Medieval Combat Leagues: When MMA Meets LARP, Then Meets The XFL

Ever wonder what would happen if mixed martial arts had demon love child with King Arthur’s Knights of the Round Table and then was adopted by the XFL?

Well you would be left with Medieval Combat of course!

Image Courtesy of Grantland

There are actually multiple organizations for this growing sport. Some, such as M-1 Medieval based out of Russia, introduced their knight fighting last year and features strictly one-on-one combat.  Others, such as the International Medieval Combat Federation (IMCF) feature singles and teams from various nations competing in tournaments.  Think of your NCAA brackets during the Crusades.

Knights have invaded Japan as well

Just about all leagues require that you craft your armor and weapons out of materials only available from that era (no plastics).  Guidelines are in place regard to weapons thickness, sharpness, radius of points and striking surfaces. Regardless of the league, fighter safety is taken seriously (all things considered).  In team events, once a fighter is knocked down, they are considered out of competition.

Some of the M-1 fighters got their start in Historic Medieval Battles or HMB.  As opposed to the academic or recreational attendees dressed in period armor you see at  North American renaissance festivals, HMB are full contact, violent refereed matches. Medieval Crusader Chivalry Knight s Long Sword w Scab Martial Arts Swords Sports Outdoors
Swords & Armor Available on

In an interview with the Telegraph,  M-1 fighter Artemiy Gershvald describes how he merged MMA and HMB into M-1 Global:

“I was involved in HMB for around 16 years,” says Gershvald, “and I also used to practise hand-to-hand fighting. One of my favourite sports to watch was MMA, so I watched M-1 a lot. So, to try to bring my favourite sport – HMB – to a wider audience, I wrote a letter to Vadim Finkelchtein, the founder and director of M-1 Global, telling him about Historical Medieval Battles and suggested that he organise some medieval fights within the framework of the M-1 project. It was two weeks after that we staged the first series of fights.”

Makhloev vs Stadnichenko M1 Medieval YouTube
Makhloev vs Stadnichenko M1 Medieval

Could you imagine being at a UFC event, the fighters come to the center of the ring to get final instructions from referee Big John McCarthy and he says “Tell you guys what, if either of you happened to bring a broadsword with you, I will allow it this one time.”

In some federations such as the IMCF, combat is offered singles one-on-one or team “Melee’s”. Singles competition events include Long Sword, Sword & Shield and Polearm. Polearm features weapons attached to the ends of poles and test the combatant’s armor.

Melee’s are where the action really kicks up! Bouts include 3 vs 3 women’s Melee, 5 vs 5 men’s Melee, 10 vs 10 men’s Melee, 16 vs. 16 men’s Melee and a massive 30 vs 30 Battle Royal type event!

Medieval Combat World Championship 2015 – Poland vs. USA

Will we ever see medieval combat at a UFC event? Doubtful but at one time UFC frontman Dana White also said you would never see women’s matches under their banner either.

Will we ever see team combat events Saturday afternoons on NBC Sports? Who knows.  We did see a guy named “He Hate Me” scoring touchdowns in end zones that had hot tubs in them…

Medieval Combat A Fifteenth Century Manual of Swordfighting and Close Quarter Combat Hans Talhoffer 9781848327702 Books
Available on






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