The clashing of metal will reverberate through an Okotoks arena as men and women donning armor and wielding weapons battle it out this weekend.
The Heavy Armored Combat Society of Alberta is hosting its Medieval Combat Winter Cup at the Okotoks Agricultural Society's Agriplex Jan. 18 and 19.
The event serves as trials for Team Canada as competitors fight for a spot in the International Medieval Combat Federation’s World Championships in Spain in May.
Society president Richard Manns said this weekend’s event is the only competition that qualifies potential fighters for Team Canada.
“If you want to be part of Team Canada you must attend this event,” he said, adding 51 competitors from across western Canada have signed up. None are from the Foothills, he said.
The weekend’s competition will feature both team and individual full-contact medieval combat boasting real weapons and armour, said Manns, who will be among the competitors.
Those competing in the team events will fight in either three-on-three, five-on-five or 10-on-10 combats, he said.
“The objective is to get your opposing team on the ground by almost any means necessary,” he said. “There are events that have 150-versus-150, but we aren’t that big yet.”
Individual competitors take on duels in four categories: long sword, pole arm, swords and shields and pro-fighting, with 100 fights scheduled, said Manns.
“There’s a whole lot of action,” he said. “The individual competitions are more technique based. The judges count how many times the blade strikes the opponent.”
Manns said a marshal inside the lift (arena) will watch the battle closely as there are forbidden strike zones and rules that must be followed.
While the battles may seem brutal, with competitors striking each other with weapons ranging from axes to maces, Manns said it’s a safe sport.
“You can hit somebody as hard as you want and not have to worry about injuring them,” he said. “It might look like there’s a lot of injuries but there’s really not. Everybody is wearing armour from head to toe and the armour does an excellent job of protecting you. We take as much safety precautions as we can to make sure everybody goes to work the next day and everybody is friends when they’re done.”
Manns joined the sport in 2016 after watching a battle during Medieval Day in Cochrane.
“It’s not as big in Canada as it should be,” he said. “It just hasn’t really been promoted very much. It’s huge in Europe – they do tournaments every week.”
While the Winter Cup was previously held in Brooks, Manns said the club had to find another venue for this year and the Okotoks arena came up as a suggestion by members who ride horses at the agriplex.
“We were looking for something in the Calgary area and Okotoks was a nice cost effective arena for us,” he said.
There is no cost to attend the Medieval Combat Winter Cup, yet Manns encourages attendees to donate cash to help cover the cost to host the society’s Summer Siege Calgary Medieval Faire and Artisan Market June 19 to 21.