8am 14th October 2017, a grey fog rolls over the Plymouth Cliffs. The vast expanse of neatly mown grass layers the Hoe like
icing sugar adorning a cake. Smooth and perfect. The scene appears peaceful but the atmosphere is one of trepidation. The early morning loiterers can smell the tension in the air mixed with the tantalising wiff of bacon coming from the Liner Lookout Cafe. Linen tents are being hoisted into position as the first warriors prepare for war.
“How did we come to this?” They mermur fervently resting their gaze out to sea.
Months of logistics and preparations have led to this day. A day of days.
The Isca commanders have lit the fire of the rebellion and ignited the kingdom.
Enemies from the north. Enemies from the west. Enemies from the East. Any knight worth his salt arrives to fight and be hailed the victor. Some have traversed across Northumbria and Wessex for a chance to taste glory.
Rexie, Samantha, and Silk represent the Swords of Cygnus and encompass the entire category of female fighters. Whilst men in arms from the White Company and UK Federation gather to go to head to head in 1v1 fights.
The tournament boasted some seriously seasoned fighters as well as many new recruits for whom this was their debut competition.
The ISCA captain Barney was bawling a commentary, looking majestic in his medieval finery. Talking the crowd through the fighting strike after strike, punch after dizzying punch. Offering insights into the tactics and challenges of this discipline.
From the beggining to the last. The warriors fought ferociously buoyed on by the increasingly blood thirsty crowd. One bystander commentated that the spectacle was akin to the gladitatorial arena, as another young squire wailed from the barrier,
“CHOP HIS HEAD OFF!”
The fighting was brutal but fortunately neither fighters nor the organisers lost their heads during the event.
In the women’s group Sam was making her debut in profighting category. She displayed incredible strength and determination in every round, closing the gap on the score cards and sending a message loud and clear that she means business – of the most violent genre. The last curtailing seconds of any round can be the hardest to push through but Sam continued to overwhelm her opponents to the last.
Rexie and Silk have been in this game a year now. Perfectly matched in experience. They were born into bohurt together, intertwined in blood, sweat and love. Alike in both spirit and skill, facing one another down in the arena is like looking in the mirror and seeing the better version of yourself, waiting to make an example of you. There could only be one victor. Rexie snatched the win in two rounds and won the women’s rebellion, taking home the gold!
Over lunch the Plymouth Swordsmen Society entertained the crowd. They showed a much more subtle and nuanced side of swordsmanship and portrayed the broader sword culture in plymouth. Explaning the history and intricancies of their sport before getting down to sparring and showing off their skills.
The late afternoon led to the finals. Lance of White Company and Dave (mad-man) of the UK Federation fought for Bronze in a frenzied battle of speed matched with wild intent. Lance took home Bronze.
In the battle for the men’s crowning rebel of the resistance things got hotter and heavier than one might imagine. The rules of engagement changed and the fighters were ordered to the list for a 3 rounds of 3 minutes fighting. An extra round and double the duration of the fights previous. The rebel masters were going to make them work for the glory of gold or die trying.
Dan of the UK Federation and current acting captain against Bohus of White Company. The tactics of the battle changed, the shots were more measured and fighters bore in mind that there are at least 9 minutes of fighting.
Bold charges, hard hits and big blows – these knights were not holding back. Every last whisp of energy was to be spent in this fight and it showed with barely a break in the savage sparring. Dan skipping around the ring dodging rights hooks from Bohus and lining up his strikes. All the while Bohus pressing harder and harder to close the gap between them. Leading to Bohus reigning victorious this year at the Rebellion.
Credit Paul Slater Images http://www.pslaterimages.com/