ByKit Simpson Browne, writer at
Writer-at-large. Bad jokes aplenty. Can be gently prodded on Twitter at @kitsb1
Kit Simpson Browne

Think LARPing (Live Action Role Playing) is too geeky to even consider thinking about?

Well, think again...

Because, Longsword fighting!

Yup, that's right - the Medieval era's most popular sword-based blood sport is back, and this time, it's an absolutely terrifying martial art.

As the New York Times video above shows, there's a whole lot more to it than dressing up and playing with swords. In fact, there seems to be a whole lot more to it than fencing, and that's an Olympic sport.

Unlike Calvinball...
Unlike Calvinball...

As the New York Times article that accompanied the above video suggests, Longsword Fighting is now a serious, serious sport:

"Matches have complex rules and use a scoring system based on ancient dueling regulations. Fighters wear modern if sometimes improvised protective equipment, which looks like a hybrid of fencing gear and body armor. They use steel swords with unsharpened blades and blunt tips to prevent bouts from turning into death matches."
"Skill and technique, rather than size and strength, decide the outcomes. Fights are fast and sometimes brutal: key to the art is landing a blow while preventing an opponent's counterstroke. Nevertheless, even the best swordfighters earn large bruises in the ring, which they display with flinty pride."

Which is...pretty darned awesome.

It also got me thinking about other medieval sports that have managed to make it through to the present day. Some of which, it turns out, are just as badass as Longsword Fighting.

For instance:

Mob Football

Y'know all those problems you have with Soccer? Yeah, Mob Football doesn't have those. Dating back to at least the 12th Century AD, the sport - from which modern Soccer and American Football are descended - is still played today.

The goal? To tap a ball against a goal three times. Do that, and you win.

Which is great and all, but there're two reasons Mob Football is possibly the most awesome (and dangerous) team sport you could ever play:

Even more than Rugby...
Even more than Rugby...

1. You can have as many players on a team as you like (it used to be played by entire British villages - versus each other)


2. There aren't really any rules - and the ones it does have - as defined by The Week - are terrifying.

"The game has only a handful of rules. Players are not allowed to commit murder or manslaughter, and the ball cannot be put into a bag or driven in a motorised vehicle. Also, cemeteries, churchyards and the town memorial gardens are strictly out of bounds."

I mean, let's face it, if you have to specifically include a rule that you aren't allowed to intentionally murder someone, then your sport is a whole lot more badass than anything else we're playing nowadays.

Take that, Ice Hockey.
Take that, Ice Hockey.

Oh, and did I mention? They still play it in Britain.

On the plus side, though, Mob Football isn't specifically training you to kill. Other sports, though, very much do. Such as:

Extreme Archery

Though Katniss Everdeen was pretty handy with a bow in The Hunger Games? Take a look at how they do it in Murmansk, Russia:

And...that's what happens when you grow up in the part of Russia right next to where Vikings used to live.

Seriously, though, if someone saying archery just makes you think of weirdly dressed Olympic athletes with funny-looking bows, then trust me - you've got a whole lot of awesome Youtube videos to catch up on.

Sorry, Brady Ellison.
Sorry, Brady Ellison.

We tend to forget nowadays that Archery used to be the world's most popular way of killing large numbers of people on a battlefield - and that a whole lot of people are still really, really good at it. Which reminds me:

Nobody invade Murmansk.

It just isn't worth the risk.

Similarly, if any of these guys come at you on a horse - run:

Competitive Jousting

Ever been to a Renaissance Fair or Medieval Times-type deal?

Yeah, Jousting's nothing like that.

Sure it may have once been a gentlemanly sport of chivalry and honor - but its origins lie in the heavy cavalry of European armies, and those guys did not kid around 1500 years ago.

Which is why it's not too much of a surprise that when the sport was brought back by Shane Adams in the 1990s as a full contact competitive sport, it looked like this:

Just to be clear, when you're jousting, you're wearing up to 100 pounds of armor, carrying 11 foot long lances, and galloping towards the other jouster at full pace. On a massive horse.

So, just like A Knight's Tale told us, if you get your ass handed to you in a jousting match, "You have been weighed, you have been measured, and you have been found wanting".

Because that sport is terrifying.

Now we just have to persuade someone to make some Sports Movies out of all of them...


What do you guys think? Which modern medieval sport would you most like to have a go at?

via io9


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