Prepare yourself for a new episode of Interviews with Fencers.
My next guest is currently the highest-rated HEMA fencer in the world.
Martin Fabian didn’t mention his tournament achievements when I asked him about it. Instead he disclosed that his greatest achievements are his school and the students and I think this is most admirable.
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?
Martin: The answer is a little bit more complicated. I’ve started fencing back in 2003, but the thing we were doing was a mix of stage combat and various techniques and approaches from classical fencing. I was 15 years old and hypermotivated. I discovered HEMA in its true form in 2005-6 when I got hold of multiple manuscripts and realized that the only way to learn that is to translate it and understand it. There were but a handful of people around doing the same (of which I knew), but after a few years, the whole movement started to rocketeer.
Who was your first teacher?
My first teacher who devoted a lot of his time for me was Peter Wonder Steiner who unfortunately is no longer active in the fencing scene. He taught me many things, but above all, he taught me that in order to achieve something you have to work hard and practice as much as you can and even more. His passion for the art was contagious and his devotion extraordinary.
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?
Not really. There’s not a lot of sport fencing in my country and none of it in the town where I grew up. I just wanted to do , and historical fencing, reenactment and such is a part of our folklore.
What are your thoughts on fitness and how do you stay in shape?
It’s VERY important for every sport and double time for competitive sports. Each of our training consists of fitness, HIIT and cardio exercises, during the summer we do long runs etc. Besides that, I have daily goals (activity and walking) which I’m trying to meet every day. I also do smaller exercises (like push ups, pull ups) on a daily basis. Having a dog also helps!
What is your favorite strike and why? If it’s not a secret.
Hm, I prefer to work with principles and larger tactical setups than favoring particular strikes. If you’re asking about one of the 5 Lichtenauer strikes, I think each and every one of them is great in particular situations, but I don’t have a favorite.
What is your favorite fencing manual and why?
The so-called Dobringer Fechtbuch (HS 3227a). It’s the one book I can relate the most to and which was written by someone who had a very good overview of how a fight works. It’s full of great quotes and stuff not to be found elsewhere.
What is your greatest achievement? Tell us about an accomplishment you are most proud of.
I’d say my school and my students. It’s always a huge joy and satisfaction to see someone having a similar passion as you do. Furthermore, it’s my students and their work which is the basis of my ever-evolving approach to exercises and practice.
What is the one piece of equipment you can’t live without?
Swords! Even more, feders and more and more standardized equipment that we have. We’re very lucky nowadays.
Has practicing HEMA benefited you in everyday life as well?
HEMA and competitive sports, in general, are beneficial for your confidence, self-esteem. Teaching is a great way to improve your communication skills. I haven’t yet beaten anyone with a sword on the street in self-defense, but the above mentioned are certainly a great benefit.
What do you do when you are not practicing HEMA?
Well, it certainly sticks with you even when you don’t move 🙂 But if you ask about my other hobbies, I love hiking and traveling, I do a lot of photography. I have a dog which I try to combine with the previous two. I read as many books as I can, and I’m quite a social guy. Altogether I’m a very active guy.
Who’s your idol, someone that gives you motivation?
My students and the people I meet, fight and observe at competitions or whom I meet at workshops. It’s always a two-way relationship.
As a professional, what advice would you give to a beginner interested in HEMA?
Always learn from the best. Practice as much as you can. Think about what you’re doing. Observe and listen. Don’t be afraid of sparring. Travel and meet people.
That’s it! We’re delighted that Martin 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, Martin for this fantastic interview.
We’ll be back next Sunday, with a new interview!
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