Nizhnik, Israel: “We’re looking forward to meeting the Saracens. We are lacking harmony without them”

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Gennady Nizhnik, Israel,

“Kingdom of Jerusalem” club

 

Concerning the movement in Israel and his club…

 

 

… Concerning the movement in Israel 

The country has about seven clubs of different levels of activity. Almost all of them are descendants of an old “role-playing protoclub”, but every club has been developing in its own way. Every club deals with a certain region, era; and historical fencing is practised differently. 

 

The next stage was a period of unification, many turned to sport and fencing of HMB format. The process has accelerated in recent years, the clubs develop their areas, attend overseas events more often. Skills of fighters are increasing. I find it difficult to classify activities of some communities. In general, we have the movement. 

 

Having this permanent Olympics of life, we lack reenactment and living history, in my opinion. Three clubs are engaged in reenactment, namely our club (“Kingdom of Jerusalem»), Jerusalem Traditional Archery Club and RKKA. 

 

Archers, respectively, deal with all the aspects of traditional archery and bow manufacturing. They are seriously engaged in crafts, as well. They are skillful and good guys who can sew, forge, they’ve even made a jurt recently. Some of them reenact the XIIIth century Mongols and Seljuks. 

 

Sometimes we visit them to practice archery, or ask the guys to shoot at us. When we reenacted The Battle of Hattin they represent the Saracens, and their khan and captain, Yeugeny Gasin, was Saladin. 

 

The third club, RKKA, deals with World War II. 

 

We also have a historical reenactment club called “Boyar’s Ten.” The guys reenact Rus of the XVIth century. They are not very active at the moment, but promised to move further. There are several serious individual reenactors.  

 

Mostly, our people are engaged in various forms of historical fencing. Here I mean MFC and “Armada” first of all, they provide the biggest part of buhurt fighters for the HMB and professional fights National Team. There are “Knights of Jerusalem” dealing with historical fencing. 

 

 

… Concerning his club 

 Our club is called the “Kingdom of Jerusalem”, or «Regnum Hierosolymitanum» (Latin variant). The name reveals the sphere with which we are dealing. We reenact all categories of inhabitants of the Kingdom until its destruction after the Battle of Hattin in 1187. 

 

To do what we liked, Andrey Zaitsev, Alex Terry, veterans of our movement, a neophyte Dima Skliarenko and me decided to form a new club. The idea had been in the air and as soon as we voiced it, more guys gathered around us, both beginners and veterans of other clubs. 

 

As a result, a year and a half ago our “Kingdom of Jerusalem”, the club of historical reenactment and fencing, appeared. At this stage, most of the members of the club reenact Frankish population, but we would be delighted to see other inhabitants of the kingdom, namely Saracens, Jews, Armenians and Greeks. We’re looking forward to meeting the Saracens. We are lacking harmony without them. 

 

At the moment, our composition is the following: I reenact knight Rene de Chatillon, who was executed by Saladin after the Battle of Hattin. In addition, there are a squire, sergeant and an infantryman, minstrel and female citizen. We hope to see a Saracen woman from Haifa. 

 

These six persons are core of the club. But there are also people who appear at events from time to time, help us with our projects, some of them are simply irreplaceable, some may disappear for a long time and then come back unexpectedly. There are 15 friends of the club, and they are also a part of the Kingdom.

 

As I’ve already said, we are engaged in fencing. This summer at a festival in Samara (“Military Business”) we took prizes in three categories. But martial arts are only a part of the palette. We try to concentrate on mastering the traditional crafts. Every new member of the club has to sew a set of clothes for themselves and to master (at least to some extent) some crafts, for example – tanning, shoemaking, carpentry. They have to learn how to work with historical sources. And only then novices can choose specialization they like. We do not welcome people who buy everything ready.

 

Fighting men clad in armor are, of course, cool, but our business would be insipid without women, without our needlewoman, Yelena Melnik. Lena has a vast knowledge concerning weaving, medieval music and dances. She can always help with any questions concerning patterns or sewing. Now we are making a horizontal loom. I am particularly interested in questions related to medieval textiles of our region. 

 

And I’d like to mention our minstrel, Mark Weiss, who cheers us up with his music and Buddhist humor. 

 

Most members of the club live in Jerusalem, however some live in other cities. But it is not a problem in our small country. Every person is a potential core of a new regional office in his native city.

 

Once a week, most of the “Kingdom” residents gather in Jerusalem to practise fencing. Once a month there is a general meeting of club members and club friends. Also, we gather for workshops or when we need to make something. 

 

We have neither a gym nor other premises, as we do not want to depend on owners of premises. We can train in a park. The climate allows us to do that. 

 

Club equipment, weapons, tents, horse harness, barrels and other things are stored at homes, mostly in my storeroom. Looms and everything associated with needlework are kept at Lena’s place in Medina, meetings are held there as well. She lives right in the center of the country. 

 

It’s the way we organize our business. 

 

Well, concerning family. It would be difficult to engage in something without family support and understanding, especially in reenactment. As for me, my wife and mother helped me to organize our march to the Horns of Hattin before our club was formed. They were my club. The army of crusaders would be unable to go anywhere without them. 

 

 

Interview by 

Nina Valeyeva, 

HMBIA News 

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