She fights for……herself and the other women

Love for heavy music and adventure brought this girl to HMB. It was not easy for her. She had to rethink a lot, and HMB changed her.

Love for heavy music and adventure brought this girl to HMB. It was not easy for her. She had to rethink a lot, and HMB changed her. Now she is one of the most famous female fighters in the world. She is the captain of the Swords of Cygnus team and the field captain of the women’s HMB team at the Battle of the Nations.

Today we are talking to Jo Booth, and HMBIA News are sure that the conversation will be interesting, truthful and even touching.

How did you know about hmb sport?
– I discovered HMB at a metal music festival back in 2016, I was there with my best friends and met some fighters who were putting on some fun fights.

Why did you decide to join it?
– It is hard to remember why I joined, looking back. Buhurt was the complete opposite of who I was. It was tough, dirty, painful, exhausting and nerve-racking. But for some reason I couldn’t stop, part of me enjoyed stepping into another life away far removed from where I was. Now things are different, fighting is my life, I push myself to exhaustion, embrace the pain and I am fearless.

Do you remember your first tournament?
– Yes, I remember my first tournament like it was yesterday! Béhourde de Saint Germaine, I fought in Sword and Shield, Longsword, Profight and 3 vs 3 buhurt categories against the Swiss and the French. I made friends there whom I still cherish dearly in the sport. We won Silver in the buhurt and I also won my profight which was a huge surprise. I wore armor borrowed from a friend called James and we stayed in a beautiful sîte overlooking the mountains of Auvergne.

It took us 20 hours to drive there in a truck that smelt like horses. On Sunday, a French fighter took me to the local newspaper shop because I’d been featured in their paper from the day before. It was such a small gesture but I was humbled by it. Then I bought 5 copies to take back to England.

What categories do you prefer and why?
– Buhurt is my favorite category, whenever I dream of winning the world championships it is alongside my teammates. I love it because it is the most interesting category because it has the most variables. Buhurt requires skill, strength, endurance, power which you can train for. But it also requires determination and ferocity which you have to find within yourself.

What are you doing to develop hmb sport in your country?
– I was elected as Vice President to the HMB GB organization by all the voting members for two terms in succession. I was selected by the national captain to be the women’s Field Captain for BOTN for my experience in the sport and familiarity with women’s HMB.

I use the position of captain of Swords of Cygnus to facilitate training around the U.K in collaboration with HMB gyms, I orchestrate women’s only, or women’s focused training and events to ensure they have opportunities to fight competitively locally, nationally and internationally. Recruiting women is always an ambition of mine, buhurt has changed what it means to me, to be a woman, and I want that for others. Further to this I organized the Cygnus Cup last year, our club’s first Buhurt League Challenger.

Photo by Flori-Anne Virgile

Is it possible to organize events in the UK now?
– Since the end of lockdown last summer we have had more events than ever in the UK. The fighters of the UK really bust down the doors once they were opened and bounced back with tournaments, beginners events, masterclasses and festivals. It has genuinely been one of my busiest seasons.

 How do you attract new people to sport?
– I focus only on women’s recruitment because it is such a difficult process. It requires a lot of consideration. I have spent years developing transparency of the sport through our blogs and social media. Women like to arm themselves with knowledge before trying something out, especially when it is something as alternative as a combat sport. We have a welcoming and encouraging ethic within our club. Our fighters decide to what level they wish to train and how much they can commit. Women who want to train in soft armor for fitness are just as valuable to us as a woman who commits to weekly armored training and aspires to be on the national team. Attracting new people to the sport is important but keeping them around is vital.

How many HMB women in your country? Is it planned to form a women’s team for BotN 2022?
– In total it is estimated that 35 women are training in HMB at this time across the country, about 20 of those with armor. We have a women’s squad for BOTN and are finalizing the top 8 for the 5v5 buhurt over the next 2 months. Unfortunately the pandemic is proving difficult for planning international travel but I believe that we will have the best women’s team the UK has ever seen.

Are you planning to take part in the BotN 2022 as a fighter?
– Certainly I will be fighting in the 5v5 buhurt (hopefully, if the National team Captain agrees I’m good enough) and I will try to qualify for the Outrance Combat. Also I will take part in the women’s mass battles which is a very important step towards equal opportunities and recognition for women in the sport.

What goals do you have for yourself as captain of the Swords of Cygnus team and field captain of the women’s team?
– My dream is to lead my team, Swords of Cygnus, to REKON and Dynamo Cup, and bring home medals from the toughest tournaments in the world. I want for my club to inspire more women’s clubs across Europe to be strong and independent. Also, for this year I wanted to focus more on being the Women’s Field Captain for Botn 2022 because we have such a strong team preparing for it.

We talked for a long time and didn’t want to let Jo go.

Perhaps, some of you today discovered a new Jo, so versatile and purposeful, but at the same time, so loving, devoted and open.

We can only wish that her plans come true, and we will see her team fight in tournaments around the world in the near future.

We wish her success in her work to bring girls into our sport, and thank you for all the work she has already done in this field. And, of course, we are looking forward to meeting her on the lists of the HMB World Championship Battle of the Nations 2022 in Romania!