The Northern Lists Armoured Arena, located next to St Catherine’s Nursing Home on the Burngreave Road, is not where you would expect to find the UK training base for a medieval martial art.
However, if you listened closely on Monday and Thursday evenings you could probably hear the clang of metal on metal and shouts of battle in the Sheffield suburb of Burngreave.
What is Buhurt?
The fighting style, a division of Historical Medieval Battles (HMB), is a full contact fighting sport that uses offensive and defensive weapons from the Middle Ages.
Much like traditional contact sports, bouts take place over 3 x 3 minute rounds with a referee or “Knight Marshal” officiating. Point are scored by landing blows to your opponent, while striking the neck, back of the knee, groin, eyes, feet, and back of the head is deemed illegal.
If fighters make more than three points of contact with the floor, i.e both their feet and a hand, they are out of the contest.
David Murray, the founder of Northern Lists, said: “I’m from Sheffield and the competition and training for the sport was widespread which involved a lot of travel. I thought ‘Why not have a training centre here?’ and I think it’s worked out rather well.”
Who usually competes and is it dangerous?
HMB participants usually come from weightlifting or martial art backgrounds, partly due to the fact that all the required armour can weigh well over 30kg.
Eddie Hall, former World’s Strongest Man, attended the gym last week when shooting for the History Channel’s new TV show Knight Fight.
The sport can, obviously, be brutal with injuries commonplace. Although the weapons are blunted, David himself has broken his neck in addition to multiple cuts and bruises each session.
What tournaments are there?
The Burhut Prime League, the self-styled ‘Champions League’ equivalent of the sport, took place in Monaco at the Espace Fontvieille Chapiteau Arena last Saturday. It is invite only, with Europe’s elite teams competing.
The White Company, one of the top teams in the world and the UK’s representative at the European event, unfortunately, did not place in the medal positions. However, they will have no doubt gained valuable experience and enjoyed competing in Monte Carlo.
David said: “The UK Team’s captain, Dan Winter, trains out of here and is one of our lead instructors. Many of the top fighters in the UK train out of this gym.”
Although based in Sheffield, David says client’s travel from over an hour away to train at the centre. He said: “A lot of people look at us and say ‘Are you mad?!’ But we get a mixed bag of customers. Beginners wear the soft armour to practice.”
Flint Thomas, a customer of the centre, said: “It’s an amazing experience, there’s nothing quite like it! It’s perfect for people looking to get fit and have fun, or adrenaline fans looking for something a bit different.”
Is there a World Cup of sorts?
The Battle of the Nations is the sports annual international world championship that was first held in 2009 in Kharkiv, Ukraine.
For its 10th anniversary, there will be a special event of two teams of 150 fighters taking each other on, the largest pitched battle in the history of the event.
The Serbian city of Smederevo is due to host the 2019 edition, with over 35 national teams are expected to attend. The Northern Lists will no doubt be contributing team members, with Sheffield represented on the world stage.