When the idea of HEMA at the European games in Minsk 2019 was mentioned a few months ago, people reacted with the usual fears, which are not really unfounded. The Olympic games have damaged practically all martial arts they’ve touched.
And after the organizers announced the invitation-only gala tourney, another wave of protests came out. Who is going to decide the fencers? For some regions with fewer HEMAists that was not such a dramatic problem. But for places like the UK, France and Scandinavia, such a process may bring out the worse of HEMA Politics and turn the whole ordeal into the usual episode 2398 of HEMA Drama.
With their new website the guys behind the HEMA Minsk event show a different event. One where the tournament is not the sole focus, but rather a piece of the puzzle that is supposed to show HEMA to the world.
Aside from the tourney, we learn more details on both the exhibition by Roberto Gotti and the two conferences that will be organized in Belarus next year.
“Martial arts, past and present. A pan-European cultural experience” will be on the 25-26th of April and it will explore how martial arts are preserved and mediated.
“In order to reach out outside of the practitioners’ circles (martial arts mediated through bodies), martial arts are preserved in books and objects (martial arts in collections and museums), and they are infused in other forms of media (storytelling, legend, movies, hyperreality)”, explain the organizers.
The organizers will be Daniel Jaquet and Iason-Eleftherios Tzouriadis. Jaquet hardly needs an introduction. Mr. Tzouriadis is historian specialized in medieval warfare, with a PhD on the use of staff weapons in Europe. Needless to say, the conference is in good hands.
The second conference – “Historical European Martial Arts. From the page to the gym” – will be the one actually focusing on what HEMA is and how we reconstruct our arts. Daniel Jaquet and Roger Norling of HROARR are going to be the leading names on this one, which will be held together with the tournament on the 21st of June.
And of course, there is the exhibition, with Roberto Gotti, Jaquet and Tzouriadis as curators, which will open in April and go on till September. I am literally salivating at the thought of all these swords and documents in one place.
The HEMA Drama will be inevitable later this month, when the chosen representatives for longsword, rapier and dagger, single rapier and sword and buckler will probably be announced. But there is so much more value and content in this event, and the organizers are clearly aiming high.