Lord Christian Goldenlok reports on the epic fighting that took place on February 20-21 in Abhainn Ciach Ghlais.
Morale has improved significantly! On February 20th, both new and experienced fighters from all over the Knowne World made the journey into the heart of the Kingdom of Æthelmearc. There, all were given the opportunity to jump in and prosecute the joy of singles combat at the first annual Æthelmearc Ædult Swim.
Just how many fighters were at this glorious event? Almost 400 people were in attendance from twelve kingdoms. These numbers included 75 fencers, over 260 heavy fighters, and 40 distinguished guests representing royalty from all over the Knowne World.
What made this fighting event so special? Many firsts come to mind, but I believe the accessibility and availability is what made this such a memorable event for me. There are many different learning styles and it was so easy to learn at your own pace and in your own learning style.
I learn through observation, so I was thankful to have such a plethora of fights going on all around me, so I could take off my helmet after a series of passes and learn by observing others. Many learn from an interactive experience and Ædult swim did not disappoint. Singles matches were available in overflowing abundance. There were so many fighters present, I spent the majority of my time fighting those who were completely outside of my Kingdom. Not only was the deep end of the pool squaring off for friendly competition, but novice contenders spent the whole day challenging knights and friends and seeking their tutelage. Fighters were doing so much communication with both swords and ideas that it seemed impossible for an individual not to walk away from the day with some idea on how to improve their fighting skill.
A feeling of intense excitement permeated the site. The Ice Dragon might have frozen us into our homes in recent months, but the day was absolutely perfect for the event! Laughter echoed as loud as the clashing of swords; the populace cherished the fellowship the day offered. Many were laughing with friends from all across the kingdoms. Also worth noting is the meager site fee. The low cost made it even more beneficial for those to travel to the event.
So much more than just fighting: the format of the event facilitated the maximum amount of fighting with a motive of learning with nothing else attached to it. There were no prizes to be won but individual honor, knowledge, and camaraderie. There were no court processionals to prepare for, and save for a few cautionary holds and announcements, there were virtually no interruptions for medical purposes. With safety in mind, all fighters had to do was register, get their arms and armor inspected, and participate.
Because the event allowed such a massive amount of time to fight, combatants who stayed in armor reported engaging in hundreds of battles with dozens of fighters. This sort of continual engagement without interruption allowed scores of fighters to leave the fighting area to talk or to rest, and others to replace them in the fighting area. Ædult Swim saw a constant flow of fighting and fellowship. Most importantly, respect was a common trait displayed regardless of which Kingdom the fighter belonged to. I was proud that we all observed the chivalric virtues of Prowess, Humility, Courage, Loyalty, Honesty, Largesse, and Justice.
The first annual Æthelmearc Ædult Swim was for many a much needed invigoration of the joy that SCA fighting can bring. The event took some back to their fighting roots. Rule number one of fighting is spreading the word about how awesome this day was for you. Many thanks to Duke Timothy of Arindale and his support staff including the troll and MOL staff.
Here’s what some of the other participants at the Ædult Swim had to say.
Lady Maggie Rue shares her comments about specific classes:
Duke Timothy taught a nice long class on Sword and Shield 101, where I picked up a few tips before moving on. There was an “Intro to Combat Archery and Combat Archery Tactics,” plus a “Combat Archery Class” taught by Mistress Zoe, a “Beginners class on Shot Set-up” by Sir Arnthor, a Great Sword class taught by Prince Dietrich, “Fighting from the Female Perspective” taught by Sir Rauokinn, and “How to Suck less at Two Sword” by Duke Sven.
Duke Malcolm Duncan MacEoghainn discusses why the Ædult Swim was a success:
[The Ædult Swim] was probably one of the highlights of my (mumblety) years fighting. I am fortunate in that I have been blessed by training at points with some of the best our sport has to offer. My talents are miniscule compared to the raw talent and abilities I have learned from. This weekend saw the best of the best.. in skill, in PEOPLE.. the fighting was all about Training. Not Ego..not Reputation..not earning this or that cookie. It was about what we do, and what we, as fighters are at our core.
As Duchess Dorinda put it.. no rushing to do other things, no pressure because we’d miss something else. It was our Art, and all our Art. I was told that my joy showed in my face and I have no reason to doubt it. I was able to fight and talk with friends that I have not seen in years. Friends that have been friends for decades, and friends I just met this weekend..
AEdult Swim practice allowed us to just BE who we are. To learn. To grow. To stretch. To become more.
The beauty of the SCA is not the fighting. Fighting is one aspect of it. But for me, it is the fighting that speaks to my spirit, it is the fighting that grounds me, makes me whole when my soul bleeds. My body whines, but my spirit soars. Others can make music with their voice. My tool is coarser, less refined, more bloody. But to those that hear its siren call, I salute you, and thank you all for crucible of the field of honorable, brutal, chivalric, vicious combat.
Duchess Siobhán inghean uí Liatháin reports on her experience as a new fighter:
“My name is Duchess Siobhán and I am a new fighter.” That is pretty much what I said to every fighter I crossed swords with at this past weekend’s MEGA fighter practice called Ædult Swim.
Now, I have been playing in the SCA since about 1997, and during my years I have put on armor and fought only a handful of times, the last time being about 6 years ago. So when I decided that I would accompany my husband, Duke Sven, to the Ædult Swim, I thought there is NO WAY I can go there without dusting off my armor.
And there I was…back in armor (well…actually…I wouldn’t exactly call it “armor” but more…well…my “protective gear”) and standing on the side looking at sea of talent before me. I kept looking around to see if there was a “kiddy pool” at this Ædult Swim but alas, I didn’t see arm rings or a shallow end anywhere. As fear started to fill me (because I was probably going to have to walk out into the deep end, without a life vest), I felt a Royal presence near and turned to see His Royal Majesty of Æthelmearc, King Tindal, approaching me. I soon felt relief, for I was confident that he knew where the “shallow end” of this Ædult Swim was and where I would find more new fighters like me. But then he said something that I did not expect. His advice was actually NOT to find the new fighters but instead, look for knights. And here I thought he liked me, but instead he was throwing me to the wolves…was my first thought, but then he explained himself and it all made sense. You see, new fighters, with all their good intentions, do not have the skills yet to be able to teach someone like me, who is just as new as them and would probably hit them in ways that could potential hurt us both. We would just be human pells to each other and not really walk away with any knowledge or skills but instead with more bruises and pain. This made SOOOO much sense to me and I thanked his Majesty, for he is wise. So now I looked at this sea of talent with new eyes and by the end of the weekend I fought: the King of the East, the Prince of Ealdormere, a Duke of An Tir, a Duke of Ansteorra, a Duke of Æthelmearc, A Duke of Drachenwald (ok…this was my husband but he WAS a Duke), and an amazing squire (shout out to THL Beatrix). I walked away with only a small bruise (thanks Bea) and so much more knowledge than I expected. So my advice to new fighters, “When you are new to fighting…be a snob and only fight knights.”
Sir Aengus MacBain also reflects what the Ædult Swim meant to him:
I’ve been trying to put my finger on what made this such an amazing event and why it resonated so much in my soul. It just dawned on me now. The focus was purely on singles combat. My opponent stood in front of me and tested my skill, my mettle, my technique, and my heart in the crucible of armored combat. That is something I sorely miss with the ongoing focus on Melee. It took me back to my roots. I didn’t realize how much I had been missing it. Thanks to all those who participated and gave the gift to their sword brothers and sisters!
Video of Duke Timothy of Arindale fighting Duke Sean Kirkpatrick from
Artemisia by Master Tigernach mac Cathail.
Master Donnan MacDubhsidhe, Kingdom Rapier Warlord, reports that the activities included a variety of classes, a bear pit tourney, and melee training. There were also quite a few White Scarves and Masters of Defense available for pickups.
Duchess Dorinda Courtenay commented:
It was wonderful that the rapier community got to be a part of the Ædult Swim. Despite the making of the first MoD in Ealdormere and a Baronial Investiture in Atlantia, fencers from as far away as Ansteorra and Artemisia took to the field to improve their skills. Over 65 fencers were present on Saturday, with reinforcements on Sunday from Atlantia.
Six of Æthelmearc’s MoD’s were present, as well as several from out of Kingdom including the East, Atlantia and one gentle from Artemisia who has been placed on vigil [for the Order of Defense]. A huge number of White Scarves from Æthelmearc and Atlantia also came. Fencers came from all over our Kingdom and our neighbors were there. We are looking forward to doing it again.
Master Aedan Aylwyn from Atlantia teaching a class. Photo by Lady Sinn Larensdotter.
Duchess Dorinda noted that there were a lot of great classes.
Saturday brought out a whole slate of classes. Master Áedán Aylwyn, a member of the Order of Defense from Atlantia, taught classes on Gigante as well as Tempo and Measure (or maybe that was Measure and Tempo!) Mistress Aleson Grey taught a popular class on Destreza while Lady Cairdha Eilis brought out the melee lessons. If this wasn’t enough, Sunday brought out Longsword lessons from Mistress Aleson, while Master Áedán was there to teach Italian Rapier from the Waist Up, Master Clewin Kupferhelbelinc taught sparring drills designed to get people to think about attacks and defenses from different places, and Mistress Fredeburg von Katzenellenbogen provided training on German Longsword as well as Sword and Buckler.
The Measure and Tempo class was of particular interest, as it was suited to both beginners and more experienced fencers. Both concepts are key for those starting in fencing, but the nuances were interesting for those wishing to refine their game or put words to things that they already do.
The Gigante class was a more advanced class that focused on a particular style. While many of the basic terms were familiar to those who have studied Capo Ferro, the tiny details around hand position and tip placement were fascinating as small changes produced great results.
Duchess Dorinda was thrilled with the tournament and pickups.
The middle of the day was spent in a 30-man bear pit tourney! Everyone got to fight everyone else, and it doesn’t get any better than that. People brought out their best weapons (or kept changing), but the winner of the day was Will Deth of the East. Fighting with two swords, he kept people out of range and swept through the field. However, win or lose, it was a great time.
All of these planned activities were great for teaching and testing, but to be honest, the best part of the weekend was just the freestyle pick-up fights. Many of us got to fight people we hadn’t seen in a while – or ever. New friends were met. Some people went all out while other match-ups were for working on a certain skill or lesson. We fenced until we couldn’t walk, and that is always the best. Then we got up, and did it again the next day!
Master Benedict Fergus atte Mede, Kingdom Rapier Marshal, commented on the melees:
About half-way through the day on Saturday, Master Donnan led about twenty-five of us through some basic melee work. Countess Elena and I were given command of two separate units. We focused on line movement and advancing though the enemy lines. In previous years, this line work was the backbone of Æthelmearc’s rapier army. It was refreshing to see it again. Within a few passes, each side had a clear and mostly straight line that was able to advance and retreat together. This was some fast improvement. When we moved to actual combat, we were able to successfully move to actual engagement rather than only to the point of contact which is what stops most lines from being successful. I was thrilled to see the units actually meeting the line in combat, rather than hesitating. It was great to see the group working so successfully so early in the year. This looks promising for Pennsic.
Master Fergus continued:
One of the best parts of the day for me was working extensively on two handed sword. In my part of the Kindom (Delftwood), there are few rapier fighters who study this form, so it was great to be able to make that a big part of the day. I fought many passes in traditional rapier as well as cut and thrust, and managed to knock some of the rust off. It was a great day.
Rejoice! For Duke Timothy reports he is planning to hold a second Ædult Swim sometime in March or April of 2017.