Watch 360 video of Russians in full medieval armor battering each other

© Omniscope
The annual Valor & Honor tournament in Moscow over the weekend saw Russia’s best sword and shield fighters engage in full-contact combat in front of a baying crowd.

Both men and women in different weight categories fought one-on-one battles, going three rounds of three minutes each. Points in the discipline, which has grown exponentially in Russia over the past two decades, are awarded for hits using swords, shields, knees, feet and fists, with scores doubling for strikes that destabilize the opponent, and knockout victories secured if the beaten knight cowers in defeat or loses consciousness.

With many participants supplementing swordsmanship with martial arts, the only restrictions are the use of sharpened weapons, piercing the opponent with the point of a sword, strangling, and using swearwords to insult the knight you are fighting.

Bleeding on the ring, and broken bones off it, are common.

Full-contact sword fights grew out of historical re-enactment, fencing, and combat disciplines that attempt to revive medieval fighting skills.

A semi-professional circuit has sprung up, with fighters, each with their custom-made armor and coat of arms, traveling around Europe to participate in ranked fights.

In the biggest tournament, the Battle of the Nations, knights from different countries not only brawl individually, but in teams of five and 21, in front of audiences in excess of 20,000.

The next Battle of the Nations takes place in Prague, in the Czech Republic, next month.