It’s time for a 9th episode of Interviews with Fencers.
We could say that Thomas Lobo is one of those people that are not only achieving fantastic results on the tournaments but also doing as much as they can to grow a HEMA community. He poured blood, sweat, and tears into that and someday, let’s all hope that together, we’ll see HEMA grow beyond our imagination.
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?
- Bonus question: What is the most important thing for you in HEMA?
- Final thoughts
When did you begin studying Historical European martial arts and how old were you then?
I began to study Historical European Martial Arts in 2006, and I was 20 years old. At the time I was a reenactor and fighter in a Celtic Group (1st century B.C.).
Somebody asked me if I was practicing I.33, with my Celtic (oval) shield.
And he said the magic word: HEMA (in French, of course: AMHE) and got me curious. I never looked back!
Who was your first teacher?
My Judo teacher, when I was 6.
After probably the two knights/mentors of my medieval group. (I was 13).
For HEMA there were no instructors in my part of France, so I traveled to events and workshops as much as possible to learn from as many good instructors as I could find, and then created a group in Clermont-Ferrand to practice.(Thomas Lobo vs Kristian Ruokonen)
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 did both Olympic fencing and other martial arts before HEMA. For as long as I can remember, I have always loved martial arts, history and meeting new people – with HEMA I found all these things in one place. Since then I just never change… and always keep myself practicing.
In my martial way, I have tried Judo, Jeet Kune Do, Wing Chun, French Boxing.
I have several certifications:
- Olympic Fencing Prévôt (the level before Master at Arms in France.)
- Krav Maga instructor: Police, Army, and Civil style.
- Want to be a Kali Instructor, and am training for that.
What are your thoughts on fitness and how do you stay in shape?
Of course, being in shape is very important to HEMA competition, not for winning the first matches in the pool, but during the eliminatory stages and the finals.
I remember a competition 4 years ago, where I lost the finale during the sudden-death, and the cause was the superior strength and endurance of my adversary.
So the remedy for me is to keep practicing.
Currently, at the Warrior Box, I teach HEMA or other martial arts around 15 to 20 hours per week. It helps keep me fit.
What is your favorite strike and why? If it’s not a secret.
Shielhau, why? This is Shielhau guys…
What is your favorite fencing manual and why?
The HEMA manual I studied the most is the Royal Armoury MS.1.33. It was an awesome experience.
I’m not really loyal to one book for the German Longsword tradition.
When I study a technique, I look for a point of comparison to understand. As a non-German speaker, I need to have full of complementary information.
And sometimes I call my friend Lutz Horvath, when I don’t get the word.
Between my “HEMA German,” translations in the languages I know, and friends like Lutz I have what I need to work.
What is your greatest achievement? Tell us about an accomplishment you are most proud of.
I run BLACK ARMOURY, a specialized HEMA company with my associate, Anthony Rischard.
We created the Black Armoury HEMA jacket, with the collar. (Proud of it, but there are a lot of production partner disappointments that slow us down.)
We launched 2 different brands for the HEMA Market: ARCEM and DOHEMA.
We pushed the HEMA French community by launching different projects like AURA Combat Historique or the VXT (VercingetoriX HEMA Tournament), then let them take a life of their own.
We set up a professional and permanent Hall for HEMA in Clermont-Ferrand: The WARRIOR BOX and hope to one day open more.
With my new collaborators, we are working on a new project for Longsword Fencing Development.
The thing that makes me the proudest though, is when one of my students practices HEMA and shows the qualities that I want to put to light: professionalism, mastery of the basics, proper technique at proper moment… strong, clear HEMA with spirit and honour.
(Yoann COULAMBON was a very professional Referee, on the last event, proud of him.)(More about Black Armoury)
What is the one piece of equipment you can’t live without?
A piece of my equipment? The key to the WARRIOR BOX. (Where my weapons are.)
Has practicing HEMA benefited you in everyday life as well?
Of course, it gives me benefits in life – it IS my life!
More seriously, it offers reflexes, cardio, open-mindedness, a scientific and methodological spirit.
What do you do when you are not practicing HEMA?
Other martial arts… And when I’m not doing that, I think about improving my art of fencing.
Who’s your idol, someone that gives you motivation?
I don’t like the option of having an idol, but I recognize the work of anyone who promotes HEMA and gives everything for their own group.
When I met someone like that, I have great respect for him. People like Carl Ryberg (President of the Swedish federation, nothing to say more, he impresses me), Fabrice Cognot (famous for the Dijon HEMAC Event, but excellent and dynamic instructor for his group), and Gilles Carrière (a modern knight who knows how to share his values).
As a professional, what advice would you give to a beginner interested in HEMA?
When you choose your discipline, weapons, and sources, ask instructors or good practitioners, “what are the basics of this discipline and what do I need for those basics?”
And then, concentrate all of your training to master those basics.
Then, step by step, add techniques to your basics.
Keep in mind, master your basics before going forward.
Bonus question: What is the most important thing for you in HEMA?
My answer would be: THE FUTURE.
I want to put my energy into the development of the HEMA Community. Too many boys and girls play with a ball, in place of a Sword. And a Sword is much more fun, we can all agree on that.
HEMA is still too “confidential.” We need to continue becoming more visible. Big things like the European Games this summer, but also small steps – for example at the Warrior Box, we have opened a children’s class with adapted equipment to start them from age 6. We are developing ideas to offer HEMA at corporate events. There’s a lot that can still be done, each in his or her own way.
So if we want a great future for HEMA, we all have an effort to make. We have to shine a light on what we want, and what we like.
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 and promoting historical fencing arts. Many Thanks, Thomas for this fantastic interview and we wish you good luck with your company and future ventures with Warrior Box and Black Armoury.
We’ll be back next Sunday, with a new interview!
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