Ambition to fight his way to the top

By Liz Wylie

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Martainn in full battle dress.
Martainn in full battle dress.

For most of us the "days of old when knights were bold" is a fantasy world we visit only in novels or on screen, but for former Whanganui man Martainn Cuff medieval combat is an all-consuming passion.

Martainn (pronounced Meerton) now lives in New Plymouth, where he spends most of his leisure hours training to compete in the increasingly popular contact sport.

As a knight-in-waiting, Martainn must "battle his inner demons" if he hopes to achieve his dream of becoming a champion in full-contact medieval combat.

The 32-year-old former St Augustine's College student will have his journey recorded by film-makers Ryan Heron and Andy Deere, who are also ex-locals and former St Augustine's students.

The short film, titled Bludgeon, will be shot in Whanganui next month and will feature Martainn along with fellow medieval fighters from the brotherhood of the Steel Thorns.
The Steel Thorns are Taranaki's premier full-contact medieval athletes and Martainn said they competed in both national and international competitions.

Martainn Cuff will be working with a film crew in Whanganui next month documenting his journey to a national championship.
Martainn Cuff will be working with a film crew in Whanganui next month documenting his journey to a national championship.


Asked how he made his way from Whanganui to Middle Ages-style fighting, Martainn said it came about through a need for physical activity and the people he met along the way.
"I have always been interested in stories of those times, and after spending nine years in the army, I was a bit lost because I had no outlet for that physicality, and I missed the camaraderie I had enjoyed in the army," he said.

"I went to a party where I met Justin Stockbridge who is an armourer - he makes weaponry and armour for medieval combat competitors.

"He talked about how the sport was growing in New Zealand and around the world and invited me to a weekend trial, so it all started from there." Martainn said medieval combat was not just for men and there were two women fighters in the Steel Thorns team. "They are very good, and because the sport hasn't got too big here yet, we have mixed-gender fighting, whereas it is segregated in some countries."

Bludgeon will follow Martainn's journey to the national medieval fighting competition, where he and his team will compete against the best.

- Wanganui Chronicle

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