The importance of books 33: Cory Winslow

Image by Thomas Kelley, from

This is a series of interviews with well-known HEMA practitioners from around the world. The subject is the importance of books in the HEMA community. Personally, I think books are immensely important to the community (and in general!), but I am interested to find out more about how other people see the issue.

This week’s interview is with Cory Winslow, who is a well-known international instructor, researcher, and translator.

1) Do you feel that modern publications are valuable for the HEMA community? Whether yes or no, can you explain your answer briefly?

I absolutely feel that modern publications are valuable for the HEMA community. Primary sources are of course the highest authority in understanding this subject, and should always be trusted above modern interpretations. However, years of experience by modern researchers in working with the historical material creates the potential to yield great and valuable insights into understanding them more fully, which may then be passed onto the reader.

2) Was there a book that inspired you to become involved in HEMA, or that inspired you to study HEMA more seriously than before?

The book that originally inspired me to become more deeply involved in HEMA was Secrets of German Medieval Swordsmanship by Christian Henry Tobler. This book, though now quite dated, really helped me to begin to understand the source material, bridging the gap between the alien Medieval text and my modern understanding.

3) Can you list between three and five books that you feel are invaluable to your study of HEMA, and say something briefly about why each book is so important to you?

1. Langenscheidt Taschenwoerterbuch – This German pocket-dictionary has been exceedingly helpful in translating primary sources. My Grandfather, who was very interested in language, gave this to me as a present before he died, so it has special value to me.

2. The Sword and the Mind by Yagyu Muenori, Hiroaki Sato – This is an English translation of the writings of 16th and 17th century Japanese swordsmen. It has helped me to understand  some of the more obscure concepts mentioned in the Kunst des Fechtens, and is a wonderful source on its own.

3. The Art of Combat by Joachim Meyer, Dr. Jeffrey Forgeng – Meyer’s treatise sheds light on earlier works on the tradition. As a translator, I appreciate Dr. Forgeng doing the hard work for us in this book, and his analysis and commentary is insightful.

4) Are there any kinds of publications you would like to see become available to the community?

I would like to see more publications that focus on the social and political context of HEMA. I feel that this subject could be greatly helpful in our understanding of Historical European Martial Arts.

Keith Farrell

Keith Farrell teaches HEMA professionally, often at international events (why not hire me to teach at your event?), and has an interest in coaching instructors to become better teachers.

I have authored Scottish Broadsword and British Singlestick and the award-winning AHA German Longsword Study Guide, and maintain a blog at where I post regularly.