Photo provided by Samuel Desaulniers from Brooks
Hinton medieval combat fighter Samuel Desaulniers planned to take on the world’s best competitors at the International Medieval Combat Federation (IMCF) world championship tournament in ancient Kiev, Ukraine on May 16 to 19, but had to give up his spot after various injuries this spring.
For the second time he was ready to pack up his armour and weapons for the the global tournament after he qualified for the five and 10 man team fights, as well as the one-on-one polearm category with long spears and two handed axes. He now hopes to be back in fighting shape by summer time.
Desaulniers learned about buhurt, a type of medieval fighting, after first coming across a video on YouTube of the sport and two years later he decided to try it out.
“I started in 2015, I had just gotten out of university, got a nice student tax-return, and I thought ‘well I’m not spending it on school anymore,’” said Desaulniers, who studied Russian language and literature at the University of Alberta.
“I decided this looks fun, let’s get into it. So once I had the money I looked out for a suit and joined the Edmonton club, they referred me to the Calgary club and they brought me up to a tournament in the Yukon, in Whitehorse. And from there it kind of snowballed.”
After knocking out an opponent during a three on three fight in the Yukon for Team Alberta, a Team Canada referee approached Desaulniers and asked him if he’d like to join Team Canada.
He then prepared to go to the 2017 International Medieval Combat Federation (IMCF) world championship tournament at the Spøttrup castle in Denmark.
Only five people were able to go to the tournament in 2017, leaving no spare fighters during five-on-five fights if someone got injured. “I did the polearm fight and the five on five,” said Desaulniers about his first world championship experience.
“In polearm, I beat the Japanese guy, but I lost to Poland and Ukraine. The Polish guy got fourth and the Ukrainian guy received gold, so I was a little out of my depth in that pool.”
During the five on five fights, Team Canada lost one match due to armour failure and a second loss was to Team USA, a very well-organized and focused team according to Desaulniers.
“Have you seen the show Knight Fight? Those guys are massive, I fought some of those guys,” he said.
During the day, fights would take place in the fortress and at night the courtyard would be open for fighters to have a few drinks, unwind, and have a good time, said Desaulniers.
That same year, Desaulniers started his own Hinton Medieval Combat Club called the The Ice Eaters, they are a member of the heavy armoured combat society of alberta (HACSA), which is a localized branch of IMCF.
As one of the few clubs in Alberta, The Ice Eaters have five regular members and often train by Maxwell Lake. Members get together as often as their schedules allow them and participate in tournaments throughout the country.
“Summer time is tournament season. It starts with the Canada Day tourney in Whitehorse and then we go to Kimberley, and sometimes some smaller events in between. The big one is in Brooks in August. That’s where you see the most fighters usually,” said Desaulniers.
There are two fighting categories; one-on-one fights and team fights.
One-on-one fights include sword and shield, long sword, and polearms, they are one minute long, and scored like a boxing match with points for every solid hit to a legal strike area, disarming the opponent, and throwing them to the ground.
“It’s best of three. But I’ve seen it go to seven rounds. It’s exhausting with all that armour,” explained Desaulniers.
Team fights are scored differently and can best be described as armoured rugby, according to Desaulniers.
“The purpose isn’t to just go for points, it’s more to get the other team down on the ground. Make them give up,” said Desaulniers.
The worst injuries Desaulniers sustained from the sport were a split eyebrow and fractured fingers, he stated.
“In Denmark, one of the New Zealand fighters took an axe to the back of the neck and his armour was just flipped up. Luckily, nothing was broken but he was paralyzed for a couple hours. A two headed axe can be up to three kilos in weight, that’s a lot of weight for a big man to be swinging,” said Desaulniers.
Most injuries include broken bones, muscle sprains, strains, dislocations, he added, stating that an injury was also the reason why he wasn’t able to participate in the world championships in 2018.