Ready for some swordplay? Historical European martial arts competition hits capital

The Points North 2019 Longsword competition will feature 32 combatants from Ontario, Quebec and the United States.

Ottawa Swordplay club hosts Points North longsword competition this weekend

Craig Shackleton, left, demonstrates his technique with a fellow instructor at Ottawa Swordplay. (Mario Carlucci/CBC)

It's called historical European martial arts, and with seven clubs devoted to the sport in Ottawa, it's growing in popularity.

Craig Shackleton, the head instructor of at Ottawa Swordplay, attributes it to a range of pop-culture influences.

"Game of Thrones definitely had a big impact on people looking for sword-fighting stuff, for sure. And a lot of times too, people coming out would just quote little lines from the shows. It definitely was a boon to us," he recently told CBC Radio's All In A Day.

"But really since the Lord of the Rings, there's been an upswing in interest ... And I think the trend has finally stuck." 

Shackleton stands in front of his fighting gear. (Mario Carlucci/CBC)

Ottawa Swordplay has moved among different gyms as it has grown, but the club recently found its own dedicated space and is no longer renting from karate dojos, community centres or gyms.

"We really wanted to get our own space where we could have our stuff out. At the gym we had to put things away at the end of every class, take things out at the start of every class. And we just had a lot less control ... We're really happy with the space we have now. We have our stuff out hanging from the walls. We've installed a really good floor for us to use and we have a big visible sign," he said. 

The space opened just in time to host the club's biggest annual competition, Points North 2019 longsword tournament.

According to Shackleton, his club teaches a style of sword fighting that was developed in the late 14th and early 15th century by the German sword master Johannes Liechtenauer.

Helmets on display at Ottawa Swordplay. (Mario Carlucci/CBC)

"We've got 32 combatants signed up. They're coming from all over Ontario and Quebec. I think we may even have some folks from the United States coming up for it. It'll be a longsword tournament using historical sword-fighting techniques."

Points North is open to the public, either for spectators or for people wanting to try their hand at sword fighting through a workshop.

It runs from Friday night to Sunday night.

CBC Radio's All In A Day