Thursday, January 4, 2018

A New Year, Same Old Quest

The new year has broken! I've not written in this blog since Crown, but I hope to post more often this year. I've only been in armor three times since Crown, it being first hunting season, and then the holidays. I will not fight much in January because I'm rehearsing a play, and don't want to risk injury.

The 1-6 drill is the core of my training. I don't do it every day--although I do do pell work every day--but I do do it at least three times a week. The rest of the time I work on other pell drills. I have not missed a day of push ups since my surgery, or squats since I added them to my workout over the summer. I've also been doing indian club drills a couple of times a week (this dovetails into my pell work--on those days I use the Indian Clubs for my pell drills, and work on two-stick drills).

I fought at Nutley right before Xmas, but only against three or four opponents. I was mostly their to train my squire Padriag, and he took upmost of my time. But I did get fights in with Arn and Jan as well, and was fighting pretty good. When I train Padraig we have settled into a system. First we warm up using the saber drill (the hanging guard/cut drill, where we alternate quickly, like its a schlager fight). Then we do some slow work. Then we do Sagan's trigger drill. This is where we both come on guard, and I make a move of some kind--take a step, move my shield, shift my weight--and he is supposed to recognize what opening this creates and tap it lightly. The advanced version of this is to throw a combination and have him recognize the opening after two or three blows, incorporating his own blocks). Then we work on one or two specific techniques. Then we do Paul's offense/defense drill. Usually, not always, in that order. At some point we will fight one or two passes. This seems to be working for him. He's got a lot of years into Karate, and he still competes, so drills and Kata he responds well to.

I went up to Middle Town for their holiday tourney. Gui and I took a day and drove up early, had dinner, hung out till practice. Padraig wasn't there, but they were having a silly tourney with santa-hat crest fights and so on. I did not have a shield with me, so I mostly fought sword and buckler. There was no real training involved. Here's me doing some sword and buckler. I'm really slow.

part two:

Here's Hassan kickingmy ass:

Me and Matt:

and, finally the silliness:

You don't practice that much.

I don't know if I will be attending Birka or not. My next time in armor will hopefully be Saturday Night at West Kingdom 12th Night.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Crown Tourney #97

So I went to semi-finals in East Kingdom Crown on Saturday. This was the best I've done in the Crown Lists in the East in the nearly 20 years that I've lived here -- and, no, it doesn't seem nearly that long, but right about now, I've been active in the East for as long as I was active in the West.

Speaking of being active in the West a long time ago, here is some video from March Crown Tourney 1990. This was about four months before I was knighted. At the end of the first reel you can see two fights of mine, one with William the Lucky and another with Andrew Shay Forestborn. This video is pretty amazing. In the East and the Midrealm, unbleted fighters have a common bond. They all fight on the unbelted champions team at Pennsic. They train together for months each year, and it's the biggest honor they receive as unbelts. In the West we don't have that. But the West is tourney focussed. What we do have is the three crown tourneys a year that we all fought in. Looking at this video, most of my peeps are there--some knights already, some not: Elrik, Fabian, Ob, Steven,  Douglas, Neal, Theodric, RAT, Cybi, Farin, Keythen, Gareth, DOA, Collin, and more. Jad eis fighting byes. Plus there are Greyhelm and Rolf and Lucky, and there are a few who were never knighted like Ulrick and Malcolm and Seamus.

And part two....

And what stands out? How slow I was, and how fast everybody else was. Especially Jade. I mean, we know that, but wow!

Oh! as for this past crown: I can't remember the name of my first round opponent. I fought Duncan Kerr, Sir Mathias, Sir Thomas, Sir Rory, I lost to Duke Brennan and the other finalist, Sir Matthew D'Arden. I used nearly my whole arsenal. A butterfly to kill Matthias, a hook/thrust to kill Rory, a top-edge hook to kill Thomas. And the kitchen sink against Brennan, but that was futile.  It was also the first crown I've ever fought in wearing my contacts. I don't think that made a difference, but I'm wearing them again in the spring (I rarely wear them at all).

It was a really good day. The two fights that stood out, of course, are the ones I lost. against Brennan I had a great fight, but once he took my leg, while I could make it last a long time, I couldn't kill him. I was able to get the shot I wanted twice, but I was falling over both times so I had no ballance and, ergo, no power. Against Matthew, I set up using Gui's footwork, which I've been practicing against lefties for awhile. It involves setting up with your shield side foot in front of your sword side foot, not in line, so that you are set up to walk a diagonal past your opponent. This kept him at bey for a pass or two, but then he countered it beautifully by stepping into me and passing really close on my shield side as I was doing an incresare step to take his leg. It was kind of a houghton maneuver, that finishde with a grape-vine step, and he ended up basically behind me, and back handed me to the head. It was a great shot. I felt good because I hadn't been stupid, he'd just countered my technique and beat me. Besides, I was giggling I was so happy to have FINALLY made it into semi-finals. I've been in the final six several times, but I had never made the final four, where you get presented to the crown and everything stops for your fights. (I'd been in the finals of King's Champion once--that's the best I had done in the East up till Saturday).

Tina Degenhart live-streamed Crown on her twitch feed, so you can see my two defeats (and one of my victories). It's a four hour stream, and she was on the opposite field from me, but at 3:19 you can see my fight with Brennan. Note how I had fallen dead but he insisted I not take the shot, so we keep going.  At 3:32 is my fight with Rory, which ends iwth a good hook/thrust. At 3:49 is my semi-final bout with Matthew. What I love most about this fight is very subtle--how we were both setting up for a face thrust, saw the other doing it, and backed out. Also look at me when they call us up for final four. I had no idea that I had that huge giggly grin on my face! I'm on cloud nine! :-)

It will be some time before I'm in armor again. I need to heal my shoulder and my heel--which still hurts from Pennsic (I've got an appointment with a specialist coming up). Plus hunting season, holidays, and The Importance of Being Earnest. I don't like to fight when we get into rehearsals, because I don't want to get injured and screw up the show, meanign I will *not* be fighting at Birka. I scheduled this production to be over the week before Aedult Swim, but I'm sure I'll practice before that. Oh! Visit the crowd funding campaign for the play! Send us money!

To be honest, I am STILL grinning about crown.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

After Roses

 So, it’s been along time since I posted on this blog. That’s mostly because I haven’t been fighting as much as I’d like, but also because I’ve been super super busy with the crowdfunding campaign. (

 I’ve only been an armor four times: twice at Iron Bog practice (including today), once at Nutley practice, and once at the tournament of the Roses. And each one I fought approximately 25 fights (a few more today). That’s not very much, but it was about all I was up to between my foot injury, and my shoulder injury, and everything else. Crown is in two weeks, and I have not been training as much as I would’ve liked. Injury does that. However, I fought very well at roses, and I expect to have fun and do well.

 I’ve added a little yoga my daily workouts. My back really needs it. Still doing 50 push-ups, 50 squats, and 100 strikes on the pill every day.  While I’ve cycled bit, I am unable to run at the moment.

I’d like to talk about roses. We fought for Duchess Brenwyn The Fair. It was a blast. It is a great honor to champion as elegant and noble a lady as her. The format was like this: each lady of the rose entered a team of up to five heavy fighters, five rapier fighters, an archer and an artisan. My part was strictly in the heavy fighting. Whne one rose challenged another, fighter on each team would pair with another. The lowest order of precedence on one team challenged across and then it switched to the other team and back-and-forth. This meant  that, as the royal pier on my team, I never got to challenge anybody. Which was kind of awesome. It meant I never knew what I was going to get.  There were a total of 10 teams, and we only had four fighters so once I doubled up and fought two people on one team.  I only lost one round, and that was to Victor, who totally destroyed me.  The only knight I thought was Wilhelm von Ostenbruck who. I beat two to 1. Oh, did I mention that every round was best two out of three?  This was one of the most awesome  tournaments I’ve bought in since, well, since the William Marshall turning at Pennsic actually. I loved it. My day ended like this: Ten matches, 8 wins, one loss, one draw. I matched weapons, but all that meant was one great sword fight (the draw) and one two sword fight. I won most of my bouts 2-0.

Here’s us VS. Ethel Dreda's team. That's my squire Padraig fighting Ionis. At about 3 Minutes you can see Victor kicking my ass. By the way: I cannot heap enough praise on the three unbelted fighters on our team: Padraig, Dirk, and Ronan. They fought honorably and very well!

Videos are by Cat Woody. Here's some more:

Here’s me in my two sword fight. 

Me and Willie. 

There are 13 days until Crown. My next time in armor will be Tiesday Now htt in Ostgardr.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Post Pennsic Post

Here we are on the left flank in the field battle. I'm the guy on the far right of the picture.

It's been a while since I've posted. Only part of that was due to Pennsic. There are many things to write, and a lot of ground to cover, so this post will not be formatted in the normal way. Nor will I organize things chronologically or spatially. It will be a bit free form.

It was a bad idea to camp at the back side of Mt. Aislin, fight in both woods battles, and walk Midnight Madness twice. I don't know how many steps it was because my fitibt wasn't charged. A lot. My feet still hurt.

Keeping with my plan, I fought spear or polearm in every battle. I dragged the shield down for pickups, and used it in the William Marshal tournament, but my edging blew up at one point.

There is so much great fighting at Pennsic it's hard to say what was "best," but fighting in the William Marshal tournament on Tuesday, and in the Crusaders vs. Saracens battle on Thursday, were certainly highlights.

In Gui Avec Chival's take on the William Marshal tournament, we each had to bring something to use to pay ransom. I thought I was really cool and original bringing a jar of smoked salt from Auntie Arwyn's,  but I discivered it was so obvious that four of us had done so. I also bought two penanualrs and a chain. Turned out I didn't need them. The only time I was captured I was rescued. I earned four ransoms in the process. I got a griffon head medallion, a bottle of mead (two actually), a really nice knife, and a pewter mug. Not a bad haul. Bryce also awarded me with an original 11th century buckle for rescuing him at one point. There were two teams. Each team had a banner/resurrection/reentry point. When you struck someone they were "captured," and then you had to walk them back to your banner and record your capture. Before you got off the field, your prisoner could be rescued. There were other rules, but that's the basics. William Marshal tournaments have always been a cool addition (I even mention them in my book--see sidebar).

I was late to the Crusaders battle, but got in at least three field mellees and a resurrection fight. This was up in the castle, and it was a lot of fun. However, for much of the battle, I walked in behind out line and, before I could hit anybody, their side had dissentigrated.

There are two great things about both these battles. Well, the combat is great, which would make three. Among the others, the first thing to note is how collegial these battle are. Stripped of the ego that comes along with tourney fighting or standing up for your kingdom (both noble endeavours), they are just more relaxed! The second thing worth noting is how good everyones kits are. People went out of their way to present good impressions in both events.

Here's some video of the William Marshal tournament:

And here is some video of the Crusader battles. Look at all those great 12th and 13th Century kits.

The first thing I did when I got to Pennsic was head over to By My Hand Designs and get one of their ax heads, so I could rebuild my polearm. I used the same, relatively thick six-foot pole, and turned it into a german halberd. It was a bit heavier and slower, which effected what I could do. I alternated between that and the spear for all the battles. I find that I can't use the elegant pointwork that used to define my polearm style if I'm using the heavier ax. A short polearm, ax, geatsword, etc, is not excellent as a font line weapon, except in a press. That's where it shines, in the scrum. It's best for following up a charge, or meeting one, when the lines begin to break apart. My best time with it was on the last day in the wall breech battle. I got in amongst some spear and, when you do that, you can take them out easilly (which the Swiss, obviously, knew quite well).

We were soundly defeated in the open fields, but did well in all the subsequent battles. I fought spear on the bridge and in the woods, pole in the wall and field battles, and I skipped the alied champions battle.

All my bruises are on my left side.

I believe we swept the rapier battles. That's what won us the war.

I fought pickups with sword and shield, and one set with buckler. I did not get enough. Due to tent failure in the storm, I was unable to make it into Aedult Swim. This was a bummer. I had some great fights on Sunday, the best one being agains Titus. I think I held my own. I got some good fights in late against Veniamin and the King of Lochac. I got him with Radnor's clssic molinee, which felt very good. The best thing was watching King Miles of the West and King Aighleanan of Atenveldt fighting. Both of them are tall (over 6'5") and very fast. Aighleanan was teaching Miles his techniques for controlling distance. The fights with a center grip oval and uses a sword made of shaved rattan, with a trigger and a plastic cup hilt. He's fast. He likes to fight at extreme range and use his length to win fights. He does three things to keep his opponents at range. One is footwork. Another is using the thrusting tip, popping it at his opponent's face to get them to avoid closing. The third is sticking his a-frame defense way out in front, like a common buckler defense. He has a simple philosophy: know what you are best at and do that. He spends a lot of time setting up what look like three blows. Most of his kills are with simple snaps from a high guard, but he works, as he calls it, "a lot of noise to the off side" in order to open that shot up. It was a real master class.

Did I mention hoe much my feet hurt from walking up and down Mt. Aislin?

I used Visivald's technique, thumbs opposed on the polearm (so "quarter staff grip" which is an erroneous description of how to use a quarter staff). This was at the end of the wall breech, when I was doing well. I ended up in single combat against a guy who'd been harassing us all battle.  I got him in the usual way, with short chops as he closed on me. That was satisfying.

My sword and shield fights were all satisfying. I slew mightily. But I didn't get in enough of them.

There are 81 Days until Crown Tourney. I need to retrieve my armor from the trailer, and so I don't know exactly when I will don it next.

Crusaders and Saracens posing. 

Saturday, July 15, 2017

There are a number of glorious things about fighting short pole arm (or long sword). First of all, you don't have to lug around a shield. That makes transport so much easier. Secondly, it's more intimate. Third, it's even more crushing. With my glaive at least, when I hit someone they know it (I've used light thin pole arms where this wasn't true). Finally, there's the learning curve. I had a successful pole arm career, fifteen years or more, wherein I relied on just five trick shots. For a decade I used only one. So this time between Crown and Pennsic, when Im concentrating on polearm and spear, is a lot of fun. 

It was a great workout week for me. I biked a couple of days. I ran three miles once. I did ten times rounds on the heavy bag (great workout). 

Right now I'm trying to stay at a medium distance and cutting as they step out from behind their shields. 

Southern Army Sunday's had some great scenarios. We even played capture the flag. 

A short polearm, like a partisan, is a sergeant's weapon. It's good for keeping your guys in line, and is only useful as a weapon when one side has charged. Stand in the shield wall, or get into the spear duel on a bridge, you'll get gacked . But when the lines crash into one another and units start to break, that's when you rack up the kills. 

This is what I did on Sunday. It was a lot of fun. 

It's two weeks until Pennsic. My next time in armor will be Pennsic. 

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

MccCarren Park 6/27

It's good to see some new faces, to teach, to train, but it is best to fight.

Don't lose sight of either of these things. We learn when we teach others. We foster the art. We advance the SCA. We pay it back for the great things it has given us. These are all good. But as knights what we do is fight. It is our duty and our great joy. It is what and who we are. We serve the king, our lady, and ourselves, in many ways--but first and foremost by fighting, because we are knights.

I had a great time teaching and training people tonight, but I was happiest for the helmet time.

I've stepped it up a bit. My step count is down, but that's because I'm riding my bike. I've also started pell work again.

I'm fighting mostly with pole arm right now. It's fun because I am on a steeper learning curve. I mixed up thumb aligned and thumb opposed grips, right and left hand lead. I didn't use the butt spike at all. I did use a lot of thrust fakes.

Ervald is running a good practice at McCarren Park on Tuesday Nights. He does some good things. We started with just the two of us and the three new fighters. We began with a three lap run around the field. Then he led stretches and warmups (I went off and did my push ups and squats). Then I taught a brief class on Bellatrix's over-head return. Then we armored up. By that time four more fighters -- Murdoch, Ryo, Seamus, and Auzer -- showed up and made it a good practice.

As it's between Crown and Pennsic, I've mostly hung my shield up. I have a short pole arm that Brandr made. It's just under six feet, and, following Visivald's example, is what I prefer to learn with. I will use 7 foot pole arms as well, but short ones are just more fun.

I din't fight a lot at practice. I did a lot more coaching. But I did get to do some clobbering, and got clobbered a bit as well.

I jumped right out and fought Ervald. He was sword and shield and I was pole arm. I got him our first fight with a wavy rising snap--which you can indeed throw with a glaive. That was gravy. I won most of our fights. I even got him by switching grips int he middle of a flurry. I also switched grips (from a right hand to a left hand lead) to take his leg. This is one of the highest percentage shots with a pole arm, and with a longer pole is really deadly (timing the leg--from an up and down guard throw the leg shot as your opponent steps, and it will land as their foot lands). I don't think I killed him with a thrust at all.

Then I spent a lot of time coaching two of the new fighters, putting them through situations., calling out attacks, etc. They are trying to auth for the war, and are both in a good place.  They are both female fighters with lots of martial arts training. One of them was naturally slipping into punching technique, so I gave her some instruction on center-mass fighting. Then I critiqued while the fought others.

Wanting some great weapon practice, I fought Seamus, who was using a spear. Our first couple of fights I just used the thrusting tip. He nailed me with his first blow but I was ok after that when I closed. When I started using the edge I was winning them all.

After that I did a lot of coaching melee. We did marching, closing ranks, convoluting ranks, etc. After that we ran charge and repulse drill. Line up. First two people in line step forward to repulse. Next person charges. Each person takes turns and we rotate through, so the person who just charged joins the repulse, and one of those two moves to the back of the line.

After that we just fought melee. We had eight in armor but three great weapons, so I borrowed a shield --a center grip with a weird angled handle, and a cross-hilt sword. That gave us three shields to a side. The first time we fought Seamus nailed me with a spear thrust at the lay on, then got the person on my flank, and we just collapsed. The second fight we charged, Ryo flanked and hit Zach, and they double killed. We killed them off quickly. The third fight  we charged and it ended up with me and Zach in singles, which he won.

After that I did some more training.

I did not get in as many singles as I would have liked, but Paul always says to include melee in fight practice for just that reason--it satisfies the desire for combat. And the melee was far the most fun.

It is 30 days until Pennsic (!!!). My next time in armor will probably be at Southern Army Sunday.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017



IT'S BEEN SEVERAL YEARS sine I updated my post on low cost armor. a lot has changed since then, the biggest thing being that Ashcaft Baker has gone out of business. This is a HUGE blow to the SCA and to getting new fighters started in the SCA. Not only did they have the most affordable basket hilts, they produced "starter kits" that were the best way to get people into armo on a budget. They are going to be sorely missed.  

I try to keep up with trends in armor, who the new armorers are and where to go for deals, but it is not an easy task. The rise of Eastern European armorers, most of whom cater to the ACL crowd, had been particularly difficult to keep track of. However, one thing can be said: ten to fifteen years ago, the emerging armorers from the old Eastern block provided an influx of cheap armor that may or may not have been sturdy enough for SCA combat. Theey are now the primary source of high-quality reproduction armor that is built for steel fighting, and the prices show it. 

I've decided to reorganize this new version a bit to start with appearance and then how to achieve it, but the basic premise is still the same. I am not only interested in how to get on the field cheaply but whether or not you can create a reasonably period kit for less than $300. That's a heady task fifteen years later, due to inflation, so I won't hold to that number quite as rigidly any more. 

I am also not saying "be cheap." As a commentor on an early version of this post noted, the SCA is notoriously cheap. It's true. It is in our genes. It comes from our hippie aesthetic and our college dorm roots. The founders of the SCA not only didn't have the resources we take for granted (like an internet that not only promotes commerce in low cost reproductions but the exchange of information and techniques in how to build stuff), they didn't have money. There was NOBODY in the US making and selling authentic garb in 1966. NOBODY who even knew HOW to make armor. The SCA spurred a great rise in creativity and research into these areas, but they did so, at first anyway, as kids living on a budget in college dorm rooms. Very few of the early SCA members were gainfully empoyed. They were also doing it in Berkeley and New York and Chicago in the late sixties and early seventies, an era of plucky do-it-yourself experimentation, when a social movement was rejecting store-bought and corporate-produced items in favor of those you made yoruself (an exception could be made for a used VW microbus to haul you and your gear to tourneys or Greatful Dead concerts, or for an old Norton Comando motorcycle to double as your trusty steed). It was even better if you were learning how to make stuff as you were doing it. Hippies and college students had no money but they had lots of enthusiasm.  

When I first joined the SCA in 1979 I was a 15 year old high school freshman without a job. My first suit of armor was arms and box gauntlets that I made myself with the help of my future knight, 20ga articulated plate legs with 16ga knees and a set of 20ga Laurica that I bought from the guy who had made it, for $20, and a freon can helmet that my best friend's dad had welded for me as a birthday gift. My knight was great at getting people on the field for next to nothing, which was necessary when we were all in high school or college or working minimum wage jobs as 20 somethings. Now people come into the SCA with solid well paying jobs and disposable income and can drop $1,000 at Mandrake or Icefalcon and not worry about it. 

This  article is not for either of those two sets of people. You can still get on the field for next to nothing with some simple tools and some sewing skills. For a brief time I had a set of armor, worn under a t-tunic and harem pants-that came entirely out of garage sales: two catcher's chest protectors worn as boy armor (one front, one back), a flotation belt for kidney protection, a gorget made out of a cervicly collar, catcher's shin guards as knee protection, lacross shoulders, hockey gloves, and a pair of youth motocross grieves on my arms because they worked as rigid vambraces with elbow cops. I taped a shin guard to the inside of my forearm. Only the helmet (still a freon can) was a speciality item The helmet always is. These days you can get cast off plastc pickle barrels and make ugly body armor out of it. If you cut the plates and sew them to canvass or leather you can even make a decent looking visby coat out of it. You can still find hocky vambraces and motocross armor at garage sales. You can get on the field cheap. Please, just cover it up if you do. You can even, fairly easilly, make a barrel helmet out of a plate of steel with no welding--just rivets--that will get you on the field. Patterns for this are all over the internet. Check out the pattern archive section at the Armour Archive for this and lots of other helpful tips. This site should be your first stop after reading this blog post. 

You can also still go to IceFalcon or Windrose or any number of armorers and buy $1,000 suits. You can go to Jeff Wasson  and pay $10,000 for a custom, museum quality 16th Century garniture. But can you, without special tools, metal working knowledge, or artistic sill, get a munitions grade, resonably period suit of armor for around $300, either off the rack or with just a bit of sewing or assembly? 

Yes, and that is what this article is about. 

The first thing to remember is that your look is determined by your silhouette as much as anything else. The most important elements are a helmet and a surcoat, and these are where your efforts should be. The SCA's Known World Handbook has patterns for surcoats and gambessons, and you can find those things on line as well. The main expense is always your helmet. It should be at least 14ga, 12ga is better. It should be made from a well known armorer who makes a lot of gear for the SCA. It can easily cost more than our budget. In fact, it often will. However, there are still a few places where you can still get a period looking (we will make some allowances for a bar cage) helmet at less than $150, which is absolutely essential for this project. 

So decide what you want. In this post I imagine a couple of 14th Century impressions, and a 13th Century one, all munitions grade. Note, that for ANY time in the SCA period, if you are trying to put together a knightly kit, it will cost you. Knights were at the top of the social order, they were at all times part of a complex and expensive weapons system. They way to think of a knight is not as some bozo with a sword, it's as the medieval equivalent of an F-15 fighter jet. Now think about how expensive an F-15 is, and then ad individuality and vanity to the mix, take the technology back 600 years, and you get knightly armor.  When you are starting out in the SCA you are a soldier, a levy, not peasant but not a knight either. You should dress accordingly.

As with all things the prices listed in this post are subject to change without warning, and some of the armorers may have gone out of business by the time you read this. 

The two armorers I use most often are both armoring laurels who make affordable mutions grade armor at good prices: Master Alail Horsefriend and Master Cet Donegal.  (Among other things, Alail made the helm I wear using Rough from the Hammer parts made by Ronald Wilmot, and then Cet put the bar cage on it: so three armoring laurels worked on my helm, which in the end cost me less than $100). Cet purchased Rough From The Hammer from Duke Ronald and makes rough unfinished parts as well as custom pieces. As I write this his web site is undergoing a reconstruction and he doesn't have his catalog up, but you can contact him there. This is the place to go to REALLY keep the prices down. Cet’s stuff comes rough finished and un-strapped—he sells parts to other armorers who finish the products and resell them. On his most recent price list, elbow cops from this shop were $15 a pair. Shoulders are $20 a pair. He makes very affordable helmets, but only as custom orders. Alail also has some great prices on munition grade armor: a sugarloaf helm for $100 in 14ga mild, splint legs for $120, splint arms for $80 and stainless for only 150% of his base price. Here is a basic suit put together from his catalog:

Great Helm, $80
Elbows, $20
Knees, $25
Churburg Breast plate (w/ Kidney Protection) $120
Simple Gorget, $40
Spaulders, $20

That totals out to $305. We still need a few pieces. We have to make cuises and vambraces and we don’t have hand protection. Some scrap leather to make vambraces and cuisses out of, a basket hilt and shield basket, and you’ll have a suit of armor most of which came from an armoring laurel within our target price. Not too shabby. Then add a gambeson and a nice surcoat and you will look very knightly.

To complete the project you have to pick and choose pieces. Some armorers have expensive helms but reasonable legs. One has the best price on bascinets but their gorgets are expensive. In every case to keep prices down avoid buying cuises and vambraces. Those are easy to make. I want to put together not just SCA armor, but a kit that, if not historically accurate, is at least evocative of a single time period. Below are a few more kits which fit the bill.

Crusader Kit:
From True Hearth Armory
• Teardrop Helm $100
• Standard gorget $50

From Bokalo’s Armoury
• Demi Gauntlet $30

From Rough From The Hammer
• Fanless elbow cops, no wings, pair $12
• Fanless knee cops, no wings, pair $13
• Spaulder A $13
• Kidney Plates $20

That’s $238. Now invest in Period Patterns #101, available from several SCA merchants, sewing sites, and amazon for $20.

Make the long, short sleeved crusader gambeson, reinforced with some of the plates from Rough from the Hammer. Make the gamboized cuisses, also included in the pattern, and attach to those the kneecops using leather lacing or cord. Use an inexpensive canvass and cotton batting, and materials for this should be about $40. They are not required under SCA rules, but some kingdoms require vambraces, and they are really a good idea. You will need to make some out of scrap metal or heavy leather, but the elbow cop is the hard part and you bought that.

We are now SCA legal. Total for this project before shipping is $298, including the cost of the pattern, which really shouldn’t count towards our total since it will be used several times over. Note: I didn’t include materials for a shield, but my first several shields were free anyway—scrap plywood, discarded garden hose and an old belt for straps.  Edge it in alluminum chanelling.

Regarding hands: Ashcraft Baker is gone, but the Ren Store still sells basket hilts for $20. (shield baskets same price). Bless their hearts. Still a good spot for beginners. Gauntlets would be at least $120 a pair. Good gauntlets would more than double the cost. Go with the $20 baskets.  You will want a cup, and some elbow pads (you don't need knee pads with the gamboised cuises). This  raises our cost by about $50. Guess what, we are just around $350. 

14th Century Kit #1
One slightly more expensive variation is to turn this into a Wisby suit. Do everything as above, except don’t get the helm or the or make the gambesson. Instead, invest in the Wisby kit from Polar Bear Forge ($90 in aluminum)
. For backing you can use leather or the pattern that came with Period Pattern 101. Period Patterns #102 even has a pattern for the coat itself.  Now top it off with the $80 great helm from Horsefriend Armory.   

14th century suit #2

From Illusion Armory
• 14 ga. Bascinet (the 16 ga is only $85, but please get the 14ga). $110

From Bokalo’s Armoury
• Pinned dog collar gorget $38
• Demi Gauntlet $30

From Rough From The Hammer
• Fanless elbow cops, no wings, pair $12
• Fanless knee cops, no wings, pair $13
• Globose Breastplate $65

From Ren Store.
• Basket Hilt  $20
• Shield Basket $20

That comes to $308. NOW: get both Period Patterns #101 and #102. Make the gamboized cuisses from pattern #101 and the jupon (short, long sleeved gambeson) from pattern #102. Materials for the jupon and cuisses, again, are about $40. Use some sole leather for vambraces. Note that this suit doesn’t have shoulder protection. That's another $13 from Rough From The Hammer.

Really, the secret is to get a good looking helmet. The rest of your hard points can be armored fairly inexpensively. Then cover it up with a good surcotte and you won't look like a schlub.

With the exception of Polar Bear Forge, all of the armorers listed above are ones that I have done business with personally. I included Polar Bear because Mad Matt's  and GAA went out of business and I needed somebody who makes a Wisby coat kit. That piece is the only one that I cannot say I have personally inspected. All the others-- Rough From The Hammer, Horsefriend Armory, Bokolo's Armory, Truehearth, The Ren Store, Mandrake, Illusion, and IceFalcon, are all places that have purchased stuff from and have been satisfied with. Jeff Wasson and Ugo Serrano are people who's work I cannot afford but which I've inspected, and who, lets face it, have sterling reputations. Although I haven't used each and every piece listed in this post, I've bought stuff from all these armorers and don't hesitate to recommend them as businesses.

That being said, here is the standard caveat: SCA combat is a rough sport. You can get hurt. You do this at your own risk. I don't endorse directly any of the specific products mentioned here, and am not responsible nor liable for anything that happens to you while you are using them. 

A word about my own kit, pictured on this blog in a number of places. I'm not big into persona. I'm an SCA Knight, and my persona is SCA Knight. My inspiration for the knight I want to be comes not from history but from my youth: Sir William The Lucky, Duke Paul of Bellatrix, Duke Radnor of Guildemar, Duke James Greyhelm, Duke Rolf the Relentless and my knight Sir Alfrik Favnesbane chief among them. I'm not trying to be Marshal or Charney or Bayard. My own aesthetic for the past several years has been to present an impression of a 13th Century knight fighting in a brouhard--that is to say a rebated tournament in which swords made of whale bone or even, soetimes, cane were used. In other words, when they fought in period the way we fight in the SCA. I've recently (finally) gone back to gamboised cuises with soup-can knees and away fro the plastic legs I'd been wearing (which were supposed to be a temporary fix three years ago). Most of my armor--kidney belt, pauldron's vambraces including elbows, and even my gauntlets, are courboli leather. I get most of it from Torvaldr's Leather Works As soon as I can save enough for his leather Globose I'm getting that too for when I fight without a shield (I'm currently using a Kendo kit for that, worn under my surcotte, of course). Then I'll replace my current courboli shoulders with his cops, and eventually my knees as well. That is how I stay relatively period--by fighting in the type of stuff a medieval knihgt would wear if he were fighting with rattan. (I do have a bar cage--which would be much later) 

It is 62 days until crown. I am nursing a wrist injury, and will not be in armor till after Barleycorn at least.