As the title suggest we had an opportunity like none other just before the Halloween break (perfect timing!) to fight in a crypt! And not just any crypt but one belonging to one of Dublin’s largest cathedrals, Christchurch.
We have worked in many locations and under many different circumstance for clients, however getting to fence in a crypt was one I thought would never be a possibility.
As this was for a private event, I am unable to talk too much about the details of the event itself however if you are reading this, I think we can both agree your interests lie ells ware, and by that I mean in fencing.
The event kicked off at 8pm and ran until 11pm with a solid 3 hours of fencing put in by myself and my two students Drew and Matt.
To top this off we were asked to wear authentic cloths with the obvious addition of fencing helmets. This made the experience even better as we not only got to fight in a very interesting location, but also had the opportunity to do some research on fighting in historical cloths.
We arrive at the venue at around 7:30pm and quickly prepared ourselves, taking a look at the space we had been allocated.
The space itself within the crypt was, as you can imagine rather confined with low ceilings and arches spread between multiple pillars on a flat tiled floor surrounded with effigies and burial spots. It was also hot! Very very hot! Before we even started we were sweating under the kit we were wearing which was made only worse by the fact that there was a complete absence of any breeze or ventilation (I know it’s a crypt so not so surprising)
As soon as it hit 8pm guest started to arrive and we quickly began to perform, keeping a close eye on where foot traffic was going. We fought with just using single cup hilted Spanish rapiers and primarily keeping to thrusting and bind work as with the long blades, the ability to cut or use a circular parry was not recommended. Now I say not recommended, and not that it was impossible. We found that keeping your fencing very tight (a little more than you should) allowed for ample cutting opportunities especially when placing yourself under an archway.
Using the terrain was also a great experience as fighting in and around the pillars created some interesting results similar to that of fighting on an old floating spiral stair case in a castle. Quickly coming around a pillar when fighting a right hander when you yourself are also right handed cut off his ability to counter quickly especially due to the cramped nature of the location, oh and candles . . . lit candles everywhere !
The cup hilt of the rapier became the shining star of the night as it turned out to be much more viable to simple drive up the opponent’s hilt and pommel them or beat them with the hilt of your own weapon. This took away the need of having to constantly adjust distance to get your point online when the terrain changed every second (There was always something that could be stepped behind in order to avoid a good thrust) or the simple problem of when you miss. This would lead to grappling and striking (yes we punch, kick and wrestle, It’s a fight with swords until it’s not)
Soon it hit 11pm and the time for us to wrap up for the night, it was an excellent experience and one I will remember for a long time, definitely a highlight of the year. Until next time!