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What Exactly Are Rules In This Brutal Medieval MMA Sport

Medieval MMA fighters competing in the ring.

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In recent years there has been a push to rejuvenate medieval styles of fighting from yesteryear. And while there is the International Medieval Combat Federation who pitches teams against one another as they reenact old-world battles. What about this new trend in medieval MMA and what are the rules?

Medieval MMA is an offshoot of the existing reenactment combat we have seen come to the fore in recent years. Promoted by M-1 Global, the only difference is that it takes part inside a ring-style cage called a “Rage.” Both fighters have a sword and shield.

Launching back in 2016 under the title M-1 Medieval. At first, this evolution in mixed martial arts was only supposed to be a filler between the prelim and main cards.

However, the initial reaction to the spectacle was so good that M-1 decided to expand it further. Arranging several more events and even building a roster of MMA fighters to participate.

Carrying up to 36 kg in armour, the fighters not only have to fight one another. But also have to deal with the additional weight of the suit itself. So not only do they have to defend against attacks from their opponent.

But they also have to be conditioned to carry the full suit of armour. Along with their sword and shield for the duration of the fight. Quite a lot more than your regular MMA fighter who just has to carry their gumshield, gloves and some shorts.

While the popularity has risen in the eastern block countries of Europe. Medieval MMA has yet to make its breakthrough in the US. And while the UFC was approached with the idea of adding stick fighting between their prelims and main card.

The UFC was not interested, believing that this type of fighting would be a bit too extreme for their fanbase. So whether or not this form of MMA has any future outside of Eastern Europe is yet to be known.

Two fighters competing in medieval MMA as part of Global M-1 MMA..
Two fighters competing in medieval MMA.

But that is not stopping M-1 president Vadim Finkelchtein who in an interview with mmafighting.com was very confident the sport would in fact take off in the years to come, stating;

“I do believe it will become popular in Europe, because of a rich knight background.”

Vadim Finkelchtein M-1 president Interview

So we shall have to wait and see what the future holds. And whether or not the appetite for the sport can break through outside the bounds of Europe. The original home for this style of medieval combat. When countries such as England, Germany, Poland And Russia all fought wars in this way.

Medieval MMA Rules

So I have laid out some of the rules involved in this new and exciting sport. In much the same way the idea is that a fight is won either by one fighter giving up. Or by the referee stepping in and calling an end to the action.

  1. Each fight is 3 x 3-minute rounds
  2. A fighter must have a sword and a shield
  3. Both the sword and shield can be used as weapons
  4. Swords must be blunted
  5. Stabbing with the sword is illegal
  6. A fighter can punch, kick and wrestle
  7. A fighter must either block or answer the attacks
  8. A fighter is to remain on their feet
  9. No arm locks are allowed
  10. Strikes to the neck, spine, feet and ankles are not allowed
  11. A downed fighter is finished using only three strikes

So we can see the similarities in terms of mixed martial arts. As they seek to mesh the two types together into one seamless form of MMA. Allowing for the use of weapons, while at the same time offering sufficient protection for the competitors.

Have There Been Any Deaths In Medieval MMA

To date, there have not been any deaths in Medieval MMA. And while several fighters have left the fight bloodied and bruised. All of the protection they wear and the fact that they use blunt swords means that the fighters are in fact very well protected.

However, this does not stop them from receiving some cuts and bad bruising from the impacts. While the suits of armour are designed to protect them from fatal blows.

It cannot stop the interior of the helmet from hitting them in the face. Or the suit which stops the sword, from allowing the force of the impact to carry through.

Knight fighting, M-1 Medieval on M-1 Challenge 56

So while they are very well protected by the armour and by the rules and they need to be. As if they were to try this activity without all that heavy armour. There is little doubt we would be looking at death in the sport very soon indeed.

In Conclusion

In what on the surface appears to be a pretty crazy and bloodthirsty sport. Medieval MMA may in reality be safer than the mixed martial arts we have come to know and love.

With fighters wearing full protection and using blunted swords and shields as weapons. This style of fighting does not allow for many of the strikes to the head that MMA fighters traditionally receive.

Adding to that there are no submissions, so no opportunity for some of the known limb breakers in MMA to do their thing. And when they are carrying this amount of armour while at the same time fighting another person.

Quite often we simply see fighters fade due to exhaustion. Rather than dealing a fight-ending blow that badly injures their opponent.

So it’s going to be interesting to see if Medieval MMA can indeed become a worldwide phenomenon. And as its rules evolve, as they did in the UFC. We may at one point see its adoption in several other nations.