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HEMA Around The World: HEMA Minsk Fight Club – HEMA from Belarus

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by Meg Floyd

Today I’m happy to bring you an interview I conducted some time ago with the head coach of HEMA Fight Club Minsk, Viacheslav Grizdak (Вячеслав Гриздак), based in Belarus, as part of our continuing HEMA Around The World Series. 

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HN: Please tell me a bit about yourself, first. What tradition, manual, and what  weapons in HEMA do you study?

V: Good afternoon. we are called Minsk HEMA Fight Club. Country – Belarus, the city – Minsk.  The main directions of our club -HEMA, secondary which we plan to introduce – full contact fights version WFMC. We focus on the sources of the German school – Meyer, Liechtenauer. In addition to the standard literature in this direction, we as professional athletes using modernliterature and experience in training. Also, we are very closely communicate with our colleagues from the guild of freefencers from St. Petersburg. The main task for us – the preparation for the tournament fighters on the basis of the historicity of the art of fencing and participation in them. A few days later we were going to the tournament in Kapengagen and we will be the first fighters on long swords of the CIS. The specifics of our club is that we do not focus on absolute beginners and do not aim at the moment a big club. At the moment, we are planning to build a team of up to 8 good fencers constantly trainingto represent the country in the tournament. Later, when we form the coaching staff we train everyone.

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HN: How did you come to start the HEMA Minsk Fight Club? When did you start it? How many members do you have?

V: To make it more clear start from afar: I formed a club from my partner. We are professional athletes in the sport from five years. From 1996 to 2000 I was fencing duel in Russia, then from 2000 to 2014 HMB, from 2002-2004 as well Iaido and Kobudo, my trainer in Belarus was the world champion 2003 in HMB, I was one of the strongest fighters in Belarus in HMB.My partner – in HMB since 2003, a very good fighter, a professional acrobat in excellent physical shape. We left HMB due to injury, in 2014 we decided to continue to be engaged in fencing in the direction HEMA. In our opinion this is a very interesting perspective, not as traumatic and has a historical basis. At the moment, our team of 10 people and we exist 4 months. We are young, over many more years to work, but we have a goal and we will achieve it.

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HN: Please tell me a bit about HEMA in Belarus. Are there many clubs?

V: In Belarus there are two HEMA clubs. first – Duellatoria Alba – They focus on the Renaissance rapier, dagger,dussack. They are very technical and strong fighters. We have been friends with them and I wear my defense as their emblem and Often acts for their club tournaments on Renaissance Rapier as part of their team. Their leader taught me Renaissance rapier. Our club currently focused on training with a long sword. In the future we plan to sword-buckler

HN: If there was one unique thing about HEMA fencers in Belarus, what would it be?

V: The only specifics that we focused only on those who want to be engaged in it seriously as part of our tournament team

HN: Can you describe how your club trains? Is there emphasis on drilling, sparring, competing, etc?

V: In [two days] of training. The first training session is focused on the development of general physical skills and explosive strength, explosive speed, explosive endurance, coordination.
The second always fully protected. Containsboth mining fencing techniques and sparring in full force and speed. This mode is only suitable for athletes because of the heavy load on the body and heart.

HN: Are there any unique challenges to starting a HEMA club in Belarus?

V: There are many problems. Difficult to buy equipment in our country, we all ordered from other countries as well this time. This new direction and there is a problem with the tenants of the gym – to explain to them what we are going to be engaged. A lack of content in our native language.

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HN: Have you held any HEMA events? Are you planning on holding an event any time soon?

No, at the moment we do not plan to conduct any activities, but our Belarusian colleagues conducted twice a year tournament [for] Renaissance rapier.

HN: Is there anything else you’d like to add?

V: We are always glad to cooperate with European clubs. We are focused on European activities. Always glad to new acquaintances. Great workouts, see you at the tournament.

English speakers, you can follow HEMA Fight Club Minsk at their Facebook page here. 

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