Sometimes, you feel the need. The need to grab the nearest medieval sharp, hitty stick, put on armor that would make any knight of the roundtable jealous, and pound the ever-loving gong (that’s an old-old word for dung) out of another person. And sometimes, you feel like watching other people beat each other into the ground. Luckily for Dragon Con, we can experience the resounding crunches and clangs of axes hitting helmets without having our own bells wrung, thanks to the Palmetto Knights.
Since 2014, the Dragon Cup has been upping the (pretend) body count at Dragon Con. Men and women with balls weapons of steel don safety equipment and armor weighing 50–100 pounds, grab a polearm, axe, or sword and head out to the list to get their beat down on. Saturday, attendees packed the Sheraton Grand Ballroom A–F at 11AM and 1PM for The Knights: Dragon’s Cup Duels and Dragon’s Melee Tourney to watch the carnage.
Both the duels and melee mayhem rounds should really be experienced live or in surround sound to really hear just how hard the blows are. Since the Daily Dragon aims to please our fans, sound effects were added below:
Kerthunk ching ding.
THWANGGGG (the unmistakable reverberation of metal crashing into the front of the helmet).
Whoosh, THWACK (dodge flying wood chips).
“Stop fighting the rope! Fight the opponent in armor.”
“Armor malfunction, please hold.”
Rahhhhh (the Dragon Con crowd always cheering loudly).
Maybe next year the Daily Dragon print edition will have the budget to add sound effects.
The rounds consisted of polearm fighting, sword and shield, women’s lightweight pro fight, men’s melee, and women’s melee. In the polearm, fighters are separated by a pesky rope and trade blows over it. In the sword and shield, the medieval knights are equipped with … swords and shields, and contestants are not allowed to punch, kick, or take down their opponent. In the pro fights, just about anything goes. Kicks, punches, helmet strikes, and sweeping the legs are not only allowed, but earn extra cheers from the crowds. The melees are also anything goes, but with the added twist of packing the list with up to five fighters from each team. The aftermath? Mass carnage of bodies, armor, and weapons strewn about the area followed by choruses of “Sorry, you tripped over my dead body” and hugs.
Like all tournaments, the glory can only go to one. The winners of the Dragon Cup and Melee were:
Women’s lightweight pro fight: Elise.
Women’s melee: Sheraton Sheilas
Men’s melee: Knights of Wakanda
Men’s sword and shield: Cyrus
Men’s polearm: Micah
Congratulations to all the melee teams: the Marriott Mavens, Average Joes, Knyaz, Nashville Armored Combat, and the Red Shirts.
One of the best things about seeing the teams compete at Dragon Con went beyond enjoying a fierce battle with literal sparks. It was seeing the inclusivity and diversity in the sport. The women of the Marriott Mavens vs. Sheraton Sheilas battled melee after melee after melee in between the men’s rounds. The Knights of Wakanda, the winners of the men’s melee, are a team consisting of all POC members. The camaraderie among the teams was palpable. After each match, the fighters gave their opponent hugs. Teams encouraged the crowd to cheer for their opponents, including an ovation when the Nashville Armored Combat, who were competing in their first tournament, had to withdraw after injuries.
When done safely and willingly, sharp, hitty sticks and armor are for everyone.