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Past Meets Future In Hardcore Armored Combat

Past Meets Future In Hardcore Armored Combat

You all know how I love LARP. I’m all for swords and armor and dramatic death scenes, but there are some people who are taking it to an extreme. I’m talking about the Armored Combat League. Actually, it’s not LARP at all. There is no “role playing” involved. If anything, it’s almost the opposite.

Have you ever dreamed of being a knight, donning full plate armor and attacking your enemies with swords and shields? Well you can, if you’re willing to risk losing teeth and shattering your kneecaps. The Armored Combat League is about as real as your dream can get. With multiple chapters across North America, members can engage in combat sports that resemble the battles of Medieval knights, weapons, shields, armor and all. To score, one must legally take an opponent from the other team to the ground. The ACL’s goal is “to enable North American athletes to achieve sustained competitive excellence in domestic and international Armored Medieval Combat competition and to promote and grow the sport of Armored Medieval Combat in North America.” The league’s rules require a certain amount of protective armor as well as weapons that match the time period of the player’s armor. And no sharp edges either. All bladed weapons are required to be of a certain thickness and roundness for safety. Everyone wants to have a good fight, but no one wants to literally get stabbed.

MEL Films put together the short documentary “Harlem Knight Fight” that follows New York City-based fighter Damion DiGrazia to find out why he enjoys the sport despite how intense and brutal it can be:

That’s. Um. Wow. That’s hardcore. I definitely do not have what it takes to do that. I’ll stick with ballet and stage combat, thank you very much.

The ACL is full speed, full contact, and real steel. This is not a game, but a sport. Those involved are serious athletes, but with any contact sport, there is danger involved. I wasn’t kidding about the potential for loosing teeth and shattering your kneecaps. The ACL is the American branch of the International Medieval Combat Federation. Like any professional sport, there are chapters within five regions in either an East or a West conference. And if you’re really good at the sport, the USA Knights is the elite national team that faces international competition.

But while these hardcore fighters are duking it out old school, there are some others, like Unified Weapons Master, who are using state-of-the-art technology to bring full-contact martial arts into the future.

UMW’s armor is not designed for military combat, but rather sports. Martial artists can use the armor to compete with weapons safely, which is great on it’s own. But what really makes this armor special is the high-tech sensors that can detect the type and amount of physical damage the human body would sustain from real blows. Martial arts sparring is scored by hits to various parts of the body–depending on the sport and rules–and the sensors will make scoring far more accurate than a referee. Plus, as you see in the video above, the tech can utilize health bars like in a real fighting video game!

You get all of the damage and action without any of the blood, pain, or months of recovery. I would definitely watch a live broadcasted match of two fighters battling this way. Heck, I’d even consider trying it myself. And it doesn’t hurt that you get to dress like a Spartan from Halo either.

Would you ever try either of these full-contact sports? Tell us what you think in the comments!

Harlem Knight Fight from MEL Films on Vimeo

Image credits: The Knights Hall Photography, Armored Combat League

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