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Medieval mayhem at Carolina Carnage

Mercedes Dubberly
Knights do battle during intense one-on-one competitions at Carolina Carnage.

Last weekend, the T. Ed Garrison Arena fairgrounds were transported back to the Middle Ages as Carolina Carnage descended on the town.

From Feb. 2-Feb. 4, individuals traveled to the Pendleton area to compete in the North American Medieval Combat Conference Championship and battle for the ultimate medieval title.

The contestants and officials all dressed in medieval tunics, shoes and hats. Grindstones whirred, swords clanged off shields and the crowd reacted to any particularly impressive parry or wrestling maneuver.

On Friday, the fighting was simply a one-on-one tournament to dwindle down the fighters into a competitive champion’s bracket. At around 7 p.m., the one-on-one bouts ramped up with mixed martial arts being integrated.

The early rounds were tactical and patient, whereas, in later ones, one could really see the attacks coming in at full force. Heavy breathing, clashes of sword against shield, knights wrestling each other to the ground. One man besting another and then wailing on the fallen combatant with overhand blows in a violent, shocking fashion.

There were three weight classes. The smallest class used dinner-plate-sized shields that were useful for both blocking and jabbing as a weapon. Contestants were patient and quick with lighter armor and smaller weapons.

The medium-weight class was heavier and slower, yet louder and more violent. Crouched, tense stances gave way to taxed, labored swings with minimal effort.

The largest weight class was truly a spectacle to behold. Figures standing well over 6 feet tall in full plate armor with serious weaponry, and referees were equipped with long yellow poles to signal the end of a fight or a round. The armor was so substantial, and the intensity was so great that a simple bell or horn would be lost in the fray of war.

Day two saw the beginning of the five-on-five combat. Much more tactical than one-on-one; a single loss of a warrior and the fight quickly could slide away, so the patience and tactics were on full display. Team strategy and quick wits were essential.

Such a strategy was less necessary in day three’s 12-on-12 matchups. This fighting was best described as corralled carnage. Quickly, piles of humans develop, maces swinging about and wrestling attacks seem at the same time incredibly effective and confusingly implemented.

The 12-on-12 fights finish rather quickly, as all involved have taken many hits before and are more susceptible than ever to attack. Compound this with the chance for sneak attacks and gang fights, and you have quite the spectacle of violence and sport.

A spectacle unlike any other, Carolina Carnage would be a fantastic way to spend an afternoon next spring as the world championship returns to Clemson.

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About the Contributors
Matthew Grubbs
Matthew Grubbs, Senior Reporter
Mercedes Dubberly
Mercedes Dubberly, Associate Editor
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