Jim's ready to lead Britain 'into battle'
DRESSED in full body armour, school teacher Jim Smith is ready to represent Britain in medieval battle.
The 46-year-old is the vice-captain of Team UK preparing to compete against other nations in an international tournament in Germany next month.
The Historical Medieval Battle (HMB) sees competitors dressed in period armour dating from 1350 to 1450 and armed with steel weapons.
The combat includes fights between two people, five versus five and 21 against 21, with the last team with at least one man left standing declared the winner. To win a round a fighter must knock their opponent to the ground.
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History teacher Jim, of Trent Vale, said: "HMB grew out of historical re-enactments which have been in existence for about 10 to 15 years.
"Health and safety concerns mean that generally the battles we do in front of the public have to be scripted.
"In early 2000, people decided to make the fighting a little more realistic but without killing each other.
"The likelihood of a serious injury is minimal because people are protected properly and the weapons are not sharp.
"The aim is to bring the excitement and adrenaline of medieval tournaments up to date without actual killing each other."
Jim got into the sport through the re-enactment scene of which he has been a member since 1995. He was a member of the Territorial Army, which took up much of his time, so he wanted to find a hobby which would include his interest in history.
A full set of armour can cost around £1,000.
He added: "To be honest, I looked at people in medieval clothing and thought, that's a bit strange, but if you like, and have a passion to communicate history, then it's a great hobby.
"The sport will appeal to people with an interest in history and sport and a willingness to take the knocks, especially people already doing full contact sport.
"We are not supermen and we certainly don't pretend to be but you do need to be at the basic British Army standard of fitness."
Jim met wife, Jennifer, through a mutual interest in re-enactments.
The 34-year-old said: "The first time we encountered each other was in 2000 during Tewkesbury Medieval Festival and I killed him.
"It's mostly a boys' game but I am hoping that will change.
"I intend to train with the British team but competitively women aren't allowed to fight with them. Women can be at a disadvantage so you have to be fast and sneaky."
The sport is relatively new to the UK, but is very popular in Germany, France and particularly in Eastern Europe.
Team UK public relations officer Nick Birkin said: "Last year these men of steel gathered in Warsaw and fought it out in front of 17,000 spectators and 300,000 online viewers."