JURE KUTNAR: “THE BEST TRAINING IS A TOURNAMENT”
Battle of the Nations is familiar to anyone who has decided to seriously engage in medieval sports. Without exaggeration, we can say that this is the largest event gathering under its banner fighters from all continents who want to try themselves in a great variety of steel competitions. Over the years of its existence, the championship has acquired the status of not just the of the world - now its moral significance is comparable to the Olympic Games for the knights of our time. And under the heading “Battle of the Nations” we highlight the features of the organization and the internal life of the National Teams of countries participating in this grand event.
Today we present you a small but proud national team, which has been trying its strength for several years already in an attempt to conquer the pedestal of the World Championship in HMB. Not everyone can immediately show on the map the country that these guys represent, or at least name its capital. The more striking is the fact that in this part of the Balkan Peninsula there are people of our kind who are fanatically devoted to the path of the sword, to their team and their colors. We give you the captain of the HMB National Team of Slovenia - Jure Kutnar.
Hi, Jure! Tell me how popular medieval sports in Slovenia? Do you have a lot of clubs?
Greetings! Medieval sport is still not very popular with us, and although there are many different historical events in Slovenia, not one of them, unfortunately, includes steel combat. I suspect that our team is the only one of all seriously engaged in this type of competition. We started it three years ago, in 2015. Since then, we advertise HMB to everyone and everywhere. But, nevertheless, we are still actually a small group of friends. All of us previously engaged in various sports and martial arts, and our common passion is history. We have already recruited all our friends and acquaintances. And here, I suppose, the biggest problem is that this kind of sport still seems too dangerous to the inhabitants. Despite all this, we do not leave attempts to promote medieval sport to the masses: we record our training sessions and publish them in various social networks. At the moment there is only one club in Slovenia - our club called Triglav.
How many people are in your team? How and why did you become the captain?
We currently have seven fighters ready for battle, one support group and several recruits. And the choice of captain was made according to all the laws of democracy. We have compiled a list of candidates for voting, conducted it, and the team chose me. I accepted this role responsibly. As I have already said, we all know each other for a long time and clearly understand that each team member has his own role in achieving a common goal. This goal is to become better.
How long have you been in the World Championships with the guys? In which nominations is your country represented? Are there any successes?
We have been participating in the Battle of the Nations since 2016, so far we have been competing only 5 vs 5. There is still little success, and if you look at our rating, progress is also small, but we have gained a lot of experience, especially in team battles. We learned different ways of fighting, met our opponents and learned a lot from them. Having drawn conclusions, we adjusted our preparation in order to perform even better in the future. By the way, it is likely that by the next championship we will try our luck in another nomination. We really hope that this will succeed.
What do you think the Battle of the Nations compares favorably with other championships? And what is it missing?
For us, BotN is the biggest event in which we have ever participated, so it’s difficult to compare with anything. But this is definitely the most exciting and large-scale event than any other medieval or historical event that we have ever attended.
What does it lack for perfection? My opinion, and it relates to the whole phenomenon as a whole, our sport is far from the general public, it is crude and, perhaps archaic. It scares people away. More advertising, more media engagement and more marketing are needed to bring the very look of the competition and events dedicated to it to a larger audience. It is necessary to showcase historical battles as something exciting - not only for those who are part of the HMB movement, but also for those who just want to see it.
What nominations do you like as a spectator? Do you have any favorites among fighters and teams?
As a spectator, I like to watch the fights on polearms and all nominations of mass battles. I especially like to watch pro-fights. As for the favorites, I try to encourage and follow the performances of the participants whom I know personally. I like this sport, to which I devote so much energy to training, and for me the whole movement is one big family.
How difficult is it to combine the post of captain and fighter?
Being a captain and a fighter is not easy, but for me it is not so difficult, because, as I said, I love HMB, and when you love something, you do it with pleasure. It's better for me to be in the same ranks with my comrades than just to watch them and burn nerves while watching. Maybe one day the time will come when we will have at least three five-man teams or at least one person in each category - then I can leave the battlefield. In the meantime, I'm just one of the fighters of our team, who in his spare time from battles takes care of his comrades. The most difficult thing for me is to prepare everyone and everything for the World Cup, to organize logistics, a support group. For a young team or a club like us, it's not easy. We do not have rich sponsors, and we are all from different parts of our country, so sometimes even organizing a training together can be a difficult task. We are in some way pioneers, and we face many problems, but we are glad that we are building and developing what we did not have before in our country.
What is the origin history of your tabards? What caused the choice of colors, style, elements?
On our cot-d-arms there are banners of lands that belonged to one of the most famous families in the national history of Slovenia, they were Counts of Celje. In its heyday, at the beginning of the 15th century, this family owned more than 150 castles. They were also members of the famous Order of the Dragons. In general, our logo includes 5 different emblems: in the middle is the main family crest, the remaining 4 are the coat of arms of the lands, some of which are still part of our country. It is important to remember that, even though Slovenes are considered a young nation, the inhabitants of these regions have been an integral part of these lands for centuries.
We use the same colors as our compatriots in other sports, for example, in the Olympic Games and World Cups: green, white, blue. We also have the largest mountain Triglav, which is of great importance in our national culture, and can be said to be one of the most powerful Slovenian symbols. Being the highest mountain with three peaks, according to Slavic tradition, it is the god of war, the ruler of heaven, earth and the underworld
Why did you and your comrades choose HMB?
We all have experience of martial arts of different types and degree of reenactment. Actually, we got to know each other thanks to common interests. Then one of us came across HMB on YouTube, and we all decided to watch at it live. When we saw this sight, we just fell in love with medieval sports. I can say without exaggeration that even talking about it there is some kind of passion... As is usually the case with boys and their toys. ;)
How important is the festival spirit and the medieval atmosphere for you and your team - all that you cannot find in traditional sports?
For me personally, it is important that major events are somehow related to historical dates and places. The medieval atmosphere returns time without smartphones - people sit around the fire, talk and laugh... We all love being knights and warriors. This is a special feeling when listening to military songs in different languages, spread over tents - it makes you proud that you here and now, represent your country and fight for it with your comrades, and then you just have a great time. The guys from the team have different views on this topic. Some of the top fighters are not interested in dressing up in medieval clothes and all that, but this does not prevent them from enjoying the spirit of the festival. Others - on the contrary, they want to live like medieval people, with full immersion in the atmosphere. However, we still live in the 21st century, and, be that as it may, the development of our sport is a priority for me and my team.
Do you have time and energy for other hobbies besides HMB? What do you personally and the guys from the team do in the offseason?
As you know, there are still 24 hours in a day, no matter what you do. In addition to work and my beloved bride (and she will always find something for me to do around the house!), I try to devote the remaining time to rest with my friends, and sometimes I want solitude somewhere in nature.
As for the team, we train twice a week, all year round, regardless of the season. In addition to training, each participant is responsible for their psychophysical condition, this is important. Of course, during the preparation for the tournaments, we increase the intensity of training. Well, we all have related hobbies: running, hiking, climbing, etc. Sometimes even everyday work, like preparing firewood for the winter, can be a good functional training.
What difficulties do you face while preparing for the BotN?
As I said earlier, for a team like us, everything is to some degree a test. Equipment is still a significant problem, especially for recruits, and keeping an eye on every little thing is always a difficult task. Communication and organization take a significant part of the time, but every year it becomes easier, experience helps a lot.
What motivates the young team, which is still far from the World Cup podium, to go to this event again and again?
The best training is competition. For a young team this is the easiest way to get experience. With new categories and changes (division system in the 5 vs 5 category - editor's note) we will have more opportunities to earn a reward and more chances to meet an equal opponent, rather than tops like Russia-1, for example. However, for us, any experience is priceless. So yes, we always try to come to this tournament whenever possible, if only to meet with old friends and make new ones.
Please share your immediate plans, including, of course, about your participation in the life of the HMB movement.
In short, we are on the verge of creating another association, which, as I understand it, is important for the structure and cooperation with HMBIA in the future. We will work further in this direction. And of course, I will try as best as possible to prepare my team for the anniversary Battle of the Nations and other significant events in the coming season.
Written by Marina Golovina