Welcome to the Canton of Dragon’s Bay information page on local martial activities.
While our combat related activities are still developing, the good news is that what we do is compatible with the other four groups of the SCA on these western shores, as well as all of Lochac (Australia) and the rest of the world.
It should be noted that any Society combat requires you to be authorised and adhere to our behaviour and equipment standards, and all combat must be overseen by authorised Marshals. All pretty normal so far?
What makes us different is that the Marshals on the field, while controlling activities and ensuring safety, are not there to judge or determine outcomes. Unless safety is compromised in some way, Marshals do not interfere and victory or otherwise is determined solely by the person who is struck. The person who receives a “good” blow, judges that blow on the force delivered, versus the standard type of armour we are all assumed to be wearing, and reacts accordingly.
It is this system, based on the honour of the participants, that forms the foundation of our martial ethos which is… Chivalry.
If this is an ethos with which you can relate and be guided by then please continue.
Society combat itself is divided into three major disciplines, and these are Rattan, Archery and Rapier. There are times when we will combine two of these and we have Wars, at which you might even see Engineers take the field with their war machines.
Certainly there is more to our martial activities than you will see on this and the other pages, but to truly understand what we do and aspire to, a person needs to participate. That level of participation is entirely left to the individual to determine and while there are those that train two to three times a week there are also those that may only come along once per year.
As with the rest of the Society activities within the Shire of Dragons Bay, you get to decide what suits you.
Rattan combat is not just about having fun, running around dressed up as knights or medieval soldiers and trying to hit each other with various swords, axes, spears, and poleweapons.
Okay, so mostly it is. But the essential essence of what we do should always be chivalric combat and our behaviour in combat should always reflect this romantic ideal. Andre de Montsegur once passed on these words of wisdom to me, “The SCA is not about reality but a 60’s recreation of a Victorian perception of an Authurian fantasy.”
Personally, I still can’t find anything wrong with that. If, however, you reject this as just a fantasy and want to do a recreation of historical combat, bear in mind the image of reality is a wonderful thing to copy or recreate, but if you discard the key element of idealism that permeates Victorian, Authurian and period literature then you will lose any semblance of balance between competitiveness, and for want of a better term, ‘sporting behaviour.’
Winning can be taken with a grain of salt. Too often a fighter will be feted and gain acclaim because they win fights, but winning in Society combat should never be considered as anything other than the temporary good fortune it is. It is far more important to have the respect and trust of the other fighters and also the general populace.
If you are going to participate in rattan combat here a few more tangible pointers:
Complete the prerequisites and paperwork required by our Laws and insurance requirements before you can join in. Don’t worry if it all seems a bit complicated. The Marshals and senior fighters will be happy to help you out in this area. Also, if you are currently under 18 years of age, Lochac Kingdom Law dictates that you must have written permission from a parent or guardian to participate.
Contact the Canton Knight Marshal prior to attending for important information about the above info.
The Canton of Dragon’s Bay holds weekly meet-ups, at which informal training across various disciplines can occur. Please see the Calendar for details, or check out the Links & Resources page for other sessions that are nearby. This makes the first step pretty simple get to a training session, watch what we do, ask questions and if it appeals to you talk to the people there about what you need to do next.
If you want to get a head start, there are a few things you can sort out prior to turning up.
- Make sure you have groin protection, leather boots, loose-fitting pants, a loose fitting shirt, a stout leather belt, and if you already have some knee and elbow pads, bring them too.
- Contact the Canton Knight Marshal or Seneschal to confirm current times and dates and get yourself down to our training session, one of your priorities as a newcomer is to watch and ask questions.
- If you can, try and get hold of some rattan and plywood to make yourself a training sword and shield.
- Find someone who will either sew for you, or better yet, teach you how to sew & look at getting a Gambeson made. (A thick tunic which provides some extra padding against blows.)
- Start saving money.
Fighters tend to be an enthusiastic lot and circumstances permitting, they are very likely to try and put you in armour ‘to have a go’ at the first opportunity that presents. Declining is perfectly okay if you are not ready to do this.
Each individual is responsible for their own fitness etc, but please be aware that however well distributed over your body, you are likely to be carrying an additional 20 to 25 kilos of equipment when fighting and given the padded garments and armour, you will get hot.
Choosing your Kit
You may choose to take this combat thing relatively seriously, and go to great lengths to research totally authentic armour. Alternatively, you may decide to get into some passable armour as quickly as possible so that you can join in the aforementioned running around and hitting people in short order… and of course, you may find yourself somewhere in the middle. All of these are just fine, because this is a hobby, not an exam or a job, so the whole point is to have fun, and set your own goals.
As far as appearances go, if it looks medieval at 10′ (3m) it is fine, and here it may be appropriate to mention that one of the greatest strengths of the SCA lies in its ability as a community to accept anybody who makes a reasonable effort to fit into the ambience we try to create at events.
Your choice of kit can be based on practically anything pre-1600. If you are not sure where to start, something along the lines of the Western European armours circa 1300 – 1400 are relatively easy to pattern or purchase and can get you into combat quickly. This type of armour is relatively simple to reproduce in a basic workshop with minimal tools. You might even decide to purchase the more complex pieces such as knees, elbows or helmets and finish them up as complete armours yourself. It all depends on what you can afford the most of: time or money.
Making armour is fun. No particular skills are required to get started, just some enthusiasm and the ability to listen. Figure out what sort of look you’re after, get some pictures of the way you want it to look and get yourself to the local armouring meeting or workshop.
Remember, if you are going to fight in your armour, check what you want against the SCA rules and your Kingdom’s requirements before committing your resources. Which neatly brings us back to one of your priority as a new member, ask questions.