Updated: Dec 13, 2020
The Texas sky rolled in with dark clouds as we pulled up to a small corrugated metal CrossFit gym in Sequin, Texas. As we stepped out into the growing wind, sounds of swords clanging could be heard in the distance.
The Showdown in No-Town was underway.
What’s that you ask?
Let’s start with the organization that was hosting the event. The New Braunfels Historical Fencing Club is the new kid on the block when it comes to the Southern Historical Fencing League having only been in existence since late 2018. It is the brainchild of Connor Dillon and Kevin Beahan who have quickly shaped a club around the cornerstones of keeping the sport accessible while still fostering a competitive edge.
Connor Dillon, who is more the business half of the club, has been studying HEMA for roughly three years and, like so many, came to it after traditional martial arts experience. HEMA was first really brought to his attention via an article on Bloody Elbow, an MMA and UFC news site. This further sparked an already existing fascination with sword fighting because...swords and who doesn’t want to fight with swords. He started investigating outlets (Reddit, we are looking at you) and that’s when Kevin entered the mix.
Kevin, as Connor says, is the competitive drive in the club. His background spans ten years of studying modern Olympic fencing with a focus on épée which only reinforces HEMA style fencing. For a time, he engaged in heavy combat with an SCA group before finally finding his way to the HEMA hallowed ground.
Together, these two worked hard to get their fledgling club up and running, focusing on longsword technique through the teachings of Meyer mixed in with some Fiore. While Connor’s love is longsword, Kevin, who also loves longsword, also has an appreciation for sword and buckler (Did you hear that? Anthony might have squealed) which he brings to the club’s expanding repertoire.
Fast forward from August 2018 to April 2019 and this young club, eager to make their mark in the Southern League, decided to host their first event; The Showdown in No-Town.
The first inklings of the event took the form of a tournament catering to the beginner HEMA student looking to gain some competitive experience, but narrowing down the definition of a beginner in the art of swinging swords can be difficult, so it shifted to an open longsword tournament paired with a ‘secret weapon’ portion. There are weapons out there that just don’t get as much love as the very popular and notable longsword, so Connor decided to shine a light on them with this fun approach. The first wallflower weapon turned out to be none other than dussack! Not only would competitors get to thwack at each other with Purple Heart Armoury synthetic dussacks, the winner would get to take one home thanks to the generous sponsorship of Purple Heart who once again showed their support with extreme generosity.
For an inaugural event, the turn out was quite impressive with clubs all over the Southern Historical Fencing League showing up in force. Not only were there twenty-six fighters in the longsword tournament and twenty-five for dussack, but every club has support members there to observe, cheer on, and coach bring the total number of people somewhere around fifty. The clubs represented spanned from Texas to Oklahoma, and Louisiana:
All in all, it was a day filled with skilled fighting, camaraderie, and impressive displays of good sportsmanship as everyone came together to take part in a heartfelt first effort from the New Braunfels Historical Fencing Club. The success is in large part that Connor Dillon is a humble guy willing to give thanks to those who helped him along the way whether it was the extreme kindness of Natasha and Christian as they once again show undying support for HEMA clubs or getting advice from those who have come before him in the community.
Well done, Connor and Kevin. We salute you and look forward to many more Showdowns in No-Town.
HEMA on, Wayne.
HEMA on, Garth.
-The Fearless Nymph