On Saturday, the sounds of metal clanging and cheering emanated loudly from the Sheraton Grand Ballroom A–F for most of the afternoon. The Dragon’s Cup, an armored combat tournament, was in full swing with teams from all over the South invading Dragon Con, including Nashville Armored Combat. After rounds of brutal sword fighting, The Daily Dragon caught up with Nashville Armored Combat’s coach and fighter, Mickey Gallus, to discuss more about the sport, their teams, women fighters, and the armored combat community.
Daily Dragon (DD): What is armored combat?
Mickey Gallus (MG): Armored combat is a sport where one or more people decide to strap themselves into authentic medieval armor and fight. There are a bunch of categories you can fight in. Sword and board, longsword, and polearm. Those dueling categories are for points for getting sword strikes on one another. There are also profights, which is the MMA version of our sport. It’s armored fighters fighting, kicking, and throwing to the ground. Just like MMA, but with armor and weapons. Then there’s the team fights. These are five vs. five, 10 vs. 10, all the way up to 150 vs. 150. It’s agreed that the teams have to knock each other down. You can throw them or you can hit them with an axe and make them go down by pain compliance. I hit someone with a sword today and made them go down that way. It was fun.
DD: What is pain compliance?
MG: Pain compliance is when you hit somebody so hard that they actually go down because their body is in so much pain that they can’t stand up anymore. The rules of the team fight, or a melee as we call them, is to get the other team to the ground by any means necessary. There are certain places you can’t strike and certain things you can’t do, but if you can’t throw them to the ground, you can hit them as hard as you want with your weapon until they give up or go down from pain. I’ve seen someone get hit in the back with an axe, and they dropped from the sheer pain shooting through their spine.
DD: Last year was the first time that Nashville Armored Combat fought in the Dragon’s Cup at Dragon Con. This year, your men’s team, the World Eaters, took first in melees. Tell us about your journey from a new team to champs.
MG: We were a very brand-new team. We didn’t get a chance to really practice much. We’d probably been doing it about a year or so. Last year, we had several injuries and several armor failures. We had people who didn’t know what to do because it was the first time they’ve done an event, so it was very hectic. We had to drop out of the tournament because I was knocked out with an axe to the back of the head. Several people had injured ribs, legs, the whole thing.
This year, we ended up sweeping the whole thing. We didn’t lose a match, and no one was hurt on the men’s team, which is really rare.
DD: Would that be because of your training?
MG: Definitely would be. When we opened up the gym in February, we had the means to train. When we were at Dragon Con last year, we just trained in our friend’s backyard. We didn’t really have any equipment or anything to train with for team fights. We now have a big facility in Nashville next to Opryland Mall where we train seven days a week.
DD: And your women’s team took third in melees and had two profighters with a win and a tie. Can you tell us about your women’s teams?
MG: The women’s teams are doing great. We’ve been growing really fast. We teach two free women’s classes a week. Nashville Armored Combat, as a company, purchased about $8,000 worth of armor to help with getting the women in armor. Last year, we only brought a couple women to fight. This year, we were able to bring a small team. This was their first time, just like we were last year. They had their difficulties adapting to the format and knowing exactly what it’s like to go out and team fight. I know they’re going to go back home, get hungry, and they’re going to train for Carolina Carnage in South Carolina. We know that they’ll put in the time to get better and have a good showing at Carnage.
DD: Why is it so important to you to promote women in the sport?
MG: There’s obviously a disparity in women’s sports in general. The pay gap they have. You can say it’s butts in seats, but it’s about effort from those in charge. They don’t allocate resources properly. They don’t market the women’s league in any other sport. Separate but equal is not equal. We’re definitely allocating our funds to help fix that gap. There’s no used armor collection for women. Women’s figures are different from men’s in many ways and having custom armor is super important for anyone who does this sport. We made sure that we had the supply to help grow the women’s team. If anyone wants to fight, they should be respected. They should be encouraged and helped along the way instead of left in the dust because they don’t have the same means as someone else.
DD: Nashville Armored Combat opened a gym this year. Is it the first of its kind in the sport?
MG: Yes. There are several other smaller facilities that have training. What makes us unique out of the four or five in the country is definitely the size. We have a very large facility. We train all the time, seven days a week. We put on weekly fight nights, which are MMA profights every Wednesday. We have a big audience that shows up, and we stream it live online. We’re not just hiding in a gym somewhere. We’re in a great location where people can see the sport, and we can grow the sport instead of being worried about winning all the time.
DD: I imagine that some of the packed-in crowd will be curious about taking up armored combat. What are some reasons why someone should start fighting?
MG: Mental health, physical health, and community. It’s a great community to be a part of. Everyone is very supportive, and everyone respects you. When you wear armor, and you get out into the list, that person across from you respects you. No matter if they’re going to beat the crap out of you, they respect who you are and that’s really important for your mental health. There are a lot of people who do challenging things and a lot of people aren’t encouraged to do that. In armored combat, if you start doing it, you’re going to be encouraged to do it the whole time for ever and ever and ever. That’s fantastic.
DD: How would someone go about getting started with armored combat?
MG: Don’t just buy armor. It takes about three months to get it in anyway. You should start training. Find a gym, go to the Armored Combat Sports community on Facebook. They have a big range of knowledge of where the teams are. If you’re in the southeast and looking for a team, they know where people are at and can find them. When you first start, meet up with people who know what’s going on. If you don’t know where to start, reach out to Nashville Armored Combat, and we’ll make a video for you and your friends to show you how to get started. It’s not that hard. All you need is a stick, something that looks a shield, and a couple tires you can get for free. It’s really easy to start. That’s how we started. On a back porch, by myself, inviting people over to come hit tires with a stick with me.
DD: What’s your favorite part of the sport?
MG: The community has to be it. They’re incredible. All these people, they get hurt, and they hurt me. We all hug at the end. It’s great. The people who’ve hurt me the most are probably some of my closest friends.
DD: Anything else that you’d like to add?
For more information about Nashville Armored Combat, visit their site.