Sport of Kings
Nervous Nelly: So I was nervous for this event. For more than a few reasons. I wasn’t going to have the group of people I hang out with there and it would be my first time in armor in over six years. Would my readjusted armor hold up (thanks to the excellence of Slade it did!)? Would my joints hold up (a little bit sketchy in that area)? I seriously almost turned around. It was too much. But I pressed forward. I wanted to make Sir Johnathan proud.
Set up and walkabout: Most of the period camping was set up. So I found a really nice area and started setting up my tent. Note to self – next time set up closer to the road! A group of really nice fighters from Avacal helped me carry my gear to my tent which I thought was really nice. The only downside was the walk back from the parking lot which was a really long ways away. They should have had some sort of golf cart shuttle – that would have been nice. But I eventually made it back to my camp and then went for a stroll.
The erics and period encampments were already set up and looked really great. I walked around the park a bit – it was a really nice site. The Virgin Countess Inn was already set up and they had a really good menu. Oh and the site copy handout was really well done. When I came back a lady was setting up her tent so I helped her unload her car and discovered it was Kira who I had had conversations with online. How cool! She was great to have conversation with!
Duke Paul of Bellatrix and oh crap I’ve been doing it wrong: I got a chance to meet him the first night and he sat down and talked to me and Michael the Free Sword (I hope I got that right!). I showed him my stance and movement. He showed me why it was wrong and how to do it better. The only thing I’m still unsure of is the stance which I’ll go over later. It was really cool to learn he’s moving here next year.
Duke Sean’s Video Analysis: After speaking with Duke Paul, it was time for learning how to analyze fighting videos – you need SLO-MO! Seriously. Duke Sean used the Windows program to go frame by frame. It’s amazing what you miss watching a video at its full speed. When you go frame by frame, you really get to see what has gone wrong. And Duke Sean indicated there is never a perfect fight or fighter, that even as good as he is as a Knight – he is still learning. I thought that was a really valuable lesson.
Sleepy time but no drums equals sadness: One of the few things I didn’t like about this event was there were no drums. I thought I might hear some and ask to sit within their circle but there was none. So, in my mind’s eye, I brought up the drumming and music of Bors, Fergus, Morgan, Hugh Piper and the others. And asleep I went.
Dun-Dun-DUHH – first day of classes! And I want to puke. Stop it Tasia! Everyone out there started at one point. At least that’s what I tried to tell myself. And of course my first class was with His Majesty. There were some false starts with the armor – I hadn’t done a dress rehearsal after I got it all together. OK seriously!!! I gathered my stuff and my little cooler on wells and made my way down the path. Stopping and started trying to carry everything. I’m so getting a duffel bag on wheels. But a nice young boy took pity on me and asked, “can I help you m’lday?”. Yes!! And thanks! we made our way to the training field. On time.
His Majesty Thorin: What a great teacher His Majesty is. Just amazing. Explained everything in great detail. His principles on movement were really great. I’ve been on my heels too much and learned how to get on the balls of my feet. I learned how to move forward and back. The four-hour class went by very quickly. He was gracious about answering any questions and video taped the class which I hope will be put online so I can digest it better.
Break time! I got out of my armor as my next class was not in armor, only sword and shield and got back to nom on my bread and fruit. I got the chance to talk with one of my very favorite nights, Sir Tiernan and catch up. He was one of the fighters that helped me get my kit together and start me on my Path. I will always be very grateful to him for his kindness and sharing of knowledge. He truly exemplifies the best of the Knights.
Duke Paul and the classes of Awesomeness! Even though he had to keep reminding me of not putting goofy foot forward (sword foot forward), his classes were really good. He explained why he didn’t like some of the culture of An Tir fighting (the stances, high guard etc.). And it made sense. It would seem that people are trying to copy things that really don’t work for them. Me being one. So, other than goofy foot forward which really is more comfortable for me, I was able to make some changes to how I hold my sword and how I block with my shield. Also of note was the footwork. I learned some very cool sliding steps. And I learned I really need to get my stamina built up.
Torchlight Tourney and Tasia the Waterbearer: I volunteered to help out with waterbearing for the torchlight tourney, something I had never done before. But I found quickly that the fighters welcomed the water and those that didn’t want any were gracious in their not wanting it. The Tourney lasted just over and hour and through six and a half bottles of water. It wasn’t burning hot out – but in armor it could be snowing and you’d still be hot and sweating.
Coolest Salute Ever: At the Tourney the final two fighters entered the Eric. They were asked to Salute Their Majesties, Salute the One who inspires and then Salute their opponent. When the final was spoken the fighters walked to each other and gave each other a big hug, much to the delight of the crowd. You could feel the warmth between the fighters even though they were going to fight. They were genuine and it was just. very. cool.
Old Friends: I was able to catch up with Stanton, Sabina and one of my fave Facebookers, their daughter Deana. It was great catching up with them. I hope they will become Baron and Baroness someday because they will really be good. They love Stromgard and they are good people with great respect for their fellow SCAdians. I got to see Ivan and Kjartan – although I didn’t speak with Sir Kjartan. And of course Sir Tiernan. I also got to see Cedric and watch him kick butt during the Tourney.
Quick to sleep with dreams of drums: I was pretty tired from the classes and the waterbearing. I managed to get to my tent, undress and brought up my memories of drums and I was out. The next thing I heard was my alarm clock followed by the morning Herald and the first of the ‘clock gong’ (a very nifty banging implement that warned of minutes before the hour and on the hour – it was really neat!).
The not so cool: I was a bit disheartened that the Lady Knights were not that friendly. I had tried to talk to a couple the day before and the second day of classes and with little more than a brisk brush off, gave up entirely on talking to any of them. It really made me glad I had not signed up for the classes they were teaching. I don’t know if it was just people having a bad day both days or what. But I decided then and there that when I become a Knight (yes, bold, but what’s the point in saying ‘if’ when I want to work hard to make it a reality – think it and become it), that I’m going to make a point to be gracious and speak to every fighter – all other concerns aside. I instead spoke with many of the men and they were more than happy to share their knowledge and stories.
All roads lead to Duke Paul: I was excited to learn that all of my teachers besides Duke Paul had connections to Duke Paul. His Majesty as well as Viscount Sir Donnan. Both Knights learned Duke Paul’s system and then made it in their own way. Sir Donnan was fine with goofy foot forward and showed me ways to practice to make it work for me. He was a super great teacher! Just awesome! I would definitely take classes from him again. I tell you, I really lucked out in the instructor aspect! I learned some great tricks and a wicked cool shot that I seemed to pick up really easily. A sort of twisty figure eight, smack to the legs sort of shot. I learned about the “Tell”, how to disguise my shot by moving the basket hilt forward rather than bringing it around (and as a side note – I hadn’t experienced soreness in my arms! Imagine that!).
I learned that I need to say out of range! That’s where you get killed! Get in, if it’s not looking good, get out! It’s okay! 🙂 My next class was another Duke Paul class on “Women Fighters”. He talked about the book the Armored Rose and how it was not good for women fighters. Which interestingly enough was a running theme through the event when I talked to the men. Don’t read it, it’s garbage. I’m glad that I never did after hearing how bad it has been for those that have read it. I got to meet a really nice lady from Blatha an Oir who helped me with stance and movement.
Midnight… what!?! I drug myself back to my tent with the intent of getting some noms and a quick bite. The next Tourney would be at four and then Court. I iced my knee and elbow and I laid down and started reading. I dozed off at 2:30. When I opened my eyes it was pitch black. I thought I had my blanket over my eyes still. Nope. I reached for my lantern. Midnight. Nine and a half hours! And I was still in the same position I had fallen asleep in. My muscles cried out so I put more Bio Freeze on and got up to visit the facilities. There was quite the partying going on at the Eric.
I had thought of going and joining in, but I decided against it and went back to bed and read for a couple of hours and nodded off.
Packing up: I woke up at about 6:30 a.m. and decided to go home rather than stay for closing court. My muscles were aching and I wanted to lay down in my own bed. I packed up quickly (many others were doing the same). I didn’t get a chance to say goodbye to Kira – she was still sleeping. As I drove away I decided that while I wouldn’t classify it as a fun event (with the exceptions of the classes and seeing my old friends) I was glad that I went.
And I realized that Crown was just a couple of weeks away and I’d get to see my friends and be around the drumming, and yes, take my armor and maybe do some pick up fights! (Even if I was authorized, I’m not ready to go on the war field just yet).
Sport of Kings was well run. The classes were varied and the instructors phenomenal. More than two classes a day is too much. Now that I know how it runs, I might be more inclined to join in on the actual festivities. And hopefully it wasn’t to presumptuous, but I said my ‘home’ was the Shire of Fire Mountain Keep. 🙂