Buhurt: the modern medieval martial art with its UK centre based in Sheffield

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.

Fighters spar at the Northern Lists Armoured Arena in Burngreave

What is Buhurt?

The fighting style is a division of Historical Medieval Battles (HMB) which is a full contact fighting sport, which 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, yet striking the neck, back of the knee, groin, eyes, feet, and back of the head deemed illegal.

If fighters make more than three points of with the floor, i.e both their feet and a hand, they are out of the contest.

David Murray, founder of Northern Lists, said that “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 a weightlifting or martial arts background, 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 a new TV show to be aired on the History Channel.

The sport can be brutal with injuries commonplace. Although weapons are blunted, David himself has broken his neck, in addition to multiple cuts and bruises each session.

David Murray shows off the a shield, bloodied from battle, and the trophy cabinet from extensive competitions

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 taking part.

The White Company, one of the top teams 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.”

Members of the Northern Lists Armoured Arena

Although based in Sheffield, David says clients travel from over an hour away to train at the centre. He said: “Alot 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.”

David Murray puts a JUS News Reporter through their paces

Is there a World Cup of sorts?

The Battle of the Nations is the sports annual international world championship which was first held in 2009 in Kharkiv, Ukraine.

For it’s 10th anniversary, there will be a special event of two teams of 150 fighters taking each other on, the largest battle in the events history.

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 to the showpiece event.