A new medieval combat league appeals to our appetite for fighting. | Forum

The Valhalla Modern Gladiatorial League sounds like something cooked up by guys over beers in the backyard. As one of Valhalla’s combatants in the hybrid… sport?… spectacle?… puts it: “It’s like the UFC meets Game of Thrones.”

Named after the mythical Norse god Odin’s palace of slain warriors, Valhalla was started by Salinas High alum Jeff Waters. He fought for two decades in the 30,000-member Society for Creative Anachronism, which re-creates the Middle Ages and Renaissance epochs.

There are other combat organizations – Battle of the Nations, Historical European Martial Arts – but Waters is aiming for the lucrativeness of sports.

Valhalla’s inaugural fight card at Monterey County Fairgrounds this Saturday (see p. 26) gathers 16 male and two female competitors in six weight classes, wearing replica medieval armor, weilding shields and solid bamboo swords, maces and battle axes, in a 22-foot ring. There’s a referee, three judges and ringside medical staff.

It’s not a medieval or renaissance faire, Waters says.

“You won’t find any flowery Elizabethan speech or Shakespearean prose,” he writes in an email. “Boxing is dying because it couldn’t keep up with the brutality, adaptivity and excitement of MMA.”

One of the controversial hang-ups of combat sports has been its inherent violence. MMA learned to mitigate the outcry by touting the skill and the art of it, and the legitimacy of its rules.

Waters says there is no sanctioning body for Valhalla, so they preemptively adapted rules from nonprofit, amateur weapons combat leagues and the Unified Rules of Mixed Martial Arts.

“Valhalla allows fans the vicarious spectacle of organized violence to escape the struggles and banality of everyday life while embracing the romantic fantasy of…

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