For the second year in a row, Krisztina Nagy of Budapest, Hungary has won 1st place in the Women's Longsword Tournament at the annual Swordfish event in Gothenburg, Sweden. This tournament was fought with steel longswords provided by Ensifer Swords of Gdansk, Poland.
Krisztina won the final bout of the tournament against Nicole Smith of Vancouver, Canada. This was an extremely clean bout with a high level of technical expertise shown by both fighters. Krisztina carried out a few beautiful moves in particular, including a picture-perfect Winden in Ochs that struck her opponent in the throat. That was the single best example of a Winden I have ever seen in any competitive HEMA bout, male or female. Other techniques were also on display, including a nice Zwerchhau, Absetzen, and Zucken. There was also some excellent grappling as well. This was a hard-fought bout, but notable for the clean technique, with very few double hits. Both on a technical level and as pure entertainment, this was one of the best bouts of the entire Swordfish event.
Krisztina Nagy has about 6 years of experience in HEMA, but this is only her third tournament. She fought in the Dijon 2009 Open Tournament without success, but went on to win 1st place in the Swordfish 2010 Women's Longsword Tournament against Nina Trollvige of Gothenburg Historical Fencing School. Krisztina is well known to European instructors as one of the most serious martial artists in the entire HEMA community, holding herself to an extremely rigorous standard in her training. Despite her high level of skill and her recent victories, Krisztina remains self-effacing and humble, the very model of a HEMA tournament fighter. She deserves high praise, both for her accomplishments and for being an excellent role model for the international HEMA community.
Krisztina's opponent, Nicole Smith, was a formidable opponent with a significant height advantage. In one noteworthy exchange, the two fighters closed into a bind, and Krisztina attempted an arm throw on her opponent. Nicole not only countered the move, but managed to throw Krisztina instead, taking her to the ground and establishing clear domination. An assistant rapier instructor at Blood & Iron Martial Arts, Nicole used her rapier skills to good effect. Nicole has only recently taken up the longsword under the instruction of Lee Smith, but I expect to see much more of her in tournaments to come.
In closing, I would note that the recent emergence of women's tournaments is an interesting phenomenon. Krisztina and Nicole's final bout was every bit as exciting as the Open Longsword final, but even more technical. We may perhaps see an evolution where the application of historical technique in tournament fighting is actually led by the women in our community, which is a fascinating prospect indeed. I can only hope that other female leaders in the HEMA community (such as Jessica Finley) will take part in future women's tournaments, helping to make these a showcase for the arts we all treasure.
- Matt Galas / Mons, Belgium