While Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) matches generally incorporate striking and grappling techniques from a variety of other combat sports and martial arts, the use of medieval fighting techniques is unheard of. Until now, that is. St. Petersburg based MMA promotion M-1 Global plans to introduce a new kind of MMA events featuring sword-wielding knights in armor, called M-1 Medieval.
It all started when M-1 had the brilliant idea of staging medieval sword fights as filler during MMA events last year. The response was so phenomenal that they decided to make this unique form of mixed martial arts a permanent fixture. The first official M-1 Medieval division fight took place on April 10 in Moscow. “I liked the fans’ reaction when we did it for the first time in St. Petersburg at M-1 Challenge 50,” said M-1 president Vadim Finkelchtein. “They seemed to really like it. They were impressed and supported the knights. So, I thought it was worth continuing.”
“At the time, the knight-fight was to fill the pause between the undercard and main card fights,” he added. “If we find enough fighters to make enough fights, we will have a separate medieval show with its own weight categories, title fights and champions.”
According to Finkelchtein, watching the full-contact jousting match for the first time gave him the same feeling that he had when he’d watched his first MMA fight. He was, in fact, able to draw several parallels between the two fighting styles. “The rules are similar – you can punch, strike, and wrestle,” he said. “The fighters have swords and shields, wear special clothing, and all that looks really impressive and exciting.”
M-1 is currently involved in figuring out the rules for the new series of matches. So far, they’ve decided that the fights will take place in a ‘rage’, which is a combination of a ring and a cage with six sides. They plan to put down a special surface on the canvas to protect the mats from damage during the fights.
Some of the rules that have been worked out are that the swords must be blunt, and that headbutts and submission holds aren’t allowed. Neither are strikes to the back of the neck, spine, feet and ankles. If a knight happens to be knocked down, the opponent has only three strikes to finish him. M-1 plans to publish a full list of rules pretty soon.
The fights are expected to gain popularity in Europe, especially in Germany, Spain and England, because knights feature extensively in the continent’s history. “There were a lot of knightly orders and it has a big cultural heritage,” Finkelchtein explained. “And now we see a lot of schools where people can experience these traditions, the way knights lived. They can study how to fight using swords and learn a lot about Medieval times. And that makes me think the M-1 Medieval idea will have a good future in Europe.”
”I do believe it will become popular in Europe, because of a rich knight background,” he added. Of course, there are hordes of Game of Thrones fans all over the world who will probably be just as excited about the concept of M-1 Medieval!