Historical medieval battles, as a phenomenon, is a unique fusion of history and sport. Perhaps this is the only type of contact martial art where the fighter’s appearance requires careful attention not only on the existing safety and standardization regulations, but also on the equipment, which has to be matching to a specific time period and region. Maximum plausibility is what attracts and captivates the audience, makes our sport special, and even gives it an educational component. The Authenticity Committee controls the historicity of the chosen armor. Eugenii Baranov, as a member of the Committee made a number of important statements at the last HMBIA General Assembly in Belgrade, Serbia.
Following his resonant presentation and armed with a list of the frequently asked questions from anxious athletes, we went to get an explanation.
- Hello, Eugenii! This year, at the summit, your report became a sensation and spawned a whole series of rumors and conjectures. As far as we understand, it was decided to strengthen the control over the historicity of equipment in the HMB sport, and a detailed plan was developed to introduce new requirements for several years ahead. How are you planning to convey the innovations for the participants of the movement?
- We have reached a critical point in this matter. A loyal attitude to many new teams and fighters led to the fact that the number of athletes in substandard and unhistorical armor increases year after year. The teams that are no longer “young”, even don’t try to improve their existing armor. As a result, new teams appear with inappropriate armor … It’s like a snowball, growing and growing. The logic is simple – we made one exception, which means that the others also need it. This process must be stopped. Notice, the lack of high-quality equipment in such a dynamic and hard sport leads to an increase in injury risk.
It is worth considering that we are becoming quite a popular media trend. A huge amount of video and photo materials, graphics are created and published annually in the media and social platforms, making our favorite hobby even more popular and, as a result, recognizable and popular. Wishing to protect athletes as much as possible and to make HMB sport even more spectacular and attractive, starting with the HMB World Championship Battle of the Nations – 2019, a rule is introduced: “Everyone or No One Is Allowed”.
To make it easier to adapt to the new requirements, the HMBIA and the Authenticity Committee prepared a number of measures to remedy the situation with compliance with the requirements of the historicity and quality of the fighters’ equipment. To improve the appearance and reduce the level of injury for the participants, the following steps should be taken:
1. Standardization of HMB equipment
2. Accreditation of manufacturers producing items of equipment.
- It sounds interesting, but what does the “standardization of equipment” mean?
– The fact is that not all of our participants are ready to go over the sources and thoroughly understand the types of various armor and methods of their compilation, so we decided to make it easier for athletes to develop standard protective equipment sets. In addition, we are developing ways to compile the individual elements with each other. We carried out an analysis of both historical sources and the most popular and safe armor for HMB sport.”
We are on the way to create a base of ready-made sets of armor and methods of compilation the separate items with each other. This will be public information with visualization and methodological materials for each element of the armor and some explanations what is permissible or not and how to assemble the elements, creating your own set. These “typical” kits and individual elements were derived by analyzing the most popular and the safest equipment among the fighters over the past few years, while taking into account both historical sources demonstrating the appearance and layout of the elements, as well as the safety of the fighter and the reduction risk of injury.
For the convenience of athletes, it is planned to develop an online service “Equipment configurator”, where everyone could model their own set, choosing from various approved items. At the same time the service will be automatically offer only compatible parts of the armor. The selection process can be compared with the dressing of the hero in a computer game. This service also provides a context menu – next to each element of the armor, you can view a list of manufacturers that can make this element in accordance with the HMBIA regulations and accredited for the production of each specific element.
- I would like to focus at this point. Do we have accredited smiths?
Accreditation of manufacturers producing armour is the second step of the Authenticity Committee to improve the situation with armor. To ensure the quality and compliance with the stated requirements of the historicity and safety of equipment, HMBIA will certify the products of manufacturers.
It will be a transparent and democratic procedure. Any manufacturer or individual master will be able to undergo this procedure, observing the stated requirements. In this case, I will repeat once again, the accreditation will not receive the entire manufactory, but only an element of armor. Certified armor will be marked accordingly. By purchasing equipment from recommended manufacturers, a fighter can be sure that his or her kit complies with all the requirements and, accordingly, his admission to the tournament will pass as quickly and easily as possible. More information about the mechanism of accreditation will be discussed a little later, for now it’s only a brief digression.
Of course, if someone wants to order a unique armor or an element of armor, they can do it, however, he will have to worry about his tolerances in advance and obtain prior consent for compliance with HMB standards.
- Is the problem with the fighters’ equipment so global?
The problem with substandard equipment has not become global yet, but if we don’t handle with it now, it will grow into an uncontrollable process.
The analysis shows that basically fighters do not need to redo anything from scratch. More often it is necessary to modernize ready-made elements of armor. For example, bascinets with a nose-guard, Bascinet with visor “wolf ribs” and, grandhelm which is popular in recent times, mostly do not need to be completely reworked, but only modernized to bring it to a more aesthetic and historical look.
- How do we explain to the fighters, especially to the representatives of the new countries, why it is necessary to strictly follow the historicity?
It is not necessary to interest fighters strictly to follow the historicity and standards, since it is in the interests of each fighter to have a safe, practical and convenient set of armour without complaints from technical and historical commissions.
HMBIA will try to make it as easy as possible for athletes to choose armor and ensure compliance with selected standards. In addition, participants in non-compliant armor will not be allowed to participate in events.
There are no bans on the use of modern equipment like GoPro, but certain regulations require prior approval from the Committee.
Finally, everyone understands why footballers plays in shorts, boxers have uniform gloves, and the puck in hockey has a certain weight.
- Will there be any sanctions?
No, there will be no sanctions. If you fit the requirements – you participate; if you do not fit them – you do not participate. Everything is according to the current rules and regulations of the HMB sport.
- During the report sounded the so-called “key points” of the transition to new requirements. How much time is given to fighters to bring their sets of weapons and armor to the maximum ideal state?
We distributed the introduction of new regulations into stages to make it easier for participants to bring their kits into compliance and, at the same time, started working with the most visible parts of an armor – a helmet, protection of a hand, tabards, shields, protection of legs and, at the last moment, protection of hands and body.
In this case, the following terms are defined:
– Battle of the Nations 2019 (May 2019) – requirements for helmets, iron chain mail of the helmet and neck protection (including helmets of Russian and the Eastern style kits), requirements for tabards and shields.
– Dynamo Cup 2019 (November 2019) – legs (protection of the thigh, knee, shin, foot) (including sets of Russian and the Eastern style kits),
– protection of the brush (including sets of Russian and the Eastern style kits).
– Svabin Fest 2020 (May 2020) – requirements for the protection of hands (protection of the shoulder, biceps, elbow, protection of the forearm), including sets of Russian and the Eastern style kits.
– Battle of the Nations 2021 (May 2021) – requirements for the protection of the corps, it is necessary to fully comply with all standards and requirements of HMBIA.
I would like to note that during the transition period we introduce rules for protecting the body and hands on the principle of “if something is not visible, it’s allowed.”
- Does this mean that everything is possible, just not to be seen?
This rule affects only the protection of the body and hands, that is, those elements that are hidden by the tabards. Let’s take a closer look. If the fighters of the national team have a long-sleeved tabards, there is no need for strict compliance with the regulations and requirements of the historical commission of hidden elements (body, shoulder pads, biceps, elbow, forearm protection) until 2021, but only the technical requirements specified in the regulations. In this case, now we are talking about compliance with new standards, but not about, for example, allowing the use of modern materials such as plastic.
If the combined team has 3/4 sleeves tabards, in this case it is necessary to choose one of the options for regulated hand protection. Special attention should be paid to those who have a sleeveless tabards or with doubled sleeves. This requires compliance with all hand protection regulations.
- Was the opinion of the fighters taken into account developing the rules?
The Committee, which develops regulations, includes quite a lot of people: they are experts in history, active fighters, and representatives of manufacturers. The composition is quite multifaceted, which certainly will allow you to create the most optimal solutions.
- Thank you for the detailed explanation, Eugenii! Maybe some wishes for readers in the end?
May the Force be with you!
Photos by Iegor Puchkov, Маksim Voshchanov