XXIst century medieval fights

Basically Kill Bill five centuries too early. Or too late.

They’re deeply focused on the scene. The five French fighters are ready to get the job done. “Before a fight, we always have the same sensations: palpitations, nausea, stress.” The speaker invites them to step in the arena. The five fighters grab their helmets and swords. The tension fades away. “We put on the armor, we close the helmet. And that’s it. We’re in fight mode.”


Marjolaine and her cronies practice “Buhurt”, a sport that blends fortified castles and high kicks. The fighters are combatting with swords and shields in an arena delimited by a wooden barriers. The sport also has a key historical dimension. One’s weaponry and armor have to come from the same era and region. To join a team, you’ll have to study crests and icons to create your very own outfit. Marjolaine picked the 14th century: she loved the cute spiky helmets. The whole equipment is heavy. Very heavy. During each combat, she wears approximately 25 kilograms of steel. On her chest, she’s proudly displaying her team’s badge: a hammer over a crown surrounded by two fleur-de-lys.


In the gym where the competition is unfolding, Marjolaine’s team is entering the arena. Even if the weapons are filed not to harm, their equipment is tightly scrutinized by the referees before every fight. “3, 2, 1. FIGHT!”

The referee whistles. The combat starts and the knights let it all out. “In the arena, you can let it go, it’s so good. We go beyond what we think we can do. We suffer, but we keep on fighting” says Pénélope, one of Marjolaine’s sisters in arms. In the arena, Marjolaine doesn’t let it go easily. 1 meters and 90 centimeters high, she strikes her adversaries with no mercy. The audience is exulting. “Yaaaaa. Yaaaaaasssss!”. As impressive as it gets, it’s recommended that we remain pretty distant from the arena “sometimes, swords get out of hand and end up in the audience” says the referee.


Today’s competition isn’t that big of a deal for them. It’s the closing one of the season, it’s a sort of happy ending get-together. For the girls involved, it’s the opportunity to fight together in a sport that is massively masculine. “In clubs, we are not enough to make women teams” says Marjolaine. Today’s team is a sort an Powerpuff girls-like patchwork created especially for the occasion. As women, communication, practicalities or tactics: everything is more complicated “but it’s still so much better than just cleaning the arena and looking at he boys fighting in it” says Pénélope.


All year long, Marjolaine does her trainings in Paris, in the legendary Martels Club. A club famous for having trained Edouard Eme, the current President of the International Federation of Medieval Fights. The team gets together twice a week in a rather unusual location. They’re granted the access to a police gym, inside a police base. Jerome Talochino, their coach is a police officer himself. The job sometimes inspires him for the trainings. He acknowledges that it may give a certain advantage in fights : “when you fight with a baton or a shield, it’s approximately the same kind of moves.” His techniques give brilliant results: his team is the only one to have won twice the French championship.

Today, the Pucelles team have dominated their dutch adversaries and finished first in the women category. After public congratulations, the fighters go back to the locker rooms. Now is the time to leave the swords, shields and axes behind, remove the armors and get back to life in 2017.

Article published on 18th of December 2017 - Adapted to english on 27th of June 


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