A Good Night For Knights by Samantha Lockard

Swords, axes and chainmail, oh my! If you are anything like me, the thought of medieval times gives you some fun feelings. As we come off the season of faires and renaissance reenactments, it can be a little bit of a let down. But what if I were to tell you that it didn’t have to be? That you could quite literally feed that feeling of waiting for the next ren-faire by taking a quick trip into Nashua? You’d be stoked, right? Because that’s how I’m feeling since last Saturday, when I was able to pay a visit to The Knights Hall in Nashua, NH for a tournament style Knight Fight.

You read that correctly. I’m talking axes, broad swords, shields, full suits of armor, and men and women absolutely beating the bag out of each other, but hugging it out immediately after a referee raises the hand of the victor.

Founder of The Knights Hall, Jaye Brooks, Sr., is also the co-founder of the Armored Combat League (ACL), and former consulting producer on the History Channel’s previous show – “Knight Fight”. Jaye began fighting when he was about 16 years old with medieval groups, but the weapons were wooden, and there was not enough of a reality to it to keep him engaged.{{more}}

Chuck Vallas and Brandon Ross Fight“I kept winning,” Brooks said. “And I needed to find something else.”

Then, a friend mentioned to him one day to take a look “at what the Russians were doing” with some armored combat. He was hooked. It was nearly immediately that he had to immerse himself into this new world of armored combat, and bring something like that to this side of the globe.

After working in Corporate America for quite some time, Brooks made a gigantic leap of faith, and started the process in December 2011 to open up The Knights Hall. It officially opened on January 4, 2012, and is currently the ONLY full-time school/training facility in the US for armored combat.

Brian Juranty and coach Michael Luich“It’s the great equalizer” of sports and fighting, Brooks said. “This is like a nerd sport, but better,” he commented. Brooks further went to explain that most people that are interested in the sport, have a passion for history and medieval times, and try to get into this sport to get themselves off the couch, playing video games. “Then you get the athletes that’ll come in, but they’ll get a serious [butt] kicking from former ‘typical nerds’ and it rubs their egos raw.”

It’s not even simply just the matter of former couch potatoes, either. Participating in the 8-fighter tournament on Saturday, was the only female of the night – Marie Brooks. While she didn’t place in the top three, she definitely showed up, and wasn’t going down without a fight. Currently, there are about 15% women in the armored combat communities. The number is only increasing.

During Saturday’s festivities, another female fighter, Erika Joy, was running the front of the house, and answering many questions for newcomers. Joy, having left the Coast Guard a few years ago, was still seeking a new form of camaraderie that she hadn’t experienced since the military.

“I’m in better shape now than when I was in the military,” Joy said. “I was in a bad relationship, I wasn’t feeling too great about myself, and I thought I had nothing to lose,” she said, speaking of when she found The Knights Hall. Since 2016, she has been training and fighting with all different skill levels and opponents, but really regards the community as “a brotherhood”.

Jack Young and Marie Brooks

In speaking with Joy and Vallas, a very important key ingredient has been found – many former military personnel have found The Knights Hall to be similar to the family-feel that the military has given them.

“We all will absolutely rip each other apart on the floor, but hug it out even if we’re bleeding,” said Vallas. At the time of the interview, Vallas was also sporting a fresh cut on his head, most likely from the inside of the armor rubbing against his skin during a very serious round of grappling.nd Vallas, a very important key ingredient has been found – many former military personnel have found The Knights Hall to be similar to the family-feel that the military has given them.

“Fighting is the most fun you can have with your pants on,” joked Vallas. “My only regret is that I wish I had found this, sooner.”

He’s not the only one. Yours truly wishes that this was something that was more well-known before last month. Not to fear, though! The knights of The Knights Hall will be participating in “Harvest Havoc” in Taunton, MA later on this month, at the Broken Chain Biker Church. The venue will seat approximately 300 people, and there will be some intense match ups.

Brooks said he likes to run at least 2 events per month, and the school is open 7 days a week for training and classes. If this sounds far too good to be true?

Sean Slattery and Brandon Ross

“Come try it out,” Joy said. “There’s a total transformation, for the better,” just waiting for you.

For all of the photos of the Knight Fight on November 2, 2019, please head to Strike Exposure Combat Photography’s page on Facebook, as well as check out what Heather (photographer, owner of Strike Exposure Combat Photography) has allowed us to use for the article.

For more information on The Knights Hall, or to find out how to get involved, you can find them on Facebook @Knightshall, their website www.theknightshall.com, or drop by the school to speak with the ‘family’. I’m sure they’ll give you some excellent feedback!

Samantha Lockard went to school for journalism at Framingham State University. She currently lives with her fiancé and two dogs at their New Ipswich home. She comes to New Ipswich via Lynn, MA and is a beach lover and Pinterest recipe taster of the highest degrees. Her hobbies include anything to do with Marvel movies and comics, knitting, writing, and playing with the pups. She’s always up for good recommendations on good eats and reads, so if you’ve got one of either, send it her way!
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