know, if you can make someone laugh, they’re not going to hurt you. If there’s somebody out there who’s an excellent comedian and is like, no, people beat me up all the time, but by all means, please reach out and set me straight. But you know, anybody can be hurt. So if you’re unpopular, it doesn’t matter if you’re good at throwing a punch or good at taking a shot. If you’re targeted for hatred, harm will come to you. But anyway, I wasn’t liked, I didn’t make people laugh, you know. So I was unpopular in a rough neighbourhood and I got into a lot of fights and I actually spurned learning, you know, getting formal education in martial arts for a long time. Just kind of proud of how I was as a fighter without education. It was like, well, I don’t want to give somebody else credit for teaching me how to fight. I learnt to fight by fighting but eventually, you know, sort of picking up some stuff here and there. But it was through the lens of what I already knew. So I would go into some schools and basically walk right out the door when they say, well, this is what happens in a real fight. And it was clearly somebody who had never been hit in anger. You know, look, I don’t think you have to have been in a fight to be a good technician. I don’t. And I don’t think people should just go out and get into fights arbitrarily to cultivate their martial ability. Stay out of trouble. But you can’t know what a real fight’s like if you haven’t experienced the wind of hatred, if you’ve never been in a real fight.
Guy Windsor: Yeah.
Cain Maxwell: So I studied through the lens of the lens of somebody who’d been in a lot of fights and with the psychology of someone who had been in a lot of fights and someone who I guess, you know, I had a chip on my shoulder. So I wanted to be a good fighter because I had to express myself. And martial art kind of gave me an outlet for that.
Guy Windsor: Okay. But at some point you came to Finland to train with me for a little bit.
Cain Maxwell: What happened in between?
Guy Windsor: Why?
Cain Maxwell: Okay. Yeah. Fair enough. Fair enough. When I left the military, I sat down and probably like a lot of people, leaving the military said, well, what am I going to do now? And I sat there and just thought about it in silence. And a voice came in my head and said, I want to be a swordsman.
Guy Windsor: Okay. I know that voice.
Cain Maxwell: Yes. Yes. Probably a few of your listeners are familiar with that call. Well, I had no idea where to start. This was in the early aughts, I think 2004, 2005. And so there was a Western historical martial arts circuit sort of building momentum. I don’t think it had adopted the moniker HEMA at the time. I could be wrong about that.
Guy Windsor: No, it predates the whole HEMA thing.
Cain Maxwell: Right. And, you know, actually, I didn’t find anybody for a long time, but I dabbled in this and I dabbled in that and eventually I did find an organisation where I lived, it was in Atlanta at the time, I did find an organisation where they did that sort of stuff and they were very aggressive. My experience with sword people up until then was with people that have, I think, fantastic notions of violence.
Guy Windsor: ‘Fantastic’ as based on fantasy.
Cain Maxwell: Yes.
Guy Windsor: Not fantastic as in great.
Cain Maxwell: Yeah. Yeah. Let me be clear about that. Yes. I mean, to say that I think they were strangers to violence and wanted to keep it that way. I think these were people that really weren’t the bloodthirsty sort. And that’s fine. I mean, I’m not trying to disparage that. But again, I studied martial art with the lens of someone who had been in some fights.
Guy Windsor: And some military training too.
Cain Maxwell: And military. Absolutely. Absolutely. You know, the military training, I don’t agree with all of it, but it was practical. It was applied with the expectation that it would be put to use.
Guy Windsor: What don’t you agree with? If I may ask.
Cain Maxwell: What don’t I agree with? Well, military pedagogy is… That’s a huge topic. First of all, what gets taught in the military is not necessarily what is best, but what comes from someone who’s in a position to influence the pedagogy. In other words, you might have a really brilliant technician who’s experienced and practical and a great teacher, but he’s not in a position to influence the military, to say this is the system we should teach, we teach the way that I teach. It’s the people who can whisper into the ears of the administrators who give the okay for military training. So for example, you’ll find old Army manuals on taekwondo. And I just I really don’t think taekwondo has a lot of practical application on the modern battlefield. Some people might massively disagree with me on that, and I’m willing to hear your educated argument to the contrary. But it doesn’t seem like the best or the most efficient way.
Guy Windsor: You should shoot people on a battlefield rather than kick them in the head, I would say, generally.
Cain Maxwell: Absolutely. Absolutely. I think there is some application for hand-to-hand combat or less than lethal applications. But what taekwondo focuses on, I think, really doesn’t have a place. Somebody influenced somebody in the military. Well, maybe somebody who himself had the interest, you know, said, hey, you are now the training officer or whatever position he was in, you know, the training officer who gets to dictate what the military learns. What do you want to teach them? And he says, well, you know, I’ve got a blackbelt in taekwondo and I really love it. So that’s what they’re going to learn. And that may not be exactly what happened. I was giving an example. So sometimes it’s the actual curricula. And the other thing is, I shouldn’t say I don’t agree with this globally. It’s that military training has to be faster, cheaper. There has to be economies of military training. What can you get the average recruit of ordinary or even below ordinary ability to master in a short time as possible. And that’s not necessarily the most effective for the individual. That’s not the most effective technique for the individual technician. However, on a scale, in a numbers game, if you have huge turnover of recruits and you are trying to get the get the numbers, whatever’s easiest to learn the fastest is going to be more practical. So it’s not that I disagree that that’s a good system to do that, but that may not be the best system for an individual technician to learn. So if you’re like, well, what’s the best, most practical thing for me to learn personally, for me, as a martial artist, as a technician, what do I want to learn? Well, the military, it’s you know, they’re really preparing real people for real combat. It must be good stuff. And that’s not necessarily the case. It’s not necessarily the case and, if you’re saying, well, because if I get into a real fight in the streets, I want to be able to do some real stuff. Well, what you do in the streets, that’s not answering the same questions as what you do on the battlefield.
Guy Windsor: And also, if you want to get into real fights in the street, then then you’re an idiot. And if the streets where you go are the sorts of streets where real fights might happen, you shouldn’t go to those streets. That doesn’t make any sense.
Cain Maxwell: Fair. Fair. Although some people don’t have that luxury.
Guy Windsor: True. True.
Cain Maxwell: You know, and so if they’re right about it, this is an excellent system. Some some top tier operators, they learn some hand-to-hand stuff and some less than lethal force applications that work for their very specific situation, which involves teams, which involves their suite of support, meaning it’s not their only application or I guess, tools, for use of force. So you’re saying, if you’re going to hit somebody in the face because you want to assault him but not kill him, you’re assuming that you also have a ton of lethal options available, such as the rifle in your hand and a team of guys behind you and throwable explosives. There’s all sorts of stuff that is factored into this hand-to-hand stuff that is not going to answer the problem of somebody getting into a street fight.
Guy Windsor: Right.
Cain Maxwell: So I think it’s a bit disconnected to say, oh, well, this Special Forces unit, they train in this they train in this system. That must be the best system because those are the best operators.
Guy Windsor: Right. Yeah, but the context for which that they’re training is going to be very different to the context in which the average martial arts interested person is going to be applying their martial art, indeed if they ever do. I mean, I would be delighted to go on a Special Forces so-called combat training course for academic interest, to see how they’re doing it, what they’re training for, how they train for that, what sort of techniques and stuff they come up with. But it wouldn’t cross my mind to take that to like some kind of like, self-defence for the mean streets of Ipswich. That would just be weird.
Cain Maxwell: Right. Right. You would see in the most practical systems where people, operators, are using the techniques and come back and say, hey, I tried the technique, it worked, it didn’t work. This is my experience with it. An actual battle or in actual raids, you would find stuff that’s hyper-specialized to their situation. The most effective stuff is going to be hyper-specialised to their situation and going to be even less applicable to, like you said, your average civilian roughing it up in a bad neighbourhood.
Guy Windsor: Yeah. Okay. So we’ve had a look at what you don’t agree with, with the military. Thank you for sharing that. Not every ex-military personnel is willing to go on record as to what they weren’t entirely in agreement with. But you were looking at training in swordsmanship and you were finding that you are you’re basically encountering people who are teaching swordsmanship who had, as you described it, fantastic based on fantasy view of how violence works. So where did you go from there?
Cain Maxwell: Well, I did find one group that trained, it was a source based training group. It had one guy who organised it who had his system based on multiple sources. You know, nowadays people talk about, do you do Italian or do you do German? You know what I mean? And if we had to say we lean one way or another, we could. But I think that this is one of the original one of the HEMA guys before we were calling it HEMA. And I think it was an amalgam of several of the sources. And he says, well, look, these guys are saying this and these guys are saying this, this is my interpretation of it. And he wanted to bring it to flesh. You know, he wanted to make it live. And I saw a demonstration between him and some of the students. And it looked like real fighting to me. It looked like a real fight. That was the first time I see people playing with swords where it looked like a fight. So I followed him after the demonstration. I got involved and I played with them for a few years.
Guy Windsor: Okay, well, where next? You still haven’t got to Finland.
Cain Maxwell: We still haven’t gotten to Finland. Well, that was almost exclusively the group that I was involved with for a while, and that whetted my appetite for that. And also got me a better way to I guess that style. I hate to use that the term “style”. I think is it gender sort of silo effect. But that sort of community, let’s say community, of martial enthusiasts and I went to Finland because I had gone there before on a whim. I was going to school in St Petersburg in Russia and Finland was just a couple of hours away. So on winter break, I just took a bus to Porvoo and I loved it there it was. It was really, you know, it just felt really nice. Russia was stressful. It’s very stressful in Russia. Everybody’s all stressed out. There’s just this sort of tension in the air all the time.
Guy Windsor: Even more so now.
Cain Maxwell: That was before what’s going on now. But Finland just was really nice there, folks were nice and I remembered it. I really loved it. And so fast forward a few years. When I finished my graduate studies, I was so stressed out, and just so disenchanted with the programme that I just graduated from. And I said just to reward myself for persevering through that programme, I was going to take a trip to Finland. So I really just went for fun. But I couldn’t resist while I was there looking to see what sort of martial arts schools there were. It’s sort of a thing I do as a tourist. I collect martial arts schools, like souvenirs. So you came up and it was a coincidence that you trained in a system that was similar to something I had done before.
Guy Windsor: Okay, so couple of follow up questions. So what were you studying in Saint Petersburg?
Cain Maxwell: Russian?
Guy Windsor: Is that for the army or for?
Cain Maxwell: No it was for my undergraduate?
Guy Windsor: What brought you to St Petersburg? So were you doing a language degree in the States and had a year in Saint Petersburg as an exchange student or as part of your degree or was your whole degree in Russian?
Cain Maxwell: Right. No. So my undergraduate was in Russian and Chinese and I didn’t have to go. Yeah, you’re right. It was part of the degree programme. So for credits toward my graduation and I went to Tulane University. I think according to them, I was the first student to go study abroad in Russia. So I don’t know if that’s correct. From Tulane.
Guy Windsor: Wow. That’s weird. How on earth do you study Russian without spending some time in Russia? I mean, that’s just mad.
Cain Maxwell: I don’t know. But listen, there are a couple of universities here that are not necessarily universities, but a couple of schools here that do a great job of teaching language without sending people over. Middlebury in Vermont is a language school, and a lot of folks who graduated from there say that folks and employers who employed linguists that came out of there say that time at Middlebury is better than time in country. The Defense Language Institute, DLI, in California. They get people competent enough in their B language to understand a foreign language in 12 or sometimes 18 months to be able to listen in on native conversations. And let me tell you, to anybody who doesn’t know, who hasn’t studied foreign languages to a level of practicability, that’s tough. Listening to natives speak, this listening, not engaging in person but just listening through surveillance devices to natives with all their mumbling, speaking quickly, and things that are implied.
Guy Windsor: Like you and I now. One of the reasons one of the reasons why we have transcriptions on the show is so that people who are interested, but maybe their English isn’t good enough to follow a conversation at the kind of speed, because most of my guests are native speakers of English and I’m obviously a native speaker of English, it is really hard because again, depending on the guests, we can speak really quickly. Sometimes it’s a lot of back and forth. It is difficult to follow. And so we have transcription so that people can go, oh that was interesting, what the hell did Guy just say? And they can go find out from transcription. But also training somebody to be able to understand the language when it’s spoken is quite high level but not nearly so hard as train them to speak in such a way that native speakers would mistake them for a native speaker. That’s like the holy grail of language instruction.
Cain Maxwell: Sure. Yeah. Well, depending on the disposition of the student, some people are very good at learning the grammar quickly. Some people grammar mystifies them their entire lives. I know several people that they’re fluent in Russian. They can hold conversations all day long, have a huge vocabulary, would never fumble with the grammar, which is saying a lot. But their accents are thick as molasses. They just sound like they’re speaking strange words in American English. But they’re understood. They’re understood well but their accent’s terrible. I master that accent very easily. But the grammar stops me. So it’s it depends on the disposition of the student.
Guy Windsor: When I’m going to be speaking in a foreign language, the only languages I ever speak other than English, are Spanish, Italian and Finnish to varying degrees of competence. But the first thing I do is like, for example, in Italian I would say, “Yo parlo Italiano molto bueno. Tutti miei amici Italiani pensano yo sonno Italiano”. [said in a very English accent.] Which is like the most ridiculously exaggerated English accent. And me saying, yeah, I speak Italian so well. All my Italian friends think I’m Italian, right? And of course, it sounds absolutely fucking horrible. Everyone falls around laughing. And then when I speak my Italian in a not terribly good Italian accent, it sounds so much better than what they just heard. They think it’s great.
Cain Maxwell: Oh, that’s clever trick Guy. That’s a very, very clever trick. You know, like I said, I pick up the accents really well, which gets me into a lot of trouble, because even if I know, like 25 phrases, if I know 25 phrases, that’s barely enough for me to ask for really basic things and sometimes understand the response. All right. But if I say it perfectly, I’ll say “I’m sorry, but I need help. Can you help me?” Something really simple like that. But I say it with a perfect accent. Their response is just insane because they think I must be fluent. That’s an excellent tactic. That’s a good life hack Guy, I’m going to take that one with me next time I’m abroad.
Guy Windsor: Excellent. Okay, so you did graduate studies, so you finished a graduate degree? What was that in?
Cain Maxwell: Translation studies.
Guy Windsor: Oh, God, that’s brutal. Brutal. Oh my lord.
Cain Maxwell: Yeah, it wasn’t fun.
Guy Windsor: So have you looked at any of the translations of historical martial arts sources that people have put out? Like me, people like me. I’m not asking for a critique of one of mine. What do you think of the current state of translation in historical martial arts? Or do you not have an opinion?
Cain Maxwell: Here’s the thing, right? That the translator lies. So I think if you’re lucky, whatever it is you’re studying in a language you don’t understand, if you can find more than one translation, you will start to triangulate what the native speaker was saying.
Guy Windsor: Ah. Hang on a second. Yes. I agree. But the problem is, at the moment in historical martial arts, there are some absolutely catastrophically bad translations available for free, and people are comparing the professionally done ones with the catastrophically bad free ones. With things that are plain and simply wrong. I mean, it’s not a matter of opinion. It’s a matter of fact. I mean, if you translate table as horse that’s just wrong. And so I absolutely agree. Two high quality translations, compare those side by side, which gives you an interesting triangulation on the original source. But you’ve got to be super careful that the translations that you’re comparing are equivalently professionally or well done because the bad ones can really mess you up.
Cain Maxwell: Agreed. And I will add to that, some translators aim to be invisible, you know, so that it looks like you’re reading in its original source. But I think it’s helpful to look at a literal translation and a more refined translation because if you see it in your language, but the way that they said it, that’s informative in a way that is lost when you continue to convert it to the way you would say it. So having the benefit of both is good. Sometimes you’ll find a single translation that has layers of translation. So they’ll show the source text, they’ll show a print of the source text, then they’ll show a super literal translation of the source text, and then they show how we would say it, in the target language. And so these are really good. But again, in that case, if it’s just one translator, that’s sometimes not sufficient to triangulate on what the source text said, especially when it’s instruction about technique.
Guy Windsor: Okay. Why especially so?
Cain Maxwell: Because that is that’s so complicated and specific. Take just explaining in your own language to someone else who is a native speaker, try explaining a snapshot of any movement and explaining as if it’s a new thing.
Guy Windsor: I do this all the time. I do this all the time. I mean, I have like a dozen books which do exactly that. So yeah, I know exactly how hard it is because I’ve had the experience of writing a book, publishing it. People find the book, their only training has been mediated through the book. Then they come and train with me and I can see all the places where they have somehow, it’s not fair to say they have misread, but I have phrased something infelicitously, and so they are doing something in a way that I didn’t actually intend. Right. So I’ve experienced this from that perspective.
Cain Maxwell: Well, it’s sometimes that’s innovation. And I’ll say for example, I’ve tried to do some I call it manual interpretation. So it’s just breaking out of the source text and reading from a translation. And you have one person reading and you have two people acting. And it will have images, now assuming that the images are correct because they might not be.
Guy Windsor: Yeah, but it’s just a big assumption.
Cain Maxwell: Right. Right. This is just assuming that the images are correct, if you take the instructions, say now he does this cut and now he responds by doing this guard and now he turns to do this, and now he puts his foot here and so on and so forth. So you’re talking them through that and you’re instructing them and they’re acting it out per instructions. And you finish the play and you say, well, now does that look like a picture? Sometimes it does, sometimes it does, but sometimes it doesn’t. And what they did was awesome.
Guy Windsor: Yeah, and sometimes it doesn’t and then what they did is an absolute clusterfuck, to use a military term.
Cain Maxwell: Yes. Well sometimes and this is the other thing too. Sometimes you are following it correctly, but it’s just not a good technique.
Guy Windsor: That’s rare in my experience. What sources are you using?
Cain Maxwell: Oh, so this is a good question. I have an eclectic library of sources. I couldn’t even name all the authors right now. I’m looking at the, what’s it called, Muyedobotongji, which is a Korean one. I’m looking at Louis Nolan. He was a British Empire cavalryman. There are some old Arabic manuals. I don’t speak Arabic. I’m not going to try to disrespect anybody by mispronouncing that. But, you know, I’ll thumb through these and sometimes I pick some stuff up and say, oh, you know, that’s an interesting idea. More often, I’ll say yeah, you could do that. But why wouldn’t you just do this instead? Or, you could do that. That’s not really a great idea. Like, why wouldn’t you just do this instead? And that’s where a lot of my curriculum comes from.
Guy Windsor: One thing I would say is that choosing a source to study is a skill in itself. So when I’m teaching people the research side of this practice, one of the things we start with is what to look for in a source. And one of the things you need to look for in a source is the writer actually knows what they’re talking about. So classic example would be Salvator Fabris. He was fencing master to the king of Denmark in 1603. He’s probably pretty good. And his book went through a couple of editions and has been widely plagiarised and was still popular and plagiarised and borrowed and translated versions for 100 years after it was written. So we can be pretty confident that he didn’t get his position as fencing master to the king of Denmark, because the king fancied him, he actually has some serious skills. And same with Fiore. The main street in his home town is named after him. And he was given the command of the artillery at the city of Udine. So he’s like a proper military dude, has some seriously well-respected knights. As his students, we can be pretty confident that he himself knew what he was doing. It doesn’t mean he’s necessarily a good writer and doesn’t mean that he’s been necessarily well represented on the page. But we have good reason to think that the author actually knew what they were talking about. And then when we look at the books of these people and you go through them, it’s all eminently practical and quite easy to reproduce, really. I mean, it took us a while to figure it out, but it’s quite easy to reproduce. So the issue of looking at and going really? Would you do that? So far, every time I’ve done that with Fiore, and I’ve tried it out, I’ve gone, well, actually, yes, you would do that because it actually works. But there are certainly sources for which that hasn’t been the case.
Cain Maxwell: This this might be iconoclastic to say this to you on your show. I don’t have the manuscript in front of me. I don’t have any translation of a Fiore in front of me. But I have seen a plate on horseback where there’s one guy holding a sword, they’re passing, and the guy with the sword is hooking his arm around the other rider’s neck.
Guy Windsor: I will fetch that image for you now.
Cain Maxwell: Yeah, let’s grab it. This might be out of context here. That’s okay.
Guy Windsor: I have it right here. Now when we get to the mounted combat stuff, I will confess this is not my area of expertise. Yeah. Okay, here we go. Yeah, there are two here.
Cain Maxwell: Okay.
Guy Windsor: Yeah. What is wrong with those?
Cain Maxwell: Well, why would you bother hooking somebody with your arm around his neck when you have a sword? Maybe that’s the rule of the game if they’re saying, you know, try to see this guy off without a sword, you know, or do it without using lethal force, there could be some context there I’m missing. But it’s much trickier to get your arm around somebody’s neck with two passing horses than it is to just strike them fatally with a sword.
Guy Windsor: Sure. Except if you have come from the previous situation, which is where they are quite close together. Now, this isn’t necessarily a follow on, but there are lots of actions done at various measures. So we have a pommel strike later on and a counter to the pommel strike and various sort of wrestley-type things. But I mean, the issues I see, I know people have reproduced this play without any trouble. The reason you would do that would be because let’s say you miss with your pommel strike and you have an opportunity just to hook him off the back of his horse. Why wouldn’t you do it? Well it’s kind of risky, I mean, I wouldn’t do it.
Cain Maxwell: It is risky and it could pull you off your own horse. Why doesn’t he strike?
Guy Windsor: He has a medieval saddle which makes it difficult to be pulled off backwards. So he’s pulling him off to the side and yeah, I can see why you wouldn’t want to do it unless you had good reason to do it. But I don’t see why the situation wouldn’t occur. We see in swordplay all the time, right where we’re fencing and stuff happens and the pommel strike hasn’t gone through or whatever, and we’re that close and we end up doing a hip throw, right? This is basically the horse equivalent of a hip throw.
Cain Maxwell: Hmm. I won’t dispute that that’s the horse equivalent to a hip throw. But remember, the situation is different when you’re on a horse, because you’re not on your own feet. You’re sitting on a horse. And also, assuming that the two horses are going forward, that changes the situation a little bit. Okay. Well, let’s say that that’s not a completely impractical application. Let’s say other things have failed. You wind up here. I’d like to experiment with this one, because I still think that a strike from behind with the sword would make more sense than to hook the arm around the neck.
Guy Windsor: Which he does have later on.
Cain Maxwell: Oh, well, bravo. I’ll give another example. Not from Fiore. This is I saw a lecture on somebody trying to recreate from a Mamluk source. So, again, forgive me, I’m not going to try to butcher the names, but it was a Mamluk source. And the play went something like this: So if you have two horses that are moving and the cavalrymen are armed in the right hand, your strongest attack zone is going to be forward and to the right and your weakest attack and defense zone is going to be behind you and to the left. You have a sort of a blind spot because your body’s in between you and your in your sword. So if you have horses running around freely, if you can get behind and to the left of the person that you’re assaulting, excepting if they’re using something that attacks to the left like a bow. But if they’re armed with a sword or lance, if you can get behind and to the left, that’s kind of their blind spot. So they have a bit of a disadvantage there. So this is the source prescribes that the lancer in the front who is being pursued by a lancer behind and to his left, the lancer in the front takes his lance by the bottom end, by the butt, called the shoe, and drags the tip in the dirt. Okay, so are you seeing this so far? He has the full length of the lance sort of trailing behind him.
Guy Windsor: On his right hand side presumably.
Cain Maxwell: Correct. Correct. So it’s dragging behind it to the right. So he has the full length of the lance. The fulcrum is on the ground and he is waving it by the butt to ward off strikes from the lance using the length of the lance. Are you picturing this so far?
Guy Windsor: Vaguely. Yeah.
Cain Maxwell: I could demonstrate it, but I know it’s not going to make it onto the audio.
Guy Windsor: Okay. So I’m riding along and I have my lance behind me on the ground and I’m holding it by the butt.
Cain Maxwell: Yes. And I’ll grab a lance and actually I’ll talk while I’m doing it.
Guy Windsor: Okay.
Cain Maxwell: All right. So we’ll say I’ve got my lance in my right hand. And my adversary is behind and to my left. So I’ll take the tip of my lance. I’ll drag it in the dirt.
Guy Windsor: Oh, you drag it in the dirt on the other side. So you drag it on your left side. Yeah, that makes a kind of sense.
Cain Maxwell: So you’re swinging the butt end of the lance high and over your left. Okay. So it’s on the left side of the horse. So you’re like, okay, well, I suppose so. However, to what end? Do you just keep doing this ad infinitum and hope that the guy will finally leave you alone because you’re not worth the trouble? To be martial art, this has to be both defence and attack. So that has no offensive capability. And in fact you’ve put your lance in a position where you cannot deploy it offensively. To recover it to offensive capacity, you have to shift back to some other configuration, during which time you really are quite vulnerable. Now, I do have a prescription or a few prescriptions for what to do if you have a lance and a lancer is coming up behind to the left. But that’s not it, because that doesn’t have an endgame. You’re defending against something until either he gives up or he gets you. Because honestly, that’s also not really a great defence.
Guy Windsor: Parries do not win sword fights.
Cain Maxwell: They don’t win lance fights.
Guy Windsor: Same rule is true.
Cain Maxwell: Okay, so and anybody can drill this to find out. But if you play a game where one of you is attacking and one of you is defending, eventually the attacker is going to get you. And this this is not a great way to parry. This is a very kind of tenuous, unstable, hard to see, you know, very small surface area.
Guy Windsor: It sounds sort of like a last ditch, desperate, oh, shit, I’m going to die. So I might as well try this.
Cain Maxwell: It is. But for as much trouble, you could invert the lance, turn around and throw it at him.
Guy Windsor: True.
Cain Maxwell: Yeah.
Guy Windsor: Okay. Yeah. Now, this business of creeping up on the left side, I’ve had the pleasure of doing sword against sword mounted combat with Jennifer Landels, and she has a much, much, much, much better rider than I will ever be. I think I’m probably a better swordsman than she is. But as for riding, she is way out of my league and way beyond. And the problem was she kept getting behind me and to the left and just carved me up like salami because there wasn’t much I could do about it when she got into that spot. So when you said behind and to the left, I though, shit. Jen’s there.
Cain Maxwell: Oh, yeah. You know this one. It’s obvious once you’ve seen it. But that, that is one of those things that that does change a situation with cavalry from infantry. It takes more effort to turn around but you can turn, you know, so if you’re being pursued, if for some reason you need to flee and you need to you need to go in a certain direction that that’s one situation. But if you get stuck in some sort of cavalry melee. If you turn left or right, they’re not behind you, they are beside you.
Guy Windsor: Yeah. How did you get into the whole mounted combat thing? Because we’ve heard about Russia and translation and sort of martial arts tourism and whatnot. But we haven’t mentioned horses yet. How did that start?
Cain Maxwell: Well, there’s a black and white answer to that. It started with there’s a company, I think it’s in Spain. But there’s a few of them, it’s the franchise Medieval Times. It does these show jousts for an audience and serves them dinner so it’s kind of a restaurant meets jousting show.
Guy Windsor: Yeah it’s an experience.
Cain Maxwell: Yeah. And I had never ridden before that. This was shortly after I got out of the military. So I guess in some way it was kind of an answer to “I want to be a swordsman”, although I wouldn’t say this made me a swordsman by any means. And it was for show. But look, there were horses running at each other and there were men hitting each other with sticks in their shields. So that part, I mean, the jousting was really jousting. That’s where the horse thing started. But to say that I got into Medieval Times and that got me into horses and the rest is history would be, I think, deceptive. My interest in mounted combat is separate to and coincidental to Medieval Times. Medieval Times was a coincidental opportunity. It was a way that I could surmount the barrier to entry, which was being able to afford horses and horse lessons.
Guy Windsor: Okay. So did you work for them?
Cain Maxwell: I did.
Guy Windsor: All right. Okay. So basically, they subsidised your horsemanship training?
Cain Maxwell: Yes. Very handy. And I got paid while I was training too.
Guy Windsor: That stuff is not cheap.
Cain Maxwell: No, it’s very expensive. Horses are expensive to keep. But there’s a co evolutionary element to that, because they’re expensive to keep more affluent people are interested in it. And so events and material involving horses tend to be proportionately expensive just because they’re involving horses.
Guy Windsor: Yeah. Okay. So there’s a long way between joining Medieval Times, being unable to ride, and opening your own school of mounted combat stuff. So fill in the gaps.
Cain Maxwell: Well, as far as opening my own school, let me try to back engineer from that. Because listen, if I can go back to saying I learnt to fight by fighting and after the fact sort of training formally. I think that the study of martial art if applied correctly, is therapeutic, it’s therapeutic to the poisoned mind. It’s therapeutic to the wrathful mind. It’s therapeutic to the fearful mind.
Guy Windsor: If it’s trained that way. I have seen plenty of people with a poisoned mind, with a fearful mind and whatnot where martial arts training made it worse. Because the school was feeding that rather than feeding its counter.
Cain Maxwell: Exactly. Exactly. This is part of my point. I don’t mean to sling mud or throw shade at anybody here. You look at the cage fighting culture that’s become really popular in the last, I don’t know, 20 years maybe. And the schools don’t teach you manners. You don’t have to be kind to be successful at one of those schools. You just have to be good at hitting people and good at getting hit. You know, that might be oversimplifying what goes into being a successful cage fighter, which I don’t mean to do. You know, I think those guys are tremendously technical and athletic, but you don’t have to be a good person, to be a decent human being, to do that. And I don’t think they really promote that. So if you happen to be of a disposition where you’re generous and compassionate and patient, I don’t think studying MMA is going to ruin you. But if you’re not of those things. We have a home for people like that which is MMA gym, which inevitably starts to drive away some of the more compassionate types. So there’s a sort of culture of, you know, how do I say this?
Guy Windsor: Okay, this reminds me of people ask me a lot for advice on what schools to send their children to in terms of martial arts and whatnot. And also, maybe they’re training in a place which doesn’t have a historical martial arts club. And so they’re looking to train a different martial art to kind of pick up some skills for when the swords become available. And one of the key pieces of advice I gave is have a look at the senior students in the school. Because if the training works at all, you will turn into that if you join that school. So if you want to be like those senior students, go train there. If you don’t, then don’t. Because if you do go there, you will turn into that.
Cain Maxwell: Are we doing that with the historical sources as well?
Guy Windsor: How do you mean?
Cain Maxwell: Well, I mean, this doesn’t have to do with character, per se. It could, if there’s record of it. But we look at we look at some of the sources and we say, well, you brought up credibility earlier. You know, this author was the master instructor for somebody of great power. He could pick anybody. This is the one he picked. So he must know he’s talking about. But, you know. Is that true? Can we look at his students? And did not just one, but multiple of his students go on to be successful by applying his system. That’s what I would look at for the system is not the instructor, but the students. The students are the product.
Guy Windsor: Sure. That that is true. In terms of character, though, the way that we train as modern people is so completely unlike the culture and the environment in which these students were training in that I don’t think it’s the style itself that produces nice people or arseholes at the top. It’s the training culture and the school culture. I’ve trained in some martial arts, which on the face of it, are absolutely fucking vicious. I mean, testicle grabs and eye gouges and hidden blades that you stick into the jugular. All that sort of stuff. Great fun. And the people who are training in that are super lovely and nice. And I have trained in some places with arts that were supposedly all sort of spiritual and nice. And I mean, I quit one Aikido club because one of the senior students happened to mention that he was single. He split up with his girlfriend, so he should take the next beginners course because that’s where these instructors picked up their girlfriends. I was like, that is just fucking hideous. I’m out of here. I was like super low status, had been training there six months or a year, white belt, whatever. So it wasn’t like I could do anything about it, but I was like I am having no part of a place like this. And I left. So it’s not the art itself that that creates the character of the senior students, I think is the school culture and the training culture.
Cain Maxwell: I agree. Although there’s overlap in the locale. You can have an art that tends to attract a certain type. And within that art, some schools are more this or that and some other schools are more this or that. And within that school, some instructors are more this and that. And within that school or under that instructor, certain students are more this and that and so on and so forth. To that end, some arts, I think, are a better home for some people of a certain disposition where they are at that time. So if you’re just like, you know, I really like just hitting people in the face and I don’t care if somebody hits me in the face, chances are you’re going to wind up in an MMA gym.
Guy Windsor: Sure. Nothing wrong with that.
Cain Maxwell: There’s nothing wrong with it. There’s nothing wrong with that. However, I wanted something that both taught fighting that would work if it were applied, but also taught good character. You know, I think it was in Plato’s Republic, they talk about the sort of like the natural warrior who, if left to his own devices, would basically be robbing banks. But that’s not useful. That’s not useful to society. So we can’t keep people like that around. They’re just destructive. So we have to culture them with compassion. What’s the real difference between a warrior and a brigand, you know, or a thug? They’re both people willing to do violence to another. But what makes the warrior special is service. And that service means selflessness. And you can’t have an art that just teaches you to always win, to always be brutal, and to just do those things to your own ends so that you can be the big dog in your town or you can win the next belt. That’s not teaching selflessness. That’s not teaching service.
Guy Windsor: I’m guessing that if you lived in the Valley, you’d be training Miyagi Do, not Cobra Kai.
Cain Maxwell: Well, if that were a real thing, we could examine that philosophically. But yeah, using that model, I think winning for the sake of trophies is not engendering selflessness. So there’s a missing component to your warriorship, then. With warriorship, you can’t divorce it from the violence. You know, I’ve heard people talk about, oh, the martial art I study, It’s a non-violent martial art. I’ve heard this many times before. Several times. Because, people are studying an art that bills itself as a martial art. And they don’t want to be producing, you know, bullies. They don’t want to be producing aggressive people that are a menace. They’re also not producing people that are ready for a fight. So it’s difficult to balance that. I get that. How can you have somebody who’s kind of sweet by nature, who’s ready to fight? It’s tough. You have to you have to switch back and forth between the two, to be able to balance them both. And this is tough to do. Somebody who is just mean all the time, it’s hard to get the drop on. But you have somebody that wants to give you the benefit of the doubt and wants to be kind to you and to de-escalate. He’s always going to be late to the fight. He has a little more processing before he’s ready. Before he’s combat ready, depending on the situation. Endanger a woman’s child and she’ll still switch into warrior mode pretty quick.
Guy Windsor: Any parent. I have never killed anyone, and I don’t think I ever would. But one time I was pushing the pram, and my firstborn was about six months old. I was pushing the pram through the park, and somebody came tearing through the park on a motorbike and went right by us within like 18 inches. If I’d had a gun, I would have shot that fucker. No question. Put my child’s life in danger. It’s a good thing I don’t carry a gun, because if I have been carrying it, there’s no question I would have shot them just because they put my child at risk for no good reason. Fuck you, you die. Boom. And I would have regretted it, and it would be a very bad thing. And then I would spend at least ten years or so in prison and missed most of my daughters upbringings. It would not have been a good response. But yeah, there are triggers, particularly for parents.
Cain Maxwell: Yeah. You know, that’s just a very accessible example. You know, as an example, I think a lot of people can reach without ever having been in a real fight. You might be somebody who’s never been struck in anger says like, look, I study martial art, but nobody’s ever really tried to hurt me before and nobody’s ever really meant me ill before. What would it actually be like? If you’re a parent, if you can imagine what you would do to protect your kid, assuming you’re of a reasonable and healthy mental disposition, as some parents don’t care. But if you’re of a reasonable and healthy disposition, that mindset, that’s what it would be like if you’re fighting out of anger. And then, of course, some people fight out of fear. Fear and anger are the most obvious and the most, I think, immediate. The most urgent emotion to fight.
Guy Windsor: But also the ones most likely to make you make a mistake. Like, for instance, by shooting that person who, by the time I got my gun out, was no longer a threat. I should have shot them on the way to the pram, but I didn’t even know they were coming because I was paying attention to my child, and you’re not supposed to have motorbikes in that park. And also, let me just say, for the record, I don’t think that death by shooting is an appropriate punishment for someone who rides a motorbike in a park when they shouldn’t. I think that is actually a capital offence in any reasonable society. But you know, the rage. Oh my God. And yeah. So okay, the concept of warriorship as you express it, it boils down to service. So service to what?
Cain Maxwell: That can be many things. It is typically a person or a tribe. So even when somebody says an ideology, usually they mean tribe, right? Because that ideology can mean whatever you say you mean nominally, whatever you say it. But really, when you say I’m fighting for ideology, you’re fighting for the tribe of people who subscribe to that nominal ideology, not necessarily the truth of that ideology.
Guy Windsor: So let me let me narrow the question down, what do you serve?
Cain Maxwell: That’s a good one. Obvious. I walked right into that, too. So well, I have, I guess, an affinity with those who have been damaged by hatred and fear. And to say, whom do I serve? Well, what’s the nature of my service? Am I fighting right now? Am I warring right now? I’m not. I’m in peacetime. I’m an instructor, Guy, so I serve as an instructor. And whom do I serve? Well, the majority of my students are riders who are looking to get more out of their riding. But the demographic that I’m really targeting is the people I think would benefit the most from this sort of thing. And they’re people who have been damaged by hatred and fear, and some of those people don’t have access to this sort of thing. So I want to make it available.
Guy Windsor: Okay. How are you doing that?
Cain Maxwell: How am I doing it right now? Well, for example, there’s a programme locally called LUCK, stands for Leg Up for Cleveland Kids. What they do is they gather money, they get grants, so that they can buy riding instruction for these kids that wouldn’t have access to it otherwise. I’ve had the honour of working with them, they’re doing a great job. I thought about something like this a long time ago and I was like, well, I don’t know where the money’s going to come from. I don’t know how it’s all going get paid for. But somehow and miraculously, LUCK reached out to us. I didn’t even reach out to them. They reached out to us and said we saw your programme. It looks interesting. It looks like something our kids want to do. So, I want to be more available to people like that in that way because the kids that are involved in that programme, they couldn’t pay for my programme out of pocket. By the way, I try not to keep my lessons prohibitively expensive. I think in the way of horse lessons, I’m pretty cheap. I’m very cheap. But horses are expensive, Guy. Somebody’s got to feed them.
Guy Windsor: I know they are. They’re like aeroplanes. They are just ridiculously expensive. And so yeah, I imagine you have to charge fairly big chunks of cash for people to come and use your very expensive horses. If you don’t mind me asking, how did you set it up as a business and what was the thought process?
Cain Maxwell: Well, actually, this is a segue way off of what you just said. First of all, they’re not my horses. I’m renting. I dry lease, I think is the industry term for what I do. I am renting at someone else’s barn and I use her horses. And I should give credit to the name of the place in Hinckley. It’s Horse Haven Stables, and the girl’s name is Solange. And she was willing to take a risk with my untested school, which not a lot of horse barns would do.
Guy Windsor: No, they wouldn’t.
Cain Maxwell: So I’m really grateful that whether it’s because she was being compassionate or because she was bored and wanted to see something exciting at her school, she was willing to.
Guy Windsor: Let’s go with compassion.
Cain Maxwell: Yeah. She was willing to let me use her barn and her horses that she took the risk. And now that I have a bit of a history, I’ve got pictures of students doing things and testimonials. You know, I can go to other barns and say, look, this is the thing, this is what I do, it works. Nothing bad happens. And now they say, Okay, great. But if I said, hey, I want to start a school. Most people would be like, it’s not ticking any boxes.
Guy Windsor: The first one is the hardest. Yeah, the first one is by far the hardest. Okay. So that’s actually a really good way to go about it because you’re basically renting your infrastructure.
Cain Maxwell: Yes.
Guy Windsor: Rather than having to find the capital to set up. I mean, because it would cost you several million dollars to set that up from scratch, I would have thought. The land, the horses, the equipment, the training, the buildings, all that sort of stuff. That’s a lot of money. So I have a couple of questions that I ask all of my guests. And I guess the first one is, you’ve done a lot of different things. What’s the best idea you haven’t acted on yet?
Cain Maxwell: Move to Finland, open a sword school.
Guy Windsor: I did that already. That was great. Yeah, it’s a good idea.
Cain Maxwell: No, no, actually, I’ve written a few books and I need to follow them through to publication.
Guy Windsor: Ooh. You are aware that that I make about half my living from the books I have published myself?
Cain Maxwell: I surmised. Yeah.
Guy Windsor: Yes. And as we are, in a sense, old friends. You are entirely at liberty to ask me for any assistance you may require in getting that sorted out. It’s not difficult.
Cain Maxwell: It looks incredibly difficult.
Guy Windsor: It is super simple. I’ll run it through. You’ve written your book. So when the book is effectively finished. It needs professional editing. You’ll need to pay for that because it’s essential that the book is brought up to a good professional standard because you will be asking people to pay for it. It’s not terribly expensive provided it’s reasonably well written already. And there are some automatic tools that you can use to get it as good as you can get it before it gets sent to a human editor. So that helps shave off some of the costs because then you have your edited text. It needs to go to layout. If it’s got lots of pictures and it’s complex or some kind of art project, it needs to go to a professional graphic designer. If it doesn’t have that, if it’s just text or there’s only a few pictures there are tools that will let you lay it out yourself and it will look sufficiently professional. Vellum is a good choice and that will export your print files. You then need a cover designer. I would advise hiring a cover designer $200 and that will get you your e-book cover, paperback and hardback covers. So from layout, you’ve got your e-book file and your interior print file and from your graphic designer, you’ve got your cover design, you’ve got your cover files, e-book, paperback and hardback. If you choose to do a hardback, which you probably should. And then it’s simply a question of creating a couple of accounts. And current best practice is probably have an Ingram Spark account for print, don’t use their e-book service, and then use something like Draft2Digital to publish your e-books and it will do them on every platform for you. And it is literally just filling out some stuff. Jumping through some hoops. It is easy.
Cain Maxwell: This is all for self-publication, of course. Okay. I actually was not thinking about self-publication, but maybe that would be the path. I don’t know. There seems to be some pros and cons of both.
Guy Windsor: The reason I make the half my income from my books is because I self-publish them. If I sold the same number of copies, I would make about a fifth as much money, best case scenario, if they were commercially published. So if I think that the commercial publisher is going to sell at least five times more copies that I could sell myself, then I should go to the commercial publisher. The problem with the commercial publishers these days is the model has become really bad for authors. It’s all about a big launch and make loads of money in the first week or so and the author is still expected to do all the marketing.
Cain Maxwell: Really?
Guy Windsor: Yeah, totally. You will not get marketing done by your publishers unless they have decided for whatever reason, they’re going to put you on the sides of buses and get you on to Oprah and all that sort of stuff, which is very unlikely. Most commercially published books don’t make back the advance. And the advance these days is pitiful for most authors.
Cain Maxwell: I see.
Guy Windsor: It’s a really difficult position. You’ve got authors at the top, it’s like the acting profession, right? Authors at the top who are making millions and for whom every time they bring out a book, the publishing arm puts all of its power behind it. Because they know that it’s going to do well anyway, and if they give it a big push, it will do spectacularly well. And everyone makes shitloads of money. Then you’ve got most authors in the UK at least, and they’re trying to be full time authors, make less than £10,000 a year on their books through commercial publishing. Because the advance might be only £2000, £3000 maybe, which sounds like a lot of money to have as a chunk upfront. But actually, how long can you live on that much money. And if you’ve got horses to worry about…
Cain Maxwell: And how long will it take you to write the book?
Guy Windsor: Right, exactly. If you get a really good contract, a really good offer, from a good publishing house: absolutely. And there are there are sort of halfway house things like Unbound, for example, which basically run a crowdfunding campaign for you or with you. And if the book gets financed, it gets published by them and they do the editing and the layout and all that sort of stuff, and they do put a bit of publicity behind it as well. And then you’ve got lots and lots of totally scammy, absolutely awful vanity presses who will take loads of money from you, publish your book and send you 300 copies of the hardback or whatever. And that’s that. And it’s just a disaster. Just horrible. But there are author services companies, White Fox in the UK being one example where you retain your copyright on everything and there is a sort of a profit share sort of arrangement. I don’t use them and so I don’t have the depth and details about it. But yeah, they provide editing services and marketing services and that kind of stuff which tend to be mostly paid for out of the book sales rather than you have to pay them upfront. So there’s there is help to be had if you need it. But yeah, what book are we talking about? What’s the title?
Cain Maxwell: So my big one that I wrote over the shutdown, because I was bored. So I wrote a book. I wrote a 120,000 word book on pedagogy, but I had rage against the pedagogy. It starts with the problem, the problem of how most teachers and institutions teach, why that is both toxic and ineffective and a better, a more effective, empowering, efficient way to teach that works that people want to do.
Guy Windsor: Okay. Sounds like there’s a market there. One thing is, if you self-publish it and it does really well, you may then get offers from commercial publishing houses which are not insultingly low. Just a thought.
Cain Maxwell: Yeah.
Guy Windsor: Okay, so what are your views on pedagogy? How should one teach, in a nutshell?
Cain Maxwell: Wow, in a nutshell. Well, so I think of all of my instruction as teaching confidence. If you are losing your belief in your ability to do something, that’s the opposite of learning. So if I feel like I have a choice, if I feel like I have a choice between challenging in a way that’s going to give you more exposure to something that requires more skill and something that is going to give you more confidence. And very often it is both. But if I have to choose between the two. For example, if I’m finishing up the class and say, well, I got a little bit of time, I could throw in a challenge there. But probably most people aren’t going to be able to pull it off. I don’t want to finish in a way that like, oh man, got all the way through that class and then I failed at the end.
Guy Windsor: You have to finish on success. You have to finish on success, always. There can be plenty of failure along the way in the class, but the end has to be successful. Yeah, always.
Cain Maxwell: And critical thinking. Most teaching that I’ve seen, whether it be academic or physical skills, whether it’s institutional or private, whether it’s for children or for adults, is based on obedience and memorisation. Do it this way because this is the way it’s done. Or remember these things and that’s not critical thinking. So the second something novel happens, you’re powerless to do anything based on what you learn. It’s not applicable to any situation that’s novel to whatever you were learning. I mean even maths is just a model. Like the numbers are not really the thing. They’re just notation. So if you’re learning maths and you’re like, well look, it’s maths. Maths is always right, just learn the formulas. That’s actually not true. There are novel situations that maths has not mapped. So if you never think critically and you’re not taught to think critically, the learning is not going to empower you outside of the artificial classroom setting.
Guy Windsor: I had a very good maths teacher. I can still do calculus now, even though I almost never do. Right. Because he explained it from first principles. Not this is a formula that you apply like this. It was so you have a curve and you divide. I would mangle his explanation if I just adlibbed it now. But it was sufficiently good that I actually understand how differentiation works so that it makes sense when to use it and how to do it. I am not particularly good at maths.
Cain Maxwell: It sounds like you are. And it sounds like because you had good instruction.
Guy Windsor: Well, I’m not naturally good at maths, put it that way. But when things are taught properly that you don’t have to remember them because you understand them.
Cain Maxwell: Right. Exactly. Memorisation and comprehension are not the same, and most instruction teaches memorisation. This is the problem I have with acronyms. A lot of people say, hey, if this happens, just remember this acronym. And if you don’t recall the acronym, especially I see acronyms are employed a lot in how to react to an emergency. If you see somebody talking, just remember, LAPD, you know, or whatever it is, it’s like, well, that’s not useful because in an emergency, your recall for acronyms goes away. But if you understand what the objective is and you understand in a roundabout way how to get there, you can solve your way to the objective by creative intelligence on the spot.
Guy Windsor: Yeah, I’m learning to fly planes at the moment. And it is so many acronyms. And like, do we have VMC for a VFR today? But, let’s say if you’re preparing for landing. You know right now I’ve got to do my BUMMMFITCHH. Which is check the brakes, check the undercarriage. Check the mixture, check how much still you’ve got, etc., etc., etc.. And the thing is, having the acronym works, if you already know what to do and just want to make sure you’re not going to skip any steps. But you can’t teach someone to land the plane by using an acronym. So it’s useful once you already know how to do it.
Cain Maxwell: Yeah. And I think there are also situations that are there beyond your ability to comprehend. There are certain things that are beyond the human ability to perceive or beyond the average person’s ability to wrap his or her head around. And sometimes you got to say, look, I can’t explain why travelling at the speed of light means your friends are going to age, but you won’t. But here’s the mathematical formula you are just going to have to take, actually. Look, I can’t wrap my head around it, but you can show that it works. It’s what you have to go with. And I think also lists can be helpful for certain things. But to understand how to do a thing with acronyms, this is actually really popular in the military. Why is it popular in the military? Because it’s fast. You say just remember this thing, you know, but ask somebody three years later, what did that acronym stand for and what does it mean? Most people don’t remember because they never comprehended it.
Guy Windsor: It is the unpacking of it that’s like the “I” in BUMMMFITCHH is instruments. And the critical thing is that you set your altimeter so that it registers your height above ground level at the airport you’re coming in to land at, so that when you fly your circuit around the airfield, you’re flying at the same height as the other planes in the circuit. And everyone knows where you are and you know how far you are above the actual ground. But if you don’t understand altimeters and the difference in height enough to do that kind of stuff. Just checking your instruments, well, I suppose they’re working just fine because they look, the altimeter goes up and down when I go up and down, it’s fine. It’s not helpful until you already know. But once you already know and actually really know and understand it, then it’s a useful way of just making sure you don’t skip a step, I think. Well, I’m not really in favour of acronyms because honestly, aviation, if you think the military is full of acronyms, I imagine military aviation is probably done entirely in acronyms.
Cain Maxwell: They probably never have actual conversations in English.
Guy Windsor: Yeah. Okay. So my last question. Somebody gives you $1,000,000 to spend improving historical martial arts or related fields worldwide. How would you spend the money?
Cain Maxwell: Well, you know, as we discussed earlier in this interview, $1,000,000 is not a lot in horses. I could build one indoor arena for $1,000,000, that’s about it. But let’s expand that. Say, bottomless pockets. If I had access to a lot of money, what would I do? Worldwide. I’m glad you said that, because I would like to make the programme that I have, when I say the programme that I have, I said I have mostly riders who want to do something novel with their riding, but I do want to make it available to the people I think would benefit from it the most. And I was lucky enough to have this one programme locally that was able to bring some disadvantaged kids to me. But if I had bottomless pockets, I would bring it to them and beyond. You know, in some cultures, it’s acceptable to recruit children as soldiers, in other cultures it’s detestable. So sometimes there’s some negotiation for demobilising those child soldiers. And they go to demobilisation camps. I’ve never worked at one of these camps, I don’t know what the culture is like. But, some of them, they call them Lost Boys because you take them away from their former life to which they can never go back. And now you’ve also taken away their identity as soldiers. And I think the general attitude toward them is, oh, it’s really horrible what they did to you. It was exploitative, dangerous. It took away your childhood. Now you have all this darkness that you can never be rid of. You’ll never be able to go back and have a normal childhood, you poor victim.
Guy Windsor: That’s not helpful.
Cain Maxwell: It’s not helpful. That they may not be fair. Maybe that’s not that’s not really the culture in these places. But I think that’s kind of the outsider’s perspective on this sort of thing. I think most of them well, scratch that, at least some of them have a very strong sense of pride in their identity as warriors. They have a lot of pride for having been soldiers. And I think you take them out of their armies and they still need to express their martial urges. And what I would like if you gave me bottomless pockets is to be able to offer this programme to something like that, to be able to take this to like a demobilisation camp and give them an out for their martial urges while still cultivating their character and giving them a chance to heal.
Guy Windsor: Wow, I did not see that coming. That is an outstanding suggestion. But yeah, it would take a lot of money to get horses to the Sudan or wherever these places are to get these kids training on those things.
Cain Maxwell: Somebody already has them out there. You just got to find them, you know?
Guy Windsor: Yeah, true. Wow. Well, if I have the money, I’ll give it to you. Truthfully, I say that to most of my guests, because honestly most of my guests have pretty good answers. But that one is unique. So you would use equestrian training to help rehabilitate child soldiers.
Cain Maxwell: Yes.
Guy Windsor: Brilliant idea. Well, thank you so much for joining me today, Cain. It’s been great seeing you again.
Cain Maxwell: It was a real pleasure, Guy. Good seeing you again.