The line is drawn in the grass and fighters hold ready. Armed with blade and shield, there is tension in the air in the seconds before the first blow. This tense stand-off is a typical sight on Sunday afternoons in Drake Park as the Bend Babylon Combat Club meets to hone their skills.
“It’s a combat game. Just like paintball is a combat game, a game with guns that aren’t real, well this is the same thing with swords and stuff,” explained Justin Boyle, a Central Oregon Community College student
who currently leads the Combat Club, an official COCC club as of the end of Spring 2011 term.
The Bend club meets on Sunday afternoons in Drake Park and sometimes on Fridays at the Grandview student center courtyard.
The club follows the rules of the national medieval combat society, Belegarth, which organizes several annual gatherings of combat groups in order to play-act battles or wars.
The cross-state events allow the club members to meet other fighting enthusiasts and even crown national champions. Over the years, fighters gain attention as they prove themselves in battle. One member of the Bend group, Peter Erickson, is considered to be one of the best medieval fighters in the nation.
“We’re real proud of him,” Teri Thomasberg said, another COCC student who is finishing her social science bachelors degree this term. She has been fighting in the combat club for about a year. She referred to the prize fighter as Bhakdar and Boyle then explains about fighter names.
“Lots of people like to have a fight name, it’s like having a gamer tag when you play online,” said Boyle, whose fighter name is Shino.
“We make a lot of our own equipment, but we follow the safety regulations on the national website. All the weapons are face-legal, won’t hurt you or put an eye out,” Thomasberg, aka Pangia, said She goes on to detail that none of the weapons are narrower than 2.5 inches around. All of the specific combat rules can be found on the national website, belegarth.com.
The weapons vary from swords to maces, great swords, Javelins, Florentine which is a technique of using a long sword in one hand and a shorter dagger in the other, spears and even bows and arrows.
“The combat fighting is like martial arts and people specialize with their weapon types, like I prefer my spear or my archery,” Thomasberg explained.
This is not to say that only people into martial arts would be interested in this combat group. People from all walks of life have been
“The classic portrayal is that we’re all into D&D (Dungeons and Dragons) and anime, and some of us are, but I don’t believe in that
stereotype anymore. We all come from so many backgrounds. We have a guy who is a nuclear engineer,” said Thomasberg.
Boyle added, “There is a homeless guy who comes to play sometimes.”
On that note, Thomasberg added “Yeah, people just walk in off the sidewalk, it’s a real welcoming group.”
You can contact Michelle Greer at firstname.lastname@example.org.