And the time has come for the big games this year…
The HEMA Minsk invitational gala tournament, part of the cultural programme of the European Games of 2019 in Belarus. Quite a mouthful, isn’t it?
But aside from being a pain in the ass to explain, this will be a unique and special event.
Over 130 fighters from around the world have been selected to represent HEMA in four classic disciplines during one of the lesser-known, but still big sub-Olympic events.
Some of the best HEMA tournament competitors (and not only) will fight in longsword, single rapier, rapier and dagger and sword and buckler. And the tournament is just the cherry on top of a series of events here – a big exhibition of weapons and treatises, and a handful of scientific conferences.
But I will be fighting, so let’s forget the other stuff for a minute.
As I am writing this, I have some of the best fencers in the world in the room, on the floor and in the building. There are no casual HEMAists here. Everyone is serious without being stiff.
I’ll also have the pleasure and responsibility of judging longsword, something I have been getting a taste for lately.
The unique aspect of the Minsk tournament is the fact that it is a large bridging of islands. Many of the top fencers in their own region/country will meet tomorrow and on Sunday for the first time.
Over half of the fencers are ranked in the top 100 in their categories, at the same time, there are some lower ranked fighters, and even unranked ones – I am such an example, I have no ranking in sword and buckler, yet.
Of course, the tournament will be streamed live – here, and one can expect a huge amount of videos from different angles.
If you are wondering who is here, check out this list of the chosen athletes (sadly some of them did not make it, but most did).
What will be the most problematic part is fitting 4 tourneys in 2 full days.
Here is the schedule (and let’s hope it doesn’t change):
08:00 Longsword staff meeting
08:30 LS fencers meeting
09:00 LS pools 1-4
10:30 LS pools 5-8
12:00 LS pools 9-10
13:30 LS elims
15:30 LS Finals
16:30 S&B pools
19:00 Exhibition bouts
21:00 Finish (dinner)
08:00 S&B staff meeting
08:15 S&B fencers meeting
08:30 S&B elims
10:00 S&B finals
10:30 Rapier Staff meeting
10:45 Rapier fencers meeting
11:00 Rapier pools 1-4
12:30 Rapier pools 5-7 + R&D pool 1
13:30 Rapier elims
15:00 Rapier finals
16:00 R&D staff meeting
16:15 R&D fencers meeting
16:30 R&D pools 2-5
18:00 R&D elims
19:30 R&D finals
Most fighters are in longsword and single rapier, so these two tourneys are going to tax the judges and organizers the most.
The rules are also problematic and at times too complicated, but let’s hope the fact that you have experienced fighters for judges will compensate for that.
Either way, I am expecting both to watch and experience some great fights in the next two days.
My personal goal is very simple – survive each exchange.