June 2004 Meeting
Carl West, Speaker
This text taken from the July 2004 NEMES Gazette and was written by Max Ben Aaron
Webmaster Note: I must apologize for this page being so long in coming. I took these pictures and burned them to a CD to protect them. The CD then promptly disappeared into the morass on my desk and was only now recovered from the wilderness that passes for my work area. 15 March 2005
The speaker for the evening was Carl West. In the Gazette announcement, Carl was billed as an armor maker, and I thought we were going to hear all about how to make armor, a suitable topic for metalworkers. Instead, what we got was a performance which was a work of art in its own right. Afterwards, as he was wrapping up the public address system, Ed Borgeson remarked that he wished that we had arranged to tape Carl's delivery. I had to agree, especially since I knew that it would be very difficult, if not impossible to capture the flavor of the show for this report.
Most of us are very dignified and do not show much emotion. Doug White, who was on old friend of Carl's brought his daughters, Gwen and Fiona, and their unreserved giggles and screams of delight were a well deserved tribute to Carl's artistry as a performer. . Doug has known Carl for over 20 years through the SCA, but had lost track of him until recently. Carl had once given Doug some steel for Gwen for a science fair project on rust preventatives, so she already knew him, albeit indirectly
Carl, aka Frydherick Eysenkopf (Frederick Ironhead) of the Barony of Carolingia, (Heraldic insignia: Per chevron inverted azure and sable, a chevron inverted cotised and in dexter chief a cinquefoil Or) is a member of the Society for Creative Anachronism, a fellowship of people who are enamored of the culture of the Middle Agesin Europe. In particular, he participates in armored combat in which the combatants fight each other with huge swords, made of rattan. The rattan swords and staves used are not usually enough to produce serious damage, but a blow from the can hurt enough that you want to be protected against it -- with armor. As a further level of protection against bruises, much of the armor has internal padding.
The martial rules of the society specify the requirements for protection of the target area. the area in which blows may legitimately be struck. The Manual of arms defines the "Target Area" as:
Torso: All of the body (excluding the head and arms) above the points of the hips including the groin, shoulder blades and the area between the neck and the shoulders will be considered part of the torso.
Face: the area between the chin and the middle of the forehead and between the ear openings.
Head: The whole head and neck except the face as defined above.
Thighs: The leg from one inch above the top of the knee to a line even with the bottom of the hip socket.
Hips: Area between the bottom of the hip socket to the point of the hip (iliac crest).
Shoulder: From the point of the shoulder down to a line even with the top of the underarm.
Arms: From the shoulder to one inch above the wrist.
Blows that land outside the legal target areas shall not be counted. Fighters may not intentionally strike areas outside the legal target areas.
Carl donned all his armor and explained how he gradually made armor to complete his ensemble. He demonstrated, with vivid commentary, which blows were legal and which were not.
The plate armor is made by cold-forming. A hollow is cut into a block of wood and the steel is formed by hammering it into the hollow in the block. 20 gauge steel plate is mostly used. The hammer has a flat face, the edges rounded. Armor includes gauntlets, pauldrons (on shoulders), hauberks, grieves on legs and, of, course, helms.
Being used in (simulated) combat, plate armor has to be articulated to allow movement. Medieval armories figured out how to make ingenious hinges for most joints but some areas were too difficult to do with rigid pieces (the groin region between the hauberk and the leg armor, for instance) so chain mail had to be employed. Carl does not use a shield.
As an aside, if you are interested in making chain mail, the trick is to wind a doubled strand of wire around the arbor. Then when you make a longitudinal cut to separate the links, they will not need to be opened, saving a step/link.
During combat there are Marshals who supervise the fight. If, for example, a blow is truck against your right arm, such that, in real combat, you would have lost the use of the arm, but still be able to fight, it is then incumbent ton you to continue fighting, if you can, with your left arm. All warriors are honor-bound to observe the rules of combat; if you are struck in a vulnerable area you have to react as though it had been a real blow on the battlefield.
Some of the rules are: An effective blow to the arm above the wrist will disable the arm. The arm shall then be considered useless to the fighter, and may not be used for either offense or defense. An effective blow to the leg above the knee will disable the leg. The fighter must then fight kneeling, sitting, or standing upon the foot of the uninjured leg.
Combatants in a tournament can participate in single combat or in teams of two or more. Teams rehearse ensemble tactics.
The members in attendance, I am sure, will fondly remember Carl’s performance for many years to come. Well done, Carl! For more information:
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