Mediaeval global battle beckons for Worthing-based champion

Nikolaj Malnac in action at last year's Battle of Nations medieval tournament
Nikolaj Malnac in action at last year's Battle of Nations medieval tournament
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Charging headlong into battle wearing full 14th-century armour and brandishing accurate replica weaponry is something that is second nature to Nikolaj Malnac.

The 31-year-old Lithuanian, who moved to Worthing last year, is rated in the world’s top 10 practitioners of full-contact mediaeval combat, which is fast becoming a global phenomenon.

So much so, that Nikolaj is now training the UK team, who are psyching themselves up for the latest Battle of Nations event in France. This will see 26 countries compete in this high-adrenaline activity that evolved from the popular mediaeval re-enactment scene.

Nikolaj said: “There’s a lot of things that are really good about full contact mediaeval battle. It’s great fun and not quite as dangerous or scary as it looks to spectators when you’re inside the battle field.

“It’s a professional sport, rather than a hobby, though it’s not just about battles – it also looks at chivalry and discipline.”

On the face of it, donning heavy metal plating weighing up to 30kg and pitting your fighting against an array of axe, mace and sword-wielding modern-day warriors might just sound as if it is the stuff of nightmares for many.

But despite being burdened with relatively few rules, bar the banning of sword thrusts, slashes to the neck, or attacks to the feet, Nikolaj believes it is a comparatively safe, if unconventional form of sport.

His inspiration for competing in this intriguing revival of ancient warfare stemmed from a childhood love of history. This led to his joining a re-enactment society in Lithuania, called Ordo Templi Boreis, which demanded a high level of accuracy at its events.

Having been instrumental with England’s southern region Battle Heritage group, he has won an impressive tally of 13 tournaments and gained status as among the best in the business.

He felt the sophisticated level of armour worn and specially blunted blades meant that it was considered a comparatively safe, all-action sport.

It is certainly a strong contrast from his day job as a project manager for an engineering firm in Worthing.

The Lithuanian has settled comfortably into Worthing life with his wife and young family in Homefield Road. And it seems they approve of his “other life” on the battlefield, with wife Natallia accompanying him to events in full mediaeval garb.

“Mediaeval combat is also a great way to stay in shape and once the fighting is finished all the combat is forgotten about and you can go off and all have a beer together,” Nikolaj said.

“When I moved to Worthing, I was not sure I would have time for the sport, but I realised that I missed it and managed to make contact with some people from re-enactment groups who were interested in doing this who were led by Mark Annable, who is the captain.

“We want to be accurate with our weapons which can cost thousands. I have had mine made in Russia and Lithuania, where a lot of them come from.

“I hope that we’ll be able to have the international event here in the UK one day.”

It has taken him years to gain full mastery of the level of swordsmanship and general athleticism required to become the best of the best, yet he says it has been entirely worth it.

As well as training the UK team, he is also hoping to compete with them himself against the best in the world this summer.