Weekly Feature

2018-10-11 / Local News


EA resident wins gold in longsword competition

Robert N. Smith Robert N. Smith An East Aurora resident is celebrating following major win at a national martial arts competition.

Robert N. Smith was recently awarded gold in the beginner longsword competition at the The Iron Gate Exhibition. Smith, a previous sport fencer and current instructor

Orchard Park Martial Arts, took on 20 other competitors from across the country during two days of hand-to-hand-combat.

For Smith, the love

German longswords came after nine years doing Brazilian jiujitsu. Two years ago, took a class in European martial arts and fell in love with the sport.

“There’s a certain allure to hitting someone with a sword-like object,” he said.

In September 2017, he started Nickle City Longsword Academy. The academy was originally meant to be a single, short-term introductory class in the art of German longsword for a group of friends interested in the sport. However, the program quickly grew and now boasts 25 regular members who meet at Orchard Park Martial Arts to indulge in their love of European martial arts.

Smith believes part of the draw comes from an interest in medieval history.

“I figure people interested in European martial arts were really into knights, particularly Knights of the Round Table, or they really like the Musketeers,” he joked. As an instructor, Smith uses historical manuals, with a goal of keeping the sport as historically accurate as possible.

In September, Smith and his clubmates traveled to Boston, Massachusetts, for one of the largest Historical European Martial Arts competitions in New England. During the competition, Smith took home the gold in his division following a battle with Yichen Liu of Boston. Smith calls winning a surreal experience filled with emotion.

“In sport fencing, there’s a lot of screaming that goes on between each touches, so you’re kind of able to drain that emotional energy,” he said. However, Smith says because of the nature of HEMA fights, competitors don’t have an outlet for releasing that emotional energy. Following the win, Smith said it took him a little while to process the win.

While his win is exciting, Smith says he’s equally proud of his clubmates. For the first tournament, the members of Nickel City Longsword were paired with a coach, who helped them develop their fight strategy. Smith said he was impressed with how his teammates handled the training.

“You had to adapt to what that person was trying to get you to do,” he said, adding that his students weren’t thrown off-guard by a different training style. “To all of my guy’s credit, they all adapted incredibly well.”

Three out of the five club members made it to the second round of competition.

“I did well as a competitor, but as a coach, I was so incredibly proud of the guys that went and fought. They just did an amazing job,” he said.

The group even gained the attention of other coaches at the competition.

“They left such an impression that one of the coaches went on the club Facebook page and left a recommendation that if anyone in this area was looking for a group to train with, this was the group to do it with,” said Smith.

Smith has big plans for the club.

“I want our group to be a prominent entity on the national and maybe even the international level at some point, both as fighters and scholars,” he said, adding that people don’t have to fight to be involved in the club.

“You can just be someone who digs into books and tries to figure out the interpretation of these (historic) manuals.”

He hopes that the club can be a source of pride in the lives of those who take part of it, and doesn’t plan on stopping anytime soon.

“In the immortal words of the Lorax, we’ll bigger and bigger and bigger it.”

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