30 JUNE - 1 JULY 2018
International Lowlands Hema Gathering
Hilversum - The Netherlands


How it all started

How it all started
If someone would have told me back in 2001 that at some point I would earn a living as a swordsman I would have gone into convulsions of laughter.
And yet, soon after I somehow found myself performing the challenging task of writing a business plan to get some funding from the Dutch government. This was no longer a laughing matter!
Or at least not a laughing matter as far as I was concerned.

For the government representatives in their business suits at the other side of the negotiation table, my business plan seemed particularly humorous...
I remember the big man in the middle was particularly amused: Well now…really?? Come on… let’s not waste our time here…swordfighting??? You want to become a professional swordfighter??
“Well Mr Lopes Cardozo, the collective opinion of this panel is that this is a nonsensical plan. We strongly advise you to abort these plans and start a legitimate business, one that makes some kind of business sense”

But after staring at these men silently for a while I declared that I would NOT change my business plans and I WOULD become a swordfighter!
I then added “Ok if you people don’t support me, then you don’t. I don’t really give a rat’s ass. I will get my funding somehow. It’s very simple – I've always been a good entrepreneur and I have paid my share of taxes to the state. So either you support me and make a cool contribution to our lost European heritage, becoming part of something new and unique, OR you guys just shove it and you can give your money to some other douche-bag with a crappy plan.”

I stood up and walked off . But as I reached to open the door, I heard them say “please sit down Mr Cardozo, not so hasty!”
And as I sat down that same big guy looked at me and said: “Ok it’s clear you have passion and an attitude and you know what? I like it! Congratulation sir; we will grant you the money…!”
And that is how I started the AMEK.:)

Point was I didn’t really need the money, but I did need to be there, confronting these guys and have this talk…
Because if I could have these guys believe in me, I could believe in me… 

And now many years later the AMEK founded 7 clubs in total. And is flourishing throughout the Netherlands with many chapters. We’re teaching in more then 20 countries, and we tought at even more HEMA events.
And although we where never tournament oriented we didn’t want to stay behind and focussed… and now we are at the top of tournament scene next to inspiring clubs like GHFS Sweden and Blood and Iron Canada.
Additionally we do cool stuff for movies and MoCap for computer games and we have endless adventures and fun together and we get to see beautiful places and meet great people.

And this would never be possible without the amazing people training and studying at the AMEK, because I feel I have the best team in the world to back me up. They are my family and we all look after each other.

And so we all grew and learned together. But I had another dream… a plan so to say.
If things would go well for the AMEK I would start putting energy and effort in trying to unite the Dutch and Belgian clubs. So I initiated the plan to start a coalition.

Thinking it would be a hard road to pave, it actually went quite smooth and thanks to the collective effort of all Lowland schools we settled most of our differences and we did it!
And so in 2010 the AMEK co-founded with seven other clubs our coalition, and the Historical European Fighting & Fencing Arts Coalition or HEFFAC was born.
Now the HEFFAC exists out of 10 leading HEMA clubs in the Lowlands and we are still growing!
After the IFHEMA plans, the Belgian founded their own HEMA Federation and now also the Dutch are in the last fase of founding theirs.

The only thing that the AMEK and the HEFFAC were missing was a cool international event in the Netherlands!
A unique event, which would bring all our international friends to the doorstep of this little country called Holland.
And at the samen tiime a great opportunity for Dutch HEMA people to attend an international event close to home, where they could train, spar and learn from their favourite HEMA hero’s!

But in between all these great developments and the plan for a event, disaster struck our club...
Rory one of my most promising students and friend commited suicide...

‘De spits van ons vechtteam’ we called him in Dutch, translated ‘the tip/point of our Fightteam’ that’s what he was, a humble man with great talents.
When it came to biomechanical stuff and doing things with his body he was simply unmatched. It didn’t matter if was climbing a rope or jumping over a high object, he could do things that we could not, or he would do it way faster…
He had great potential and I know that I will not see this kind of talent again in my life time.
He was special, and for those that didn’t know him. He came out of no where, a former track and field athlete, who stumbled by accident into my gym.

He started training and was learning fast and one year later he was already a substitute teacher at the AMEK. Two years later he was good, and started doing tournaments and 3 years later he was the only guy in Europe after Axel to win consecutively all mayor international tournaments in a row, except for Swordfish, where he ended second but still in my opinion he was the ultimate champion.

But he was just starting out and did not nearly reach his maximum potential.
He was good, but he could have been greater than great. And I’m sure he would have reached this sooner or later.
Below you find Rory’s wins:
1st place HEFFAC Longsword Tournament Heemstede Netherlands 2011
1st place SWASH Longsword Tournament Leeds England 2012
1st place HEMAC Longsword Tournament Dijon France 2012
1st place WWOC Longsword Tournament Hannover Germany 2012
1st place WWOC Düssack Tournament Hannover Germany 2012
2nd place SWORDFISH Longsword Tournament Gothenborg Sweden 2012

In 2013 we collected our courage and decided if we want to organise an event it’s going to be a event in his name.
It was a great succes with more then 140 people attending.

We had friends over from: 
Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Holland, Canada, USA, France, Germany, Switzerland, Finland, Belgium and New Zealand.
Picking the first people up and sitting on the beach drinking and enjoying the sun was amazing.
And seeing the sunset while we were still sparring on the beach with our feet in ther sea was priceless and a promise that this event would be indeed different.
The workshops were great and  the instructors brough a lot of possitive energy to the event.
From many fighters I heared that the level of fighting presented in the ILHG tournaments was one of the best they witnessed so far.
And this I considder a huge compliment to all the fighters, who fought in the memory or Rory and what he stood for.
Everyone was having fun and was focussed and everyone showed great sportsmanship.
The ceromony with Rory's family was very intense and a lot of tears were shed.
It was beautiful and no words can really express the feeling that we all shared.
In short the 1st ILHG was good…, a great energy, a lot of inspiring people with talent and passion. We decided that the ILHG would become an annual event.

We the organisation have done our utter best to combine all the things we like so much from other events and blend them into the ILHG, creating a HEMA event with a unique character.
And we hope we can make the next one even better!

We hope to see all of you again!


Mishael Lopes Cardozo
President AMEK
St Mark
zwaard en volk
Spes - Historical Fencing Gear
Peter Regenyei
PBT fencing
The Renaissance Sword Club
Zwaard & Steen
Götenborgs Historiska Fäktskola
Sumus Soldani