Síobhan's First Rapier Combat Practise

[The following started out as a letter to Ellie, my wife's sister. It was easier to put up a web page.]

Hi Ellie.

After many weeks of miserable weather with cold and rain, we had a be-yootiful weekend, so we had Rapier Combat Practise at our house, May 17/03. Finally, a chance to get some use out of our lawn, instead of just mowing it all the time.
The Captain, Lord Jonathan Rankin O'Rose, and the Lady Muirghein Hewitt (both of the Roisin Dubh) drove to Sackville from Moncton and a grand time was had by all.
Sue and I had driven to Moncton the night before for an Arts and Sciences evening at the Lord and Lady's house, and we brought Cameron and Duncan home with us for the weekend.
We've got photos.

Suzy stretching
Crew member Síobhn (mka Sue) stretching before combat

She had just finished making the doublet. I think it's upholstery fabric, and has a few layers of some kind of heavy-duty fabric in the lining. No, her hair is not cut funny.
That patch of dirt is going to have Lemon Boy yellow tomatos and yellow peppers planted in it (some day real soon). We'll more likely move it to some other place closer to the house, so it won't interfere with practise

[Update - the tomatos ended up at the far left of the lawn.]

Cam taking a break
Cam taking a break

That red thing is the inside of a regulation fencing mask. On his left shoulder you can see his Black Cord which indicates that he has the rank of a Scholar (authourised in Single Rapier) in the League of Rapier Academies.

Muirghein & Katinka
Lady Muirghein chatting with neighbour Katinka Del Motte

Muirghein is wearing a chaperon hood sewn onto a regulation fencing mask. They had just bought new matching rapiers, with rather large quillions and bell guards.
The orange balls are tennis balls and road hockey balls. (see the next photo)

Mickey with staff-sling
Mickey Del Motte receiving instruction in the deployment of a staff-sling

This is what the orange balls were for. A staff-sling (or fustibalus) is a staff with a sling on the end. The sling has two cords coming up from the ends of the canvas pouch, with one cord permanently tied about 4-6 inches from the tip and the other cord is allowed to slip off the tip when you fire it. Essentially they're the throwing beam of a trebuchet without any support frame or counterweight. I've made three of them so far, but still need to perfect the pouch. See my page on them at Staff-sling/Fustibalus. On this day Jonathan showed us a slightly better technique than I had ben using, and I was shooting them about 60+ yards (used to be only 45-55 yards), with my best shot at about 72 yards.

Jonathan lunges

The Lesson Begins

Síobhan borrows Cameron's rapier. (Actually, it's an epée blade with a fancier guard and pommel.) The mask is her very own. Earlier Jonathan had told Síobhan that he could tell if someone was going to be a fencer by whether or not they flinch when you lunge at them. At one point Síobhan flinched and she stopped and said "Oh no, I flinched!". Jonathan answered "Yeah, but you didn't step back."
I put the orange traffic cone over a pipe sticking up out of the ground. We have no idea what it was for, but the survey drawing shows something like a shed in that general area once upon a time. The yard slopes a bit on the left so Síobhan is a few inches higher than Jonathan.

Síobhan and Muirghein

Síobhan Squares Off With Lady Muirghein

One of the assumptions in SCA Rapier Combat is that the off hand has a maille glove, allowing one to parry with the hand.

sue dies
La morte de Síobhan.

Síobhan has lost the use of all of her legs and arms to wounds. Quelle dommage. Perhaps she is merely imitating the picnic table in the neighbour's yard.

Muirghein and Jonathan
Lady Muirghein and Lord Jonathan

This is what you would call "single rapier combat", so Jonathan is not using the buckler hanging from his belt. This was a lucky shot for me because all the shiny metal bits are at just the right angle to reflect the sun. They both have received wounds to their right arms by now, so they're fencing left-handed.
They both also fight "heavy combat", which is a simulation of combat with full heavy plate armour, axes, broadswords, shields, etc. The weapons are made of rattan covered in duct tape, but the helmets and armour are real plate steel. Muirghein sometimes has to remember to explain what she means when she says "Jonathan and I were fighting in the driveway last week..." to a non-SCAdian. Heavy combat mostly sounds like a multiple car accident.

Cameron and Muirghein - Rapier With Rigid Parry

Muirghein is using a buckler to parry with, and Cameron has a stick. It's a great stick, just the perfect length and weight.

Cameron Has Lost a Leg

He now has the choice of hopping around on one foot or just dropping to one knee.

Muirghein Has Lost Both Legs

Thus Endeth The Battle

Lady Muirghein is victorious, and Cameron is crow food

Jonathan vs. Cameron - Rapier With Rigid Parry

Cam has his stick (sometimes called the "Camshaft" by household members) and Jonathan is using his new parrying dagger

Cameron vs. Jonathan - Rapier With Non-Rigid Parry

Here they're using capes as parrying devices. It's really cool to see when they get them flipping around in spirals, like the fins of a nudibranch. The hems are weighted with a cord. Unfortunately, my digital camera doesn't respond quickly enough when I press the shutter release to catch it at the right time, but you can see Jonathan's cape on the up-sweep.
Other parrying devices that have been used are rubber chickens and beer mugs.
One time, Jonathan dropped his cape. When his opponent politely stooped to pick it up, he killed him off. Heh-heh, pirates is all sneaky-like, they are.

four fighters
Two Battles

This is simply two duels, as opposed to when the pairs operate as teams, and gang up on surviving opponents.

[Jonathan and Siobhan are not actually fighting full out, he's just showing her some drills. That's why he's not wearing a mask.]

Next time, I might have photos of me in my breacan an fheilidh or "Great Kilt".

mka John Rose

PS: "mka" = "mundanely known as"

Music: Sergei Prokofiev – Dance Of The Knights from Romeo and Juliet

Update Aug 2003: Sue authorised in Single Rapier at the Battle For The Bloody Bridge IV, and has her own sword and mask.
I've taken up fencing myself, got my own gear, and authorised in Single Rapier at the Ruantallan Baronial Warcamp.