Prepare yourself for a new episode of Interviews with Fencers.
My next guest is currently the highest-rated HEMA fencer in the world.
Dennis Ljungqvist started his journey about 12 years ago, and after 5 years of hard training, he won a famous Swordfish 2012 tournament (longsword category).
Don’t forget to follow Dennis on his Facebook page.
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 coach?
- 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?
- Fitness is a subject we see that many top-level HEMA fencers feel is not important as much as other parts 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?
Dennis: I started training HEMA in 2007. I was at a Medieval fair where they had a 2-day introduction class. But before that I did LARP-ing, Kendo and traditional boxing. Less than one year after I started Kungshamns Historical Fencing School. I where 21 years old.
Who was your first coach?
The guy that held the 2-day class was Erik Hejdström. I also got help from the GHFS when I started the KuHFS from Andreas Engström, Robert Molin and Anders Linnard. But mostly I am self-thought.(Swordfish 2017)
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?
As I mentioned earlier, I did both Kendo and Boxing before HEMA. Kendo I started with during my time in Senior high, and when I moved back to my home town, I started doing boxing instead. But I missed fencing and were thinking of starting a Kendo club at home, but through my larping hobby, I stumbled on to HEMA and I were hooked right away. More fencing less bowing!
Fitness is a subject we see that many top-level HEMA fencers feel is not important as much as other parts of HEMA. What are your thoughts on fitness and how do you stay in shape?
I would say that I am one of those that would say the opposite. I train a lot beside HEMA. Mostly strength. I would say that in a match the level of your fencing is what is most important, but when you are fencing an opponent that is equally good, your physical preparation is what could make or break it for you.
What is your favorite strike and why? If it’s not a secret.
It´s a secret haha. Ah well I have many favorites in the attack division, but my tip is to keep it simple and keep timing and distance in mind. Thrusts and Zornhaws I would say.
What is your favorite fencing manual and why?
Sigmund Ringeck’s verses of Liechtenauer. This is the source I have been working the most with. Every time I go through it I find something new or make another interpretation. I also work with Talhoffer’s 1459 fight manual, the Swedish Palaestra Svecana.
What is your greatest achievement? Tell us about an accomplishment you are most proud of.
Oh. This is a tricky one for me. As a competitor, I would say that it must have been winning Swordfish 2012. Everybody that were “The Best” where there that year and it had just grown to its current status. As a trainer, I would say it must have been at the Swordfish 2013. I was injured so I coached my pupils and one of them went all the way to the semi-finals and got third place with me in his corner. His name is Marcus Pettersson.(Famous 2012 Final Match)
What is the one piece of equipment you can’t live without?
Has practicing HEMA benefited you in everyday life as well?
Yes, I am much more confident in, I would say, everything. When you do a hundred or more fights a year, you tend not to get that nervous about “normal stuff.”
What do you do when you are not practicing HEMA?
I work as a construction painter in a 150-year-old family business. My brother and I are the fifth generation, so in a way, we are like an old Japanese swordsmiths family only not that cool. Except for that I love being outdoors, hunting, hiking and such. I am a “bit” of a nerd, so I love playing roleplaying games with my friends, reading and watching movies.
Who’s your idol, someone that gives you motivation?
I would say, Arnold Schwarzenegger. He was the Conan.
As a professional, what advice would you give to a beginner interested in HEMA?
First, I have to say that I am in fact not a professional. I really do not earn any money on this. I would like to, but right now this is not possible. But if I would to give one advice to the general public of HEMA, then I would suggest that everyone must put in more time for the basics. Look at boxers, wrestlers, etc. and see how they train. Practice cuts, thrusts, and parries every training, and you will see that even the harder techniques will fall in place.
(Dennis and Axel)
That’s it! We’re delighted that Dennis 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, Dennis for this fantastic interview.
We’ll be back next Sunday, with a new interview!
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