It’s time for a new episode of Interviews with Fencers.
Thomas Couturier surprised me with his answer when I asked about his favorite piece of equipment. He chose his groin protector while mentioning that the importance of brain is overrated. Not only that he’s a sword-wielding brute, but in his spare time Tomas also likes producing beautiful music on his cello.
Don’t forget to follow Thomas 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 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?
Thomas: I started studying Historical Fencing in 2011, I was 19 years old at the time.
Who was your first teacher?
My first teachers were Master at Arms Patrice Cambony and his provosts, Thomas Chariot, and Jean-François Gilles. Our Master at Arms, unfortunately, died in 2015 but his provosts are still my teachers today.(Thomas Couturier vs. Jack Gassman)
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?
Probably like most Hema fencers, I was fond of history and I wanted to wield big swords… But in my club, we’ve got nothing against modern fencing and we something use it as a way to train differently.
What are your thoughts on fitness and how do you stay in shape?
I would say that there is a minimum level of fitness without which you can do nothing at all. And since your sword and gear are rather heavy, and you need both to stay low on your knees for a long time AND to be quick when you decide to attack (i.e, you need both stamina and explosive strength), this minimum is already rather high. Of course, it is common to see a fencer beat someone stronger thanks to superior technique and tactics. But that doesn’t mean that fitness is useless. Better fitness doesn’t only mean more strength, it can also mean more speed depending on how you train. And all top-level fencers are, in fact, rather fit. To sum it up I’d say that the importance of fitness tends to be underestimated. But what is essential is to train the right way: fencing requires a certain type of muscle. And it is obvious that just fitness in itself is not enough.
But since I already practice other sports in addition to Hema (swimming, judo, boxing, buhurt) I don’t spend the time to work specifically on fitness.
What is your favorite strike and why? If it’s not a secret.
My favorite hit: faint on the right, vicious hit on the right hand. And since I almost always use it it can hardly be a secret. The thing is, reaching the right hand/arm/elbow tends to be easier for a lefty.
What is your favorite fencing manual and why?
I never work with a manual.
What is your greatest achievement? Tell us about an accomplishment you are most proud of.
My greatest achievement was winning the Tyrnhaw Hema Open in 2017 (finale against Martin Fabian, won by one point).(2017 Tyrnhaw Hema Open final match)
What is the one piece of equipment you can’t live without?
The most important piece of equipment: my groin protector. The importance of brain is overrated.
Has practicing HEMA benefited you in everyday life as well?
Of course, practicing historical fencing benefits me in everyday life! Having better reflexes/fitness/balance always helps.
What do you do when you are not practicing HEMA?
When I’m not fencing I practice other sports (as said above), or I play the cello (yes, one can be a bloodthirsty brute and love art 😊 )
Who’s your idol, someone that gives you motivation?
It used to be Peter Smallridge, before he decided to stop Hema. Now I don’t have an idol anymore (except my provosts maybe).
As a professional, what advice would you give to a beginner interested in HEMA?
First, know how to find the right balance between drills and sparring. Many Hema groups don’t do enough sparring which is a shame: technical work only becomes useful once you’ve put it into practice. Second, remember that a drill can hardly be useful if it’s too easy: if it’s not hard physically speaking it needs to be technically hard. Always be ready to suffer!!!
That’s it! We’re delighted that Thomas 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, Thomas for this fantastic interview.
We’ll be back next Sunday, with a new interview!
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