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Behind the Scenes – Fechtschule New York (May 31-June 2, 2013)

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by Meg Floyd

Today we’re talking to Mike Edelson of the New York Historical Fencing Association about Fechtschule New York, an event he’ll be hosting in scenic upstate New York at the end of the month.

HN: Well, first, could you give me a bit of background about yourself in HEMA? How long have you been teaching? What’s your martial arts background?

EDELSON: I’ve been studying martial arts since I was 10 years old. Judo, Karate, Kung Fu, Tae Kwon Do, Aikido, Hapkido, battodo, and more I don’t even remember. I got into Japanese sword arts in the early 90s and studied on and off until 2002, when I left Yagyu Shinkage Ryu to be at home with newly born daughter. I’ve always loved Western swords but was never able to find a good quality Western sword, as in sharp/real sword, and for me there can be no weapon art without the weapon.

When I was about to return to JSA in 2005, I got my hands on what I thought at the time was a high quality Western sword, and that fueled my interest in researching what was out there. Then I found HEMA.

HN: Let’s talk about Fechtschule New York. It sounds like it’s going to be a unique sort of event. What do you hope to accomplish with it?

EDELSON: Well, in some ways I hope to revive the better aspects of Chivalric Weekend, which was a great event in many ways. There’s nothing like living in tent city filled with weapons and armor and HEMA people. On the other hand, Fechtschule New York is a tournament focused event, which makes it closer in spirit to Longpoint than CW. Fechtschule New York is unique because of the camping aspect, certainly, and the bears…you will be constantly surrounded by bears all night long.

HN: Sounds a bit like Kriegeschule.

EDELSON: Yes, but also because it is taking place in a very small town, and the locals are excited about it, so we expect a decent sized crowd of spectators, as well as local media presence. Fechtschule New York will also be, I believe, the first official triathlon event, with official triathlon prizes—at least in the US.

HN: Yes, you’re beating Longpoint by a couple months.

EDELSON: I don’t look at it as beating Longpoint. Fechtschule New York, in some ways, will act as a trial run for some aspects of Longpoint, such as the cutting tournament. If ours crashes and burns, I will have time to fix it for Longpoint. I am very emotionally invested in Longpoint succeeding. I love the event and the people involved with it.

HN: Yes, Iron Gate Exhibition and Longpoint are probably going to be the two American events to watch for this fall and summer. But back to Fechtschule New York. What tournaments are you offering?

EDELSON: An open longsword tournament, a trial-run Longpoint style cutting tournament (such as has never before been seen in HEMA), and a rather unique experimental wrestling tournament…wrestling at the sword.

HN: Very exciting. Do you have any interesting sponsors for the event?

EDELSON: Yes, Albion in a big and very surprising way…I asked for gift certificates and I got them, as well as a Crecy Longsword, which sells for $900. Also, Purpleheart is donating a bunch of stuff, which is typical of them. They are extremely supportive of the community. Also, PBT and SPES.

HN: Excellent. so tell me about the event venue. As I understand it, people will be camping in scenic New York state?

EDELSON: The campsite is my property, I live on 10 acres of open land with mountain views. There is a swimming pond and a Russian style sauna (called a “banya”) with a brick wood fired oven. The workshops will take place there as well. The tournaments will take place at the local school, Andes Central School, which is a K-12 school of about 100 kids. We will have a scoreboard, and there will be bleachers for spectators. The student council will be helping by selling refreshments, although bottled water will be available to the fighters free of charge.

To register for Fechtschule New York, please go here.

To view the event on Facebook and keep up with ongoing updates and details, please visit here.

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