April 24th, 2024

Day of Knights brings medieval combat to the Galt


By Al Beeber - Lethbridge Herald on February 24, 2022.

Herald photo by Al Beeber Members of the Company of the Black Spears wage a sword fight at the Galt Museum Wednesday during a program for families where parents and their kids learned about medieval warfare and armour. The Black Spears are a city group that engages in recreational and competitive medieval fighting tournaments.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDabeeber@lethbridgeherald.com

For William Baliko and his compatriots in the Company of the Black Spears, there’s nothing like a day donning medieval armour and pounding on each other.
Baliko and other members of the Black Spears gave families an education in medieval combat along with some heart-pounding demonstrations Wednesday at the Galt Museum.
The Company of the Black Spears is a group of medieval warfare enthusiasts of all ages and ethnicities with one common interest, said Baliko as other members including Graham Macbean gave parents and their little ones a history of armour and the various types.
The Black Spears is the Lethbridge chapter of the Heavy Armored Combat Sports Association. Members train in historical European martial arts both recreationally and competitively and compete in tournaments locally, nationally and internationally.
The city chapter is part of a league that has teams from Victoria, B.C. to the nation’s capital in Ottawa.
Historical medieval battles is a full-contact modern fighting sport that uses blunt steel weapons which are characteristic of those used in the Middle Ages. Historical authenticity must be followed for weapons and armour which is usually made from steel to be as close as possible to their historical counterparts. Unlike historical reenactments, these battles are refereed.
“The local chapter has about 20 members,” said Baliko.
Much of the armour is made by members but some is beyond them skill-wise, he said.
“It’s a beautiful sport because it’s so international and one of the only commonalities that all of us have is we love medieval history and we love the combat. So it’s one of those things you get folks from every walk of life and across the globe,” Baliko added.
A variety of combat is done in Lethbridge.
“We use a number of different rule sets where we’ll use anything from soft kits using fencing masks and synthetic swords, polymer swords usually, a type of plastic or wood, things like that. Rattan is a type of sword we use, as well,” he said.
Steel fighting is also done using proper smithed swords with minimum two millimetre edges for safety.
“There’s certain length and weight requirements as well for safety, certain tip width as well so it’s safe. We’re not actually hurting each other too much. We all want to be able to continue fighting each other another day,” he said.
“We’re fighting full force whether it’s with the synthetic swords or the steel swords. It’s real armour, as real as we can make it” with some changes for safety, he said. Otherwise fighters are equipped as knights would have been in the Middle Ages.
One of the best fighters in Lethbridge is in his 60s, he said. And some members are fresh out of high school beginning their journey.
“It’s fun. I’ve done a number of different sports and things in my day but I’ve never found something that has quite the camaraderie and sportsmanship of this.”

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