“I’m a brainy. I speculate in the field of martial arts” rubric with Borislav Krustev

In today’s world there is a huge number of different schools, systems and masters in martial arts, correspondingly there is a dispute over these questions: “Who is right, who is to blame? Who is better, who is worse?”
The “All truth and lies about martial arts” is going to find the truth in a collegial way and exclude any disputes. The most frank program in the framework of this project is “I am a brainy. I speculate in the field of martial arts”. Correspondent of the program Kanykei Tursunbaeva has interviewed a colleague from Bulgaria, journalist Borislav Krustev, who practices fencing in the HEMA (Historical European Martial Arts). For the reason the program is unique in it’s kind it is straightforward, full of hard question, and uncomfortable questions, as well as with the host of the program having a right to stop or to interrupt an interviewer in case he seems to be avoiding the question.

Answering the first question, Borislav claims that he is related to the world of martial arts, since he has been engaged in it for almost 20 years, and has been engaged in Historical European fencing for the last 8 years. The guest of the program also emphasizes that he is allocates much of his time to martial arts. However, it is quite reasonable to state that the amount of a time one allocates for a thing is not yet an indicator and does not determine the fact that he or she has a relation to particular ​​activity. It is necessary to devote a lot of time to conduct research and to work hard in this field. Borislav says that there are many people who are engaged in martial arts and do the same things for decades, but they have not improved themselves and remain at the same level of skill. That is indeed true in many cases as it is seen in the world of martial arts.

Borislav Krustev cites three specific criterions, which he believes confirm his direct relation to the martial arts world: the time spent, the desire to train, the pursuit of the best and search for possible ways to become better. In his opinion, it does not matter how often he visits gym if one really wants to train. He states that person just needs to be there, leave all the worries behind the door and work on his skills as much as possible, and become better step by step. Desire needs to be measured on his own and in his head. Besides, there are exams, competitions and other things, although all of these cannot be always objectively measured. For this reason, only a teacher could tell if you are getting better.

However, person who “desires” and attends the gym, does it make him “have a relation to the world of martial arts”? These criterions are rather doubtful in such a case. Furthermore, according to answers of an interviewer “the pursuit of the best and the search for possible ways to become better ” involves searching for new instructions, new techniques, but not just going to class and accepting what is taught there. It is necessary to devote time to self-education, search for other teachers and other systems.

Considering a beggar in the street, who has an exceptional desire to become better, to self perfect, search for a new system, learn a new technique … does not make him related to the world of martial arts.

Furthermore, Borislav Krustev also notes that it is necessary to train with a good teacher. Correspondingly, question is what are the parameters of a good teacher, and how to distinguish a good one from an amateur? Borislav believes that a good teacher should not deceive students by teaching what does not work and has to be able to instruct. As for an amatuer, he believes that is a person in a bad personal shape, who does not know technique well, one who lies, constantly brags (although there are exceptions) and does not know the specifics that he teaches.

One may think what is the basis of Borislav’s previous statement? How does he know about this? It turned out that he refers to rich experience of training with different teachers. Since he is an assistant instructor he considers himself to be a good teacher at the moment he sees that a student understands him.
Fencing is an ancient noble art. Many of the greatest fencing teachers rely on treatises, manuscripts, ancient scriptures, historical documents and other primary sources. In support of his words about what a good teacher looks like, Borislav refers to the treatise of Fiore dei Liberi ” Flos Duellatorum ” (“The flower of battle”), but can not specify the page number and give at least one quote from the book, which would support his statement. Moreover, there is another important question: how can one be sure that the translators, whose translations are studied, did not make mistakes in translations? Needless to say, especially ones who deal with old materials, know that there are frequent cases when translation is poor.

This problem does not lose its relevance nowadays. Borislav says, he trusts the translators, whose interpretation he has been referring to, on the basis of their credentials and on the basis that he can read in their works. However, if one gives preference to sheer objectivity and validity, opinions of people one respects has to be taken seriously as well. For this reason if one wants to avoid distortions, it is better to translate the treatise himself. Borislav represents the fencing school “Motus”, which was founded 8 years ago by his instructor. Medieval European fencing, the techniques of which are collected from different schools of the worl are taught at the school. The basis is the German school of fencing Johannes Liechtenauer, who lived in the period XIV-XVII centuries.
Next question was, if there are any specific parameters that confirm this? Unfortunately, Borislav could not provide an answer to this question.

Speaking about real life situations, Borislav said that once he had to cope with the life-threatening situation when an edged weapon could be used against him. He managed to resolve this situation without entering into a duel, which, according to his statement, is a part of the duel. Obviously, it is good that this situation has finished this way and no one got injured. However, in fact, it shows that this man has no idea what the real life fight against an edged weapon looks like.
There is another interesting question: how can Borislav teach martial arts without having personal experience using blade weapons in real life situation?
Based on his own words it turns out that Borislav himself does not correspond to those parameters which he has previously stated. To think logically, he has argued that a good teacher is a person who can demonstrate any technique himself, and has confirmed the fact that the real situation differs from training in the gym. But the fact that he has never encountered real cases involving bladed weapons, he considers only a minor nuance. It sounds, at least, strange, does not it?

Just imagine a surgery when the surgeon tells you: “Excuse me, there is a minor nuance – I do not have a scalpel, therefore I will work with a blunt instrument.”
Moving forward, Krustev gives examples of his students of the school who were able to survive using a stick in real life situations. However, Borislav himself did not use the stick in a real combat situation and does not carry it with him. But then why do you train with a stick if you do not use?

At the moment, everything looks as if Borislav’s goal is to test the knowledge on his students, and conduct experiments on people if we can say so. After all, he says that he can not be sure that they will survive in real situations.

In order to believe his words, his students know that they learn from a person who does not have the experience of a real fight against a knife, which is dangerous for them. Krustev himself expressed a desire to learn from a person who managed to cope with life-threatening situations against an edged weapons.

Unfortunately, Borislav throughout the entire interview was twisting round, cunning and was not able of providing direct answers to questions, despite the fact that he was informed about the program rules in the very beginning and contradicted himself in many of his statements. However, what he said is enough to draw certain conclusions, and to think about who trains you, what kinds of instructors should be preferred and whether you want someone experimenting on you.

Author: Kanykei Tursunbaeva