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2018 Symposium

In 2018 our annual Symposium was held on-site at the Medieval Faire at Norman, Oklahoma, planned to be a medieval encampment weekend. We'd done this way back in 2004, when Bryan Johnson discovered us. This year we were joined by a hearty contingent of the American Combat League, and while the weather didn't cooperate, there was plenty of companionship--amore e concordia--as SSG combatants fought in a pas d'armes; Sam gave a class on chivalry in the Wars of the Roses; and Jon Eppler did a well received class on Bolognese sidesword. It was, however, bitter cold.

The SSG advanced party (Josh, Bryan, Ed, Brian and Sam) set up three pavilions, and the list enclosure on Thursday night. An unanticipated and highly unusual cold snap brought twenty degree temperatures and 20-40 mph winds, driving the wind-chill to single digits. The on-site party froze, and the schedule slipped as the Faire remained closed until 2pm.


Nonetheless, our stalwart compangi, joined by the American Combat League folks from the Dallas Marshals, continued to set up, though there was little interest in the unarmoured vespers tourney, so we put all efforts into hopes for a warmer Saturday. We did accomplish some individual coaching, though this left the gambesons and such soaking wet, as we got sleety rain--not that that stopped anyone!

In fact Saturday did open a little warmer, and Sam did his class on chivalry in the 15th century Wars of the Roses, as fifteen people jammed into the round pavilion, huddling over coffee. Sam had distilled the class from his Masters thesis, completed just at the end of 2017, which examined a number of primary documents, chronicles from the Wars of the Roses, comparing a number of battle-actions with chivalric expectations as expressed in chivalric handbooks, legal treatises like the Tree of Battles, and romance.

With the sun making a much-heralded appearance, the combatants slowly armed and prepared for the pas d'armes. As has become our tradition, the tourney began with a commencement melee with the sword in one hand to three good strikes. SSG DFW member Ryan Porter was the last man standing, definitely earning renown for himself and taking the prize for DFW.

The weather only allowed for three passes, but we enjoyed the participation of the ACL folks--Charlie, Denver, Sean and the rest. Some notable fights included Bryan Johnson's two bouts with the poleaxe, one against Josh Beck and the other against Sam Fishburne; Ed Wells' halfsword fight versus Sam Fishburne; Denver's pass with spear versus Josh; Julie's longsword bout; Jon Eppler's halfswording, and many more.

On the side field, the ACL members demonstrated some of their 2 x 2 fights. Observing and marshalling, it struck me that the ACL fights, in tone and form, reminded me of the Combat of the Thirty, the Hundred Years' War battle between two garrisons--one English, one French--conducted by men-at-arms rather than knights in a bloody but renown-winning contest under the Old Oak. While the pas d'armes were fought exclusively by knights and members of the gentry/nobility, scraps like the Combat of the Thirty were often fought by those of lesser status, still for renown, but they lacked many of the social nicities of the pas d'armes or round table-style tournaments. Fellow-travelers on the chivalric road, to my mind. The comportment and fighting passion from the ACL folks from Dallas reinforced my belief once again, as everyone got along great and enjoyed the different flavors of prowess demonstrated on the weekend. Charlie Brumfield, Denver, Sean and the Mountain all earned renown on the day and it was a sincere pleasure to meet them in a chivalric context. We hope we can work with them more!

Much renown was won on the weekend. To my mind, Sam Fishburne enjoys the lion's share, given his exemplary armoured presentation and fighting, coupled with the organization for the event and for his class. Hugh credit also to Josh Back, Bryan Johnson and Ed Wells for coming from so far away and contributing so much to the event (though a misfortune befell Bryan as the gear trailer was robbed afer the event, with $2500 in gear lost). All three won significant renown on the field as well, and, notably, Josh Beck successfully tested for his Scolaro Maggiore, demonstrating the zogho stretto on Sunday morning. Ryan Porter was also a standout on the field, boldly engaging and doing well with sword in two hands. Julie showed both passion and promise. Thomas Belloma fought exceedingly well with hte sword in two hands and the spear, and I enjoyed his sword in one hand. Andy Borman hauled a considerable amount of gear for transfer up from DFW and then engaged with spada da lato and rapier, keeping his own edge sharp. Jon Eppler did fine work with halfswording, credibly making his re-appearance in harness and adding greatly through both his combat on the field, camaraderie and his expertise with the Bolognese style.

While the weather didn't cooperate, everyone should be commended on their efforts in what was bitter cold. I heard rumblings about holding the next symposium someplace with palm trees and beaches, which sounds just fine! #pas #tournament #chivalry #SSG #Symposium #American_Combat_League #ACL #schola_saint_george


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