Black Tigers: Middle Kingdom Rapier Combat

This was the website of the Black Tigers school of historical fencing. The content below is from the site's archived pages. Images are from various outside sources and may not reflect the specific posts. The images are to give an impression of  look and feel of Renaissance Rapier fighting​ both from a historical perspective and presant day perspective.

I have to admit I had never heard of present day rapier combat until I moved to Kentucky and met my next door neighbor. A whole new world opened up to me. I happen to work for a company is a distributor of wholesale vapor products. I travel quite a bit around the country, but this world of rapier and cut and thrust fighting combat. So one evening while we were enjoying a neighborly back yard barbeque I told my neighbors all about the vaping industry and how many folks who are trying to break the cigarette habit are now moving onto to e-liquids and mods. I discussed vaping starter kits and the various pros and cons of specific models. Several people there were very interested so I suggested several websites they could check out. The conversation then moved onto the next tournament they were all attending in two weeks. I expressed my interest so costumes were brought out as well as rapiers. They explained the rules, that there was armored combat, combat archery, siege engines, equestrian, and even youth combat. I have to say I was impressed. So when I discovered this domain was available to buy, I scooped it up with the intent of recreating some of its content from archived pages. I definitely didn't want someone else purchasing the domain and re-purposing the site for something that had nothing in common with rapier combat.  So enjoy and if the idea intrigues you do a search for SCA Middle Kingdom Rapier Combat.


Welcome to the SCA Middle Kingdom Rapier Combat Website

Random News.

Posted by Tora on Friday, February 05, 2011

Our Site is shifting over to Facebook

Just wanted to give the heads up to one and all that in an effort to reduce redundancy, this site will soon be shifting entirely over to our mirror site on Facebook.  There we will still have the ability to post pictures, articles, discussions, etc., but it is also much easier to post video as well.

So, if you have not already done so and wish to maintain contact with the group, just mosey over to Facebook and make a friendship request.  We'll see you there.


Renaissance Rapier “Technique and Tactics”

By Joseph “Blayde” Bricky â€‹

(The archived PDF can be found at: //}

This treatise was developed to share the art of Renaissance Rapier fighting, also known as Elizabethan Fencing, SCA fencing, and other terms. If you are interested in learning the art form, reading this treatise is a good place to start. If you’ve already picked up works by Saviolo, Di’Grassi and others, this treatise may shed some modern light on the historical writings. For those of you who are already fighting and are looking for more background, you will find some advanced tactics and techniques in the pages to follow. I would hope everyone who takes the time to read this finds something useful. 

The aim of this treatise is to teach rapier tactics and techniques to be used in competitions through out the U.S. and wherever historical rapier is fought. In the U.S., the Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA) holds rapier competitions regularly. There are both large and small gatherings where tournaments and melees are held. In California there are numerous schools and organizations that compete in rapier and epee combat with historical techniques and rules. If you want to pursue the art of Renaissance Rapier, there is no shortage of venues. Prior to beginning the basics, I thought I would share just a small bit of history to better understand why the rapier had its place in time.

Brief History of the Rapier and Small Sword

The Rapier is a long, thin, diamond or oval shaped blade with a sharp point. It was used primarily as a thrusting weapon. The thin blade focuses all of its energy in a very small area allowing for greater penetration. The deadliness of the rapier had a lot to do with the shortfalls in medicine during the time when it was most widely used. Deep, narrow wounds were much more difficult to treat than short long wounds, and many casualties of the rapier did not die immediately, but died later from internal blood loss or infection. Some rapier wounds were not immediately incapacitating, and fights continued until a combatant could no longer continue due to blood loss.

Unlike the broadsword or long sword, the rapier is not a cutting weapon. It may have sharp edges, but does not have the weight to be effective as a slashing or cutting weapon despite Hollywood’s depiction as such. Cutting wounds were primarily tip cuts to vital areas of the body. A cut above the eyes causing bleeding into the eyes may not be deadly, but would cause a combatant to be disinclined to continue a duel. A very minor 1 tip cut to either eye, would be enough to end a duel as well. Another type of cut considered effective, but not deadly unless delivered to a vital area is the draw cut. Draw cuts usually start from the tip and are accomplished by asserting pressure from the blade across an area of the body.

Realistically, draw cuts are not heavy enough to slice through Tendons or through muscles, according to research on cadavers outlined by John Clements in his book, Renaissance Swordsmanship. If a draw cut is delivered to areas where vital arteries are near the surface of the skin such as across the front of the neck, under the arms or inner groin, the draw cut or tip cut could be a mortal wound.

The rapier was reported to have its origins in Italy in the early 1500’s and gained prominence towards the middle of the century, eventually finding its way to England. As it gained popularity, so did the occasion for Italian Masters to make their living by teaching their art to English Nobles.

The popularity of the rapier was based on a principle outlined by several of the Italian Masters. That principal is that a quick thrust from a rapier is more effective than a slash of a long sword. The time it takes to raise an arm and slash your opponent is longer in duration than the time it takes to thrust straight into the vital area of your opponent. The bottom line is that cuts are slower to perform than thrusts. It is a simple matter of geometry; the closest distance between two points is a straight line.

Parts of the Rapier

The Blade is divided into three parts for purposes of parrying:

  • Forte - The stronger blade portion closest to the hilt (the bottom third) 
  • Terzo - Middle of the blade (middle third)
  • Foible - From the point to the terzo.

Edges and tip:

  • The tip - Point of the blade
  • Top edge - trailing edge in a cut
  • Bottom edge - leading edge in a cut
  • Flat - either side of the blade that does not have an edge.
  • Grasp the grip/handle of the rapier as if you were shaking hands with your knuckles on the side of the forward quillon. The loop guard should also be on the same side as your knuckles. Place your index finger above the quillons and wrap it around the ricasso. Your thumb should rest and wrap around your middle finger.


Pronated - palm facing down, knuckles facing forward and right Supinated - Palm facing up, knuckles facing forward and left.

ATTACKS - Thrusts, Slashes, Beats, and other terms 

Thrusts are quicker than slashes or cuts and are the principle on which the Italian Masters based their rapier strategy. 

Tournament Etiquette

To compete in Elizabethan fencing, you must understand the rules and etiquette. There are numerous schools and fighting organizations in the U.S. and around the world who may have different rules, but there are many basics that I will outline below. You may also be required to pass initial competency tests prior to being allowed to compete. The first thing you should do is learn the requirements, weapons, rules and etiquette of the organization holding the competition.

At the beginning of a fight the scholar needs to acknowledge his opponent by saluting. The marshal will ask each opponent to salute each other, salute the crown (if present or appropriate), salute the one they fight for, and salute any appropriate dignitaries or someone who’s favor you bare. These are traditions and you should find out the traditions of the arena you are fighting in prior to beginning your first bout.

The marshal will then ask each fighter if they are ready. Both fighters should verbally say yes. The marshal will then tell each fighter to come on guard or say “Lay On” or “Alle.” The fighters will then fight. 

Target Area SCA rules: (Note – these are different in every Kingdom and this is merely a guide for those who aren’t familiar with the style) 57

For Rapier Fencing, the entire body is a target. If the hand or arm is hit, the fighter will no longer have use of the arm or the hand. If the hand is hit, the fighter must drop the weapon in that hand, but can still use it to parry but not grasp. If the arm is hit, the fighter can not use the arm whatsoever. If both arms are lost, the fighter must acknowledge defeat and the bout is over.

If the leg is hit, the fighter must drop to one or both knees. The non-injured fighter is not allowed to move more than 120 degrees beyond the fighter. It is also proper etiquette not to compass to gain an advantage

Incapacitating blows:

Any hit to the mask, head, torso including groin, back are considered killing blows and the bout is over. The torso is anything inside the seams of the shoulder extending below the waste. The triangle from the hips to the bottom of the groin is considered torso. The upper leg, outside the groin, below the hip is a leg wound.

A draw cut is delivered to the body, head, neck or groin that is a push or pull of at least 8” of the blade with continuous pressure. It is a killing blow if delivered to the head, throat, groin or under arms (because of arteries).

Ending a bout:

If you are victorious you should always shake the opponent’s hand. If you are hit, acknowledge the blow call hit or hold. Wait until your opponent recognizes the blow and then shake your opponent’s hand. 

+++ Users Journal 2010-2007 POSTS 


Black Tiger Academie - Extension Black Scarf Program 2004

If you've never heard of the "Black Scarf" training program, here is your opportunity to improve your game and you don't have to live next to a Black Tiger instructor.  We are offering a one year program to anyone who already has had at least one year of training in historical fencing.  To begin the program, you need to meet with myself or Tora at an event to begin your instruction. 

What you will earn is a "Black Scarf" which is basically an instructor qualification.  It will give you the ability/right to train our style.  It will also give you the right to compete for Black Scarf rank.  When you pass your qualification tests after one year, you will receive your scarf and begin the challenge of ranking up.  To rank up you must win a tournament with 10 participants.  You will then be at rank one (1).  To get to rank (2), you must then win in a 20 person tourney.  These have to be in succession.  When you get to rank (4), not only do you need to win a forty person tourney, you must also have defeated three people on the battlefield or by test who have engaged you simultaneously.  The final rank (5) must be a 50 person tourney and also you must have defeated five combatants in a single engagement by test or confirmed on the battlefield.

What you don't have to do is join the Black Tigers fighting group.  We have fighters enrolled in the program already from around the Known World who are in various fighting units and households.  The program is separate from the fighting unit.  Of course, if you want to be in the unit or fight along side the unit, you are highly encouraged to do so.

When you commit, you will be provided with written training material, video, coaching via chat and email.  You will be required to hit a couple major events during the year to get some face to face time.  At the end you will be required to pass a written test an oral test and a trial by fire with myself or Tora or both.  But, if you've given a good effort and learned the system, you will undoubtedly pass those tests.

The first member in the program is scheduled to get his Black Scarf next year at Uprising. Another will earn his at West Antir War and another is scheduled for Pennsic.  We have one White Scarf enrolled as well. 

So, if you want to learn more about earning your Black Scarf, feel free to contact me. I will give you more details and explain how the commitment works both ways.

Posted by blayde on Friday, September 04 @ 11:06:29 EDT


Tigers Roar at Pennsic 38

Before even arriving at the grounds of Pennsic we received our first good omen of what was to come.  Blayde and I stepped off the plane and went straightaway to baggage claim where—I kid you not—my two golf bags and his suitcase were numbers one, two and three off the plane and onto the carousel.  Now I have been flying for a long time and have traveled to a great many states and countries where my bags have always been in the last fifty percent, if not dead last, of bags to make it off the plane.  So to have not only my bags but those of my cohort as well come first off the plane had me wondering if hell had finally received that backordered ice skating rink.  In any case, we were quickly out of the airport and driving our happy backsides to the Valhalla of rapier combat.

Fortunately for us both, we were camped with the West, which just so happened to be conveniently located near the food merchants, showers, bathrooms, and—oh-so-importantly—the battlefields.  For those of you who have never been, Pennsic is quite large as far as events go and can essentially be divided into the high, middle, and low grounds.  Those camped down on the low ground, those by the lake, have interesting scenery and a great many parties to choose from on any given night but one heck of a hike to reach the fighting.  Consequently, this also means a healthy hike to get back home again.  For Blayde and myself it was a tolerable jaunt either way since we were situated on the middle ground with the West.

The next morning started us off with the storming of LaRochelle.  This scenario was not for warpoint but rather for fun, with each side taking turns assaulting or defending the permanent fixture “castle”.  Anyone assaulting the castle had unlimited resurrections while those defending were allowed only two.  Given this caveat, it was of course only a matter of time before the castle would be taken, so the ultimate victor was determined by the side who stormed it the fastest.  In order to storm the castle, however, the assaulting team first had to blow up the gates on the front and side by placing a petard, but the gates themselves were heavily defended by fighters on the ramparts armed with guns.  As a member of the assaulting army, this turned out to be easier than we thought.  Not by virtue of exquisite planning or masterful skill, but rather by a gunner on the ramparts who took aim and accidentally shot the petard just as our runner reached the main gate.  So with a resounding “BOOM!” (okay, maybe only in our heads) the forward gate was destroyed and the main surge was on.  I cannot remember how long it took us to break the opposition’s kill pocket, but once done we flowed into the courtyard beyond and proceeded to mop up those who remained.  For whatever reason this scenario did not allow for death from behind (DFB), and at one point an enemy fighter jumped out in front of me as I strolled around looking for a fight and shouted “mi’lord!”.  Purely on reflex, I swept her swords away with my left hand blade and stabbed her with my right.  Apparently, however, a fellow soldier standing beside me felt she died too quickly and asked her to remain and refight.  So once more she squared off against me, and I summarily swept her swords away with my left hand blade and stabbed her with my right.  This time I turned my head and looked to this fellow soldier with raised eyebrows, to see if he had any objections THAT time, but he only shrugged and went off to find someone to kill.

After the merry slayfest of LaRochelle another fighter, Conner, and myself settled in to some pickups on the low-grade hillside behind the castle.  He’s a very good fighter, an enjoyable dance, and I would highly recommend him to any looking to challenge their skills.  He is also very gracious, for at the end of our sparring he did me the honor of paying me the compliment, “It’s nice to be reminded there is always someone better.”

The following day was the warpoint for the rapier champions battle.  In this each side paired up their champions against the other side in a single bout contest; the end of which would determine a victor by which side had the most victories.  Not being the resident champion I watched as each pairing came out and duked it out, but for Blayde it was another matter.  He was asked to stand in for the West, so when the time came he very carefully began the task of gaining the measure of his opponent.  As I watched, another fellow, Baron Rodrigo, asked me how Blayde would defeat the person currently fighting him.  Given the way his opponent was standing, and Blayde being a lefty, I told Rodrigo it would start out by Blayde placing his sword over his opponent’s weapon to program that fighter into making the deadly mistake of disengaging over the top and lunging.  Blayde would then respond with a parry across his body, freeing his own sword for the attack to the gut.  Not five seconds later Blayde began laying his sword over his opponent’s.  “See there?” I pointed out to Rodrigo, “that’s the programming.”  Blayde’s opponent then thought he had the pattern and disengaged over the top, following up with a lunge.  Two heartbeats later it was over as Blayde cross-parried to his right and stabbed his opponent in the gut in single time.  Rodrigo could only laugh.

Monday afternoon brought with it the first melee combat rapier warpoint of Pennsic, and did we ever have a field to play on.  If I had to estimate, I’d say we were looking on a field approximately 500 yards wide and at least 300 yards long.  I probably salivated a little as I gazed upon the war field—outnumbered by 56 fighters as we were—because this was exactly the kind of terrain and odds rogue squads operate best in.  Then I was further surprised when a messenger came looking for me to convey that Elsbietta, Queen of Atenveldt, wished to speak with me.  Now, as far as I knew, I didn’t know her, nor she me, so I was curious as to what would bring me to her attention.  Well, as circumstances would have it, she’s a rapier fighter and wanted to participate in this battle alongside, as she put it, “killers”.  Heck, who am I to say no to such enthusiasm, so we gladly welcomed her aboard.  I will admit that I wondered at first if she would be able to keep up but those worries were soon put to rest.  Not only did she keep up, but I had to run forward to rein her back so as to prevent her from plunging headlong into the enemy forces all by her lonesome.  Instead, we as a squad moved to the far left and accomplished a bona fide first in all my years of open field battle.  With Elsbietta in our midst the “Tiger squad”, as it were, hit the enemy forces on the fringe of their line and utterly destroyed them to start the wrap.  We then pressed forward and practically walked right around the advancing reserve forces to hit them from the side and behind, killing every swordsman who tried to stand and fight and scattering everyone else.  At that we broke into a run, moving together deeper into the enemy’s backfield and sliding right.  As we moved we engaged small pockets of unorganized resistance from the opposing army until finally we reached the other side of the field to see the backs of the enemy fighting our own line.  Well, we could hardly let that stand so we proceeded to kill them from behind—and still we were not done.  Having broken back through to our own side we moved to the middle and assisted our forces in the center.  And nearly the whole time Elsbietta was right there beside me.  She later remarked how interesting it was to see the dynamic of a smaller force of fighters engaging a larger one through sword and movement.

A couple of days later brought us face-to-face with the woods battle and, let me tell you, that is all kinds of fun.  After hitching in the back of a trailer with a host of other rapier fighters, we disembarked on the east side of the woods which was to be our starting point for this 45 minute, unlimited resurrection battle.  The purpose was to capture and control as many of the stationary flag positions as could be managed in order to score the most points for your side.  As before, Elsbietta wanted to fight alongside our rogue squad but this time she brought along the king of Atendveldt to participate in the slayerfest as well.  In honor of our royal guests we, therefore, named our rogue squad “Royal Pains”, making that name the rallying call in case we should get separated.  Before the lay on, however, I decided to take a stroll into the woods and get a lay of the land.  Very soon I realized that the density of these woods would make fighting in a two-sword style just a tad prohibitive, and in other areas near impossible, so I left having made the decision to fight with sword and dagger.  I would soon learn that was a wise decision.

At the sound of the cannon our rogue squad dashed up the hill and into the woods to engage the enemy straight up the middle.  We, of course, had a battle plan but, as such things are wont to do, it never survives the first five minutes of the fight.  Even on open fields an army’s lines tend to get torn apart until all you have left are pockets of fighting occasionally reinforced by fighters from behind.  Well, throw in resurrection in a dense thicket of woods upon hilly ground and keeping your forces in a line becomes a thousand times more difficult.  It was not long before we did indeed become separated to the point that I didn’t even know where Blayde had gotten off to amidst all the fighting.  Fortunately, I not only expected but planned for it.  Upon seeing no other Royal Pains members about I immediately set off for a particularly dark patch of woods I had spied on my earlier walk.  It was a ribbon of very densely packed pine trees with low, full branches that blocked most of the light from above and obscured vision through it—and just so happened to be perfect for a man dressed in black armor.  Once there I melted into the center and traversed far enough that I could see through to the other side.  I watched as a line of reserve enemy forces approached and then veered to avoid the dense copse of trees I now stood in, moving to join forces with their cohorts and form a battle front.  The reserve line was only around ten fighters and I emerged from the woods behind them.  The first fighter went down as I killed him from behind but the man beside him spun before I could put him to the sword as well.  I backed off and he followed me--even when the rest of his squad continued to move toward the battle line without him.  Let’s just say that was not the wisest move he made that day.  After killing him I snuck up behind their battle line to kill a few more via DFB as they engaged my allied compadres.  It was at that time I spied another squad of reinforcements approaching on my six o’clock at a dead run so I broke off contact and slipped back into the cover of the dark woods.  It went on like this for much of the battle, for truly my chosen cover was too thick for any line to try and move through.  On a few occasions some folks actually pursued me into this dense copse but someone really should have warned them about the dangers of pursuing a Tiger into the jungle.

By far the most talked about and prepared for tournament of Pennsic was the single elimination five-man melee.  This year broke a record in the SCA for the largest number of fighters in a tournament, with 180 rapier fighters making up 36 teams of five.  For ourselves, we were a West Coast team made up of myself, Blayde, and Coronado but we needed to find two more to complete the team.  Hearing of this, an east coast white scarf named Rodrigo asked if his two cadets Edward and Charismos, whose skills he vouched for, could join our squad.  We figured, why not?  And just like that we became the team “Event Horizon” (because it is the last thing you see before getting sucked into a black hole).  Though I had never fought alongside Edward and Charismos before, I am happy to say they more than held their own.  From left to right our line consisted of myself, Edward, Coronado, Charismos and Blayde rounding out the right flank.  Throughout the whole of the tournament, Rodrigo’s cadets fought with skill and fire worthy of any Tiger and together we took down the competition one by one—in one instance it took a scant twenty seconds—until arriving at the finals.

In the end it came down to our team Event Horizon vs. Four Zombies and a Ninja, made up of Conner the Gypsy and Kenji (a fellow Japanese influenced fighter) to name two.  They knew we were the other heavy hitters to watch out for and I witnessed them being careful to watch us fight at every opportunity they could.  By the time our two sides lined up they had chosen to match themselves with Kenji directly across from me and Conner taking the right side across from Blayde.  At the lay on we marched forward and the fight was on—well, at least for the rest of my team.  You see, it took me about five seconds to recognize that Kenji had no intention whatsoever of closing to within attack range of me.  In fact, as I would later find out, his instructions were explicitly not to engage and just stay alive.  This, of course, required an immediate change of strategy on my part.  If he would not engage me then I would engage the next man in his line instead.  With a sword in either hand, I pressed Kenji into a retreat that put me directly on his line’s 180 and then shifted right to threaten the man there.  Kenji’s compatriot took a startled step back, while Kenji himself rushed forward to hopefully thwart his friend’s demise.  That, however, was not my plan.  As quickly as I changed directions before I changed again, pressing Kenji backward and then shifting to threaten his friend once more.  The distraction worked, for Edward, my teammate to my immediate right, lunged across and killed the man without resistance.  Without missing a beat Edward joined me in a hard press against Kenji, who made it about five steps before a sword point brought his efforts to an end.  I do not know what had happened on the right side, but when I looked up there were no more zombies or ninjas left on the field.  So, just like that, it was over and Event Horizon stood victorious in the largest rapier tournament the SCA had ever seen.  I have to give much props to all the teams we faced that day for, though some fought harder than others, it was an honor to face them all.


Posted by Tora on Friday, August 14, 2009 @ 22:32:11 EDT


SCA's Antir September Crown 2008...and Uther?

The very first rapier tournament at September Crown 2008 started with a cadet tourney.  I have to say that I was pleased with the number of folks who turned out for it—46 in all.  Among the crowd of fighters moving on the field were somewhere between 10 and 15 white scarves as well, which is really something of a rarity these days.  For myself, I decided I would just marshal this tournament and allow all the cadets out there to show their stuff.  I have no desire to wear a white scarf (at least not as the white scarf system now stands) so rather than overshadow some other worthy soul I took up the staff and kept people from crashing into each other as they fought for the highest percentage of wins.  I never found out who came out on top, as they never officially announced a winner, but I do know both Verith and Cameron, Tigers both, finished with 32 and 35 wins respectively out of 40-something fights undertaken.

Once the cadet tourney concluded I found myself standing on the side of one of the erics discussing rapier with a couple of folks, when shortly a rather large fellow—probably around 6’5”—with a Viking drinking horn in his hand joined the conversation.  We were discussing various topics, like letters of marque for the enabling of pira—er, I mean creative acquisitions—when I noticed this large fellow was speaking to me as if he knew me.  Well, he must have seen the confusion on my face, because he then stopped and offered his hand saying, “Oh, I’m Uther.” Uther? I thought.  I really only know of one Uther and I had yet to actually meet the man.  The Uther I know of is a student of my cohort Blayde, living in California, and is the current king of the SCA’s West Kingdom.  From all accounts, he was coming along quite nicely in rapier, just recently having played a pivotal role with Blayde himself in securing the victory for the West and her allies in a champions tourney at Pennsic.  “Uther,” I said, “as in California Uther?”  As it turned out, he was one and the same, having flown up to attend the SCA’s Antir Crown event.  I must say it was an excellent surprise to finally meet him, and he is every bit the affable fellow and like-minded competitor I had heard him to be.  I also learned that both he and his heavy group, the Spartans, have a similar history involving the respect and acceptance of his peers that I have had—first as an individual, and then as a Black Tiger.  Though we did not have the opportunity to fence due to an injury Uther sustained before he arrived, we nonetheless took the opportunity for some lessons and lots of catching up.

The next tournament on the schedule was a single elimination tournament being sponsored by the members of the Sable Rose.  Sadly, but not really unexpected, the 10-15 white scarves that had participated in the earlier cadet tourney had dwindled to a paltry 2-3.  Unfortunately, this is typical behavior of the majority of the order but that is a topic for another day.  The tournament itself, being it was a single elimination, has its own allure and charm because you essentially have to fight with perfection—at least more so than your compatriots around you anyway—to secure the victory.  Basically, you screw up once and you’re done.  As it so happened, each time my name was called I managed to thwart my opponents’ desires to retire me and make it into the final rounds.  The final three came down to myself, fellow Black Tiger Verith, and a white scarf by the name of Richard Thomas.  To dwindle down the nominees it was decided upon a round robin style format until one of us acquired two losses.  First up was Richard and myself.  I particularly like fencing with Richard because he is a clean fight.  No errant flailing or panicky counterattacks, just good old fashioned hooking and jabbing between two experienced swordsmen.  The end came for Richard when he, as a right-handed swordsman, created what I call a “critical angle” with his sword, allowing his feeble to drift too far to his left for just a moment.  Once I saw my opportunity I lunged, placing first the mezzo of my blade across his feeble and then my forte as my sword shot across the distance between us.  As expected in such a situation, Richard tried to parry upward in that first instant when he felt the pressure of my blade over his but the feeble is not enough.  With that attack, that instinctive reaction provides all the time I need and my sword struck true, giving Richard his first loss.  Next it was Verith and myself; student versus teacher.  To his credit, he was determined not to go quietly into that good night.  For him victory would mean the first rank placed proudly on his recently acquired black scarf, but doing so first meant facing the very man who had trained him.  Not an easy task.  Nonetheless, and fully what I expected, Verith fought me for all he was worth as he looked for the opening that would secure him the victory.  Alas, this time it was not to be.  In a moment of misjudged distance on his part and a well-timed parry on mine, my sword darted out and speared him through the left deltoid muscle.  That left only a contest between Richard and Verith to decide which of them would face me in a best two out of three final match.  Unfortunately, Verith closed the distance too much with Richard, who deftly disengaged his opponent’s attempt to capture his blade and replied with a true thrust right up the middle to end the match.  This left only Richard and myself.  In our first pass Richard allowed me too much to control the fight and I slipped past his defenses to secure the first victory.  In our second pass, Richard seemed to realize his earlier mistake and instead tried to press me to the defensive with a heavy flurry.  This I evaded by giving ground, then dropped my center of gravity low to the ground while leaving my sword high as he advanced into it.  The result was a second kill in my favor, securing a Black Tiger victory.

The final tournament of the day was a memorial tourney for a woman named Lasaraina, a rapier fighter who passed recently due to complications from cancer treatments.  I won this tournament as well, and I was glad I did because it gave me a chance to say a few words about her during court.  Let me tell you, this woman was a fighter.  She did not whine, she did not seem to engage in the pomposity that seems to infect so many others in our martial art.  She was all about the fight, and about getting better at it.  In fact, the first time I met her was on the tournament field shortly after she had finished the last of her cancer treatments.  She did not have much strength to bring to bear against me physically, but just think how much strength of will and spirit it took to be out there at all after going through what she did.  This woman simply loved the fight and I have the greatest respect for her because of it.  I don’t know that the rapier community at large really knows how much of a loss she truly is to us.


Posted by Tora on Thursday, September 04, 2008 @ 15:29:33 EDT


 GWW news and Views!

blayde writes "Great Western War X started with a bang on Friday!  After working tons of hours last week to get a new clients network set up and running and make up hours for leaving at noon on Friday, I finally made it to the war.  With 20 minutes to go to get into the Uber Elf tournament, I was finally there, in garb, with weapons (lots of them) in hand.  Whew!

The pools were divided, and wow!  I managed to land in the same pool as Todde (Caid Rapier Champion), Nytshaed and Don Alexander from Caid.  OK...this is gonna be interesting.  I was like, OK...lets do the finals in our pool. :)  Switching gears into fencing mode wasn't easy, but after 5 rounds of Ubering, I was undefeated and into the final six.  Ntshaed gave me a great Uber fight as well as Don Alexander.  I was up 3-2 on Todde when I took his buckler away with a quick crossover and close with the dagger.  I took the next two passes with my rapier/dagger and Todde having to wield other forms that he doesn't do all the time.  It was a great fight, and I commend Caid's champion for his skill and prowess. 

The finals proved to be much quicker than I expected as darkness was overtaking the tournament.  The format changed from Uber to get it over with quick,  and we ended up in a single elim with 6 people.  I'm not sure how it worked exactly, but three touches later and I won the tournament.  Zack made it into the final six as well, but lost a very close match.  Good job Zack.

On Saturday, we fought war scenarios. I wasn't fortunate enough to make for the Friday war scenarios.  The West fielded 17 fighters thanks to the Ermine Company showing up in force.  AGOF Coronado Captained their forces and they all did a great job.  Unfortunately, the CAID forces were too strong for us.  They really have some fabulous fencers down there.  The one thing I noticed from my perspective was no matter where I went, their top fighters would show up in front of me or fill the holes that I made.  Hats off to your kept me from breaking through the whole time. :P   Sunday would be different!

Since 2003, the Styx River Boyz have dominated a little game called Blood of Heroes. (BOH)  The game is loosely based on a very crappy Rutger Hauer movie by the same name.  It's basically hockey with swords.  There's a dog skull (for a puck) and goals on each end (Stakes to plant the skull).  The idea is to kill the other team and plant the skull.  But, only one person can pick up the skull per side and there are five players per side on the field.  Also, you only stay down for five seconds.  So, in a nutshell, the game moves fast and it is CHAOTIC. 

This year again, as is tradition, the Styx Boyz start on the field as king of the hill and must be deposed.  We fielded a mixed West/Tiger team with one really cool lady from the Cross and Dragon, Tsura.  The Tigers were Zack, Addison and myself.  Fortunately for us, Nytshaed and Yukiko stepped up again and joined us like they did two years ago in our first BOH. 

Well, after four consecutive wins, the Styx Boyz were still undefeated and we finally had our shot.  And, so we did...knock them off the hill 2-0 in a suprise upset.  Now, we were defending, and had to face every other challenger.  One after another, we came out the victor until we'd gone through the entire list.  Again, we faced the Styx boyz who could have defeated us and gone on to keep the field and retain the title.  However, after some setbacks, call backs, and some craziness, we came out the winner.  It was close and very good fighting.  There's a good reason they have been on top of this sport since '03.  They rock.  Gerrik is an amazing qwik.  The rest of the team are very good and very organized at what they do. I must say we squeeked by. :)  So, much for the play by play.

I've gotta say the team of Yukiko and Addison as Qwik trading off every point is what kept us in the game.  They both rocked!  Our guest Tsura...all I can say about her is this. "She didn't suck!"  :)   Then there was the front line of Nytshaed, Zack and Blayde.  Wow!  My God that was fun guys. :)   But, now, I need to rest for a few days.  It was also tough work holding that field.  Man!

So, now, I've issued a challenge to the Styz R Boyz for a match without White Scarf Limits.  And of course there will be no Black Scarf Limits either.  I'm hoping we can either do this challenge at Estrella or some other place near the West Caid border.  I'd also like to play to some very high score like 10 points to make a day of it.  I'll be putting a thread on the forum to discuss it.

All in all, GWWX was awesome.  The Tigers didn't suck!  The West represented!  A lot of alcohol was consumed.  The only down side is Tora wasn't there.   Next year!  We'll be running BOH...we are the League.  We will need every Tiger there.

Next stop ..... ESTRELLA!"

Posted by Tora on Monday, October 08


Duke Uther wins first Mists Championship

The Honorless writes "Today Duke Uther showed the mettle that's won him numerous accolades in the heavy world by winning the first ever Principality of the Mists Rapier Championship.  But, today was different.  Instead of pounding his opponents with rattan, he disected them with rapier steel. 

Uther met Illadore in the finals.  The both made it there clean and it was a best of three choice of weapons format.  There was some discussion regarding doing the first pass with rapier dagger, but since both of them had every intention of fighting rapier dagger that point was moot.

The first pass was quick.  After retreating a couple of times out of reach of Illadore's attacks, Uther did a quick reversal of tactics and thrusted home at an ill prepared Illadore to score the victory.  The second pass started similar to the first pass, but Illadore continued the attack and caught Uther with a nice shot.

After saluting for the third time, both fighters started off cautiously.  Uther took a couple of shots at Illadore's arm and eventually the clash of steel began.  Uther voided a very nice shot by Illadore and reposted without hitting his mark.  But, instead of waiting for Illadore to recover, he continued his attack and hit Illadore in the upper body ending the contest.  It happened in a flash, but I was lucky enough to be marshalling right in front of them, so I had the best seat in the house.  It was an amazing display of fighting on both their parts.

So, here are a couple of interesting things about this match up.  First, and this is kind of ironic.  Illadore is fresh off an amazing victory at Pennsic.  She defeated numerous opponents from all over the Eastern U.S.  We're lucky to have such an accomplished fighter in the West.  Why is that significant?  It made this principality championship a world class final.  It wasn't a fight between two small fish.  Lets just say that both fighters new the significance of this final. 

Illadore, going in, was definitely the favorite in this contest.  However, both Illadore and Uther are both on the Top 50 list and very close to each other.  They've fought twice in the last few months, and each time it has come down to the last pass, all or nothing.  Illadore has come out on top both times.  Today it was different.

Uther's victory today establishes him as one of the best fencers in the SCA; not just the Mists, not just the West.  At Beltane this year, Uther won a tournament with 15 White Scarves in it.  This was not a suprise to those who have been watching his rise in prowess.  His dedication to the sport and to improving his game have been unrelenting.  There's no secret why he's one of the best heavy fighters in all of the SCA.  I have no doubt he will be a master of fencing in record time.  Partly because of his years of martial experience that translate to rapier.  But, mostly, it's about being a good driver.  If you don't get that, ask Uther what it means. 

Lastly, the Black Tigers now hold three offices in the West:  Kingdom Rapier Champion, Mists Rapier Champion and Cynagua Rapier Champion.  Can you say SWEET!

Good job Uther and another Huzzar for Zack!

Posted by Blayde on Sunday, September 23 @ 20:20:58 CDT


Garibaldi Peak

Information about events.

Academie Duello’s sword camp took place in the mountains northeast of Vancouver B.C. over the weekend of September the 6th.  It was, however, more than just swords.  Though its primary function was to serve as a gathering place for people to fight, you also had the opportunity to learn techniques in various bladed weapons like rapier, broadsword and knife—and could even take up quarterstaff and wrestling if you so chose.

I arrived late on Friday to find most of the weekend’s participants gathered around a campfire near the lakeshore singing songs and chatting about various things.  The only face I recognized was Devon’s, a skilled fighter and a teacher at Academie Duello, known within SCA circles as Prospere.  After finding out which cabins on the hilltop were still available I set off and put my things over in one of the two designated “quiet” accommodations and turned in.  I wasn’t sure of all that would be happening the next day, but I was certainly going to be ready.

The next morning we all poured out of the mess hall after breakfast around 9 A.M. and met within a large circle of red and black flags (good colors, I know) that was designated thereon as a permanent fighting area.  There we each introduced ourselves and gave our area of expertise or, as was often the case, the weapon/s we merely intended to practice with over the weekend.  At the time I had only mentioned the rapier, but as it would turn out I would be doing much more.

The first couple of people who approached me for a dance I could tell were new just by the way they settled into their guard: they seemed unfamiliar with it, like they were trying to get used to a suit that hadn’t been cut for them.  Nonetheless, they were enthusiastic and, after viewing my own style, had a few questions for me at the end—particularly about the way I moved.  Apparently, Academie Duello teaches a 90/10 weight distribution over the legs with a higher center of gravity (COG) vice my own 50/50 weight distribution and lower COG.  I won’t go into the specifics here but after my explanation they nodded thoughtfully and seemed to understand the why of it.  I also made sure to explain to them that what they were currently being taught was certainly not wrong, as they were learning a period historical style that worked for the gents back in the day.  I did, however, stress that if they truly wanted to be great fighters they had to learn everything available to them and then use whatever they found worked best after that.  Each student is a unique individual and they are as much responsible for their own evolution as a swordsman as is the teacher who shows them the path.

Those two fights also made me aware of a very important fact: the air was thin up there.  Under normal circumstances that kind of fighting wouldn’t have even quickened my breath, but the higher elevation was forcing my lungs to work harder to keep my muscles oxygenated.  Having never trained at higher elevations before, I found the effect interesting.

My next two dances were first with Devon and then with Randy, the fellow who actually runs Academie Duello in Vancouver.  Devon is always a fun fight but unfortunately the elevation was not agreeing with his slight asthma—which I had been unaware of until then.  He was able to muster his skills for short bursts but the lack of oxygen quickly sapped his endurance.  Likely he would have adapted given time but he was going to need more than a weekend for that.  Randy, on the other hand, committed to our little dance with wild abandon.  He pressed me hard at first but the morning’s slick grass stole his balance a couple of times and allowed me access through his defenses before he resorted to a more defensive approach that worked better for him.  Nonetheless, steel flew back and forth as we both enjoyed ourselves immensely without restriction or rule set.  At the end Randy was pulling oxygen in deep breaths but with hands on both knees and a smile on his face he said, “Man, it feels great to be able to just open up like that.”

I had to agree.

Later that day the sun had warmed things up considerably and I was standing off to the side on another part of the practice field while a class was going on that occupied the attention of perhaps 4/5 of the camp’s attendees.  A few of the others near me, also sitting out, took up a couple of the staves on the ground nearby and attempted to get them spinning.  Since I had nothing to do for the moment I helped out by showing them some of the flashier spin moves I had picked up from my time training in Ninjutsu with Zura of Dux Ryu.  Back then, in exchange for lessons in Zura’s martial art and use of his facility, I gave lessons in fencing to augment his stuntman credentials (apparently it looks good for all you budding stuntmen out there to have fencing on your resume).  At any rate, the technique is simple enough once your hands are in the right place and you get the pattern down; so before too long they were managing a moderately fast spin in front of themselves that flowed smoothly into a reverse spin and horizontal strike.  It wasn’t the Miyagi crane technique (dating myself here) but it made them all feel good and they seemed to enjoy it.

After the class came more fencing but I did more teaching than fighting this time around.  Just little things to help the moderate to new fighters improve their technique here and there.  Unless they specifically asked, I didn’t teach them anything of my particular style, since that would require them going against some of the things that Randy was teaching them at his Academie.  However, other universally important things like how not to give tells and mastering measure translate across the board and thus will help anyone of any style.

Next came the class on Fabris.  Now many of you already know my feelings on this particular style of rapier, but I figured it couldn’t hurt to take the class and see if there wasn’t some small bit somewhere I could take away from it.  I participated through the first half, getting into the stances and stepping through the attacks, but everything about it made even my most basic instincts rebel.  Not unexpectedly, I left with my opinions of it unchanged.

During the knife class I paired off with a young man named Lee and worked through the forms with him.  There were a few techniques that left us both wondering about their viability in a real knife fight, but the rest seemed worthwhile and interesting to practice at the very least.  During a lull in the class, however, I mentioned a disarming technique I knew and accidentally injured Lee after he asked me to demonstrate it at full speed.  He lunged for my gut and, sure enough, the knife went flying a dozen feet away but the end result left him gripping his forearm in pain.  I apologized, for I surely hadn’t meant to hurt him, but he was immediately convinced of the efficacy of the technique and asked me to teach it to him straight away.  Before too long, four or five others had gathered around so I taught that disarm and still one more to the lot of them.

Pretty much the whole of the weekend went just like that: teaching and fighting, fighting and teaching.  I didn’t care who asked or what their skill level was, if they wanted to learn I was more than happy to help where I could; if they wanted to fight, off to the field we went.

Come Sunday evening, though, things were wrapping up when I got quite the surprise.  The time had come to vote in the accolade tourney—the only requirement being that you vote for the person whom you felt inspired you the most over the weekend to be your best.  As for myself, I voted for Lee.  I admired his desire to learn, as he was eager to absorb all the knowledge he could of rapier, knife and the other weapons available that weekend, and he did indeed take second in the number of votes.  Devon and Randy called him up and presented him with a nice looking broadsword that looked convincingly like it was meant for more than just a place on the wall—and it probably was.  But then came the surprise when they called me up to accept the first prize.  I have to say, I was very flattered.  Though I will say the two-handed, antiqued, tree-feller they gave me is one nice piece of steel, the greater prize was knowing how much they thought of my contribution to the weekend.

Posted by Tora on Wednesday, September 19 @ 11:29:42 CDT


Tigers Dominate September Crown

Information about events.

I have to give high marks for the SCA’s Antir September Crown event.  Sure, I could say it was the beautiful weather—of which there was plenty, or the great location in which it was held up in Randle, WA (see the images of Autumn War in the pics section).  Both of these would be true statements by themselves, but mostly it is because I practically spent the entire day Saturday on the tourney field moving through three back-to-back tournaments.  I got in so much fighting that by Sunday morning my legs actually had a bit of soreness to them.  It was great.

The first tournament brought out around forty fighters and consisted of a bear pit with five separate erics.  Since wounds were cumulative it really forced people to emphasize their technique as well as their stamina in order to stay up.  Those who lost reported to the list whom they lost to and then got in line at the next eric, and so on, and so on.  I was having a grand time with this when again I found myself facing a certain female fencer for the second time whom I’ll just call Betty.  The first time I faced Betty in this tournament I defeated her and then held out my hand saying “well done”, but after a moment’s pause she just turned around and walked off.  Puzzled at this I called after Betty and asked if I had somehow offended her.  She doffed her mask and said, “No, I’m fine,” so I shrugged and just chalked the seemingly rude gesture up to the possibility that perhaps she just didn’t see me extend my hand.  This second time, however, the marshal called lay on and Betty charged with multiple attacks.  I gave ground, easily parrying the first two, then dipped my sword past her defenses in a killing strike before parrying her third.  As she walked away I made the comment of “nice aggression”—for surely I see it rarely in newer fencers—and then when Betty was just past the ropes she turned around and shouted, “Will you stop doing that?!  I know I’m a good fighter; you don’t have to tell me!”

Well, I was obviously a little surprised at her outburst and all I could manage in reply was, “Quite right; my mistake.  I’ll…try not to complement you in the future.”  To be honest, I’m still not quite certain what was going on in her head to provoke such a response.  Still, I gave her the benefit of the doubt.  Perhaps she just found out a meteor wiped out her entire family or something.  It’s hard to say.

Aside from that the tournament went very well and a grand time was had by all (well, all save Betty).  In the end I emerged victorious with a grand total of 39 victories, with my student Cameron of Clan Stewart coming in second with 27.

The second tournament was a cadet tourney, where you either had to be a cadet to a white scarf or sponsored by one in order to participate.  For those who don’t know, the format is simply to find a partner, fence, then report the results.  Though I love to fence, I don’t like to step on a cadet’s chance to shine so I always participate but never report my victories to the list.  This time, however, it was the responsibility of the defeated to report who defeated them, so to ensure the lowest score I could I sought out no one and only fought those who challenged me directly.  Though I went undefeated I had far fewer bouts than any hard fighting cadet, and fewer than the man who would ultimately win with a grand total of 48 victories: Cameron.

Lastly, there was the tournament of the Sable Rose.  Lots of good fighting was done here, and in the midst of it all we were to keep an eye peeled for the one we thought was most inspiring/chivalric/or what have you.  For me this came in the form of a fighter by the name of Tuolin (spelling?) who was a very fun opponent.  He fought me with a series of circular slashing attacks that were very pretty to watch even in the midst of the combat.  At the end of our bout I just had to put his name in, though I don’t know who ultimately came away with this award.  In the end I came away the victor after a final match up against Gracian.

After this I can only report to you on results, as I was only present on Saturday due to school and work, but I can tell you that Cameron struck the final blow to win the round robin tournament in what turned out to be an event dominated entirely by Tigers.

Posted by Tora on Wednesday, September 05


Black Tiger Update

A lot has happened since our web host suffered a meltdown—a long story full of curses, pagan sacrifices and threats of hostile takeovers (okay, maybe not, but it sure felt like it).  As you will read, however, just because the site was down it did nothing to quell the winning spirit of the Tiger clan.

First came the SCA’s July Coronation in Athol, Idaho.  At five hours, it was a bit of a drive but I figured it would be worthwhile since its location would almost assuredly bring out fencers I had as yet never gotten the chance to cross blades with.  As it turned out, I was right.  Though the total numbers were only around 25 fighters, two of them were indeed new faces to me and a grand time to dance with.  Tore’ and Rodrigo are the gents in question, and both veterans to the fencing scene.  All too often we find ourselves facing the same people over and over again at whatever tournament/event/collegium we happen to be attending at the time and, as such, it is similarly all too common to step into the combat already knowing your opponent’s strengths and weaknesses.  Being complete strangers to me, it was refreshing to have the opportunity again to face a couple of skilled opponents whose brand of combat I had to explore in the midst of the fight.

The first contest of the event was a cadet style round robin tournament.  For those who don’t know, dons and cadets alike can participate but it is primarily for the purpose of allowing the cadets to showcase their skills and help other dons to evaluate them.  As per normal, if there is fighting I am in the midst of it, but not wanting to steal any cadet’s thunder I opted not to report my victories.  The highest scoring don of that tournament turned out to be the aforementioned Tore’, and the highest scoring cadet was my own student Cameron.  Yes, I know; I am not a don so how could Cameron be a cadet?  Well, technically, he’s still cadeted to a certain white scarf around these parts who—for reasons of their own—neither fights nor teaches anymore, so Cameron is now a student of mine.  Easy, yes?

The next day brought us a prize tournament possessed of two parts.  The fighter with the most victories would be given five points, but then each fighter would cast a vote for the one they felt was the most fun, most skilled, most honorable, or what have you.  Basically, you voted for whomever you wished, based upon whatever criteria you wished.  Though I had a great many good bouts, the most memorable one for me was my duel with Connell, a fellow with whom I have a great deal of experience fighting—and he with me.  This time, though, he was in rare form and using his distance very well.  Our duel ranged all over the eric, punctuated throughout with laser-straight attacks, whispering cuts, and crisp parries on both sides.  His end finally came, however, with a tell that presaged his lunge.  I wrapped up his blade in a binding parry 6 that deflected his thrust wide as my own tip found his throat.

At the end of it all I emerged victorious in both parts of the tournament, securing the most wins with an undefeated record as well as the most votes from the rest of the fighters in attendance.  I have to say, I was quite honored for that last part.  For the prize I was given a very finely crafted, steel buckler that somebody quite obviously put great effort into making.

As they say, no rest for the wicked, and I was off and running again the very next weekend to attend Seadog Nights, a pirate-themed event that was really more of a pirate/gypsy event.  The whole thing was larger than I had expected, with crisscrossing lines of merchants (centered around a wooden plank row that looked very much like a dock), encampments dressed up like ships (complete with hulls, masts, and sails), fire dancing at night, rapier tournaments, and black powder cannons firing off at various points throughout the day.

As always, however, I came for the fighting.  As many people as there were who attended this event, there were decidedly few rapier fighters but fortunately Armand of House Daos (previously hired us to pave the way to victory for his clan at West/Antir two years earlier) was also in attendance with three or four of his own students as well.  By Saturday at one o’clock the two of us were hooking and jabbing in the eric and, sure enough, our clashing steel drew everyone with a rapier out into the open.  What followed was four hours of hooking and jabbing (and some instruction concerning distance, as Armand had some questions about what I was doing) that left our bodies sweat-soaked and our warrior spirits satisfied.

And, as would be expected at any respectable mustering of pirates, there was ample drinking and debauchery WELL into the wee hours every night.  I will say that people at SCA events like to party when the sun goes down, but people at Seadogs most assuredly party harder.  And not all of their crazy behavior was preceded by vast quantities of alcohol.  Case in point, an attractive young woman stopped me on the docks to ask directions with her pirate’s coat wide open.  This would not have been so unusual except for the fact she was sans a shirt that left her, shall we say, feminine wiles bouncing freely in the wind.  And did I mention how lovely her, uh…eyes were?

Posted by Tora on Thursday, August 23 @ 16:41:01 CDT