You’ve been in the SCA for a while now and borrowing your friend’s sword. You’ve wanted your own but buying the materials can be expensive online. The rattan sword from one site and the metal hilt from another. There is the cost of the items themselves along with the shipping on top. That alone can deter you from actually buying and keep borrowing your friend’s. You have been attending events hoping to find one but nothing has been found and you were not able to attend the local war this year. You have just about given up hope when the last even you go to there is a sword. Even though the sword is a bit short and the hilt looks terrible you purchase it anyhow. For the price it’s a steal and you can always take the hilt somewhere to make it look nice. Now just how do you wrap the rattan to actually make it legal for heavy weapons?
First take the screw off the hilt and put a piece of foam in it so that any thrusts you make will be cushioned. Do not cut a piece of foam and then put a cut in it so it will fit around the sword but cut the hole and then slide it through the bottom of the sword and then put the hilt back on the sword. This will ensure the foam does not come off. Depending on the size of your hilt you may not need a big piece of foam either.
When you tape your sword you need to have strapping tape to tape the rattan first and then two colors of duct tape second. Black is normally used for the back color and then a second color for the blade edge but as long as they are contrasting colors anything will work. Also you need to have foam for the tip and ribbon to wrap the tip in prior to taping it to the end of the blade. The tip must be at least half an inch long for thrusting.
Start by using the strapping tape longwise on the blade. If you get standard two inch tape it will tape three passes to cover the sword and will overlap. Then make your tip by wrapping your foam in the ribbon and taping it with the strapping tape so it will hold up to the thrusts you make to your opponents. Then take your main color of duct tape, black if that is what you are using and tape longwise down the sword, again overlapping but this time covering where the tip goes. You will also wrap the tip around in a circle to make sure it is secure. Before you put the blade color on you have to cover up the screw that holds the hilt on. Wrap the main color of duct tape around a few times. You can also use the strapping tape before applying the duct tape for added security. When you finish with that you take your contrasting color and make two strips for the blade edge. This is half the size of the actual piece of duct tape so one strip will make the blade. Make sure you only cut the pieces where the actual blade would be and not all the way to the end of the tip of the sword. Again the tape goes longwise down the sword.
Once you finish this taping you are done. You have a legal sword for heavy weapons. Do have it inspected by a marshal prior to fighting however to make sure you did not miss something. A fight practice is the best place. And since it is new you don’t want to try and test it during an actual fight where you could lose an important battle.
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Tabards in the SCA are used to distinguish baronies, households, kingdoms; just about any level there is involved in the SCA. Whether recognized or not. They can be long or short depending how what the person desires. Design wise they can be elaborate or basic depending on a few things. If you are just part of your local barony you will want to go with your barony colors. If you belong to a household in your barony you might want to add splashes of color of your household. Of course if you are under the king you will want the kingdom colors. However even a basic, single color tabard will work to fight in. And if you are even slightly adept at sewing and have a decent sewing machine, you can make a tabard.
A tabard is just a piece of cloth that basically hangs over the front and back of the body with a neck hole. Pretty simple to create, no arm holes to worry about. The problem can be if you have multiple colors as many baronies do. So having a pattern to use is quite helpful to make the tabard. I used a McCall’s pattern, number M8311. This is actually a tunic pattern that has sleeves but with some slight modification it was easily turned into a tabard pattern.
Now the pattern calls for five pieces but you only need four of them. It is because the fifth one is the fluer de lies they have as a decoration for the tunic. Unless your tabard uses those, they are unnecessary. Cut the pattern straight down. You will be cutting part of the tunic pattern off since you are not sewing the sides together. You will have to pin the top and bottom sections together to make them one piece since the tunic has the contrasting pieces as the top and bottom not front and back as my tabard is made. Again, of course, if your barony tabard is designed with the top and bottom contrasting you are all set. I have seen some household tabards this way so yours may not need to be modified at all.
I do suggest going with the pattern that is the XL-XXL size and using the XXL pattern if you are going over your armor with it. Most people put their tabard over their armor and you will need the bigger size for that. Of course some people are stocky and might need an even bigger size than that or put their tabard under their armor and thus need a smaller size. Think about where you will wear the tabard and how big your armor is before buying the pattern so you don’t get the wrong size or cut the pattern an incorrect size. You also want to get the right amount of material.
Speaking of material, buy a heavy material that can hold up. My first tabard I bought broadcloth and found out it was too thin. It will not last. Also if you have contrasting colors that go on the front and back, make sure you triple check before sewing the pieces together. You don’t want to have to ripe them apart and resew a seam. I recommend getting bias tape for the edge. While just sewing the edge works, it is not as nice looking. Maybe for a practice tabard. I also recommend having more than one tabard, one for practice and one for events. Keep the event one very nice looking, buy nicer material for it and maybe go with something cheap for the practice one. Or if your first attempt isn’t what you thought it would be, use that for the practice tabard.
Yesterday, being Labor Day, there was a parade in my town with various organizations, schools, groups, and other people in the parade to entertain the locals. When I was in high school I walked in the parade with the group I was in then. Being in the SCA now I found out they march every year to promote the organization, help recruit, and just kind of show off. We also have a demonstration after the parade for people to come and see what we are about. I decided to march in the parade with the group.
Anyone who wants to march is allowed. There are armored combat fighters who stop every once in while to battle each other to applause and cheers. I didn’t actually count but we had 5-6 fighters. They are in full gear like when they really fight, because they are hitting almost as hard as during actual combat. The only difference here is that all the shots are arm, shoulder, and body since no one is going to die and leg shots are not allowed so everyone can still walk.
We also had one archer, one of the comedic actors, one boffer fighter in full gear, one boffer carrying a sword only, a few children in garb, one gentleman in garb and several ladies in garb. The gentleman and one of the ladies in garb had pamphlets to hand out to those who seemed interested in what we were wearing or did while we marched. We also had a banner to show off who we were. It was a generic SCA banner that did say Society for Creative Anachronism. I helped carry the banner by choice. I had decided previously I wasn’t going to try and fight and walk.
It was hot and miserable; even in short sleeves and thin material. It wasn’t a light color, unfortunately, but I don’t own many in light colors yet. Of course most people were wearing long sleeves so they weren’t any better off than me. We try to keep up with the cars in front of us, which was the group in front of us. We did ok for a while, but when we got up to where they announced each group, somehow they got ahead of us by a lot. And we ended up very spread out as well from the fighters stopping to fight. The announcers also said anachronism wrong. I think we should tell them how to pronounce it prior. Some people applauded as we walked. Probably those that know what we are about already. At one point I heard a bunch of little kids point at the fighters and say “Look Knights”. I had to laugh since not all fighters are.
At the end we all were hot, sweaty, and grateful for the water that had been hidden in the wagon which was pulled along by someone. We all drank to cool off and were sprayed with water bottles as well. Then we made the short trek back to where the demo location was going to be a little later. It was a fun experience I will definitely do again. Unfortunately there are not any pictures yet but once I have some, I will post them.
Here are some videos of battles fought at this year’s Pennsic War
10 Man Melee
Unbelted Champion Tournament
Allied Champion Battle
I posted once about keeping hydrated in the heat, keeping-hydrated-in-the-heat-in-the-sca.
After fighting outside this past weekend, there is more to this than just keeping hydrated. You have to know your own body as well. If you do not, it is possible you could end up passing out from heat exhaustion and keeping yourself out of fighting for the rest of the day.
Drinking plenty of fluids is one of the key parts to being able to fight in the heat and humidity. But if you have other problems such as diabetes or hypoglycemia, you need to watch your sugar levels as well. I recommend having candy to eat on during the day for those who are hypoglycemic and insulin if you are diabetic.
Pay attention to your body as you move in the heat. You may not notice anything as you are fighting, but when you stop for water, know signs that you are close to a danger zone for yourself. Saturday when we paused for water, I began to feel dizzy. This is a sign to me that I will pass out from the heat and low sugar levels. Thus I ate a candy bar and grapes, drank some water, and sat in the shade to feel better. The coolest part is that when people started hearing how I was feeling, many of them were offering me water, food, their chairs, etc. One of the nice things about people in the SCA, they are friendly.
Don’t push yourself just to keep going. You can do more damage than help. Sit out a few rounds if you want to keep fighting. Take off your gear to cool off your body. Fighter gear is hot no matter what it’s made of nor what you wear underneath it. Even in the winter putting it all on gets hot. This can help cool you down faster so you can get back to fighting faster.
Know when you have hit your limits and stop if need be. If you are not used to fighting in hot weather in all your gear, you may not be able to do it for long. No one will fault you for this because you do have to acclimate your body to SCA fighting in the heat. Stop for the day and try again at the next event or practice. Even in the shade when it is humid it can be too much so don’t just assume that you will be fine if the sun is not shining down. Be smart and you will get to fight longer.
This past weekend was the last local event until Pennsic War for the Middle Kingdom of the SCA. I attended it and of course since it is one of the last events before the war, there are no tourneys. It is all melee practice to gear up for war so the Middle Kingdom will win at Pennsic. Let me just say that since I have never been in a melee, practice or actual fight, it was a new experience.
Most of the fighters were from North Oaken or South Oaken. This is above the barony in the kingdoms. There were other fighters from other areas that are still in our kingdom. It was decided that we would be split into North and South versus each other and the other fighters could choose their side. Of course it was split so that we were as even as possible. Everyone on South Oaken had red duct tape put on the front and back of their helm so everyone could tell friend from foe during the fighting.
We were put in lines with weapon and shield fighters in the front. I had been told originally that since I had not even practiced melee combat to find someone I trusted and stand behind them so I was second line. That did not work out for me as I fight shield and sword. So first line I was. Luckily it was between two experienced fighters, one of which I even know. We received our instructions on where we were to go and then waited for both sides to be ready.
You are told to keep moving in melee combat. Hit the person in front of you and move past them. Let the second line finish them off, very different from one on one combat. First round we moved to the left to flank them. I swung but missed (I think, it’s very chaotic when you are actually fighting against a lot of people at once) and took a pole arm to the helm. Fall down and make sure my shield is over me to protect myself in case there is still fighting around me. The dead are told to get up as the fighting moves away from them and once the battle was over we do it again.
We had two more rounds. Second one was the same as the first, go to the left and flank them. But this time we were told to stay close together. We needed to as part of how I died was I lost everyone in my group in the confusion. We got a little farther that time and again I took a head shot. Although I know I at least hit someone that round. The third round we changed tactics and we were going to the right flank and to kill everyone there. This seemed more difficult as that is where the North Oaken side put their pole arms and spears. This was difficult for me, even being short. Another head shot and I think it was from more than one person this time.
After the third round we took a break. I got out of gear at this point because it was so hot and I am not used to fighting in the humidity, that I had to or I would have passed out. It was somewhat scary going toward so many people at once and not really knowing where to swing or watch out where a hit was coming from. It was fun, however, and I will do it again. The most interesting thing was being told by one of my friends, who was my backup with a pole arm himself, to make sure I swung. Apparently many new fighters forget to.