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Swords, Cutting and Military History

News: Inside The Violent, Geeky World Of Hardcore International Medieval Combat

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Dateline: United Kingdom via Buzzfeed

Steel kisses steel. Actual sparks fly. An axe snaps in half as it dents a helmet. A municipal garbage bin, carelessly left at the fringes of the fight, implodes in a sorry mess of dented plastic as four armored men collapse onto it.

I’m witnessing, from the far side of a flimsy rope, something much more violent than your average historical battle reenactment. These men are engaging in full-contact medieval combat in an open training session for Battle Heritage GB, one of two UK-based national teams that are part of a growing, if fractious, global society. More GBH than LARP, it substitutes foam weaponry for real steel and scripted acting for unpredictable scuffling, and despite the mayhem, operates under tightly controlled rules and regulations.

Practiced by formidably fit men (and increasingly women) who just happen to have an interest in history, it’s a kind of adrenaline-laced conflict that would have the cast of Role Models running for the hills. Forget notions of history nerds running through battles of yesteryear and cast out images of gangly kids jabbing at each other with childish Souldrinker swords. These fighters fight for real, and the weapons of choice are full-on blades, maces, and cleavers, even if with purposefully (and as per organizationally mandated specifications) blunted edges. The general idea, quite simply, is to don the most protective armor you can, tool up with something menacing, and bludgeon the shit out of your opponents. A modern-day Knight Club that demands stamina and might just do you harm, but promises cathartic release and glory….

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