The Windsor Method (The Principles of Solo Training), by Guy Windsor
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Today’s review features The Windsor Method (The Principles of Solo Training), by master swordsman, Guy Windsor.
So, if you’ve got your favourite drink to hand and are all settled in, let’s begin.
Set in two parts, Guy Windsor’s book, The Windsor Method, discusses the principles of solo training at length. Throughout the book, the reader is guided toward the development of a dedicated art practice, no matter what kind of art that may be.
The various areas of discussion include:
- Mental health (and how a sense of meaning, agency, and connection are key.)
- Physical health (of balancing our active self with our more reflective and introverted self: Yin & Yang.)
- How to create a daily practice (through creating habits and the role of feedback, to help you improve.)
- The 7 principles of mastery (including mindfulness, flow, distinguishing between knowledge and skill, etc.)
- Fixed vs growth mindsets, and the beliefs we hold, in relation to success.
- How to train through injury or illness, so as to maintain skills and prevent further ailments.
- Fears we may encounter on our journey.
- The benefit of training with others, as well as alone.
- How to optimise the practices of eating and sleeping.
- How meditation can help to guide your attention, alongside mindful breathing exercises.
- Physical conditioning
- Footwork and Mechanics
- Striking Practice
The final three areas discussed relate more to the art of fencing, with specific advice to improve upon that particular skill, however, most other areas can be freely adapted to whatever art you are pursuing in life.
The Windsor Method was a unique book, which introduced me to a multitude of ways of improving my art practice. Some of the positive aspects I identified are listed below.
- The author uses subtle humour and has a friendly tone, which quickly invited me in as I began reading.
- The author writes as though he is instructing you on a one to one basis, lending the book a personal touch.
- The concept of a tree symbolizing the individual training practice, with its many elements branching off was an inspired choice in my eyes. It felt easy to understand and apply to my own life.
- The author had an easy to grasp way of explaining things, which made this book a delightfully informative read.
- The discussion of the seven principles of mastery was fascinating. It helped me to think of my own art practice from a new perspective in which challenges can be overcome by working through them.
- Although I’m no expert (or even novice) in fencing, everything mentioned was relatively easy to understand, and could be applied to other areas of life.
There were no negatives noted during my reading. The book itself was edited meticulously.
It was difficult to cut down on the amount of quotes I wanted to include with this review. The author poured much wisdom into his book, sharing years of experience and expertise in a single volume. As such, the following list is comprised of seven quotes in total.
1) ‘Reality is mediated by your mind; there is an external reality, and there is your reaction to that reality. Your experience is a combination of both.’
This quote in particular got my thinking. Often, it is our emotions and subjective perspectives which affect how we view reality. This made me wonder whether we can ever know reality in its true state, or if we will forever see it through various emotional lenses.
2) ‘There is no shame in changing your approach when it isn’t working.’
This is something I wish I’d heard when I was younger. It was common for me to keep repeating things the way I always did them and yet I found myself never doing any better. This quote provides great life advice to anyone who’s struggling to make things work with their current approach, be it to life in general, or an approach to a particular career or relationship.
After all, what would be the harm in trying something new if there’s a greater chance of success?
Since I’m including more quotes than usual, I’ll list the following below without additional commentary.
3) ‘Choose your beliefs wisely.’
4) ‘Acknowledging weakness can help you grow strong, but identifying yourself as weak will keep you so.’
5) ‘You should measure yourself against only yourself.’
6) ‘The key to creating a daily routine is to make it a habit. The easiest way to start a habit is to connect it to an existing habit- start small. Then when the habit is established, gently expand it.’
7) ‘Banish if only statements- It’s perfectly possible to make yourself miserable by grieving for an imagined future that might never have come to pass- If you must project into the future, make it positive.’
The Windsor Method was a well thought out book, which taught me much about how to create a more stable and fulfilling training practice. Personally, I adapted the author’s wisdom to my creative writing process, considering at length his advice about sleep, mental and physical health, habits, and more.
I had a lot of fun reading this book and I hope that others will find it just as informative.
My Rating: 5 stars.
Recommended to: those looking for an engaging non-fiction read that will help to improve your training in any art practice, including martial arts.
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