Prepare yourself for a first episode of Interviews with Fencers.
My first guest is a coach of historical fencing arts, a fantastic fencer, and a good friend.
George E. Georgas started his journey around 25 years ago. He never knew that someday he will be a full-time fencing coach, a lecturer, and a member of Meyer Freifechter Guild.
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?
- What is a Scholae Palatinae (Byzantine Swordsmanship) and Pammachon?
- Final thoughts
When did you begin studying Historical European martial arts and how old were you then?
George: I can say that I started training historical fencing long before this art became popular and named HEMA. It was 1993 when I started training with a long sword using wooden swords and sharps without any protection. I can’t remember how but a couple of years later someone handed me a manual which was written in medieval German language. It was challenging to understand it. I was 22 years old.
Who was your first coach?
My first teacher was Filip L. (he wants to stay anonymous, so I have to respect his decision) back in 1994. He is Greek, and he lives in Crete.
My second historical fencing and in martial arts teacher was Costas Dervenis, the founder of Pammachon martial art. He was one of the personal students of Hank Reinhardt, the founder of HACA.
I also participated in many long sword fighting seminars and workshops by John Clements of ARMA back in 2000, early Polish saber workshops by Jerzy Miklaszewski of Silkfencing team, rapier and dagger/long sword workshops by Andrea Conti of Scuola Fiore dei Liberi, and German long sword/dagger workshops by Volker Seifert of Turnieres.
I also need to mention the Meyer Freifechter Guild superiors Mike Cartier, Kevin Mauer, Chris Vanslambourg, and Roger Norling who taught me a lot about this art and finally I need to thank Johannes Peltez of Gladiatores Guild.
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?
Actually, I am professional Fencing coach of the Hellenic Fencing Federation and Pammachon instructor as well, plus the historical fencing instructor so I can’t say that I don’t train other martial arts. It all depends on what you want to be and achieve.
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?
To be a top-level fencer, you must do some strength training, cardio, and other similar exercises.
The historical swords are heavy weapons, so if someone wants to use them, he or she must build the muscles to use them properly.
If a fencer isn’t 100% ready for a match, the fencer won’t have enough stamina, and as a result, the fencer will lose the focus, and probably a game. So this part must be trained equally as the swordsmanship.
What is your favorite strike and why? If it’s not a secret.
I can not say that I have a favorite strike because each fencer fight in a different way. To execute a strike, the fencer must be nimble. The tactic is also a key for a successful hit.
Let’s say that I like Schielhau. It is an excellent counter-attack against very dangerous thrusts.
What is your favorite fencing manual and why?
As a member of Meyer’s Freifechter Guild, I (obviously) think that one of the best manuals is the Art of Combat by J. Meyer. This book covers everything, the whole art of fencing.
What is your greatest achievement? Tell us about an accomplishment you are most proud of.
One of my greatest achievement is my seminar and workshop that I did in the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens where I taught and presented the European swordsmanship to a large audience. I started with Byzantine Swordsmanship, continued with early and late German Swordsmanship, and finished with the early years of the French school of fencing with a small sword.
What is the one piece of equipment you can’t live without?
My mask. I can say that without the mask I feel uncomfortable.
Has practicing HEMA benefited you in everyday life as well?
It has.(A few hihglights.)
What do you do when you are not practicing HEMA?
Because I’m a professional instructor and coach, it’s hard to find time for a hobby. For example, if in the morning I am training historical fencing then at evening I am teaching modern or classical fencing and vice versa. But ok, if I need to pick a hobby that isn’t related to fencing than I would mention running.
Who’s your idol, someone that gives you motivation?
I don’t have an idol. All humans are equals under the eyes of God.
As a professional, what advice would you give to a beginner interested in HEMA?
My advice is to find a good trainer to teach you every part of HEMA properly.
What is a Scholae Palatinae (Byzantine Swordsmanship) and Pammachon?
The Pammachon martial art came from the martial art that was taught in the Greek schools of the 19th century all the way up to the second world war. Children were trained to be the new soldiers, and this was actually very popular across all Europe in those days. This martial art teaches unarmed and armed combat with various weapons ( staff, knife, pole, sword, and bayonet ).
Scholae Palatinae is an incredibly advanced course of Byzantine Hoplomachia. The reason why it’s so “hardcore” is that historians didn’t found any fencing manuals of Byzantine origins, so this project is evolving with the rules of experimental archaeology, the logic of fencing, the teachings of Pammachon martial arts, and finally the Byzantine high strategical manuals.
I suggest to read the following article: https://byzantineoplomachia.wordpress.com/2018/02/20/what-is-the-byzantine-hoplomachia-project/
That’s it! We’re really happy that Gorge 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 George for this fantastic interview.
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