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Fencing and Associated Interests

posted 20 Jan 2009, 03:11 by Toby Atkin-Wright   [ updated 20 Jan 2009, 03:11 ]

In keeping with the Brighthelm theme, this isn't a page of technique tips to keep you doing things right. This is to do with how to fight using period styles, but also with a tip of the head towards some of the 'dirty tricks' that suit the mood of the Household.

There are three official forms of combat within the SCA, and one semi/unofficial one. These are Heavy (or Armoured), Light (or Fencing) and Missile (or also Light, or Combat Archery). The semi-official form is Soft (or Boffer also occasionally called Light in error) weapons. Confused? You will be. Now, as you can tell, I'm primarily a fencer, so my main thrust will be with that in mind. After all, how many bar room brawls can you have if all the participants either have to go to the pub in tin cans, or have to break off their accusation of cheating at cards for half an hour while they go and armour up. Similarly, even the dimmest of drinkers is going to think it odd when they find someone drinking with a low slung longbow. So, Rapiers it is.

The rapier has been in SCA use for a long time, in one form or another- modern foils were used in the first Tourney, 30 years ago, and since then they have had a chequered relationship with the Crowns. More information on the history of Fencing in the SCA can be found at Tivar Moondragons ( site. The current situation in Drachenwald is that Light fencing weapons (epees and foils) and heavy fencing weapons (schlagers and Del Tin practice rapiers) can be used, but not mixed. For more information on the rules (yes, even when brawling, the rules come first), can be found here.

So, what's this about brawling then? Well, any safe rigid or non-rigid device can be used to parry with, given a little thought. It seems more likely (not to mention stylish) to parry that thrust with a chicken leg you had in your hand anyway, than with a buckler, which you shouldn't really have been carrying into the tavern in the first place. Prefer a non-rigid parrying device? Well, how about the tablecloth? Or the maids apron? Even (if you must!) the now infamous rubber chicken! It is the sense of fun that really distinguishes the SCA fencer from his mundane counterpart, and it is important we recognise it.