You can see full contact steel fighting at outdoor festivals.

You will be amazed to see men in steel suits getting wrecked and bones broken.

They use weapons like swords and defend with shields. They wear plate armor covering entire body but still get hurt.

Here are some photos:

The weapons are heavy and hurt when you get hit.

The day I witnessed Medieval Armored Combat for the first time was like stepping through a portal into a bygone era. As a history buff with a particular interest in the Middle Ages, I had always been enthralled by tales of knights and their chivalric deeds.
So when I discovered that a local historical society was hosting a live armored combat event, I knew I couldn’t miss it.

I arrived at the venue, an open field that had been transformed into a makeshift arena reminiscent of a medieval tournament ground. Spectators gathered around, their excitement palpable in the air, as they awaited the commencement of the battles.
The field was marked by a roped-off area that formed a square combat zone, roughly 50 by 50 feet, ensuring that the audience had a clear view while maintaining a safe distance from the action.

The combatants were a sight to behold, each clad in historically accurate armor that gleamed under the sun. I learned from a fellow spectator that the armor weighed anywhere from 60 to 85 pounds, a testament to the strength and endurance required to compete in such a demanding sport.
The helmets were particularly impressive, with intricate designs that ranged from the simple nasal helms to the more elaborate visored bascinets.

As the first match began, the clang of metal on metal rang out, sending echoes across the field. The fighters were not just swinging their weapons wildly; there was technique and skill in every move.
They wielded an array of weapons—longswords that measured up to 48 inches in length, maces with flanged heads designed to dent armor, and axes with crescent-shaped blades that looked capable of delivering devastating blows.

I watched, mesmerized, as the combatants engaged in a dance of power and precision. They grappled and struck, each blow aimed with intention.
It was a full-contact sport, and the fighters were not holding back, yet there was an underlying code of honor and respect evident in their conduct. When a fighter fell to the ground, the marshals, dressed in black and white to stand out, quickly intervened to pause the fight, ensuring the safety of the combatants.

Between bouts, I had the opportunity to speak with one of the fighters, a woman with an impressive physique who had just removed her helmet, revealing a smile of pure exhilaration.
She explained the intricacies of the sport, from the scoring system to the training required to compete at such a level.

 

The sword is real

Crowds gather to watch

For the competition there are 3 rounds, 1 min each, with 1 min rest. You get points for strikes, falls, and disarms.

Weapons weigh 2 to 3 kg. Shield weigh less than 5 kg. Pole axe, great swords, long axe, sword and shield are used.

Infographic

They fight one on one.

 

Real fighting with steel axes, maces, and swords.

 

Full contact steel fighting

  1. Armor: Participants are required to wear historically accurate, full-body steel armor that offers protection against the force of the blunt weapons used in the sport. The armor is often custom-made and can be quite heavy, weighing between 60-100 pounds (27-45 kilograms).
  2. Weapons: Blunt steel weapons are used to replicate the experience of medieval combat without causing serious injuries. Popular weapon choices include swords, maces, axes, and polearms. The weapons are designed to minimize the risk of injury while still allowing for realistic combat.
  3. Techniques: Full contact steel fighting incorporates historical martial arts techniques, including grappling, striking, and weapon handling. Participants are often required to study and train in historical fighting styles to compete effectively.
  4. Competition formats: There are various formats for full contact steel fighting competitions, ranging from one-on-one duels to larger team battles known as “bohurts” or “melees.” In team battles, fighters work together to defeat their opponents, often using tactics and strategies reminiscent of historical warfare.
  5. Organizations and events: Several organizations oversee full contact steel fighting competitions, such as the International Medieval Combat Federation (IMCF) and the Historical Medieval Battle International Association (HMBIA). These organizations host national and international events, including the annual Battle of the Nations tournament, which attracts fighters from around the world.

 

The shield is only defense

 

 

The crowds of people love to watch these matches.

Q: Did everyone use weapons in medieval times? A: Not everyone was running around with a sword like a character from a fantasy novel. Peasants, for example, often used tools as weapons, such as pitchforks or scythes. And let’s not forget the most powerful weapon of all – words! Medieval monarchs, lords, and clergy often used diplomacy, threats, and promises to achieve their goals without ever drawing a sword.

Q: Were there any unconventional weapons used during the Middle Ages? A: Medieval warfare wasn’t all swords and shields. Some warriors used flails, which were essentially spiked balls on a chain, while others favored the halberd, a mix between a spear and an axe. Then there were siege weapons like the battering ram and siege tower – because sometimes, you just need to knock down a wall.

 

They practice away from crowds.

 

The helmets were heavy and made of steel, with small holes for eyes.

 

  • Arming Sword: Also known as the knight’s sword, the arming sword was a single-handed, straight, double-edged weapon used primarily during the High Middle Ages (11th to 13th century). It typically had a cruciform (cross-shaped) hilt, a long grip, and a wheel or disc-shaped pommel. Arming swords were versatile and could be used for cutting and thrusting.
  • Longsword: The longsword evolved from the arming sword and became popular during the Late Middle Ages (14th to 15th century). It featured a longer blade and grip, allowing for two-handed use, which provided greater reach, leverage, and striking power. Longswords were designed for both cutting and thrusting and were often used in combination with a shield or buckler.
  • Falchion: The falchion was a single-edged sword that resembled a large knife or machete, with a blade that broadened towards the point. This design allowed for powerful chopping and cutting blows. Falchions were used primarily in the 13th and 14th centuries and were favored by infantry and archers for their ability to penetrate armor and deliver devastating strikes.
  • Greatsword: The greatsword, also known as the Zweihänder or Montante, was a massive two-handed sword with an exceptionally long blade, often measuring over five feet in length. These swords were used primarily in the 15th and 16th centuries and required considerable strength and skill to wield effectively. Greatswords were often employed against pike formations or for breaking through enemy lines.
  • Bastard Sword: The bastard sword, also known as the hand-and-a-half sword, was a versatile weapon with a longer grip than an arming sword but shorter than a longsword. This allowed for both one-handed and two-handed use, depending on the situation. Bastard swords were popular from the 14th to the 16th centuries and were valued for their adaptability in various combat scenarios.
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    Completely covered in steel but still can get hurt.

     

    Q: Were there any defensive structures or tactics used in medieval times?
    A: Medieval defense was an art form in itself. Castles were the primary defensive structures, designed to keep attackers at bay with high walls, narrow windows, and often surrounded by a moat. Tactics involved in castle defense could include pouring boiling oil on invaders or ambushing them with arrows from the safety of the battlements.

    Q: What were the knights’ favorite weapons?
    A: Knights are often depicted with swords, and it’s true that the arming sword was a favorite for its balance of weight and killing power. But let’s not forget the lance, used in jousting and cavalry charges. The lance was like the medieval equivalent of a one-time-use rocket launcher – devastating on the charge, but not so handy in close combat.

    Q: What’s the most iconic weapon from medieval times?
    A: That’s like asking someone to pick their favorite child! But if you forced us to choose, it would probably be the sword. Whether a knight’s gleaming arming sword or a Viking’s rugged longsword, these weapons have come to symbolize the Middle Ages in popular culture. Just remember – they were a lot heavier than they look in the movies!

    Q: Were medieval weapons only used in war?
    A: War was their primary function, but medieval weapons also had a role in tournaments and ceremonies. Jousting, for example, was essentially a martial sport where knights charged at each other with lances for the entertainment of the crowd. Swords could also be used in ceremonies such as knighting, where they took on a symbolic role.

    Q: How effective were medieval weapons?
    A: In the hands of a trained warrior, medieval weapons could be deadly effective. But like any tool, their effectiveness depended on how they were used. A longsword was great in a wide-open battlefield but less handy in a crowded castle corridor. Similarly, a crossbow could pierce armor at range, but it was slow to reload and vulnerable in close combat.

     

    Not much of a peep hole in helmet

    Medieval weapons list infographic

    List of weapons they used in medieval times:

    1. Sword
    2. Longsword
    3. Claymore
    4. Broadsword
    5. Falchion
    6. Scimitar
    7. Battle axe
    8. War hammer
    9. Mace
    10. Morning star
    11. Flail
    12. Lance
    13. Halberd
    14. Poleaxe
    15. Spear
    16. Javelin
    17. Crossbow
    18. Longbow
    19. Shortbow
    20. Recurve bow
    21. Arbalest
    22. Ballista
    23. Trebuchet
    24. Catapult
    25. Siege tower
    26. Battering ram
    27. Sling
    28. Atlatl
    29. Boomerang
    30. Shuriken
    31. Kunai
    32. Throwing axe
    33. Throwing knife
    34. Caltrop
    35. Spiked mace
    36. War pick
    37. Bec de corbin
    38. Ranseur
    39. Glaive
    40. Bardiche
    41. Spetum
    42. Billhook
    43. Lochaber axe
    44. Guisarme

     


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