Monday, May 14, 2012

First blog report from Battle of the Nations

Blog report for Battle of the Nations 2012

So here I am, flying home from the Battle of the Nations, the world championships of medieval armored combat, 2012, in Warsaw, Poland.

This was an incredible and wonderful experience. I had wanted to do it because I wanted to challenge myself, I wanted to go beyond what I had done in the Society for Creative Anachronism, I wanted to be a part of something new and exciting and daring, I wanted to find camaraderie and brotherhood, and I wanted to be able to promote myself as an adventurous badass. I succeeded on all fronts, but the proportion of importance of those reasons came out somewhat different in the end than it was in the beginning.

I had earned some "badass points" back at the tryouts in Springfield. I had proved to the team that I would not quit, that I could take the punishment, and that I would be a valuable addition, surprising several people even more than I surprised myself. I knew that I did not want to give up, but I did have a fear that I would get hurt. I had found out that my armor protected me from any major hurt, and the fear went away.

So I arrived in Warsaw looking for an opportunity to crash into and knock down my opponents. In my first battle my commander got in between me and the enemy, and then my teammate's fallen body, and I hit the ground without coming into contact with the enemy. If I had left right then I would have felt disappointed. In successive battles I managed to avoid tripping over my own men, and with each battle I learned a little bit more about fighting under these rules.

At times I felt like Eddie the Eagle Edwards, Catfsh Hunter in the 1977 World Series, Rudy from the the movie "Rudy," Dennis Doyle from "Run Fatboy Run," Spike Dudley, and a boxer in an early MMA match. At other times I felt like a knight, a warrior, a fighter, and a rock star.

I fought in the 21-on-21 matches. I tripped, I stumbled, I fell. I lost my weapon. I crashed into people. I held up huge Russians and Beloyrussians for a few moments. I lost my helmet  when my chin strap broke.

I fought in the 5-on-5 matches. I crashed into Israelis, Italians, Austrians, and Baltics. I ran around the end and attacked their line from the rear. I was the last man standing three times. I tripped, I stumbled, I fell. I found myself beset upon by as many as four men smaller than I. I lost my weapon and went running fack to get a new one multiple times, only to return several times to find that I was the only man left standing on the field.

I was the first American to fight in the "professional" bouts at the Battle of the Nations. I faced a Ukrainian champion with lighter armor and much more experience. I tried a cautious, point-scoring approach, but when he knocked me down and then knocked me over when I was down, I got up and changed my game, taking the fight to him. But my armor was heavy, and my sword too heavy, and the match was called due to fatigue.

Before the match, however, there was some "dead air time" on the list field. The band or was playing the Maltese Bransle, a simple renaissance dance that I know. I was in full armor holding my pole arm and I decided that the audience needed to be entertained, so I stepped into the middle of the field and started doing the dance. the crowd loved it. As the dance sped up, the crowd started clapping along. By the time I was done, I had completely won over the audience and they were on my side. Thus, when the inevitable beatdown occurred, there was great applause and appreciation for my spirit and my effort. I don't know about the fight, but I was told my dancing made the news reports that night.

I fought in the "all-on-all" matches. I got hit about as hard as the hardest hits I have taken in the SCA. I crashed into people. I enjoyed it.

The leaders and members of the team said that I did very well in the fighting, that I was one of the heroes in the field. That made me feel good.

More to come!

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