By Daniel Howlett @DanHowlett85
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Videographer / Director: Ruaridh Connellan
Producer: Nick Johnson
Editor: Sonia Estal, Ian Phillips
The New York Sentinels are part of the Armoured Combat League of America – and use swords, axes, maces and shields to inflict as much damage as possible on their opponents.
During organised competitions with other teams, groups of armour-clad fanatics go head to head, often leaving participants bloodied and battered.
It is one of America’s most extreme sports and no punches – or swords as the case may be – are pulled when the medieval knights meet to do battle.
“It is as rough as human beings can be with one another without one of them dying,” said Jaye Brooks a founding member of the ACL.
“It just feels completely natural to us. This is what our ancestors did in the 14th and 15th centuries.
“It’s a medieval fight club but we do want people to talk about it.”
The knights who fight in the league belong to different factions across the USA and recently the New York Sentinels took on the Boston Dark Knights in a royal rumble style melee.
Jaye, 50 added: “I can’t think of any other sport that is more intense. We are using real weapons, full force, full speed.
“I’m hitting a guy with a battle axe in the back and other guys are getting hit in the head with a mace.”
In preparation for the tournament – two of the Knights of New York, Zorikh Lequidre, 47, and Sam Awry, 35, took to the streets of the big apple to practice.
Sam, who is a medieval history student, said: “I don’t think two medieval knights training for battle is the strangest thing people would see in public in New York City.”
Despite the brutality of the battles most of the people involved in the sport believe in the code of honour that comes with the role of a medieval knight.
Jaye, who is a full time knight and combat trainer, said: “I try to live by the values of a knight. I try to adhere to the virtues of chivalry and justice and honour and truth."
“In this day and age a lot of people don’t believe in an awful lot.
“The knights who lived in a very violent time had a code that they had to adhere to - if people held themselves to stronger codes today we’d all get along a lot better in this world.”
Despite the huge potential for injury the sport attracts people from all works of life who are amazingly not put off by the staggering cost of armour and weapons.
A standard suit of armour can cost around £1,000 but top of the range protection can cost upwards of £10,000.
“This is not a rich man’s sport - we have folks who are construction workers and plumbers," added Jaye.
“They are looking to be a hero of some sort - maybe its Conan, Achilles or someone from the past that kind of inspired them, they can come out here, put on armour and fight like these guys did.”
Perhaps braver than the knights who enter the ring are their long suffering wives who have to watch their husbands take severe hits to the head.
Retail manager Elizabeth Ross, 35 said: “My husband is Brandon Ross, he is one of the Dark Knights of Boston.
“He is actually in retail but works for a company that sells building materials"
“When he is out of his armour he’s just like a normal, funny guy."
“In his armour he is pretty much fierce and beastly. It’s quite amazing to behold and it is very sexy, very, very much so.”
But despite the fun – Elizabeth does worry for Brandon’s safety.
“The extremeness of the fighting is on my mind and I know that they are real weapons and that these guys are really into it," added Elizabeth.
“You feel the force that they are using so I’m always quite nervous if I see him on the ground afterwards I’m like, 'is he okay?' 'What’s going on?' But I try to just enjoy it.”
While there are currently around 100 knights fighting across the USA the armoured combat league is hoping to expand.
“Our plans for the future of the sport is to grow this throughout the United States," added Jaye who has a wife and son both involved in the ACL.
“We want this in every city, in every part of the country so that you can find somewhere and get away from New York or other every day doldrums and just get that adrenaline fix.
“You also get the camaraderie of combat, the brotherhood – you get to do what our ancestors did.”