June 24th, 2024

Swords clash at epic medieval tournament

By Justin Sibbet - Lethbridge Herald Local Journalism Initiative Reporter on May 28, 2024.

Herald photo by Justin Sibbet Brian Boisson duels with Chris Keen during a medieval battle as the Company of the Black Spears, a local historical armour combat group, hosted "Coulee Clash" on the weekend at the Cavendish Farms Centre.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDjsibbet@lethbridgeherald.com

Knights in heavy armour and authentic costumes ready themselves for an epic clash, transforming an unlikely venue into a scene from a medieval battlefield.

The Company of the Black Spears, a local historical armour combat group, hosted “Coulee Clash” on Saturday at the Cavendish Farms Centre. The event metaphorically transported guests back in time several hundred years as warriors battled for serf entertainment.

The Company of the Black Spears is a member of the Historical Armoured Combat Sports Association (HACSA). Together, both groups welcomed teams and individual duelers from across western Canada to the second annual festivity.

Brian Boisson, team captain for the Black Spears, says this is not just a show, but a real sport with real equipment, just like the weapons used in history’s greatest battles.

“The swords are real; they just have to have a two-millimetre blunted edge, so they are able to be used safely for sport combat… just an extra precaution to make sure people stay safe out there.”

Whether it be a sabre, battleaxe or broadsword, competitors swing at full might, aiming to hit each other in ‘high point’ areas. This level of excitement is what originally drew Boisson to the sport some 20 years ago.

“In 2004, I saw a bunch of guys hitting each other with swords in a park while wearing suits of armour,” said Boisson. “At that moment in time, I decided it’s what I wanted to do.”

However, he says the first 10 years of his journey were more like the dark ages, but the community has since risen like the Carolingian dynasty.

“In about 2014, (the historic combat community) really started to pick up. Renaissance fairs and medieval fairs got really popular because of things like ‘Skyrim’ and ‘Game of Thrones’,” said Boisson. “Medieval and fantasy stuff ended up in the mainstream, so this sport just exploded and we ended up getting larger and larger tournaments.”

More than just a love of history, this sport requires dedication, according to Boisson. As a result, it may seem daunting to some wishing to get involved. That said, Ian Tivendale, the current president of HACSA, says, while it is true that competing is physically demanding, the sport is, nevertheless, welcoming to everybody.

“Anyone and everyone can join,” said Tivendale. Though he highlighted the need to bring more women into the community, saying the women currently involved have seen massive success. “The few we sent to the world championships partnered with Denmark and got silver. So, we’ve got good talent here, we just need a few more to build out the (community).”

Still, he says the health benefits are a nice addition to the fun and excitement the sport brings.

“I had done very few athletic things before I started here and two or three months in, I (got better),” said Tivendale. “Obviously the more I do it, the fitter I get.”

He says he hopes to see the trend of growth continue as the sport evolves in the future.

“Find a local team, message a captain, ask to try out.”

HACSA and the Company of the Black Spears attend several events every year.

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