A group of weapon-wielding warriors charge at each other across a battlefield. One by one they cut each other down until only a single warrior remains. Sounds like a movie, right? It’s not. The warriors are Portland State students and their weapons are foam-sheathed PVC pipes. Their battlefield is the wrestling gym in the Stott Center.
A group of weapon-wielding warriors charge at each other across a battlefield. One by one they cut each other down until only a single warrior remains.
Sounds like a movie, right? It’s not. The warriors are Portland State students and their weapons are foam-sheathed PVC pipes. Their battlefield is the wrestling gym in the Stott Center.
Every Saturday from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. the Medieval Combat Rec Club battles with homemade, foam-padded piping made to resemble swords, maces, daggers and other weapons.
All of this might sound kind of geeky, and it kind of is–even club captain Hans Albing admits that–but it’s not 100 percent geeky…it’s more like 72 percent. The group doesn’t don costumes or assume fantasy names like other live-action role players (LARPing for those in the know). Occasionally they pretend to be in the movie Highlander, but their practices are less about role-playing and more about hitting each other… hard.
Getting hit with the foam swords actually stings. When the group of about 20 or so often-rotating members gets into a battle, people drop to the ground and glasses sometimes go flying.
“The gym gets really small really fast with all these people,” Albing said.
Founding member Chris Cottrell and the group’s “War Chief” said it’s not uncommon to leave with bruises or sometimes broken fingers.
It’s all for fun, of course. The club members all seem to have a good time beating the hell out of each other and at the end of the day everyone is still smiling. Cottrell started fighting with foam weapons 17 years ago and still thinks, “It’s a blast.”
The club plays many games like “Peasants vs. Mercenaries” and “Valhalla.” Most of the rules for the games are based on rules set by Belegarth, a national medieval combat society. A body hit counts as a kill and a limb hit forces you to lose that extremity. Head and groin are off limits as are fingers and toes.
In a battle, the fake-wounded crawl and limp around the gym trying to get one last kill before being vanquished.
Here’s a question you are probably asking yourself…do women participate? The answer is yes, and at last Saturday’s practice the three women fighters present were among the most enthusiastic participants. Kat Halpenny, “Lieutenant Commander” in the group, said only a few women show up to each practice and often won’t return for a second. She doesn’t know why and said, “It’s a great sport [for women] because height and weight don’t matter.”
Halpenny is married to Albing, and even before they both joined the club they were fighting each other with foam swords on the street outside of their Goose Hollow apartment.
The club practices pretty much non-stop for over two hours and it takes some serious endurance to keep going the whole time. Having a background in weapon fighting or martial arts isn’t necessary, but would definitely help, Albing said. The group doesn’t seem to draw that crowd.
“I think we tend to draw more nerds,” Albing joked.
The club started five years ago, but hasn’t really taken off until recently, many in the group say. Cottrell was there from the beginning and said that it wasn’t until Albing took control, secured funding and made it very organized that the club became the success that it is now.
Towards the end of the Saturday practice a new member is in the middle of a circle fighting for his life in what looks like “King of the Hill.” Eventually he is defeated and the other fighters cheer in support.
“This is what happens when you are new,” Albing shouts. “We gang up on you and kill you.”
The Medieval Combat Rec Club meets every Saturday in the Peter W. Stott Center wrestling gym from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Only PSU students and staff may join the club, but community members can practice for a $5 gym fee. Contact club captain [email protected] with any questions.