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‘Game of Thrones’ Barber Cuts Hair With Samurai Swords

Ian Harvey
This photo is used to ilustrate the story.
This photo is used to ilustrate the story.

Going to the salon or spa is a very relaxing experience for most people. Having your hair washed and cut can be very soothing; but some people like a more adrenaline-laced experience, and one salon in Spain caters to that desire.

Alberto Olmedo has been referred to as the Game of Thrones hairdresser, as he goes about his work using blowtorches, Japanese katanas, and claws to shape his customers’ styles.

Olmedo owns and runs a hair salon in Madrid, and a visit to his website will provide links for some stunning video showing him doing his work.

You might think that someone using full-sized swords would have an approach that is gentle and slow, but nothing could be further from the truth. Olmedo attacks his work with gusto and speed, providing a riveting spectacle to people watching him.

Pablo Canto, reporting for El Pais, went to the salon to check it out. The shop is in Campamento, a working-class neighborhood in Madrid, and Canto noted that at first glance it looks a lot like any other neighborhood salon.

Then you notice the rack of swords on the wall.

Olmedo told him that while he had never heard of anyone else cutting hair using his methods, it was actually a return to an old technique from centuries ago, where people used to cut hair with small daggers. He said he just did it on a larger scale.

He began using a sword as a way to layer hair, as a sword allowed him to take up more hair than using a small knife. He says that using a large implement such as a katana allows him to work both sides of the head simultaneously with greater mathematical precision in his work. He feels that using swords gives a more even finish, and he began working out the technique when he became disillusioned with scissors.

According to Euronews, Olmedo’s style is based on Renaissance techniques. Besides using swords, Olmedo also employs blowtorches, deadly-looking metal wolf claws, and sometimes uses six pairs of scissors at a time. “I’m practically using primitive tools: fire, swords, it’s a bit medieval” he stated.

Photo of a samurai with katana, c. 1860
Photo of a samurai with katana, c. 1860

Olmedo grew up in France, where he was born to parents who were Spanish emigres, but he eventually returned to his home country and opened a salon. He’s not the only member of the salon staff to employ swords as part of their repertoire, either. Most of his seven employees, his wife included, have all learned the technique. Some of the staff at the salon have even purchased their own swords.

As far as the blowtorches go, Olmedo says that using fire as a method for cutting hair is another ancient technique. He noted that people used to use matches, but there isn’t really a good way to direct the flames, so he conceived the notion that using a blowtorch would solve that issue. The technique seems to involve lifting the hair to be cut away from the scalp with a comb and then using the torch to burn it away.

Japanese katana showing a horimono (blade carving), Metropolitan Museum of Art. Photo by El Pablo CC By 2.0
Japanese katana showing a horimono (blade carving), Metropolitan Museum of Art. Photo by El Pablo CC By 2.0

On his excursion to Olmedo’s salon, Canto had the torch used on himself. Olmedo put a safety shield on him to protect his face and set to work. The reporter found it disconcerting to look in the mirror and see the crown of his head on fire and it made his hands sweat. He said the heat involved was pleasant, but the smell of burning hair was less so. When the fire work was complete, Olmedo finished the job using two straight razors to clean up the neck area.

When his cut was finished, Canto was impressed. Olmedo mentioned that he had been on Spain’s Got Talent to show off his skills, but that he hadn’t made it past the first round of the competition.

Read another story from us: Yasuke: Japan’s First Foreign Samurai

He may not have gained a following on the television show, but his videos on YouTube and Ruptly have had millions of views from people who are fascinated by his flourishing blades.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for The Vintage News