By Dominic Seamor
“I just wanted to try something new, a different style from the normal SCA combat,” said Alaric the Mad of the Shire of Roxbury Mill in Atlantia. At the Pas du Dragon Noir on Friday, Alaric tried to have his wish fulfilled.
As Baron Asbjorn Johansen OTC, OM explained, the Pas is an attempt to more closely replicate the actual style of tournament fighting from the 14th and 15th centuries. The Pas du Dragon Noir is patterned after an actual Burgundian-style tournament and is part of the Historic Combat Series, a sequence of combats throughout the War emphasizing historical combat techniques.
Unlike standard SCA heavy fighting, in a Pas d’Armes a fighter loses by being struck with a good thrust to only a few small target areas: the armpit, the inside of the elbow, or the face if the fighter is wearing a barred-front helm. A fighter also loses if he or she is disarmed, driven from the list field, or knocked down. Some Pas d’Armes use a system where an agreed number of good blows must be struck before a fighter has lost.
This is the first Pennsic for Becc from the Shire of Hartstone in Æthelmearc. A man-at-arms to Sir Wulfstan Huscarl, Becc made his own armor so he could fight at this War and he found the Pas very exciting. “I really enjoy it!” he exclaimed after a series of bouts with poleaxes. “You can grab your enemy’s weapon and stab him with it,” a trick that Becc actually used against Baron Asbjorn.
“Duff” Fweolan from the Shire of Anglespur in the East Kingdom said that he fights in at least one of the Historic Combat Series events every Pennsic. Fweolan’s experience at this style of combat was evident as he twice used the pommel of his longsword for a kill against Becc’s “unarmored” face.
One of the most authentic combats was fought between Becc and his friend Lord Wulfr, also from the Shire of Hartstone. Becc and Lord Wulfr were dueling with poleaxes and during an intense round of grappling for each other’s weapons Lord Wulfr accidentally struck off Becc’s right elbow armor. The marshal, Sir Wulfstan, immediately stopped the fight and Baron Asbjorn explained that in a historical combat losing part of your armor was enough to cost you the fight. “It depends on the tournament,” Baron Asbjorn said. “In some combats they seemed to be even more concerned about safety than we are in the SCA, but other tournaments were little more than disguised duels where the opponents were hoping to kill each other. There was a wide range of combats in period”
The Historic Combat Series will be continuing throughout the War. Consult your Pennsic 35 book for dates and times. Most of the Historic Combat Series events do not have any appearance requirement and fighters may wear any SCA-legal armor. Some of the Series do have appearance rules; check your Pennsic book for what rules apply to which combats.
Did Alaric get his wish fulfilled? “You bet!” he said. “I like it!”