Medieval days in the South Cariboo

Miles Theoret and Charles Jones blocks one another’s attacks with their shields during a practice bout last Tuesday. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 Mile Free Press)Miles Theoret and Charles Jones blocks one another’s attacks with their shields during a practice bout last Tuesday. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 Mile Free Press)
Kirtus Young tests the weight of a rattan sword while David Sharpe explain its use and purpose. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 Mile Free Press)Kirtus Young tests the weight of a rattan sword while David Sharpe explain its use and purpose. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 Mile Free Press)
David Sharpe demonstrates the proper way to swing a rattan sword. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 Mile Free Press)David Sharpe demonstrates the proper way to swing a rattan sword. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 Mile Free Press)
Charles Jones grits his teeth as he dons his armour at the 108 Mile Community Hall. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 Mile Free Press)Charles Jones grits his teeth as he dons his armour at the 108 Mile Community Hall. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 Mile Free Press)
Charles Jones faces off against Miles Theoret as they engage in some heavy fighting using rattan swords. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 Mile Free Press)Charles Jones faces off against Miles Theoret as they engage in some heavy fighting using rattan swords. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 Mile Free Press)
Miles Theoret dances away from Charles Jones as the two duel at the 108 Mile Community Hall. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 Mile Free Press)Miles Theoret dances away from Charles Jones as the two duel at the 108 Mile Community Hall. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 Mile Free Press)
Charles Jones lunges forward to deliver a blow against Sethric Einarson. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 Mile Free Press)Charles Jones lunges forward to deliver a blow against Sethric Einarson. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 Mile Free Press)
Miles Theoret parries a blow from Charles Jones as the two practice their swordplay. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 Mile Free Press)Miles Theoret parries a blow from Charles Jones as the two practice their swordplay. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 Mile Free Press)
Miles Theoret stabs at Charles Jones as the two duel with rattan swords. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 Mile Free Press)Miles Theoret stabs at Charles Jones as the two duel with rattan swords. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 Mile Free Press)
Charles Jones catches a slash from Sethric Einarson on the rim of his shield during practice at the 108 Mile Community Hall. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 Mile Free Press)Charles Jones catches a slash from Sethric Einarson on the rim of his shield during practice at the 108 Mile Community Hall. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 Mile Free Press)
Sethric Einarson and Charles Jones clash as they duel. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 Mile Free Press)Sethric Einarson and Charles Jones clash as they duel. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 Mile Free Press)
Miles Theoret and Sethric Einarson exchange blows last Tuesday. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 Mile Free Press)Miles Theoret and Sethric Einarson exchange blows last Tuesday. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 Mile Free Press)
Miles Theoret and Sethric Einarson exchange blows last Tuesday. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 Mile Free Press)Miles Theoret and Sethric Einarson exchange blows last Tuesday. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 Mile Free Press)
Charles Jones’ strike is blocked by the shield of Sethric Einarson during a practice duel. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 Mile Free Press)Charles Jones’ strike is blocked by the shield of Sethric Einarson during a practice duel. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 Mile Free Press)
Charles Jones catches a slash from Sethric Einarson on the rim of his shield during practice at the 108 Mile Community Hall. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 Mile Free Press)Charles Jones catches a slash from Sethric Einarson on the rim of his shield during practice at the 108 Mile Community Hall. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 Mile Free Press)
Having lost his legs, Charles Jones turtles up as Sethric Einarson steps in to deliver a killing blow. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 Mile Free Press)Having lost his legs, Charles Jones turtles up as Sethric Einarson steps in to deliver a killing blow. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 Mile Free Press)

Once a week, Charles Jones trades in his plow for a wooden sword to become Zaz the Scythian.

A member of the Society for Creative Anachronisms, Jones dons homemade armour to become a soldier for the Kingdom of An Tir. Together with other society members, he wields a sword made of rattan – a kind of grass similar to bamboo – and begins to practice what he calls “heavy fighting.” Others call it medieval martial arts.

“This is like hockey, you know, you’re just full on going all out when you’re fighting. There’s not a muscle in your body not being used and you’re mentally and physically giving everything to this,” Jones said during a recent session at the 108 Mile Community Hall. “It’s everything to me.”

Heavy fighting is a key part of the SCA, a worldwide organization dedicated to re-enacting and preserving medieval customs and history. Local groups are divided into shires, baronies, princedoms and kingdoms with their own lords and kings, who win their titles by right of combat. South Cariboo members, for example, belong to the Shire of Coill Mhor while An Tir stretches across the Pacific Northwest.

In North America, they have close to 60,000 members including fighters and volunteers who take on other support roles like armorers, merchants, potters and jesters. Jones started as a cook at the Clinton War 15 years ago before falling in love with combat.

“I like the physical activity and I like going into war, I love war,” Jones said. “I specialize in sword and shield, or sword and board as we call it, but I also can use axes, spears and heavy weapons.”

To take part in heavy fighting, combatants wear custom-made medieval-themed armour and hockey pads. They take to the field using mock swords, axes, spears and even bows and arrows.

The weapons may not be lethal but they still pack a punch. Fully armoured blows can easily lead to scrapes, bruises and cuts. Fights range from one-on-one duels to skirmishes of 50 people right up to full-scale mock wars with 5,000 combatants.

Jones said he’s looking forward to getting back in shape for summer tournaments and wars. He and fighters like David Sharpe hope to recruit some new members into the sport.

“I’m glad winter is over so we can get practices going, get people out and get them kitted up in armour,” said Sharpe, the group’s financial officer.

Sharpe demonstrated what’s needed in a fight: a strong stance that uses the body’s core power.

He suggests fighters rotate their body with the swing and keep their shield solid to avoid a fatal strike – this refers to any blow that lands above the hips to the top of the head.

Bouts typically go until one of the fighters scores a fatal blow, ‘killing’ their opponent.

When weapons hit the legs or arms, Sharpe said fighters will stop using those limbs for added realism.

The historical pageantry of the events is close to Sharpe’s heart. As banners fly, he takes on the persona of late 12th-century French noble Jaret Doiron from Brittany. The name comes from his wife’s family, who have deep roots with the first settlers of Novia Scotia.

“It’s not so much role play. It’s research and learning about armouring styles and how things worked in medieval times,” Sharpe said.

“It’s interesting to learn. For me, it’s about the history and recreating it.

The fighting is just a nice bonus.”

The Shire of Coill Mhor is hosting two tournaments near Lac La Hache this summer.

The Tir Righ June Coronet takes place June 10-12 at the Northwood Lodge and Resort, followed by the Ducal War, June 24-26, at the South Cariboo Garlic Festival site located 3.5 km north of town.

The Medieval Martial Arts members meet at 7:30 p.m. Mondays and 9:30 a.m. Tuesdays at the 108 Mile Community Hall. New members are welcome.



patrick.davies@100milefreepress.net

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

100 Mile House