History the Medieval Martial Arts
When one thinks about Middle Ages, the first thing comes to mind is the Knights' Tournaments. These military exercises, carried out, not in the spirit of hostility, but solely for practice and the display of prowess, were constantly organized in Europe as major entertainment for nobility during X-XVI century.
Tournaments usually centered on the Mass Battles or Buhgurts, a general fight where the fighters were divided into two sides and came together in a charge. Jousting and a single combat of two knights, were components of the tournament, but never its main feature. The standard form of a Western European tournament can be traced to the 1160's and 1170's. In XVI century with the widespread use of the gunpowder weapons, traditional European tournaments slowly died-out.
Slav (or Russian) Medieval Martial Art evolution has started with tribal combat. Predating the advent of recorded history combative sports and grappling contests were constantly being held,
There were two major periods in Slav history which greatly influenced the Slav Medieval Martial Arts. During the so-called Norman period, which lasted from IX to XIII century, due to the constant threat from the Western and Northern peoples Slavs adopted metal armor, created flexible martial tactics, and started to unite into “Kniajestva” (Kingdoms) in order to successfully fight back. The Mongol and Tatar occupation of Russ, which started in XIII century and lasted for four hundred years, had tremendous impact on the evolution of Slavic martial traditions, influenced the style of weaponry and armor.
Medieval Martial Arts Reenactment
In the late 19th century, all across Europe, there was an explosion of interest in historical medieval battles reenactment. In Germany, France, England, Italy, Spain due to independent interest and research books started to appear on the history of swordsmanship. People who took an interest in the practical side of interpretation joined into medievalist groups (living-history and re-enactment groups), clubs and societies, researching and reenacting medieval fighting methods and giving public demonstrations of reconstructed techniques. It gave a spark the modern revival of Historical European Martial Arts. The Higgins Armory Museum is a major center of research and teaching in Historical European Martial Arts.
Modern revival of Historical Slav Martial Arts began in 1980's with research and re-enactment. The main focus of combat research and practice in Eastern Europe today are professional full-contact Historical Medieval Battles. “Full-contact” fighting is considered by many to be requisite in learning realistic armed combat. Full-contact sparring is different from light and touch-contact sparring in several ways, including increasing use of protective gear and a smaller variety of permitted attacks and contact zones on the body. In full-contact sparring, the aim of a competitive match is either to force the opponent to submit or get the maximum number of scoring points. In such countries as Russia or Ukraine Medieval Martial Arts one-vs-one and five-vs-five tournaments have been added to the list of professional sports.
Every year thousands of medieval fighters, re-enacting groups, performers and merchants from all over the world are coming together at numerous festivals of medieval history and historical medieval battles held in Eastern Europe. The biggest and most popular are:
- Russia: Vyborg Castle, Kulikovo Field 1380
- Ukraine: Steel League, Battle of the Nations, Genuez Helmet
- Belarus: White Castle, Lida Castle
- Poland: Grunwald Battle 1410, Krakov Medieval Festival
- Lithuania: Trakai Medieval Festival
- Latvia: Wendene 1378, Baltijas saule
Only the best fighters can qualify to participate in big international tournaments. Sometimes there are so many qualified applicants that one-vs-one contests can take few days until the winner is announced. Mass battles or "Buhgurts" have participation of hundreds of fighters and are truly spectacular to watch.
Historical Medieval Battles at “Sword and Fire”
“Sword and Fire” event focuses on the international level of full-contact historical medieval battles. It features two HMB categories: 1-vs-1 and 5-vs-5 full contact battles. Fighters representing any Nation of IX-XV century are welcomed to participate. All historical medieval battles are regulated by National Medieval League rules and regulations and are very strict in terms of safety. For rules and regulations, please refer to information on our web-site: http://www.scallagrims.com/publications/rules-and-regulations.
Additional military arts activities held during Sword and Fire include "Buhgurt", Archery Tournament, Ax-throwing and Spear-throwing competitions.
Clothing and fashion, like everything else during the Middle Ages, was dictated by the pyramid of power (feudal system), and was dominated and highly influenced by Kings and Queens of the era. From the 11th through the 14th centuries, medieval clothing varied according to the social standing of the people - clothing provided information about the status of the person wearing them.
Amongst European nations, during the Medieval times, there was always one common standard of fashion and clothing, which varied from time to time according to the particular custom of each country, and according to the peculiarities of each race. In Eastern Europe - Great Lithuanian Kingdom, Polish Kingdom, Kievan & Novgorod Rus - the fasion differed in a higher degree from nation to nation.
“Sword and Fire” event has a mandatory requirement for guests to attend wearing a Medieval outfit. It can represent any Nation of IX-XV century (pre-renaissance).
As a part of Social Life and Entertainment, we may be featuring the contest of an Authentic Medieval Costume. Those, interested in history of costume would have an amazing opportunity to present their knowledge and skills.
The Authentic Medieval Feast
The Feast starts with the sunset and goes on until dawn!
Scallagrims are welcoming guests with traditional Slav cuisine. Arranged Russian-style, pots with food are already on the table, everybody helps themselves to their plates. Plates, pans, pots, spoons - everything is authentic. Candles placed on tables will create a unique atmosphere. Fire-torches will light the area around the feast-ground. The entertainment part is filled-in with ethnic songs, traditional around-the-fire dances and games. During the feast, an award ceremony will take place for the winners of the tournaments that took place earlier in the day.
Created by the Scallagrims members, a magnificent fire-dance show starts. Flowers, butterflies, and other elements are dynamically appearing out of the dark wrapped in fire. The drum rhythm, as a heartbeat, is ruling the night.
Long after midnight, when everything comes down, one is welcome to enjoy around-the-fire story telling about medieval re-enactment, battles, jokes and tales, or a quite game of stones.