it’s been months, by the dead of June the rest have all been forgotten. Lurking through the woods, 29 NHL teams watch the Penguins, waiting. No one’s seen teams like the Canadiens, the Bruins, The Canucks, since April. In their absence flowers grew, the trees got their leaves back, the Stanley Cup was awarded.
On top of the mountain, The Pens have all the attention. The sun is shining right down on them, and all of their championship glory.
And then, a rumble.
Noise from the forests below, it’s not just about the pens anymore. Patrice Bergeron emerges, war-torn and rugged, making his way up the mountain, a determined look on his face and a bow in his hand. But no time to be alarmed by him, PK Subban and Brent Burns, carrying makeshift swords exit the forest from the opposite direction, making their own way up the mountain. Conor McDavid peers through the branches before waving on Ghostisbehere.
“What is this?” Matt Murray asks, stepping forward and looking out as more and more NHL players make their way up the mountains.
“They’re here.” Sidney Crosby says, unsheathing his own sword, “the NHL awards, they’re coming, it’s not about us anymore.”
There’s a shrill cry. Conor Sheary has spotted Patrice Bergeron.
As a follow-up to my visual guide to historical fencers, and inspired by one or two recent posts about HEMA stereotypes, I thought I could highlight some other interesting outliers or trendsetters within the historical fencing community.
I’ll let you decide which of them may be pioneers, generations ahead of the rest of us, obsolete, atypical, interesting to look at or just plain freaky.
Out of respect and in order to protect their privacy, I’ve cleverly used censor bars.
No one pulls off the middle-aged man in a colourful long-sleeve tight compression t-shirt with mismatching knee-length stripy socks with the aplomb of this particularly renown individual. Perhaps for very good reasons. Small wonder he has so many devout followers. The way his sword gently yet firmly binds, forever seeking openings. Oh my.
The Lobster People
Not much is known about these Lobster Peoples, other than the fact that they really really like leather armour. One can only surmise that there’s some measure of role playing and theatrical combat involved in whatever it is that they do. They are certainly living the dream. Particularly if it’s a dream that involves hard leather and butter sauce.
Poofy Pants to the Rescue!
Thank goodness for these folks! Trying to put the ‘Historical’ and ‘Happy’ into HEMA, you know? Because who doesn’t love MC Hammer or clowns? Hitler, that’s who!! And polyester is just so damn versatile! It’s what Joachim Meyer himself would wear if he were with us today. Respek!
By constitutional law every single Spanish historical fencer must sport a dark & handsome goatee, much like Robert de Niro in The Mission or the bad guys in that Cate Blanchett movie where she and some pirates save England, or that other one with Aragorn in a big floppy hat whispering a lot in Mexican. This might mean that the Spaniards are the evil Spocks of HEMA, I’m not sure.
The King Arthurs
I miss these guys. I haven’t seen them for a while so I think they have their own things now. The Historical Medieval Armour Bashing Chivalrous Combat League of Nations or something. It’s totes cool. So historical. Much medieval. Very tournament. Many armours. Wow.
The Anachronistic Dandies
These well-groomed gentlemen are forever in the pursuit of fencing excellence and aesthetic elegance. They insist on good manners and refinement as the key to social influence and community building. Don’t be fooled by the blousy shirts and polite demeanour - violence is readily available upon request. They can be often found in meadows, harkening back on the glorious days of times past.
Also referred to as ‘DIY Robocops’, ‘Road Warrior rejects’, ‘the Plastic Fantastics’ etc depending on who you ask. Laugh all you want, but when the inevitable collapse of civilisation is upon us, you’ll want some of these hard-shell guys around you during the global panic and mass riots.
The Sports Bra Cartwheeling Princess
Who in their right mind could possibly object to this trend? Yoga pants, no puncture resistant gear and actively trying to hit each other with pointy weapons? Well isn’t that just splendid. Fanfuckingtastic. What could ever possibly go wrong? We should all only train like this forever and ever and ever. OK, so I know some of you argue that they just wave their swords at each other relatively harmlessly, but still, giggity!
The Epic Freedom Beard
The lumberjack/hipster/civil war re-enactor/rugged/outdoorsy/manly-man thick spectacular beard look is having a great resurgence, particularly now that our masculinity is apparently under serious threat (!). It also tells the world that aside from having a white penis, your fencing mask is terribly itchy and uncomfortable and massively overheated, and THAT’S the way you like it, because fuck you that’s why.
The Nappy Brigade
Much like it’s impossible to take a bad picture of Barney Stinson, it’s physically impossible to take (or find!) a good picture of any of these diaper-folks in their crotch straps and (often) jeans. Something about the white balance and the light conditions in fencing halls affects the exposure or whatever, so the outcome is always strangely awkward, like they need a toilet break or something. On the other hand, their fencing is quite probably remarkable.
This is just a bit of satire, so some hyperbole may have been used for effect. Try not to get upset if you belong to one of these tribes. Please do remain calm and put the torches and pitchforks back down. You all look and fence great - yes yes, even you.
A buddy of mine brought this back for me from the front. They’re made by Afghan children learning the art of rug making and sold as novelties to Americans (obviously, mostly military and gov’t personnel).
I find that the downfall of any country is a story best told in a tapestry sewn by that country’s children.