HEMA Celje is a mid-size international HEMA event held yearly in Slovenia. Despite the name, it takes place in Ljubljana. It’s one of Gerhild’s all time favorites so this year, she made half the club go. Read further, to find out if they regretted it.
First of all, it was awesome! HEMA Celje was the first HEMA event I’ve been to and I’m very proud that I went. To be honest, it was not as I expected it to be. Partially, I thought everything would be much, much bigger with long stretches that you have to walk in between places (glad it wasn’t that!) and that it was in a public school. I now know that most clubs train on school premises and we’re the odd ones with our gym inside the police station.
I was positively surprised by how informal it was and that it was small enough, in terms of participants, to fence with everyone.
The workshops I attended were really educational and just as much fun as the free training. I really liked that this was a chance for me to try new things instead of ye olde longsword. To be specific I tried sabre, instructed by Alda Lukács, a co-founder of Crosscut, and Rapier, which was led by the most elegant Karl Rapp, instructor at Klingenspiel Vienna. Eventhough the workshops had a limited timeframe the instructors managed to even teach a complete beginner in both of those weapons the essentials.
Now the workshops were all awesome, but some sparring was necessary too. This was the first real sparring outside of PSV-Graz for me and I could not have asked for a better partner than Alen Lovrič. This guy while known as „the fastest sword in Slovenia“ is also an excellent teacher who can fine-tune his speed and power to the abilities of his partner, thus enabling beginners like me, to learn something. Alen is also the man who made this whole event possible, together with his team.
Sadly the hostel didn’t offer breakfast but we found a bakery and a coffee shop to get us started in the morning. Shortly after, at the venue, more coffee! While standing around the holy grail of caffein, we got to know some people better and had the ubiquitous HEMA discussions (I loved it!). We also got talking to Juro Zamkovský, who later showed us some things about footwork in HEMA. That was also very cool because it is an example for what makes these events so amazing: You don’t only have the opportunity to learn from people in workshops because everyone will gladly teach you something that they know.
HEMA people treat each other equally and with respect
Two members Academia artis dimicatoriae wrote articles for this blog before. Read „Girl with a sword“ by Valentina Mandzhi and „HEMA is where I’m meant to be and here’s why“ by Tina Kalan to get unique insights into the world of HEMA, from women.
Another thing that was fun, was the dinner on Saturday. There was a lot of laughing and everyone had a great time. Sadly we weren’t fast enough at getting up from our table to join the people who were going to an Irish pub which surely wasn’t less fun than dinner. More ubiquitous HEMA talks (still loving them!) discussions about history and and other excellent conversations that you can have with HEMA folk. It was very special for me, to be with my club peers longer than those two hours every week and meet others at the same time.
To me, everyone seemed pretty old. Now, I know how that might sound but don’t get me wrong, that’s nothing bad. My point is, that despite my age and their age, no one was treating me as a child. Everyone was treating me as they would treat anyone else. That’s not just something that happens at this event HEMA people treat each other equally and with respect because HEMA people are awesome.
Janik Stransky is part of one of the 3 (three!) family-teams that train historic fencing at the PSV. His Dad and he have been with us almost since the beginning and focus on longsword. We couldn’t be happier that we are no longer just „Gerhild and Rainer“ but „Three people under 18, three people over 50 and everything in between“.