Saturday, April 11, 2015

Profile of Excellence Irina (Ira) Rogozovsky of Team Israel.

Modern Medievalist, (Facebook) allows me the opportunity to meet a wonderfully diverse collection of interesting people from all over the planet, (in a virtual setting.) I am a big supporter and proponent of women in athletics. As the world of international tournament fighting goes, the women who are involved in it right now, are all uniformly trail breakers, and they are making it possible for future women to compete.

A chance meeting online where I wanted to talk to a female athlete, has turned into a very nice interview. I bring you today, Irina (Ira as she likes to be called) Rogozovsky of Team Israel. She took the time from her Geography/Archaeology studies to visit with me earlier this week, and here is our conversation. Thank you.

Ira Rogozovsky carrying the national flag for Team Israel at the BOTN World Championships in Croatia 2014
(c) Battle of The Nations-Women's League.

DS: Ira what part of the world are you from? Meaning were you born in Israel or from someplace else?

IR: I have lived in Israel for the past Twenty Years but, I was born in Latvia.

DS: Military service in Israel is compulsory. Have you served or are serving?

IR: Yes I was active duty for several years and now I am a reservist. I will be in the reserves until I am age 45. At first I was in the Infantry, and now I am in a rescue unit that helps people who have had say buildings collapse on them, from an earthquake or other natural disasters.

DS: Did your military training help you with learning to fight in the Battle Of The Nations, (BOTN) world of tournament fighting?

IR: Yes and no. Krav Maga teaches you how to do arm and hip throws and kick someone in the testicles or gouge their eyes out. Only some of which we are allowed to do. This is for fun. Not life and death.
Practicing Leg Strikes.
(c) Michael Khananashvili

DS: What made you want to be a medieval tournament fighter?

IR: Actually it was an accident. I was hitchhiking in Poland. A guy from Team Poland, gave me a ride, and during the trip told me all about this style of medieval fighting. He made the connections for me with Team Israel and I came to one fighter practice, and I have been doing it every since. I love to compete and I love to fight, fight, and fight! I try to make every tournament and meeting I can.

DS: What do you like the most about sword fighting?

IR: I do mostly Bohurt, I like the teamwork it requires, the feeling you are not alone on the battlefield, the trust that is required among team members, the strategy and tactics you have to use... all of this makes Bohurt a wonderful sport in my eyes.

Ira and fiance Michael Epelman fighting together at the Kievan Rus Park
in September of 2014
(c) KMabirim

DS: What has been the biggest obstacle for you to overcome thus far?

IR: I think the biggest obstacle for me has been the fact I am a woman. I am the only women in Israel that fight in Bohurts (we have one more women, but she do only triatlon). So at first it was hard to train with the team, because they didn't take me seriously, and their attitude was like "we don't hit women" I found myself unable to train properly. But after some time had passed and I wasn't going away they (the men) got use to me and I became better, and as I improved the men started to see me as part of the team, and hit me like everybody else.

When we were in Ukraine in the "Call of Heros" tournament, one of the teams there refuse to fight with team Israel because I was in the team. But in the next tournament we fought in the Ukraine they invited me to fight along with team Israel, so I guess they accepted me as well. It has been a process to earn respect.

DS: Hmmm. It is funny how culture differ around the world. In America, I figured if a woman stepped onto the field of battle she wanted to be taken seriously. I would give her all the respect she wanted and all the hits I could send her way. One of the many persons who helped me learn how to fight was a woman. She beat the crap out of me on a regular basis... In ancient times, in the Celtic Culture, some of the greatest warrior teachers were women. The most famous Irish warrior in the world was named Cuchulain and he was taught how to fight by a woman named Scatha from Scotland.

IR: In the Slavic cultures it is a big problem to hit women. They don't understand that women can do sport as well or want to do the same sports as men.

DS: How popular has Battle of the Nations become in Israel?

IR: There are not a lot of fighters here, I believe that we have around 50 active and inactive fighters, and we try to invite new people all the time. We are also self funded. I am a college student with a part time job, as is my fiancee who is the co-captain of the team.

DS: You recently had a tournament. Excuse me, an international tournament how did you do and how did team Israel do?
Ira doing her Crossfit training in preparation for her fight with Darya Ignatenko
of Belarus.
(c) Crossfit of Israel.

IR: It was a pro-fight tournament. I was fighting Darya Ignatenko from Belarus and I won this fight.

DS: I remember watching this fight. She was a good opponent but, she looked like she lost her stamina in the second round.

IR: Exactly.

DS: How did you train for this fight?

IR: I did Crossfit Training especially in Cardio and I went to fighter training two to three times a week for almost six weeks straight. I eased up on my training the week before the fight, in order to ensure I didn't hurt myself by over training.
Conditioning is one of the biggest portions of fighting. If you can't lift your shield or swing your sword/chopper/halberd then you are done.
Ira Rogozovsky (R) preparing to launch a shield strike against Darya Ignatenko (L)
at the World Medieval Fighting Championship.
(c) Sergey Demyanchuk

DS: When you are fighting melee' with the team how do you communicate? What language do you use?

IR: Actually we have three languages we use. We use hand and arm signals adapted from our military training. Then most of us speak Russian, and lastly we all either speak or understand Hebrew.

DS: Have you tried to recruit your fellow female reservists to the team?

IR:I have. So far there hasn't been too many interested. We are a small country and our team is small. We are growing but slowly.

Leg Strike Training Pays Off. Ira (r) against Darya Ignatenko (L)
at the World Medieval Fighting Championship
(c) Daniel Skakun

DS: What has been the most surprising thing you have discovered since you started fighting?

IR: Halberd blow to the head.

DS: Well I suspect that must have been very surprising! But I am not sure it is a good thing.

IR: It was very surprising. Makes you reevaluate your training methods.

DS: Is there anything you would like to say to the women of the world?

IR: Yes! You have to have the will to fight. With it, you can overcome the training. You can get used to the armour bites and the bruises. It is actually easy if you want it. But if you don't have the desire or the will to push through, then you have no business in the BOTN or Bohurt fighting.

Ira Rogozovsky and her World Medieval Fighting Championship Cup.

Thank you Irina (Ira) Rogovsky for taking the time to talk to Modern Medievalist. We appreciate your time and the insights you have shared with us. All of our very best!

DS Baker.

Here are video links to Team Israel and one of Ira's fights with Skye Burnie of Australia.

Team Israel:

Irina Rogozovsky (Israel) vs. Darya Ignatenko (Belarus)

Irina Rogozovsky (Israel) vs. Sky Burnie (Australia) World Championship Demonstration Fight in Croatia 2014:

Irina Rogozovsky Winner of the Israel Challenge Pro Fight.
(c) BOTN-Women's League.

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