Women leading Women: Buhurt Edition

On the eve of buhurt camp the Cygnus doctrinaire, Sarah, Cat, Sofie, Steph and Jo congregated in the sacred hall of Sheffield’s Northern List. We were not alone, already the number of the party was eight. Together we set up a chilly camp as once again none of us could remember which button turned on the heating system. All of us exhausted from our busy lives we took to bed. I had an anxious nights sleep.

Night turned to day. I raised the shutters of the beacon of buhurt and waited at the threshold with mugs of steaming Yorkshire tea. (An unfortunate by product of frequenting the white rose county). From near and far a trickle of women came through that door and a total of eleven women entered the list. I started women’s dedicated training back in March and finally I felt like I had got the formula right.


We welcomed established fighters from the clubs of Birmingham Medieval Combat and Armoured Combat Gloucester, whom I was especially excited to fight against. As well as new faces who had never even seen an armoured fight.

The priority and focus of the session was teamwork. Last week, the international organisation behind our sport, Historical Medieval Battle Association (HMBIA) announced at their annual summit the opportunity for a female mass battle. With this in mind I wanted the women of the United Kingdom to work together more cohesively in the list. First of all I covered the foundations of buhurt to prepare the women for full-contact, hand to hand combat. Then I got the ball rolling on the esprit de corps by digging up a pastime that we all shared. Netball. (Excuse the pun).


The ball may have been the same but the rules were changed. Lacking netball posts I implemented human replacements. There were no limits to where you could go on the court and almost no restrictions on by what means you could obtain the ball from the other player. Helmets-on time, 4 minute rounds. The initial round certainly erred on the side of caution as the ladies got reacquainted with the sport. Everyone admitted that they had left it firmly in the past after being forced to practice it through every winter as adolescents.


I called a final round and received the ball from the centre, looked around for an ally and was pushed into the list, bent over double clasping the ball as a scrum formed. The players clamoured to prise my opponents off me to take the ball and as I attempted to role it back through my legs I thought,

“They’ve got it.”

Before lunch I split the fighters up into two teams, added extra soft kit protection and started the 5v5 battles. We did a couple of short rounds so I could see who wanted more. No one backed down. I switched to continuous buhurt rounds where fighters could get back up each time they went down. The idea was that eventually they might tire and want some lunch. But they did not. In the end I had to ask Ashley our Marshal to call time because nobody would quit.


The day continued with more successes and our heads hit the airbeds heavy again that night.

Another step forwards in our buhurt journey.


The Duchess

Captain of Swords of Cygnus


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