ByMatt Juul, writer at
MMA and Entertainment Writer
Matt Juul

Whether it's Errol Flynn swashbuckling as Robin Hood or Mel Gibson leading a cavalry as William Wallace, Hollywood has always had a love affair with historical characters who can fight with swords and other medieval weapons.

While the movies portray these battles as highly stylized skirmishes with fancy, choreographed moves, real life warriors had a much different approach to the battlefield, focusing on effectiveness over style. The recent documentary Back to the Source takes a closer look at how sword fights actually went down, and let's just say it was grittier and a bit more brutal than your average Game of Thrones episode.

Ouch! Photo by Cédric Hauteville / YouTube
Ouch! Photo by Cédric Hauteville / YouTube

The film puts a focus on the rise of Historical European Martial Arts, or HEMA, which takes its tactical influence from real techniques that have been documented in the history books. From long swords to spears, this discipline tries to dispel some of the myths about medieval fighting perpetrated in movies.

Aside from using historically correct moves with their weapons, HEMA practitioners also utilize techniques that aren't all that different from what you would see in the . As the documentary shows, wrestling and grappling also played a big part on the battlefield, so maybe Russia was on to something by having knights fight in a ring.

Check out the full Back to the Source documentary below.

[h/t Kotaku]


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