What exactly do you do?
SCA armored or “heavy weapons” combat is one of the few activities that’s been around as long as the SCA itself has been. It’s a martial art based on the baton and waster tourney fighting practiced throughout the Middle Ages, such as the English sport called Singlestick. We wear full armor and fight with rattan weapons ranging from sword and shield to polearms, great weapons, and spears
There are two main venues for SCA armored combat: tournament and melee. Tournaments are most often one-on-one contests, whereas melees are mass battles with anywhere between a handful and a few hundred warriors on a side. There’s a great deal of pageantry surrounding this discipline, and it is both one of the most participated-in and one of the most esteemed parts of SCA life.
What are the basic rules?
SCA armored combat is a moderate contact sport, about as intense as football, but with far less risk of injury. The basic rules are pretty simple. We fight as though armored in a simple maille hauberk and norman helm, accepting blows that land within a standard of sufficient calibration.
With most weapons, blows may be dealt with the cutting edges or with a thrust from the tip. Legal targets include the legs above the knees, the body, the head, and the arms to the wrists. A blow to the arm disables the arm, and a blow to the leg disables the leg (causing the fighter to kneel). Head and body blows are considered completely disabling. You can read up on all of the rules by downloading the Complete Participants Handbook.
What equipment do you use?
Standard protective equipment for SCA armored combat includes elbow, knee, kidney, groin, and neck armor, as well as a helmet. You can find the exact specifications for these in the SCA Marshal’s Handbook. Beyond the bare minimum, virtually all armored combatants add shoulder, chest, hip, thigh, and other armor for comfort.
Repurposed football and hockey padding is often used (covered by tunics and tabards, of course), and most pieces of armor can be constructed from inexpensive plastics.
As mentioned above, our weapons are constructed from rattan, which is easily found at various SCA events throughout the year. Weapons construction does have to meet specific guidelines, which are outlined in the SCA Marshal’s Handbook.
What do I need to bring to my first practice?
That’s a lot of equipment, right? Lucky for you, you really don’t need much of anything to get started in SCA armored combat here in the Barony of Elfsea. Before we put you in armor, our Knight Marshal or one of our other experienced fighters will run you through the basics and teach you some valuable safety tips. And when you’re ready to start sparring, we have loaner armor of various sizes that you can use to try out this amazing sport. So, for your first visit to our regular fighter practice, you’ll want to wear some sturdy shoes, groin protection, and comfortable clothing.