Battle of the Nations- slowly wrapping my brain around it.

I've been searching for a way to capture what the Battle of Nations experience was like, making some false starts and failed attempts.  I'll begin with a couple quotes from my teammates.   The first is from Scott Frappier, on the subject of a "transformative experience."
"Yes, for me I believe it was because of the very real risk involved. Also it had so many elements of DeCharney's tales. Knights seeking to test themselves against knights from many different lands. I do not mean to diminish the SCA or the love I hold for it. The SCA is my home and it is were I learned swordsmanship and practiced chivalry and courtesy under duress. My time in the SCA prepared me for this deed and as you can see my team mates changed BOTN with SCA values. With that said this type of combat was so much harder on every level. Some may be offended at that statement but it simply is. I think it only natural to hold dearest what was hardest to earn. It is a very difficult thing to explain and I still struggle when people ask "What was it like?" or "It couldn't be that hard." I mostly just stare and remain silent or invite them to a practice."
And from Zorikh Lequidre: 
"With me it was more of a Campbellian hero's journey rather than a crusade or a pilgrimage. I had been looking for a journey that would get me out of my comfort zone, put me at risk, challenge me emotionally, physically, and spiritually, and make me feel like I accomplished something rare and worthwhile. There must be more words to describe it because those don;t come close to what happened. We were warriors, sportsmen, rock stars, superheroes. We left our homes, traveled a long journey, faced challenges no one at home had faced, and underwent a transformation and earned a prize that we could take back home which will change out lives and the lives of those around us. For each man and woman on the team and support staff the specific obstacles that were overcome, the specific transformation, the specific reward, must be different, but it was there for all of us."

Robert Roach, who is a 2012 team member who writes over at The Eclectic Antagonist sparked a lot of this vision of ourselves on a Cambellian hero's journey.  He's an eloquent and insightful thug, and his perspective is well worth checking out.  Calling ourselves heroes is a little narcissistic, or grandiose, and we never put ourselves at the level of hazard that real soldiers do, or fought for a cause that was as important.  There is some national pride involved.  People have been paralyzed, been permanently injured and died doing this sport, so it does have substantial risk.  The analogy of this journey is the closest model for me to wrap my brain around it though, so that's what I use.

I grabbed this quick picture of it from Wikipedia, though the full article is well worth checking out here.
As much as I'd love to embrace the image of myself as Vulcan, forging mystical armour in my shop, I don't claim any supernatural aid was had in any of our adventure.  There were numerous helpers and mentors along the way, and I'll try to name a few here.  My trainers- mostly Duke Gregor von Heisler, Viscount Brion of Bellatrix.  I don't acknowledge Jarl Ragnar Beowulf as often as I should.  I've learned a lot from all of them, and all of the folks I've fought over the years.  I learned a lot about armour from tons of people- Brian Price, Robert MacPherson, Max Engel, and the guys on the Armour Archive.  Brion gave me the head of the axe I used in most of my fights.  My squire Martel, Max and my friend Master Jovian helped me with last minute armour work.  Cassaundra, Grainne and Clalibus helped me with clothes and repairs.  I gained specific training on these techniques from Duke Kein, Duke Hoegaarden and my coaches at Randy Palmer's South Austin Gym.

By the time I'd decided to embark on this quest there were only a few months to get ready.  I built cased greaves, a new face plate to protect my eyes, and a new body harness and gorget mostly to protect my spine.  The worst damage I'd heard from this combat was a fatal spinal injury so I was quite cautious about a similar fate.  The design I settled on was a 15th century tonlet, with a backplate from Chalcis, and a hoop fauld to protect the lower back and hips.  I sculpted it out of 18 gauge spring steel, and it performed remarkably well. The greaves were out of the same material, and were more challenging to create, though they turned out to be rather pretty.

The stamina and strength required for this kind of fight is greater than my usual challenges, so I switched my regular biking routine over to jogging, and joined a gym so I could work on wrestling, kickboxing, weight lifting, and general fitness.  It all helped, particularly the realization that the intensity level I'd been working with before was well below my potential, and what other folks were willing to put in.  It all pushed me into a higher gear.

My next entry will hopefully discuss the threshold, the journey, the fight, all that we encountered, the transformation and the return.


It sounds overhwelming, tiring, and harder than expected, but still sounds like a good and very educative experience.

I want to ask: would you do it again? :)
I will totally do this again. I'm working on building up a contingent from Texas for 2013.

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