The Hippo


May 26, 2020








Courtesy photo.

The Knights Hall Armored Combat 

Where: The Knights Hall, 55 Lake St., Nashua
When: The next battle is Saturday, Dec. 30
Cost: $15 to attend an arena battle, $100 for a month of training classes
Visit: or

Armored combat league thrives in the Gate City

By Ethan Hogan

 Nashua’s millyard is home to a medieval armored combat league that pits teams of three against each other in full-contact, last-man-standing, steel-weapon melees.

The Knights Hall Armored Combat Training Systems is a medieval entertainment hub that hosts monthly battles and offers regular fitness programs. The hall’s founder, Jaye Brooks, said participation in the combat sport is intense, and witnessing it is humbling.
“Folks are attracted to it because it will fulfill that medieval fantasy dream of growing up to be a knight or to be Conan. And it’s all real; there’s no acting here. … They are full-on metal. So when you’re hitting someone with a four-and-a-half-pound axe, you’re hitting them with a four-and-a-half-pound axe,” said Brooks.
Fighters can choose from a trove of regulation steel weapons including swords, axes, glaves, masses, long swords and falcians. Their armor is either imported from an armor manufacturer or made at The Knights Hall. 
Weapons are dulled, so victory over an opponent comes after knockdown or forfeit from blunt force and fatigue.
Winning a battle takes nerve and endurance. Group melee battles are won by reaching 11 points. A point is given out at the end of each round to whichever team is left standing. That means the minimum number of rounds played is 11, with some battles lasting up to 24 rounds.
Timed duels, between two fighters, are won by points, which are earned by the number of times your opponent is struck, much like karate. Referees and judges count the blows and the winner is declared at the end of three rounds.
Teams from 60 U.S. cities travel to compete at The Knights Hall. The teams are made up of fighters from all walks of life. Doctors, lawyers, students and gas station workers have all been known to take up arms.
Military servicemen make up 40 percent of the fighters in the league. The rigorous training and family comradery is therapeutic for some veterans with PTSD, according to Brooks.
“It’s almost like beer league softball except it’s just brutal,” said Brooks.
Teams are distinguished on the battlefield with garments bearing unique sigils or heraldic insignias.
Brooks said the three teams that make up New Hampshire’s local scene each have their own style of fighting. The team captain of the Manchester Monarchs likes speed on his team while the captain from the Boston Dark Knights likes fighters with physicality and brute strength.
“The captain from [The Nashua Knightmares] likes striking power. He likes to see how hard people hit each other. And he himself is a really hard hitter. Every year there’s a fight between the three captains, to submission, to see who gets the first pick,” said Brooks. 
The Salem Witches and Queen City Queens are the all-women teams that compete in the area. 
Spectators can see the battles with a $15 ticket, which Brooks said sell out weeks in advance. 
“They can’t believe what they’re seeing, they can’t believe how hard the fighters are fighting, they can’t believe it’s real. They come in and they say, ‘Oh this can’t be’ and then they go ‘oh my god this isn’t choreographed, this is people really beating the heck out of each other,” said Brooks.
The Knights Hall is breeding the next generation of fighters with 56 training and fitness programs held each month. Brooks developed a training program called Knight Fit, for would-be and competitive warriors.
The hall offers much of the same equipment as a boxing or mixed martial arts gym but with equipments specific to their sport.
After competing successfully in armored combat tournaments oversees representing the U.S., Brooks decided to pioneer the sport on his home soil in 2011, opening a gym to train in at the millyards.
Brooks left his job as a senior project manager at a financial services company to expand The Knights Hall in 2014, and today the hall acts as a hub for the sport in the U.S. In January, Brooks will expand to another 3,000 square feet of space in the millyard.
The next event is Saturday, Dec. 30, and will feature one-versus-one matches for men and women. The five-round matches will pair opponents based on weight class and weapon type. 

®2020 Hippo Press. site by wedu