Ayna Bera: an education

Jo tells of her weekend in the Netherlands training with knights from all over Europe under the guidance of the world’s finest buhurt fighters.

It’s not everyday you get the opportunity to train with the World Champions of Historical Medieval Battle. So no matter how unfavourable the winds were at Schiphol, how much panic a flying portaloo was causing on a highway of Holland or even that every train was cancelled, I was determined to make it. As were like-minded fighters from Europe and even further afield as they began to accumulate in the lofty sports hall in Liempde.


The eve of training started with hot soup and nattering of the legends of buhurt through the ages. Many people made long journeys to attend, so I assumed that the noise would simmer into a dorm of sleeping heads. However, our Ukrainian guests had other ideas. A wild game of all vs all basketball ensued for a few hours. Anyone who entered the vicinity was at risk of grapples and bear hugs. The Ayna Bera fighters were relentless but eventually the game came to an end as fatigue set in for the other players. I felt dread and excitement at the prospect of physical training the morning after.

Our expert trainers showed us how to develop reliable skills and tactics for buhurt. Each movement could be translated into a situation that we had all encountered in the list. I felt more excited than ever about the women’s growth in the sport. Our opportunity to make chaos is finally catching up to the men’s. There were more than 40 fighters in attendance which pushed you to try harder every round like the man beside you. There was a lot to prove with people of all experiences being put to the test. We practised mass battle drills, full contact games and group fights.


The HMBIA’s decision to introduce the women’s 5v5 group category to Battle of the Nations is fully supported by the UK women’s team. To spend a weekend under the tuition of Ayna Bera trainers and fighters has given me a lot to think about. We have to adapt to our new category. We will charge into this season with new knowledge and build on our experience.


Above all else it was a pleasure to spend the weekend training in such good company.

Huge thank you to Ayna Bera for taking the time to show us the way to make pain, as they would put it. Also to the organisers Lions of Steel for making it all possible!


~ Jo ~



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