This week playing at… Swordplay Belgrade

This weekend I start the wait for Christmas (or whichever winter holiday) with a visit to Belgrade, Serbia, for the second international event there – Swordplay 2018.

Belgrade 2017 was my third tournament and an amazing experience – fun tournaments, surprisingly good judging, and a great time with the great hosts from Terca – School of historical European swordplay.

The instructors of Terca – Stefan, Dusan, Zeljko – and their students created a great atmosphere for great fighters to play together in three disciplines – rapier, side sword, longsword.

And here we are again…

The Tourneys

That’s called a Vor… or taking it.

This year I will be in all three disciplines – last year I did only longsword and sidesword.

Sportsmanship was exemplary – people were very controlled, careful, quick and strong, but not volatile and bombastic. Not a single injury in all three tourneys. Many people were calling hits honestly against themselves all the time – a practice I love. I hope to see the same this year.

Judging was as well – perhaps the most accurate judging in a HEMA tournament I’ve been to or watched. Judges were not hesitant to ask fighters for details, just as fighters were not hesitant to offer them – even seemingly against their own interest.

Everything was efficient and on time. I will expect no less this year. The format works, the rules are fun and sensible without being too complicated, and the fencing was good.

It will depend on how many pools there are going to be, but either way I’ll have around 15-16 guaranteed fights. And possibly over 22 in total.

The event takes place at the Belgrade Fair. It is during a gaming event, but… you know, we do fit in with the nerds. They make a good audience too. This year a much bigger space in the same building of the Fair will be used.

Here is a clip from Swordplay 2017:

Everything else

Fighters listening to instructions from Zeljlo Glumac, Dusan Kovijanic and Pavle Ilijacevic.

The core of last year’s event was the tournament, but it was not the sole focus. The hosts took us out for a fun and light nights, in nice bars in Belgrade city center. The city is Eastern European, and in some ways not that different from my own, Sofia. It is not grandiose like some western capitals, but pretty in its own way. There is a city tour (well, if you are not busy doing sidesword).

There was limited free sparring time last year – an important part of any event, as friendly sparring is different from and has additional benefits in training. This time, however, there are at least 4 hours in the 3 days that are just for having casual exchanges with everyone you didn’t fight in the tourneys.

I am sure we will spend again time with our friends from Terca and from other countries, near and far. I know people from Romania and Hungary are gonna be there, and HEMA fencers from seven different countries in total. We, the Bulgarians, will be five in total. Two of us will be fencing in all tourneys, two in two, and one in one.

The Full Livestream

Okay, guys, that’s not the most appealing picture…

Swordplay 2018 is (correct me if I am wrong) is the first fairly big HEMA tournament that’s going to be streamed from beginning till end.

Not just finals and semis. Pools, eliminations, all three weapons.

When I mentioned this might be a first, Zeljko Glumac, instructor and organizer, said:

“We really meant it when we said we are going to make it bigger and better. So we are trying!”

Even just in terms of luck and good connection, this is going to be a hard task, but even attempting it is impressive enough as it is.

There are going to be 4 streams:

Friday – Sidesword group stage, starts from 18h CET

Saturday – Rapier group stage, starts from 10h CET

Saturday – Longsword group stage, starts from 16h CET

Sunday –Eliminations and finals for all three swords, early morning, exact time to be announced.

This is the YouTube channel where it will air.

Of course, you can read about the event and how it really went (not just my hopes) next week, when I get back and process it. Awesome stuff needs processing.

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