Updated: Dec 13, 2020
Beef jerky? Check.
Unbridled amounts of enthusiasm and excitement for a sword road trip? CHECK!
The Austin Historical Weapons Guild set off on the open road for the Baton Rouge Open 2019 this past weekend with hope in their hearts and swords in their hands. The trip was long and arduous and the games of the road trip bingo were cutthroat!
The Baton Rouge Open is the brainchild of Ordo Procinctus HEMA which is the resident hit-em-with-sticks group in eastern Louisiana. It’s an offshoot of Ordo Procinctus which started out as a competitive, full-contact, Medieval fighting club but incorporated a HEMA branch under the direction of Eric Wiggins who saw the benefit of structured fighting to augment the full contact. The club flourished and grew in no small part to Josh Furrate who is the man behind the curtain
(or man under the purple flower crown as it may be) for BRO these days.
The Baton Rouge Open is a HEMA event that offers both fighting opportunities as well as workshops and this year was no exception. Tournaments were held in longsword, rapier, and cutting with both women and open categories. There was a cutting workshop run by Julian of Blood and Iron, a smallsword class offered by Sarah Protratz of Wisconsin Historical Fencing Association, and grand baton by Julie Olson of Athena School of Arms In addition to the fun, there were copious amounts of sparring, skill sharing, and training going on at all times.
Stephen Heacock, Andreas Fabis, and Kent Cook of AHWG all competed in the longsword open tournament and did purple proud! It’s a physical and emotional undertaking to prepare for a tournament and all our fighters put in hours of training into getting ready for BRO. Most of all, Anthony, who was on hand to coach, wants his students to enjoy themselves, learn a little bit, and grow through the experience of fighting new people. We, the fellow students, waved our purple flags with pride as we supported our fighters through the pools. That’s right. We have flags.
Jacqui Zarka and Anna McGarry took part in the women’s cutting competition which neither had done before. While an intimidating experience for beginners (semaphore cuts!), both ladies did their best in the name of purple. Jacqui cut in style, going barefoot like a true warrior goddess!
The open cutting competition included both Hunter Coxe and Kent Cook representing AHWG. Neither had ever cut before but were eager to give it a try, confident in their structure training. The first round was semaphore cuts which meant the competitors had to watch a signalman for which cut line was expected and they had six seconds to comply. Both Hunter and Kent did wonderfully, advancing to the next stage which was singlesword basic cuts. Again, they both advanced with good form earning good scores. The third round was making cuts of any variety save they weren’t the six basic cuts. Competitors had to call their cut before making it with twelve opportunities to demonstrate skill. The room exploded in applause when both men nailed rising false edge cuts much to the chagrin of some judges as it is a very difficult cut to pull off.
With that boost to their confidence, each moved into the finals where the task was to cut double rolled tatami mats. The final scores were very close, only differing by two points between first and second. In the end, Hunter took silver and Kent the bronze with an insanely happy Anthony looking on.
It was truly a fantastic weekend of camaraderie and fun with many moments of purple pride happening over the two-day event. Not only did the fighters give it their all in the ring, but AHWG members volunteered for cutting clean up and table scorekeeping, happy to contribute to the smooth working of the tournament.
With another strong showing of purple at a Southern Historical Fencing League event, the AHWG will be setting its sights on the next one where we will fight with heart, help with intention, and, of course, be all about the purple.
Well done, Ordo Procinctus on a successful event! We look forward to the next one but until then...
HEMA on, Wayne.
HEMA on, Garth.
- The Fearless Nymph