Far be it from me to be romantic but there is something about Kening Striid. As soon as I stepped out onto its moist fields on Saturday morning there was a rousing sense of nostalgia. Thinking back to last year I find myself reminiscing on what a difference a year can make.
In 2017, Kening Striid stood out as the most supportive tournament for female fighters. There is a fundamental lack of female combatants in tournaments across Europe which has developed a rather lax approach to fielding women’s categories. Esther Veldstra’s vision for Kening Striid brought women to the forefront of the tournament and made it the best experience I had had to date.
The level of competition was greatly magnified from last year. The fore-running teams from Ukraine, Russia, UK, Germany, Netherlands, Denmark and Czech Republic amongst others were all represented, and it made for fascinating clash of titans. The calibre of fighting was deserving for the mammoth efforts made by the team behind Kening Striid. In only its second year, they have orchestrated a dominating tournament in western Europe.
It also stands out as the only time I have left the list after a sword and buckler duel to come face-to-face with small detachment of steampunk she-pirates. Imaginarium is the fantasy festival accompanying the tournament giving a mystical life to the post fight festivities. I had to double take as I saw a unicorn wandering past the mead stand whilst as I wailed along to the acoustic set of Fresian folk metallers, Baldrs Draumar.
Baldrs Draumar Photo credit: AHM Fotografie
If you were not at Kening Striid this year you can catch all the action on the live stream on youtube which had multiple camera angles in impressive quality. To further augment the experience, you can listen to the sultry overtones of HMB’s foghorn, Gavin Stewart firing up the crowd. He commentates on over 16 hours of fighting on Saturday and Sunday including Sword and Buckler, Longsword, Sword and Shield and Buhurt for both women and men.
Normally I would find rising at 7am ungodly at the weekend, rest is very important before a days fighting and before not fighting. I had reasons to not get up to say the least. None the less, fighters registered at 8am to get a widget. Is widget the right word? Technological sorcery far beyond my understanding but the results are fantastic on the live-stream. Each time a fighter enters the list their resting medieval bitch-face pops up and as they leave the results are revealed.
I immediately watched back the fights and can see the exact scoring. One impressive result is my 20 points scored against Melanie Gras in the Longsword… to her 38 scored on me. I won’t be left short for inspiration from this tournament, but she particularly packs a spectacular strike, or 40 and makes it look like a play in the park.
Unfortunately, I injured myself on Saturday morning during the duels and therefore could not participate in the women’s group fights. As if watching from the side-lines with an un-broken shoulder was not painful enough, I was ruthlessly mocked by my national captain. The same man who scooped me off the list floor at the same time last year after a defeating blow to the scapula. He was similarly as rude last year which goes to show that some things never change. Who needs enemies with friends like these, eh?
Women’s 3v3 fights are not always that entertaining but the fights at Kening Striid this year were fantastic. These teams are not made up of weekend warriors. I personally know most women who fought last weekend from across Europe. The women’s fights were tactful and exciting. Cohesion that has formed across the teams working together really shone through and is inspiring to see.
There has been a positively competitive community surrounding the female fighters recently in the sport which has manifested itself into the ferocity that I witnessed on the field. The buhurt league has been tough to navigate in its juvenile stages but it has forced a professionalism on the sport. Those that have risen to the challenge are setting a high standard. Upon reflection I have learnt so much this weekend from being on the wrong side of the list and will not let it go to waste.
Since last year Swords of Cygnus had a completely new line-up with the old-timers out of the running for the weekend. I am proud that my team went out with such determination of spirit. I know the experience has been invaluable to each of them and I am excited to return to training. Anyone who is anyone is at this tournament and we will be back with a vengeance next year.
Last but not least, once again team Striid delivered on buhurt hospitality with a hot tub. Many fighters bathed to relieve the aches of battle. By Sunday evening the cauldron bubbled with molten sweaty goulash which despite its overwhelming aroma did not entice one for a dip. Besides there was little room between sopping silver medallists, some delirious Dutch and a certain majestic marshal. I felt I had done little to deserve such a treat.
Congratulations to all that were crowned victorious, and thanks to a wonderful team of organisers. I eagerly await news of next years event.
~ Big Jo Booth~