Top Knight Evan Ringo

Like most squires, Evan Ringo's path to knighthood began humbly

Growing up in Concord, he and his friends fought with homemade foam swords in the back yard. Then he discovered the Society for Creative Anachronism, where fighters basically did the same thing, but with hard wooden swords in full costume regalia. Still, something was missing: the force and sound of real metal longswords clanging. He found satisfaction and the company of kinsmen at Knights Hall in Nashua, where he underwent a few years of training, bought a set of armor and some genuine fighting steel. This March, after only six months competing with the Armored Combat League, he was invited to join the USA Knights for their national championship tourney. He won, and by the time you read this, he will have tested his mettle (and metal) at Castle Malbork, Poland, for the World Championship. 

The promo for Armored Combat League says “See Knights Fight – Full Force, Full Speed, Full Contact, All Real.” How accurate is that? Well, we hit as hard as we can, as fast as we can, so it’s definitely full force, full speed. The weapons are dulled, we don’t allow shots to the back of knee, kicks to the front of the knee or shots to the feet — and if you hit the back of the neck/head, there are certain rules. So it’s real people with real steel weapons, really fighting as hard as they can, but it’s not real life-and-death combat. 

I assume you suffer some real injuries. Got any scars? I broke my nose two or three times so it’s a little crooked. There’s a small scar on my nose from where the metal from my helmet dug in. Other than that I’m pretty much clean of injuries so far. Been quite lucky, but I’m still new. Hopefully, my luck holds out.

How does knighthood influence your mundane life? Well, for one thing, I’m in the best shape of my life. That plus doing well have given me huge boosts of confidence. There’s also a bit of code that I’ve picked up from the guys I train with. The short version can be summed up, “Deeds not words.” We try to do everything we say and only the say the things we’ll do.

Tell me about your armor. I wear a standard 14th-century kit. A coat of plates based on those found at Visby,  splinted limb protection, except for my greaves (shin protection) and spaulders (shoulder protection). My helmet is standard sugarloaf, with a brass cross to give it some flavor. Everything is stainless steel. For weapons I fight singles with a Fabri longsword and I fight melees with a two-handed axe fashioned here in NH. They are both fairly standard. 

What strategy helped you win the nationals? Train harder than the other guys. Beyond that, when fighting in the finals against Étienne, who won 4th in the world championships last year, I noticed he didn’t like to block his legs or throw leg shots. So I attacked low, which I think gave me a bit of an edge.

What country is our strongest rival in the World competition? Poland is likely to be our biggest rival both in singles and melee, and they have the benefit of home castle advantage. I’m studying the Polish longsword champion now, assuming if I do well I’ll be facing him. We also need to worry about the Brits. We have the experience and talent that we have a chance of coming home with gold in every event.

Is there any money in this? Not really. There are a few prize tourneys, one in New York that is $500 split four ways and one in Spain in October that is 700 euros per singles tournament and 1,500 for whichever team wins the melee. I just like hitting people with swords.

Any advice for someone who wants to get involved? Find someone with armor. Try it on and have someone hit you in it. The biggest challenge is making sure you can handle being hit.  Come to the Knights Hall in Nashua. We’ll figure out if it’s for you and prep you better than anywhere else in the country.

Categories: Q&A