When I was eighteen instead of drinking and partying and smoking and having sex like a typical teenager, I had a different hobby. I liked to hit people with sticks. It started when Eric, a good friend who was in drama with me, asked if I wanted to learn how to fence. It sounded interesting and I was desperate to get off the mountain and away from my annoying brother so I said sure, and it was off to Riverside once or twice a week for fighter practice.
Eric started taking me down to Riverside on Wednesday evenings after drama. I borrowed the fencing jacket from a friend of his, and once a week we would go practice what we called “the Swishy Pokey” Okay that’s what other people at our fighter practice called it. Us fencing nerds were kind of made fun of by the people doing the “actual” sword fighting.
At fighter practice, there were three different groups. We all met at this park near the 60 freeway, and each group would practice, plus we would just hang out and socialize. This group I was just beginning to get involved with was a form of the SCA, the Society for Creative Acronyms. The SCA is like Renaissance Faire with no rules, no English accents, and add a dash of sword fighting, instead of just walking around and acting out skits. The point of sword fighting practice was that every few months, we would pack up our tents, swords, armor, and bbq goodies and go camping to events called Wars. Once the cars were unpacked and the tents up we would, well, beat the crap out of each other with sticks. It was such a good time!
Fighter practice was separated into three groups; fencing, boffer’s and actual sword fighters. Boffer’s were the absolute most fun. These swords and other miscellaneous weapons were made from PVC pipe covered in foam and then duct tape. Sword fighting with boffer swords was so much fun, but no one really took it seriously as it wasn’t an actual event at war. It was just kind of what we young kids did to distract ourselves while the “adults” beat the crap out of each other. I was really, really good at boffer’s. My friend Connor taught me everything he knew and every one said I fought just like him. Plus, I was athletic and could jump around, giivng me an advantage. Even my high school friends who were not into sword fighting or the SCA loved the boffer swords. When they would come over after school, the first thing they wanted me to do was pull out the boffer swords. Yes the cops were called by neighbors on numerous occasions about “holligans hitting each other with swords on Pinehurst Drive”
After a few months of doing fencing, but not exactly loving it, I decided it was time to move on. I was ready for “Heavies”
Heavies was the real sword fighting. We wore real armour and actually beat on each other with rattan swords. I’m not going to lie, it hurt. My weapons of choice were a rattan sword and a metal shield. My signature move was to duck down behind my shield and then swing up and over with the sword, hopefully hitting my opponent on the back. I famously tried this move on a coworker once at work with a cucumber and a milk crate. He will never forget it. Another move I had was I would drop to my knees and stab with the sword to throw my opponent off. I think a few years of this impressive move is what made my knees as painful and crackly as they are now.
Heavies was really hard but I loved every minute of it. At the time, I was the only girl who practiced in our group in heavies. Most weeks I was the only girl out on the field. Eric had borrowed hand me down armour from a friend of his for me to wear and that helped with the bashing I usually took. The guys did not go easy on me, not at all. I’m thankful they didn’t. I only fought in heavies for a little under two years, but for being a newbie, and especially a female one, I wasn’t bad. I would come to school with huge welts and bruises on my legs, its surprising really that no one ever said something about me getting hit at home or anything. This was my senior year of high school. I was really just living for Wednesday evenings. I couldn’t wait to get off the mountain, stop at In N Out, then go to fighter practice and sweat out all that beef and fat. It seemed like it was always summer off the mountain and the armour was really, really hot. I was always so hot and sweaty; what a work out! After fighter practice we would all be starving so we would go to Dairy Queen and fill up on Oreo Sundaes before heading back up to the mountains.
For two years this group of ragtag misfits were my family. Our group was a pirate ship called La Villa Broka. Our official group name was Clan Dark Sail. Our section of California was known as the Kingdom of Caid. Caid is one of 6 regions of the SCA, it includes Southern California, parts of Nevada and Hawaii. It was well known, among or circle of friends, that I always, always got lost, so therefore I was the navigator on the ship. Yes it was that kind of ship. I had such a great time those two years, dressing up in costumes, or garb, wearing pirate hook hands and bandanna tops (My waist was a lot skinnier then!) We made such amazing friendships in these two years, it was one of the best times of my life and I miss these people every day. The friendship’s I made in those few years are nothing like most of the friendships I have today. People in the SCA are just different, not materialistic and way smarter and enlightened about life then most of the people I come across every day. We had a Thanksgiving get together when I was nineteen that was absolutely fantastic, one of the best nights of my life. Shortly after that a whole lot of drama ensued, I’m still not really sure what happened but our party came to an end. Now barely any of us talk anymore. Its sad, we were once so very close.