Kiwi battler's tales of derring do

HELEN HARVEY
Last updated 05:00 14/05/2014
Sophie Moore-Stockbridge

MEDIEVAL WARRIOR: Sophie Moore-Stockbridge came third at the International Medieval Combat Federation World Champs in Spain fighting with a poleaxe.

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Dressed from head to toe in 15th century armour, Sophie Moore-Stockbridge, 25, went into battle with a poleaxe and not only survived, but won a bronze medal.

Moore-Stockbridge, who lives in New Plymouth, represented New Zealand at the International Medieval Combat Federation World Champs in Spain last week.

For the record, the combat is not pretend.

"It's full power. People are hitting as hard as they can," she said.

"You hear the hits, but don't really feel them."

But the combat is more strategic like chess, as opposed to just blindly smacking someone, she said.

"You're thinking where am I going to put my next shot."

Each hit is a point and each round is a minute long. Moore-Stockbridge fought five opponents and beat four of them, including a woman from Portugal, to secure third place.

Her armour weighs 35 kilos.

"It's all spring-steel, all hardened. I came back with no bruises."

As well as the poleaxe she entered the long-sword event, but the competition was "absolutely fierce," she said. She took a hit to the gauntlet and it bent one of the finger pieces back.

"One more hit and it would have snapped my finger."

So, she decided to pull out of that event.

"One medal is enough. I wanted to come home in one piece."

There were only two Kiwi women at the world champs, which had 200 fighters representing 18 countries- Moore-Stockbridge and a competitor from Wellington.

In New Plymouth she is part of the Steel Roses re-enactment group.

Moore-Stockbridge's husband Justin Stockbridge makes armour and weapons for people here and overseas.

It takes about 1000 hours, or three months, to make a suit of armour.

"We can churn out about four a year. Weapons, we import some and make the rest."

A sword costs about $1000.

In New Zealand there are about about 600 medieval re-enactors, and 20 people who fight in heavy combat. And of those, only two are women.

The period from AD900 to 1700 is re-enacted in New Zealand, but the Stockbridges specialise in the period from 1300 to 1500.

Moore-Stockbridge re-enacts the year 1432, because she likes to have everything historically accurate.

"So all my armour and weapons are based around 1432."

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