July 1, 2022

Eure. Medieval combat sport, the behourd wants to make itself known in Évreux

Coach and president of the Evreux branch in Diex Aïe, Bastien Rousselot (left) welcomes new followers of behourd, such as Benjamin and Damien.

This Friday evening, Sébastien decided to walk through the doors of the Fight Team Factory, a room of the La Madeleine area To Evreux (Your) dedicated to combat sports. This former boxer is used to taking blows, and giving them.

That’s good, the discipline he came to test has everything it takes to please him. “I like the fight, I have the impression that it is for me”, he imagined before giving his first sword strokes.

An hour and a half later, Sébastien left with a smile, after having sweated well. “It’s more voracious than boxing,” he whispered.

This is undoubtedly a new follower of behourd, a little-known sport that can be practiced in Évreux for almost two years. The Covid and the confinements have been there, cutting off the dynamics of the first weeks. So much so that in the start of the 2021 school year, it is almost the real start for Flayers.

“God help us”

Évreux is one of the six branches of Norman club Diex Aïe, like “God help us”, the battle cry of William the Conqueror and the Dukes of Normandy.

In Rouen, Caen, Cherbourg, Yvetot, Évreux and La Chapelle-Montligeon, where the regional club was born, we train on our side but we fight under a common banner. “Gabriel Krielaart, the president, wanted to create a Norman team, competitive, to push the behourd in Normandy, to make it one of the biggest teams of France”, recalls Bastien Rousselot, president of the Ebroïcienne antenna and trainer. Diex Aïe is currently 5e of the national ranking.

Sparks on the helmet

The Diex Aïe team - here in September in Rouen during the Normandy Excellence Festival - shines throughout Normandy.
The Diex Aïe team – here in September in Rouen during the Normandy Excellence Festival – shines throughout Normandy. (© Facebook Diex Ouch)

Unlike the reconstruction of historical battles, which aims to get as close as possible to medieval battles, behourd is a contemporary sport, inspired by the knights’ tournaments of the time, with its rules and referees.

A sport open to all (there are three women’s teams in France), accessible to the greatest number (a few hundred followers in France), as long as we have the mind to take often numerous and powerful blows.

It’s a physically demanding sport that hurts. You have to put up with being in armor, the weight, between 20 and 30 kg, the heat, the difficulty in breathing, sometimes the sparks when you hit the helmet.

Bastien RousselotPresident and trainer of the Evreux branch of the Diex Aïe behourd club

Standardized weapons and armor

The French Federation of Behourd is affiliated to one of the two international federations, the HMB (Historical medieval battle). “Each has its rules, on the blows not to be struck, the way of winning the fight, on the standardization of armor and weapons”, explains the coach of the Flayers.

Armor – generally pieces from the XIVe century, from Western Europe – must therefore be sourced, and the pieces cannot be from different eras. The investment is certain: “A suit of armor is 2,500 €”.

Several weapons are used, often the falchon (a single-edged sword, from the XIVe), the shield but also “the halberd, the ax, the winged mace”. All are blunt to protect the fighters. Thrusting is prohibited, such as blows behind the knees or on the back of the neck.

Putting the opponent on the ground

Fighting and hand-to-hand combat are also means of achieving one’s ends, putting the opponent on the ground. Sweeps, throws with the hip, charges, kicks or punches are some of the techniques intended to bring down an opponent, or make him give up.

The game takes place in two winning rounds with more or less people inside the lists (which delimits the combat zone). “The premier category is 5vs5, but there are also 12vs12, 30vs30 and even 150vs150, one-on-one duels by weapon or Profight, by weight category,” explains Bastien Rousselot.

The practitioners compete in a national championship and an international HMB championship (the buhurt league). A world championship – the Battle of the Nations – takes place every year, with national teams this time.

Physics and technique

Particularly intense, the training allows you to learn to master technical gestures, so that they become instinctive in combat.
Particularly intense, the training allows you to learn to master technical gestures, so that they become instinctive in combat.

Before considering participating in a tournament, it is obviously necessary to acquire some bases.

Typical training begins with physical culture. Cardio is very important to support the armor. We then tackle more and more technical things, how to land a good shot, which projections to throw, to reproduce them well. Finally, we fight the licensees in conditions representative of our sport.

Bastien Rousselot

Any new member is also put in good condition from the outset, to ensure that he is ready to take the blows.

Beyond the competition, you can also come and practice behourd for pure pleasure. “Our club tries to make this sport more accessible to everyone. We do not necessarily send everyone to compete, ”reassures the coach. A leisure practice is therefore possible, to imagine yourself as a knight of the XXIe century.

Trainings take place on Fridays from 7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. at Fight Team Factory, 716, rue Lavoisier. Information on 06 73 06 25 84 or Facebook Diex Aïe – Les Écorcheurs.

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