Knight to defend NZ’s honour

After 18 years of medieval combat, Charlie Tapsell’s worst injury is a lost toenail.

“I wasn’t wearing my steel feet and I kicked [someone] right in the shin.”

Not quite the sort of injury you’d expect from someone who fights with a sword and full body armour.

By day Charlie works as an engineer for the local council – but in his free time, he dons his armour, swings his 1.8kg sword, wields his 4kg shield, and battles in medieval combat.

He’ll be competing alongside three Australian and three New Zealand teams in the Historical Medieval Battles being run as a side attraction, as part of the Tattoo and Art Expo this weekend.

Charlie, who’s “not far off 37” has been running the Tauranga Armoured Combat club since 2007, and has even tried his hand at blacksmithing in order to make his own gear.

It’s significantly cheaper to make his own armour than it is to buy it, says Charlie.

“I’ve made pretty much 90 per cent of my own armour, [and] we make most of our own weapons.

“It can be a lot more time, but it saves you a lot of money.”

But it’s not all fun and games. Charlie maintains a fitness regime in order to stay fighting fit in the 42kg of armour.

“I do Muay Thai three nights a week, and I have my regular sword fighting training on a Sunday afternoon for about three or four hours.”

He says medieval combat is not only great for fitness, but also for entertaining audiences without really hurting anyone.

“It’s the only sport I’ve ever seen where you can smash somebody in the face with an axe and the crowd loves it, and you don’t hurt them.

“No matter how hard you hit someone, it’s only very rare that you actually hurt them.”

People often get bruises, Charlie says, but it’s not the injury expected when you “hit somebody in the face with an axe”.

Charlie will compete at the Historical Medieval Battles tournament at Queen Elizabeth Youth Centre tomorrow and Sunday from 11am-7pm daily, as part of the Tattoo and Art Expo.

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