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Clattering armour and ringing ears – What does a medieval combat sport have in common with a digital engineering company?

Published in People

Written by

Sami Lappeteläinen
Director, People operations

Article

October 11, 2023 · 3 min read time

Scratch a little deeper beneath the surface of the armour used in buhurt matches, and you'll realise that by following the enchantment of my childhood, I've discovered many valuable skills and lessons for the professional world. But what do Nitor and medieval combat sports have in common?

In the arena, swords clash, and axes hit shields, creating a spectacle that might intimidate both the audience and novice fighters alike.

What's underway is a buhurt match, a contemporary full contact combat sport that draws inspiration from authentic medieval tournaments, fought in historical armour with blunt steel weapons. Participants wear authentic medieval armour and weapons. The armour alone can weigh up to forty kilograms. But it's not just about appearances: buhurt combines intense physical sport, tactics & strategy, teamwork, a touch of history, and medieval aesthetics into one package.

From a childhood dream to the Board of an International Federation

I've always been enchanted by the medieval era. As a child, I was fascinated by Robin Hood and castle-themed Lego sets. So, it's hardly surprising that I was immediately drawn to buhurt when I came across it. I first encountered the sport during the warmup act of a Manowar concert in 2014. I soon found myself at a starter camp in Jyväskylä.

The rest, as they say, is history. A year later, I was already on the board of the sport's federation. The Finnish Buhurt Federation, Medieval Combat Sport Finland, is the sport's umbrella organisation in Finland, driving its growth and recognition in the country. I spent about six years as the federation's chair, and now I continue working on the International Medieval Combat Federation board as a Strategy Officer. The International Medieval Combat Federation drives the sport's development globally, all the way from the USA to Japan and from South Africa to here in Finland.

A flexible company culture and our commitment to a sustainable work pace have made my passionate involvement possible. While work usually takes priority for me, a meaningful work-life balance is absolutely crucial. At Nitor, it's possible to adjust one's working hours and holidays to a very large extent according to one's preferences.

We also offer an employment benefit that allows three days of paid leave to participate in European or World Championship competitions. Under this scheme, I recently attended the World Championships in Spain, where we brought back four gold medals, a silver, and three bronzes for Finland.

Community, self-transcendence, and continuous learning – key elements for both work and leisure

Buhurt is more than just a physical sport; its community aspect is central to its appeal. This sense of collective achievement and celebrating successes is something I value in both my leisure time and my professional life. At Nitor, a sense of community manifests in the various hobby clubs that bring together runners, cyclists, and even colleagues who play pond hockey. Maintaining this sense of community requires meaningful and dedicated effort.

Buhurt has pushed me outside my comfort zone. Overcoming oneself and facing fears are inherent lessons of the sport. Due to my involvement in its organisation, I've had to step up as a presenter and face media interviews. Moments of discomfort have turned into experiences of success, giving me confidence in the professional world.

A big part of buhurt's allure is the opportunity for continuous development. I'm intrinsically motivated towards this, and it's no coincidence that one of Nitor's key success factors is continuous professional growth. We believe that projects and varied personal interests provide an excellent platform for learning alongside daily work. During Core time, everyone can explore these within their work day.

What excites me the most are the successes of others and the opportunities to grow. I'm not particularly competitive as a person. This is also important in a work setting. At Nitor, we don't engage in internal competition, like having internal rankings or setting team performance against a Gaussian curve. We treat people as individuals and pull together as a team to achieve excellence, not by stepping over others.

This collaborative spirit is strong at Nitor. I love the fact that the entire company gets excited about my slightly unusual hobby. It gives me the feeling that I can be the same person at work as in my free time: a continuously learning Nitorean who also spends time in a 40-kilogram suit of armour.

Photo: Jani Kormu

Read more on Nitor’s philosophy on achieving a sustainable work-life balance!

Written by

Sami Lappeteläinen
Director, People operations