Besides recreating a historical period, crafting, research and camplife we also practice what we call reenactment fighting (fr. Swedish "Härkamp"). This is a martial art adapted to reenactment groups primarily using melee weapons. We train on a weekly basis where we learn new tactical maneuvers and to fight in the safest manner possible. During the summer months we participate in several battles, usually during markets, where the fighting is mostly done for our own enjoyment (though sometimes battles are there as entertainment for the market visitors and tourists).
The largest battle we participate in is during the market in Moesgaard (Århus, Denmark). Several hundred fighters can be seen on each side, and individual skill plays only a minor roll where instead tactical maneuvers and the ability to see and react quickly to what is happening proves all the more important.
The ruleset we use originates from England, where our form of reenactment fighting has its roots. You hit an enemy essentially by "marking" him or her with your weapon. Your opponent should be able to feel the hit, but not so hard as to do any real damage (remeber, all weapons have dulled edges). For safety reasons we do not aim for head, neck, knees or hands. In case we would want to increase the hit zones we need to wear armor which in turn removes the authenticity of the period we are reenacting. During the viking period armor was something very unusual in the lower classes.
Elvegrimarne hold to the belief that reenactment fighting should be fun, realistic and most importantly safe. None of these three should ever be sacrificed over the other. Using the ruleset we have gives us a good balance of all three.
There are several existing reenactment rulesets, some of them using the entire body as hit zone, but they are better suited for single combat. The most famous is perhaps the one dubbed "Huscarl", but "Hema"-style fighting is gaining in popularity among viking reenactors.
If you are interested in tactics and strategy when it comes to skirmish battles fought primarily with melee weapons you should get your hands on Robert Dahlström's "Härkamp" (volumes I & II). Contact Elvegrimarne for more information regarding this.