Prepare yourself for a new episode of Interviews with Fencers.
Anton established his very own school at 14 and was one of the pioneers of HEMA in Slovakia. Lately, he says he’s put tournaments on the sidelines as he’s investing his time in fatherhood and teaching and studying HEMA.
He’s a great example of a guy that practically modernized this art with his guildmates, and make it more mainstream.
Let’s enjoy in his story.
Table of Contents
- When did you begin studying Historical European martial arts and how old were you then?
- Who was your first teacher?
- What made you want to do HEMA and not Olympic fencing or any other martial art? Were there any special circumstances surrounding your discovery of HEMA?
- What are your thoughts on fitness and how do you stay in shape?
- What is your favorite strike and why? If it’s not a secret.
- What is your favorite fencing manual and why?
- What is your greatest achievement? Tell us about an accomplishment you are most proud of.
- What is the one piece of equipment you can’t live without?
- Has practicing HEMA benefited you in everyday life as well?
- What do you do when you are not practicing HEMA?
- Who’s your idol, someone that gives you motivation?
- As a professional, what advice would you give to a beginner interested in HEMA?
- Final thoughts
When did you begin studying Historical European martial arts and how old were you then?
Anton: I started my own club when I was about 14. There was no group in the town although Slovakia had many historical fencing groups in those times. I cannot say we were studying historical martial arts from the very beginning. It was the year 1999, and there was no real knowledge about sources and original KdF. Stage fencing was the only type European fencing here, and until 2001 when I got first manuscripts, I was not doing a proper HEMA research.
Who was your first teacher?
I never had a real teacher in KdF because there was nobody who would know more about it. We were teaching each other in our fencing guild. I was studying texts and bringing ideas to the gym. At first, they usually did not work as expected and it was a quite lengthy process to understand KdF at such a high level I was able to teach it publicly.(Longsword Academy)
What made you want to do HEMA and not Olympic fencing or any other martial art? Were there any special circumstances surrounding your discovery of HEMA?
There are only a few Olympic fencing clubs in my country, and anyways Olympic fencing is not so attractive for teenagers in love with fantasy and history. We were influenced by Tolkien, Sapkowski and Dragonlance novels. The closest possible activity in Trnava was Aikido, but it was nothing for me. I think the HEMA acronym was not even used back to then.
What are your thoughts on fitness and how do you stay in shape?
Unfortunately, I am not in shape anymore. In the recent 4 years, I have not had enough time to practice as I used to. I’ve been spending more time with my young family. Hopefully, I will be back into full training in the next couple of years.
What is your favorite strike and why? If it’s not a secret.
This is probably not a good question for any fencing instructor. I like every technique I am currently working on. I am always exploring new details and nuances about every technique I am revisiting after a while. This is a never-ending process I really love. But if I should pick some namely, I would say Schiller counter, Zornhaw vorschlag and also as master-cut and thrusts in Vor or Nach way (direct or with Ochs opposition).
What is your favorite fencing manual and why?
I like Cod. 44.A.8 because it was my first relevant Lichtenauerian source, but I have to say Hs. 3227a includes some very special and unique parts which cannot be found anywhere else. Both of these manuscripts are my favourite for different reasons. First one is technically clear a precise and the second one cares more about tactics and the combat mindset.
After many years in HEMA, I was very excited when I saw E.1939.65.341. I had done all interpretations, and this work had the potential to confirm it or disprove. Fortunately, it confirmed most of them and unfortunately, the first half of Zedel was missing.
What is your greatest achievement? Tell us about an accomplishment you are most proud of.
I am very glad I had an opportunity to study KdF in times nobody knew anything about it. I and my colleagues, we were able to find interpretations to all Zedel pieces alone without any external influences, and we built a longsword methodology and the way how to teach to new generations in the early 2000s. Besides that, I had some nice tournament results a few years ago, but that’s definitely less important.(Longsword Techniques)
What is the one piece of equipment you can’t live without?
Obviously a sword. Sword had some kind of magic although it’s a tool for me right now. Simple and functional one.
Has practicing HEMA benefited you in everyday life as well?
If you expect an answer like: “yes, HEMA taught me to be hardworking, patient etc.” I have to disappoint you. Every activity in my life is sometimes helping me to find a better me. HEMA, unlike other sports or activities, is quite a broad topic. There are many things you can focus on. I learned the basics of medieval palaeography and German. I went through tens of thousands of medieval illuminations and artworks. I learned basic of metal/leather/woodworking. I was interested in biomechanics, human reactions, and modern sports methodology. Without HEMA I would not be as complete human as I am now. But most probably I would spend my efforts in different spheres. It’s everybody’s own decision to remain passive or become active.
What do you do when you are not practicing HEMA?
I am a father, an IT guy now, and I used to be a dancer, figure skater, and a scout.
Who’s your idol, someone that gives you motivation?
I never had any idols, but people around me sometimes motivate me to go on or to try harder.
As a professional, what advice would you give to a beginner interested in HEMA?
Currently, there are many people who “know” the answers. And that sometimes kills the curiosity among beginners. Curiosity and excitement were driving me forward many years, and it helped me to improve myself. So my advice is: try to find the best teacher as possible and always ask why you should do it this way and think about it. If a teacher does not know why then find another one. Nobody can become exceptional if he only imitates his teacher.
Think about fencing even if you are not at training right now. Try to understand everything in details. Some small but important nuances can be learned only if you can also teach them. There are just a few generally valid truths in fencing so don’t get frustrated if something does not work as you expected. Changing the perspective is often a good idea.
That’s it! We’re delighted that Anton decided to do an interview with us. His story is amazing, and I think we all need to appreciate the work he is putting into studying, promoting, and teaching historical fencing arts. Many thanks, Anton for this fantastic interview.
We’ll be back next Sunday, with a new interview!
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