Getting to the Point at Pennsic

By Master Liam St. Liam

Baron Raphael di Angelo is just letting off extra energy, and he's doing it by striving to fight more than 1,000 rapier bouts this Pennsic.

Baron Raphael, who is ranked 52nd in the world in mundane epee competitions, missed out on a berth to the Olympics in Athens and found himself still ready for a challenge.

"Having not qualified for Athens, I supposed I have a great deal of mental and emotional energy to dispense with," said Baron Raphael, who is from New York City and lives in Paris. "I couldn't think of a better way to do it than doing 1,000-plus bouts at Pennsic. He completed 637 bouts through Sunday and was planning to fence for several hours after Monday's Rapier Champions' tournament.

The inspiration for his quest came from a fellow member of his East Kingdon household, ICOD. Eight years ago, Baron Raphael saw his campmate Balin, now a member of the Order of Chivalry become the first fighter to complete 1,000 bouts at Pennsic. Others have completed the question, including Geoffrey Scott, a Chivalry candidate from the West who completed 1,500 bouts Sunday night.

No one had yet done 1,000 rapier bouts, and Baron Raphael admits that perhaps he should have known better than to try it. "I saw Balin when he finished. He was in bad shape. I don't know why I thought it was a good idea."

But Baron Raphael, who has been fencing in the SCA for 19 years and started Olympic-style fencing two years earlier, said he has found it worth it so far. "It's been great to meet fencers from lots of different kingdoms with lots of different styles," he said. "That's what's great about the SCA. You come up against people of various backgrounds."

He added that he doesn't find problems switching from the straight-on competition of Olympic-style fencing to the various attacks of SCA fencing.

"I enjoy the differences. I don't necessarily have to wear white, and I can fence outdoors," he said. "I find SCA fencing very relaxing."

Editor's note: The first fighter known to complete 1000-plus bouts at Pennsic was Mattias Sean Cameron at Pennsic XXI twelve years ago. This by no means diminishes the tremendous accomplishment achieved by Sir Balin, Viscount Geoffrey and the several others who have duplicated or surpassed Sir Cameron's feat in the years since.