All About Japan

Knights vs. Samurai—in Real Life!

Samurai Sports Events Video Extreme Sports Tokyo Greater Tokyo

Ever wondered who would win in a fight of knights versus samurai? At the Japan Armored Battle League (JABL), you can finally find out!

In this surprisingly moving video, JABL founder Jay Noyes explains how the JABL came to be, starting from his arrival in Japan as an English teacher and culminating with his founding of Castle Tintagel, a school of medieval European combat located near Mejiro Station in Tokyo. The school has since grown to include dozens of dedicated members and staff—both foreign and Japanese—who come not only to fight but to learn, help out with events and share in Medieval culture.

The JABL grew out of the school, and now includes three teams—two European-style and one Japanese—that fight with metal weapons at regular tournaments throughout the year. Events include point-based, one-on-one duels, and massive melee combat, where the building itself shakes with the impact of armored fighters against the reinforced walls.

The school always welcomes new fighters, with classes ranging from novices using soft swords, "scholars" using plastic swords and padded armor, and armored fighters using rattan weapons. The JABL stands as the professional level, where fighters use real blunted weapons, including flat-edged axes and heavy swords essentially made out of shaped and flattened pipe.

How did it all begin? "To be honest," Noyes says, "Really what I wanted was more people to fight with."

Anyone interested in joining him—or simply checking out the next JABL event—should check out Castle Tintagel below to find out more.