“Bern”. Current legend

04 Sep 2014 17:08
HMB clubs

“Bern”, historical reenactment club (Russia). Established in 2002. Mainly focuses on reconstruction of the material culture and combat art of the Swiss cantons of the XIV-XVth centuries.

“Bern” is a legendary Russian club which is well-known around the world. The club has been unchallenged leader of full contact medieval battles for the last five years.

Today, the club has more than 60 fighters. Moscow, St. Petersburg, Nizhny Novgorod, Krasnodar, Rostov, Arkhangelsk, Kazan and other cities have regional offices of “Bern”. The name of the club tells that its members deal with reconstruction of life in Switzerland as it was in the late Middle Ages. In fact, the club is named after the canton of Bern. But the guys, in addition to the fact they like and learn history of the Middle Ages, medieval culture of Switzerland, are professionally engaged in full contact fighting in armor. Special methods of training, unique preparation of halberd fighters, experienced coaches who serve as fighters and mentors, permanent training base in Moscow (“Excalibur” center) and old traditions are the factors which make “Bern” a unique club not only in the Russian Federation, but in the whole world.

– Dmitriy Kunchenko, fighter of the Moscow branch of club “Bern”:

“Five-men team “Partisan” goes on a list almost in identical composition for almost 5 years.  Though guys are getting older, have new worries their activity on the trainings and in battles are not decreasing. There is no secret in it because everything stands on a character, personal motivation of each member of the club. The fighters are interested in this kind of sport, interested in trainings and getting the result.

We have spent a lot of power and resources earlier on a work with novices, organizing of different events for recruitment new fighters. However, our experience showed us that such actions didn’t give needed effect. Now we`ve changed our approach. Currently each person that has a strong willing to be a part of “Bern” can prove this only by his trainings, full dedication and attending different tournaments. And what is even more important – by victories on themselves and the rivals. We are quite famous and if people wish to reach us they do everything for reach this goal”.As we know, the club movement is the keystone for the formation of the National Teams, and for the development of the HMB movement in general. The club is in fact a second family and “Bern” confirms the aphorism. The club has great traditions, one of them is the celebration of its “birthday”, which usually takes place in mid-October, when old and new club members gather and feast.

But the main tradition of the club is, of course, winning of gold medals at tournaments and championships in historical medieval battles. Unfortunately, as in any other sphere of life and sport, it is impossible without enviers – those who have little knowledge of HMB and who try to find some non-sporting points in those victories. However, any professional, or even fighters from the competing clubs know well that “Bern” wins, first of all, due to its hard
training, due to the fact the guys are eager to win, and the fact that there is a very rigorous selection within the club (the overall physical fitness of club members is under control, as well as their skills, combat cooperation, tactical training). All these factors allow the club to win and be one of the best in the world. “Bern” is one of a very few clubs in the HMB movement that can provide two teams for the “Royal category” (21 vs 21).- Dmitriy Kunchenko, fighter of the Moscow branch of club “Bern”:
“It has happened that strong personalities meet in our club. Even if the fighter haven’t taken yet top positions in the rating, but he has strong character and he is psychologically stable, sooner or later  everything will turn out and club will help in his self-realization. And weak persons are eliminated by themselves.

The average age of the sportsmen is 25-27 years. They are young guys that have just finished university and there are thirty ages and even one forty three ages fighter that are still fighting very actively.

There is an opinion that we roll in money. Of course, 17 thousands euro per week! But no matter how much you`ve earned – it will be always not enough. Sarcasm! It`s not like that. We live the same as others and earn money the same as others. And like the others after work we have to go training to the gym. The only difference is that we want to win and we win.”

By the way, the club is also unique due to the fact that in addition to sports activities, it also has a scientific branch dealing with history learning. In particular, under the guidance of the “Bern” club, together with “St. George’s Company” and the Department of History of the Ancient World and Middle Ages (Nizhny Novgorod State University named after Lobachevsky), as well as the support of the Swiss National Museum, a book titled “Military traditions of the Swiss Middle Ages” was written.

– Alexander Davydov, head of the Nizhny Novgorod branch of the “Bern” club:
“The prime mover of this undertaking was the head of the HRC “Bern”, Eugene Rene, who once said that it would be great to have such book. After some little preliminary work done it became clear that the project can be implemented. After a year and a half the book was released. The team of authors was actively assisted by their teammates. Photos of some of them can be seen as illustrations on the pages of the “Military traditions of the Swiss Middle Ages”. The experience of cooperation with “St. George’s Company”, the largest association of Western Europe’s reenactors was valuable. The current president of the organization, Christian Falini, a Swiss citizen, helped to find European partners for the implementation of the cultural project. One of the gift copies of the book was given to the Ambassador of Switzerland in Russia, Mr. Pierre Helg, who highly appreciated it. Swiss experts also noted that such works had not been published in their country for about 15 years.

We were asked a lot of questions about the possibility of translation into other languages, because the book is interesting, but we are not ready for that at the moment. After the publication of the book the research activity did not stop, only slowed down slightly. Now we are working on a kind of visual material which will provide more practical information for reenactors. It’s difficult to say when it will be done it’s under development at the moment. Materials are already selected, the experts are working. We cannot predict, but we will try to please history lovers with a book next year.”

“Bern” is a current legend. It is famous not only for its history, its past, but as well for its present. Most fighters of the Russian National Team are from this club. As practice shows, it allows unite men and maintain discipline in the National Team more effectively, as well as achieve goals. It is not a secret that when a country has strong clubs, and those clubs send not one fighter, but a group of athletes to the National Team, it strengthens the Team, because there is team play and common
touch. And it can be seen especially clear in historical medieval battles. It is not an exaggeration that almost half of the Russian National Team’s fighters are fighters of “Bern”, they are the core of the Team and lead it to victories. So if you want to have a strong National Team, it is vital to have strong clubs. And the “Bern” club is a good example for that.

– Alexander Davydov, head of the Nizhny Novgorod branch of the “Bern” club:
“People often ask me how to train to reach the level of fighters from the “Bear Paw”, for example the one of Artem Goryunov or Vitali Gryzlov. What to do to win in the same way they do? It seems to me, it’s not correct to say “win like Goryunov or Gryzlov”, since victory belongs to a five-member team, but not to one fighter.In battles according to HMBIA rules (“5 vs 5″ and “21 vs 21″ categories) the Swiss tradition of fraternal shoulder works well. Vitali Gryzlov is one of the two coaches of the Nizhny Novgorod branch of “Bern”, while Alexander Nikitin is the another one and together they are the “backbone” of the training process, and other fighters of the five-member team take them as an example. People are able to show their best when they are sure their backs are covered, when they rely on the men fighting to the left and right from them. Then they work as a single mechanism. Being repeatedly present on the lists as a referee, or even beyond the lists, I saw Gryzlov gathering the team and explaining tactics literally in 10-15 seconds. The guys nodded, fought and won. Their coherence is astonishing and its due to the fact the friendly spirit is present in “Bear Paw.” The tempo set by the leaders spreads onto the rest of fighters and becomes a serious motivator.”

And motivation means staginess. And by the way, according to the statistics, battles where the Russian National Team participates are ones most visited at the international tournaments.

– Alexander Davydov, head of the Nizhny Novgorod branch of the “Bern” club:
“One of the most valuable things for the fighter who is on the lists is the support of viewers, fans, it’s an expression of respect and attention. Mutual respect means positive emotions.”Undoubtedly, the guys from “Bern” deserve respect and gratitude for what they do. They are an example for many men, an example of glory, persistence, stability, and we’re also grateful to them for the bright and interesting fights they give to the public. And we think that the historical reenactment club “Bern” will prove it’s the best one on the world stage of historical medieval battles again and again.

– Dmitriy Kunchenko, fighter of the Moscow branch of club “Bern”:
“I would like to appeal to representatives of different countries to ensure that the sport remains sports, I appeal to honest victories, to the desire of winning the strongest. Do not resort to various tricks and tweaks. To increase the level of training one should conquer the strong opponents and not choosing teams of its own level.”

We will be waiting for new tournaments and new victories!

Christina Korneva,
Miroslav Eremenko


The whole world knows fighters from club “Bern”, but not a lot of people saw their faces without helmets. We provide such possibility to our readers. World needs to know faces of our champions!

Fighters from club “Bern”, the first five-men team “Partisan”:
1. Dmitry Kunchenko
2. Evgeniy Gladkov
3. Andrew Kisielyus
4. Artem Proschaev
5. Igor Kravchenko
6. Ivan Borovikov
7. Dmitry Kovrizhin
8. Fedor Bogdanov

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