The Five Real-Life Medieval Fight Moves You Won’t See on “Game of Thrones”

What, you forgot to watch the Medieval World Combat Championships?

The battles in “Game of Thrones” always look like beautiful, vicious dances—swift arcs of swords meeting flesh, foes felled with grace and grit. But what does it actually look like when clans of men in human-shaped tin cans go smashing into each other?

It ain’t nearly as pretty.

That, at least, is the takeaway from the second-annual Medieval World Combat Championships, which were held this past weekend in Poland. The final battle came down to the home team versus America. To be clear, the rules here are different than an actual battle to the death: A fighter is eliminated when he’s knocked to the ground. But still, a brutal ballet it was not.

Here, five inelegant—but still effective!—moves from actual hand-to-hand combat that the (late?) great Ser Barristan Selmy would have had no respect for:

1. The Whack-A-Mole

Sure, the hard work here was done by Pole #1, who whipped our poor American fighter into the corner. But notice how the final blow was dealt by Pole #2, who came in to deliver a strong bop on the head. Mole, whacked.

2. Back Attack

Here, we see a stalker-fighter just arbitrarily hacking away at someone’s back. There’s armor back there for a reason, buddy. You’re wearing yourself out.

3. Everyone Against The Wall

It’s as if everyone was fighting on a flat Earth, and suddenly the whole thing tilted 90 degrees. Gravity! What is this horizontal pile-on accomplishing? No idea. But this also seems to happen at every WWE Royal Rumble, so maybe there’s something to it.

4. Body Slam!

This probably wouldn’t be advisable in, you know, an actual battle with actual sharp objects. But in terms of accomplishing the mission of taking a dude to the ground, this soldier just earned himself a lordship.

5. The Macho Man

Sling a guy into the turnstile. Launch yourself into him. Snap into a Slim Jim. Oooh, yeahhhh.

The whole video is worth watching, too:

So, what happened at the end of this epic medieval battle? Poland won. Then they all died of dysentery. Kingdoms rose. Kingdoms fell. Someone invented gunpowder. Wars. Peace. Wars. Peace. Europe united under a common currency. Someone had the bad idea of inviting Greece. The end.

Photos by HBO