RUSSIAN NATIONAL JUNIOR TEAM: FRESH BLOOD
“I have always dreamed about it and did not believe until that moment ...”
A little more than a week has passed since the Russian, Ukrainian, Polish, German and Danish fighters returned to their homes from the hospitable Czechs, the organizers of the Prague Falchion tournament, which has become a meeting place for knights from all over Europe. The competitions were held in the team battles 5 vs 5 categories divided into female and male nominations. All the gold of the event went to our compatriots — teams Old Friends and Katyusha both took first places in their respected nominations. The result cannot be called sensational, because both of these teams were favorites of the tournament. However, this does not detract from indescribable pride of the fighters steadily maintaining winning and justify the hopes of the fans. The actions of these teams are riddled with iron confidence, cohesiveness, and experienced victories. However, the third Russian team became the real heroes of the Prague voyage — the team of young fighters performing under a talking title Russian National Junior Team, whose bronze, eclipsed even the successes of the older comrades. It is the youth team that we will dedicate our article too.
To begin with, I would like to note that many fighters of the team, formed under the auspices of the Federation of Schools of HMB, for the first time found themselves abroad, having gone to conquer the Czech Republic with only six of them, that is, practically without replacements. In addition to those whom we will describe below, Alexander Shein (Bayard), Mikhail Komerzheev (NSK), Vladimir Ivlev (Volchya Druzhyna) and Ivan Kravchenko (Nurenberg) received an invitation to the team. However, for several reasons they could not take part in the tournament. In addition, the declared fighters represented immense geography, their hometowns were separated from each other by a distance of several Western Europes. It's time to acquaint readers with our heroes:
Pavel Neudachin (Bern, Zelenogorsk)
Yaroslav Rusanov (Bern, St. Petersburg)
Stepan Pimenov (Russian Order, Moscow)
Alexander Klykov (Bern, Krasnoyarsk)
Pavel Belyaev (Bern, St. Petersburg)
Alexey Tyulyakov (Bern, Moscow)
As a result of a long flight, the luggage with equipment of three guys out of six was delayed... Everything is just like in a good sports drama — at the beginning of the storyline, young contenders face a ton of problems and emotions are very confusing. The list of the sub-groups did not give hope for an easy walk — the youth team was the “lucky” one to meet with many participants of Buhurt Prime, apart from the Old Friends themselves. These, in turn, as if forgetting about their own battles, together with the girls from Katyusha and the few Russian fans, burned kilotons of their nerves in anticipation of the debut of the Russian HMB fresh blood.
And in the first fight of qualifying round, the fledgling RNJT are meeting face to face with the formidable, impressive hosts of the tournament and one of the best teams of the Buhurt League Prague Trolls. Here we allow ourselves to assume that even the sound engineer’s selection of music for this fight was not accidental. The same soundtrack would fit perfectly into the scene of the tragic death of the main character. The rain is pouring, sakura petals are falling, opponents are cheering, women hide their faces in their palms... And, with a firm will he glances at the sunset and... absolutely weakened, he falls under the weight of the huge Kubzilla. The junior team lost this fight.
But no movie is capable of plot twists that Russian fighters are. Looking ahead, let's say that it was the only battle lost to Europeans. And an incredible rematch with the same team in the finals, as a result of which RNJT managed to cling to the pedestal, will put everything into place. This gave us an opportunity to once again be convinced of the ability of young organisms to recuperate, as well as the reason to immediately ask a load of questions, without giving them a chance to come to their senses after the triumph.
It is not a secret that all the fighters of the RNJT represented different clubs, schools and regions of Russia. How did you manage to achieve coherence?
Pavel N: We contacted in advance and discussed the preferences, weight and weapons of the fighters. So, with all that information, as a captain, I suggested basic tactics. Later we came together to the final version. There were no problems with communication, all the guys are intelligent, they listen and hear. Even during the battle, the communication was good.
Yaroslav: I think that everyone who understands the basic principles of team battles would have acted in the same coherent manner. Plus, experienced mentors helped with the development of tactics that took into account the characteristics of each of us. All this together has given these results.
Stepan: For my part, I can say that, first of all, coherence was obtained through mutually agreed tactics. Each of us knew our place and task. We performed our functions, knowing that a teammate would do the same, and the scheme will work out. In addition, during the past season, we repeatedly fought with Pavel Neudachin and Alexander in the same team, and Yaroslav, Pavel “Chetkiy” and Alexey often acted as opponents. So I knew their combat style, which helped me to correctly navigate the dynamics: whom can I help, and who can be able to hold two opponents at once, etc.
Alexander: Young demons similar in spirit, by definition, is a single mechanism (laughs). But seriously, the fighters of the Youth National Team are fighting shoulder to shoulder since the last year's Battle on the Neva tournament, some of us (including me) fight or fought in one team and understand how to interact using each fighter’s personal qualities.
Pavel B: This isn't the first time we've seen each other at tournaments, so we knew more or less who's capable of what. And we developed chemistry along the way. The guys in general acted quite competently both in terms of teamwork and in terms of individual actions.
Alexey: In the first battle, we went through an adaptation process, then the older comrades reminded us of several tactical schemes, and we worked with them. Then one thing led to another, energy and young prowess.
Despite your age, you have already stocked up on a fairly decent experience at Russian competitions. But how does it feel to confront the strongest teams in Europe?
Pavel B: Just like ours, only these speak different languages! Pavel N: The first battle with Trolls was the most difficult for us, the team hadn’t warmed up, and our tactics broke up against the enemy’s tactics. Of course, in the finals, we took into account the mistakes and updated the strategy. In my impression, foreign teams, in contrast to the Russian ones, have a less developed strike technique (with the exception of Czech axemen). Otherwise, the guys wrestle a lot, have a high average weight of the team.
Stepan: In fairness, I’d like to note that these were not the strongest teams in Europe. At the tournament there were no guys from the White Company team, Aquila Sequania — the most promising and growing ones, in my opinion. Otherwise, I can say that the Russians are angrier. They strike harder, endure more. And when the strength runs out, they operate, as they say, on sheer will. We fought in the same way. It’s more difficult to fight against Russian teams. Definitely.
Jaroslav: It seemed to me that the teams on the Russian competitions are stronger than on this tournament. With an exception of the Prague Trolls and Taurus (one of the top teams of Ukraine — ed.note). It was pretty difficult with them. For myself, I realized that the most difficult battles are won largely due to not physical, but rather the inner qualities, such as will and fighting spirit.
Alexander: The European teams showed an excellent level of training; it was very interesting to measure ourselves against their strength, skills, and training techniques. But, in my humble opinion, European fighters are a little lacking in sports rage, which is typical for most Russian teams. Probably, it’s all about living standards (laughs).
Alexey: It's not my first meeting with them, they become stronger and stronger every year, it only encourages us to train more.
Among the fighters, there is an unspoken rule that the national colors are used for the intended purpose only on the HMB World Championship: “Battle of the Nations”, while in the off-season these tabards are kept by members of the national team as a relic. Veterans hold sacred this rule, but for the tournament Prague Falchion an exception was made, and the fighters of the youth national team, were honored to fight in tabards without turning them inside out. What do you think, whether such a nuance had any particular sacral influence on the result? What did you feel at the moment when you put on snow-white tabards "with a history"? Alexander: Undoubtedly. Knowing you are performing in a tabard, the color of which terrifies everything and everyone around for the tenth year can only make you want to contribute to the common fund of the country's victories. Pavel N: It was a great honor to fight in the colors of the national team. I have always dreamt about it and did not believe until that moment, because I never considered myself a talented fighter, unlike my students (Klykov, Baksanov). However, in my case, this slightly reduced the personal functionality, since I usually try to move more into the field, but this time the caution literally chained me to the list and the opponent. Nevertheless, when the Danish blade hit my eye, the responsibility didn't let me stop...
Jaroslav: The cottes of the team have certainly had an impact on us, but not sacral. “Russian National Junior Team”. It was supposed to be a show of power. Living proof that our guys under the age of 25 from the “adult” national team are separated only by the letters "Jr" in the team name.
Pavel B: The very fact of being present on international competitions affected this. If you are performing on behalf of a country, then you understand what is your responsibility. You can not be slow-witted and fainthearted.
Stepan: As any other human facing a risk to the life and health, I have certain prejudices and superstitions. Like any athlete or fighter who loves and respects his country, who was granted this honor, I felt a responsibility. And you know, yes, it did have an influence. You feel that you can not fall. Under any circumstances... It seemed like, the name and colors under which we performed forbid us to show weakness, and we stood. Was it hard? Yes. Pressure? Yes. But it was precisely the white cottes and the desire to prove to the whole world that Russian juniors could beat the current members of the national team from other countries, did not let us fall. In a battle with the BSK team, a huge Dane grabbed my head, tried to drop me with a trip-up at the list, but I, for my part, was holding on to him and he couldn’t succeed. Then he sat down and lifted me with his back, holding me only by the head. As a result, the only thing that kept me was the strap of the helmet, and the whole weight of my body was on it. When I realized that I'm going to pass out, the only thing went through my mind: do not fall! We have 3 vs 3, and I somehow inexplicably got out and ran away. So, yes, the tabard of the national team is not just a beautiful cotte in recognizable colors. This is a motivation to win.
Alexey: Supported or not, I don't know. But I think we made a worthy appearance at the tournament and justified the trust placed upon us.
Personal impressions about the trip and the organization of the tournament. Pavel N: The tournament was held in one breath, I collected more than usual injuries (in the first fight with trolls, I got a punch in the neck, smashed my hip, a small puncture near my eye, etc.). The trip organization was top-level, just as the tournament (space for fighters, water, time lines, medical assistance). The support from our teams Old Friends and Katyusha as well as the instructions on conducting the battle from Evgeny Vladimirovich helped a lot.
For me, this trip was a magical adventure, because I have never been in Europe. We lived side by side and talked with the legends of our sport. I learned a whole bunch of really interesting decisions on tactics, armor and development of HMB trends. More recently, changes have occurred in our team that have led to a high motivational revival, and this trip has further prompted the desire to train, work on the set of armor and the team.
Alexander: The organization of the event was at the highest level. It's not very often we've seen a tournament where everything goes strictly according to plan, and there’s even 30-40 minutes to rest between sub-groups. I would also like to thank the leadership of the Russian national team and the Junior national team for their confidence and the opportunity to take part in the tournament. Special thanks to my coach and captain Pavel Neudachin for the strengths, resources, and nerves invested in me. And of course, thanks to my family, teammates, and friends for endless support and kind words! Jaroslav: Impressions of the trip are extremely positive. Great company, a tense successful tournament. Well organized. Prague is a beautiful and interesting city. Aleksey: The level of organization is on a very decent level. Everything was in time and in accordance with the regulations of the tournament. Also, the venue was perfect. Stepan: I was for the first time abroad, so there are a lot of impressions, and all are purely positive. The event is at a high level: timing, water, ventilation, a convenient place for things, announcement in two languages... Well, I really hope to return to this beautiful city one day!
Pavel B: The trip was good, the organization is at a high level, especially in terms of timing. Speaking for myself, I can only say that often after the tournaments there is a feeling that you didn't have enough fights. But not this time.
We would like to ask our heroes a lot more: can you hear in the helmet the cries of the support group, how does it feel to get hit with an overseas mace, how the guys were greeted at home and what their plans for the future... But, that’s enough for now. We are sure of one main thing — the guys will do everything possible to earn the right to experience all this again. The recipe is well known: training, tournaments, team meetings and full commitment. We can only wish the guys to do everything possible and win so that after many years it will be an honour for a new generation of fighters from Junior team to perform in their old tabards.
Photo: SKSKB PRAHA