I am not a heavy fighter. Actually I prefer the term armored fighter. Yes, all fighters are armored somehow, but I distinguish between rapier fighter and armored fighter. So, I am not an armored fighter.
I was originally interested in armored fighting, and the first two fighter practices I attended were armored, as my home group had no rapier fighters. So I went to the high school and watched the fighters and no one talked to me.
I later discovered that this was something this group did; they were, let’s say insular. They weren’t warm, inviting SCAdians. They were friendly enough, and would gladly answer questions, but when you’re brand new to the SCA, you don’t know what questions to ask. So I didn’t and just watched for two practices and didn’t come back to a third.
I have sometimes wondered how my SCA life might have been different if someone had approached me and asked me if I was interested in armored combat (the second fighter practice would have been a clue). I might have authorized, learned to fight well enough to be made a squire. Knighthood could have been possible, and, who knows, maybe even Warlord. Why, I could have fought in Crown, been a contender, it could have been
No, probably not.
Aah, well. Instead, I found and fought rapier.
In truth, I would not have made as good an armored fighter as I did a rapier fighter. I was over 40 when I joined and, while I have stamina, I’ve never been really strong. Technique would have taken care of some of that, but I already had some experience with strip fencing and rapier seemed more to my liking. It was also more welcoming.
The very first rapier fighter I spoke to was Nathanial (who went by Gregoire then). We talked for almost an hour about Atlantian rapier. The first practice I went to was Giacomo’s. That was an experience. Giacomo was, and is, an interesting fellow and I began my instruction with him, aided by one of his more advanced students, Alan.
Rapier became my primary activity in the SCA and I have made many friends in it, and not too many enemies (you bastards know who you are). As I’ve gotten older and fight less, I’ve developed more interests in the SCA and made new friends outside of rapier. But nothing is likely to replace rapier in my heart.
If I don’t return to rapier, it will be without anger or sadness. I had a good run, helped the Kingdom along the way, and still have the friends. No regrets.
And if I had become an armored fighter, I would probably have retired from fighting much sooner.