Report from Battle of the Nations
I will be posting a more detailed report soon, but here are some first impressions:
I just fought four days in a row at the Battle of the Nations, the "world championships of medieval armored combat" with TeamUSA, the first American team to compete in such an event. http://www.usaknights.org
First off, there was great camaraderie amongst the fighters of all nations, and much love for the US.
We had a very brief training/preparation time, what with a ruleset that was unfamiliar to most of us and armor requirements that exceeded what most of us were used to both in terms of protection and aesthetics. Our first matches were big learning experiences, but we learned very quickly and the announcer used a Polish word that means to learn like lightning to describe it.
We were very much like rugby players in a football game or boxers in MMA, but as I said, we learned quickly, and we were tough SOB boxers in MMA. It was actually kind of a relief to not be restricted by the SCA ruleset.
The armor protected us from injury, but there were some mean dents and damage to our helmets and armor.
The Russians are tough. They are professionals who train for this as a job and don't like to lose. There may have been some questionable officiating here or there but I can't personally speak for any of it.
One thing I will have to practice is dealing with kicking in this game. Punching, takedowns, and knockdowns are all stuff that I have some vague familiarity with, but kicking is a new animal to me.
It's pretty much the same story with attacks to the lower leg and tripping/leg sweeps.
The Russians and other nations have figured out how to put together armor that is light and still passes BotN regulations. I had to add about 30 lbs to my SCA armor weight to pass all the rules and protect myself. Some of our champions were hindered by the weight of their armor and it showed in our 1-on-1's.
There are tactics that the Russians and other teams have figured out for the battles of each size that we are starting to catch on to.
We won matches in every category except the "pro fights." We had a team advance in the 5-on-5's, we beat the Poles in one match in the 21-on-21's, and all three of our 1-on-1 champions advanced to the round of 16, two to the round of 8 (one dropped out due to injury), and one to the round of 4 (losing by only one point). When playing for points (one hit is one point, one knockdown is 3 pts, dropping your weapon costs you 10 pts) SCA skills came in very handy.
Despite the dents in my armor, no blow that hit me felt harder than some blows I have felt in the SCA.
I'd had a fear of massive traumatic injuries to my knees or spine, but I was really pretty invulnerable in that armor. I kind of want to say that I had a fear of going into combat and fighting these people who were far more experienced, and many of them bigger and heavier and stronger and meaner than, but really I didn't. At no point did I get putrefies in my stomach or an attack of nerves or did my mind wander out of the game. I was pretty much focused on the moment at hand in every battle, and did not hesitate to attack with the first action or reaction that my body came up with. As time goes by, I hope that my body will come up with more effective actions and reactions.
I did not knock anyone down (I think), but I stood up against some big guys, against multiple opponents, and was the last man standing on my team three times.
The rule stating that you must hold a weapon in your hand when fighting is pretty much the only thing that keeps some people from dropping their weapons to get a better grip on their opponents.
Analysis of the videos will reveal more observations. I will be posting my videos on my YouTube channel http://www.youtube.com/captainzorkh
TeamUSA won the prize for "Best Team Debut" and one of our members wind "Best Protective Armor" with his blackened hardened steel suit made by Jeff Wasson http://www.wassonartistry.com
I think there is a future for this sport in the US. The halftime demo at the roller derby in Arizona was a big hit and every member of the team wants to do this more.
We formed a bond of brotherhood through this adventure. We are the first Americans ever to form a team and compete in this sport at this level, and we impressed a lot of people. The bonds forged here will last a lifetime. I, personally, have never felt a bond this close before.
Preparations for next year begin next week. Who's in?