Friday, November 2, 2007

Branching out, focusing down

In the past few months, I've started to involve myself with a local 'land grant' of Regia Anglorum. Last month, I was fortunate enough to attend a training session in Salem with two members from England over on a working holiday (several training sessions with several groups mixed with their wedding anniversary). The training sessions were a mix of combat training in the morning, followed by displaying and discussing the kit of trainers, as well some of the kit of the local members.

For those familiar with SCA harness and combat standards, Regia combat standards have no armour requirements while reducing the target area and the amount of force required. The target area is basically the upper arms and shoulders, torso, and outer thighs, avoiding the head, neck, groin, elbows, and knees. The weapon contact surfaces are 3mm for cutting edge and 10mm blunts for thrusting/spear tips. (BENE NOTE: this is a summary only. For complete details, refer to official Regia Anglorum documents). The amount of force is enough to be felt through what is worn, but no more than you yourself would like to be hit.

Now I know many SCA combatants are immediately challenging the Regia combat system for poor authenticity in some areas (as they might critique the SCA system in others.). It occured to me that there are different overt or covert goals involved between the two combat systems. The second goal of the Regia system (after safety) is to appear as authentic as (safely) possible to the viewing public. Hence, only visible protective kit authentic to the period (no knee pads, no combat boots, no hockey gloves) and steel weapons. The SCA system, it occurred to me, is more tailored to making the kinesthetic experience of the combatant closer to realist combat rather than looking visually close. So, the SCA requires joint protection on knees, elbows, and hands/wrists when they may not have actually existed for a given time and culture. And the weapons are all a safer 1.25"/31.75mm diameter, which allows you to hit with more force, but look like fat, duct taped broomsticks. I know there are some precedents with thick wooden wasters and wooden maces specific to tournaments, but SCA swords are still mostly round in diameter and covered in duct tape.

I have yet to encounter this legendary anal brusqueness that Regia members are painted with from the outside. I do admit, that most of the ones I've met are the local land grant and thus are all West Coast USA and Oregonians (I've been told Oregonians are in general friendly), but even the couple of that came from England were friendly and patient (okay, so two are a small sample, but they seem to have been sufficiently up in experience and organizational structure to quality to come train over here). Had they wanted to be arrogant, domineering, judgmental, and dismissive, they certainly were in a position to do so, but did not.

Again, there's a different philosophy behind SCA and Regia. SCA covers a 1000+ years of history and spills out off the European continent. Not even discussing the inherent inauthenticity of a 8th century Frank meeting up with a 14th century Welshmen and a 17th century Genoese, the level of authenticity standard in the SCA is limited to "an attempt." It was never created with the intention of re-enacting history and is not designed to support it. Regia focuses on a much narrower range of history, and a much smaller geographic area. Somebody focusing on the early era could be the grandfather of the fellow at the late end. It also has the advantage of being based on history that happened a couple of miles down the road rather than 5000-8000 miles away and across an ocean (Drachenwald has a certain advantage there). Yes, Regia is much narrower in it's scope, but that's the way it was designed and the way the people who really want to be a part of it want to operate. It was never designed to be another version of the SCA. It is probably as bewildering to those in Regia that somebody would want to join and do stuff outside the group's focus as it would be for me to walk into a Thai restaurant and order meatloaf, just because the last restaurant had (something called) pad thai as well as meatloaf (probably a Hometown Buffet or a King's Table - but I've never been to one and a long time since the other).

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

First week of Lenten fasting

Now ends my first week of Lenten fasting. Or the starting half-week and half the second week. Seven on one, three and four of the other. I made almond milk Shrove Tuesday/Mardi Gras night while indulging in several poached eggs. Didn't feel like making pancakes. I'm noticed that I eat more bread, so that I can purchase a nice artisan loaf of bread and consume it without the concern of it starting to mold before I'm finished.

I still wonder at the 'sacrifice' at times. On the one hand, unlike a medieval Christian, I'm exposed to meat and dairy throughout the day, including commercials for things like Carl's Jr. burgers and Subway sandwiches. On the other hand, I actually like things like a light drizzle of olive oil on my toast and most forms of seafood. The biggest awkwardness is milk for my tea. Almond milk is fine, but the funny thing is nobody then was drinking tea, so they 'd not be using milk, almond or cow, for it anyway.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Building onto Le Foyer

I'll be using Le Foyer for general Medieval and relevant SCA thoughts and activities. I 'built' four other rooms (blogs) for specific subjects: cookery, cordwaining, woodworking, and the scriptoral arts (lettering, illumination, and bookbinding). Every room has links to the other rooms. I imagine I'll spend the next several weeks playing 'catch up' as I post about things I've already done.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Welcome to the Dordogne

Je suis Edouard de Bruyeres, sire de LeFoyer et La Caillefort. Within the context of the Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA), I am Edouard de Bruyeres and the year is 1407 anno Domini. Born the third son of an Anglo-Gascogne man-at-arms, I have done well for myself, holding four estates in fief: Derndale in Hereford, Aslingdon in Oxford, La Caillefort in Armagnac, and my favourite LeFoyer in the Dordogne.