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One of the most visible activities in the SCA is Armored Combat. Participants use realistic armor and weapons made out of rattan, a springy fibrous plant that “brooms” when it breaks rather than splitting into jagged edges. Duct tape and padding are also used to create weapons with a realistic weight and striking power. Wounds and kills are based on an honor system: fighters are trained to judge whether a blow would have been “true” had the weapons been real.
Armored combat takes different forms. Tournaments, duels, and many friendly “pick-up fights” are usually fought one-on-one. Sometimes a small melee is organized with perhaps a half-dozen to a dozen fighters on either side. At SCA Wars, the melees grow into battles with hundreds of participants on each side, organized into units with commanders, battle standards, and objectives to be achieved.
Because armored combat is a contact sport, safety is of paramount importance. Before taking the field for the first time, a fighter must be trained, and they must demonstrate that they understand the Rules of the List. At every fighting event, equipment is carefully inspected for construction, proper fit, and adherence to the rules.
Some people you will see on or near the field deserve special mention. One such group is the Marshals. They can often be identified by their black outfits that bear a symbol of gold crossed swords, or by the black and gold staff such as you see above. They are the “referees” of this sport, and on and near the fighting field, their word is final.
Pay heed to their words: they are responsible for ensuring the safe conduct of the sport. You should never be closer to the fighting than they are, and better you stand further back.
Both on and off the fighting field, you will see some people wearing plain white belts and gold chain necklaces, and also people wearing plain white baldrics (like a belt that runs diagonally from shoulder to waist). These are members of the Order of Chivalry, men and women who exemplify Honor, Chivalry, and Fighting Skill.
In the lower photo, above, we have a Master of Arms, one of the two titles of rank in the Order of Chivalry. A Master or Mistress of Arms is a member of that Order who is not required to swear fealty to the Crown.
In the top photo, the men wearing white belts are Knights, the other half of the Order of Chivalry. The one in the purple tabard with the gold crown is especially important: at the time the picture was taken, he was King of the East Kingdom, of which the Bailiwick of Ivyeinrust is but one small part.
At the end of the day, it’s all about fun and camaraderie. If you are interested in learning more about SCA Armored Combat, ask any of us for an introduction to the Baronial Knight Marshal!