This post is going to be about my experiences at the SCA St. Eligius arts and sciences competition held last Saturday Nov. 14th, 2015 in the Barony of Dragonship Haven down in Connecticut. The web page of the barony is here: Dragonship Haven. One of the sub categories they had was period fencing where you had to demonstrate and explain a technique you researched from a manual.
This was my very first time entering anything A&S related and it was educational to say the least.
I had thought it might be a by the book tourney where we talked and then fought, but instead is was a describe your research and demonstrate your technique. When I registered I was asked to set up on one of the tables to show my materials. Honestly being a fencing nerd is the only thing that saved me on this one. I had 4 period manuals on me (Thibault, Pacheco, Viedma, and part of Godhino) and I put those out on a lovely table surrounded by a sword and dagger I grabbed from my car. Ta dah!
I was the only person in the fencing category and as a result I was grouped into Novice B (>3 yrs in SCA and new to A&S) where I needed to judge a combination of other crafts with my material being called performance art (this did make me smile). The other folks in the category included an enamel pin, an illumination, period wooden spoons, fabric arts, wooden chairs/boxes, and food. Seriously how do people compare all of those to each other and then add in a fencing demo, lol. A&S has my full respect for the complexity of such things. Everyone in Novice B was very friendly and we walked around as a group and listened to each person present. I did not win the category, but I was called up at the end to receive an prize for honorable mention and my demonstration. Woot!
What did I pick as a technique to demo? In the end I chose a Godhino cutting technique that I had read and worked out about a month ago. Here is link to the partial Tim Rivera translation and I used the fifth chapter: Art of Fencing, by Godhino . While Godiho actually studied more of a pre-Caranza style, the technique I chose is full of tajos and reves cuts with a combination of angular footwork that actually demonstrates the concepts of Destreza quite well.
I had planned originally to discuss Carranza and Pacheco in general if it was going to be a by the book tourney, but it turned out not to be what I thought and I adjusted on the fly. I did include a basic overview of how Spanish fencing differs from other styles as well.
While many of the manuals out there, such as the Italians, have wonderful illustrations and plates I have found that the Spanish authors are less inclined to artistic drawings and more prone to flowery language you need to decipher. The only exception is Thibault, but many consider him outside of the Destreza main stream due to some of his modifications. This more literary approach to fencing is an interesting way to learn and it was fun to try and bring a bunch of words to life for folks in an arts and science way.
Let me finish by saying that everyone in Dragonship is SO incredibly nice and we love visiting them. This was my 2nd time down there as I competed in the fencing tourney they held last year. We have some members of our house (House Ragnarson) that live down there so it is always fun to catch up. The Baron and Baroness are extremely welcoming and we started out our visit with hugs from her Excellency as soon as we walked through the door. I lost count of how many thank you's I received for being what they termed a guinea pig for this type of arts and sciences meets fencing demo.
I am so happy that I had the opportunity to enter this competition. It was an amazing and educational experience to what the arts and science side of things is like and I would not hesitate to compete in it again.