My First Time
My first time in armour was after a couple of months of being involved with the sport. It was exhilarating, exhausting and had me thirsty for more. The sheer weight of the armour makes you feel like you’re moving through water and after 10 seconds of wielding a sword my arm felt like a dead weight not to mention the weight of the shield! The amount of effort you have to put into it is the equivalent of holding onto a branch for as long as you can until all the blood has drained out of your arms and you have to let go, but in armour for the first time you’re exhausted within 10 seconds if not less depending how long you’ve been in it. It was a full body workout in 10 seconds! The next day I ached in places I didn’t know existed before then and I haven’t gone back since. (And I’m really fit and toned now so I look even better in my dresses hehehe).
A memory which will stay with me forever is as we were getting closer to the finals, 1 or 2 fights before it was determined we would come third place, all of our fighters were flat out, red faced, huffing and puffing either groaning on the floor, draped over chairs or simply standing there staring into space. We, meaning me and the rest of the support, were bustling about getting water down them, making sure they were comfortable and using shields and Tabards as fans to keep them cool. Our opponents for the next fight were the Russian team. All sitting on chairs or standing, not one of them was out of breath, or looked flushed in the slightest. One of them was looking over at us and I caught his eye for a split second, mid-fanning motion. The good humoured smile in his eyes said it all, and I couldn’t help but laugh at the hilarity of the circumstance. I had a smile on my face even when we lost to them, giving us third place.
That was nearly two years ago now.
Embracing the Warrior Within
I have always fancied myself more of a warrior than anything else, growing up playing Tomb Raider games and hanging around with boys, being a ‘strong independent’ woman was a normality for me. I remember first hearing about LARPing and thinking “That sounds great!” until I learnt victory in LARP is more based on a points system and character development then it is actual skill and agility. So I carried on dreaming of being in real battles, until I went to Bloodstock 2016 and came across ‘The Meat Grinder.’ Adrenaline rushed through my veins watching the sheer brutality that ensued. This was not role playing. This was the real deal! ‘Ordinary men’ fully kitted out in armour, swords and shields, axes and pole arms, battering the daylights out of each other, a few even charging full force at other fighters. That very moment, my mind was made up.
“I’m going to be a REAL warrior”.
Skip to September and I’ve caught a lift to my first training weekend at the farm. Admittedly, I am the only girl there but that’s never phased me in the slightest. Saturday morning, we go through warm up workouts and start learning techniques on grappling and sword work. After that, it’s time to Armour Up! Heavy laden with padding and metal. Constricted movement and breathing. My very first 1v1 fight I manage to get a few strikes in then get pushed over with an embarrassing girlie squeak. But I loved it! It doesn’t take long before I start getting tired but I power through and enjoyed more 1v1 fights, and a few 3v3 where I had small victories.
There is nothing like the thrill of being in armour and although it is currently a male dominated sport, everyone welcomed me with open arms and I was happy to be treated as one of the lads. Everyone has advice for improvements, support is never ending no matter what your current skill level and like with most sports there is a mass community of amazing people all friendly and welcoming. Warriors have a special respect and connection with one another. I feel joining UK Fed has given me endless purpose and motivation to become faster, stronger, more fit and more focused.
Either Brave or Stupid
Another Bloodstock Open Air recruit, I watched the UK Fed battling it out in the 24 degree heat of August in Derbyshire.
A few of the knights made their way around the festival site introducing people to the sport. The promise of a new life of medieval tournaments, endless glory, and international stardom was hard to resist. Okay, so none of that was mentioned, but I just really liked the thought of wearing amour and smacking 7 bells out of someone.
I got in contact with the team following the festival. I had an endless amount of questions desperate to know what it was all about.
One answer was to the tune of,
“Turn up, we’ll put you in armour, and see how much you enjoy being punched in the face.”
“Sounds great,”. And it was.
The first memory that sticks with me is my first jaunt in the lists against Steph. All the training from morning was out of the window now that I was armoured up to the eyeballs. I can only describe my first attempt at battle as determined flailing in slow-motion. A minute flew by and I stood at the listing panting like a crazed orc. A few more rounds and things were getting interesting. I felt suddenly trapped behind the visor and demanded for it to be removed. (Much like any knight would, with indignation).
The panic was wearing off but my heart was stilling racing. My comrades were reassuring me.
“That is what adrenaline feels like”