And what, you might ask, is Combatcon? and why was I going?
Combatcon is a convention devoted to western martial arts- sword fighting, knives, any weapons that western warriors or armies have used, whips, hand-to-hand combat, dueling, and a lot of other things besides. Our friends Carol and Eric, who do many kinds of martial arts, both eastern and western, have been attending this convention for years, and last year they were talking about it and how awesome it is. Carol said, you'd like it. Me? I said, it sounds awesome but I don't do any of this stuff, fun as it might be. No, she said, this convention is for everyone from professionals to amateurs, you would love it.
So I checked out the web site and talked to them and looked at the schedule...and it sounded like a whole lot of fun, so I decided to go for it. It was scheduled to be held at the Riviera hotel/casino in Vegas during the last weekend in June (and got moved to the Palms when the Riviera was suddenly sold and closed and demolished...!). Diana, James and I got tickets, and I reserved a room.
We got to Vegas on Thursday and got our badges (actually bracelets) Friday morning, and started out in the exhibit/demo room...
|The exhibit room was not very big, we got once around in an hour...but everyone there was nice, and they would let you pick the weapons up and swing them around! and there was a lot of steampunk stuff too, Diana tried on a hat.|
|This is a copy of Amoracchius, one of the three Holy Swords from the Dresden Files books.|
|Diana liked the ax.../font>||and this is a supersoaker converted to steampunk, very cool!||There was a big area in the center of the exhibits called the Demo Ring; all kinds of demonstrations and competitions took place there, although they were only for showing people what the group or weapon was like; the serious tournaments were in another room, all weekend. These are a group of people called the USA Knights that compete with other countries and have tournaments all over the world.|
|This actually looked like a lot of fun...I'm kinda interested...I spent a while watching these guys crash-and-bash this morning.
As far as I can tell, of the three groups doing knights-in-armor sorts of combat, the SCA does the whole medieval recreation including combat; HEMA (Historical European Martial Arts) is people who are really into researching as well as using the weapons; and USA Knights is mostly competing in tournaments. That's what it sounded like to me after talking to a bunch of them, at least.
|Then I went to my first panel, which was
History vs Hollywood Description: This panel will cover historical weapons play in movies. From the 3 musketeers to Gladiator to Brave Heart ect., covering research, choreography, history, commercialism, successes and pitfalls, and politics and limitations. Also discussed will be the future of historical sword epics and their hopeful progress to being ever more accurate. Panelists: Jared Kirby, Kyle Rowling, Luke LaFontaine, Anthony De Longis
This was a great panel; these guys all had serious chops in Hollywood. Kyle Rowling has done action choreography and stunt fighting, as well as co-starring in the TV Spartacus series. Anthony deLongis taught Harrison Ford how to use a whip and has done fight scenes with Jet Li. One of the other panel members was in charge of all the weapons for Master and Commander and the fourth made weapons for movies. They were great. They had wonderful stories, lots of behind-the-scenes anecdotes, knew their stuff...it was fascinating.
Then Anthony DeLongis did a whip demonstration in the demo area, with his wife; he's showing how to wrap the whip around her outstretched arm.
|My second panel was Myths of the Sword Dispelling and discussing the myths of swords and swordsmanship.
Panelists: Jared Kirby, David Baker, Anthony De Longis, Paul Macdonald. This was great. I had already seen Kirby and DeLongis, and as for the other two panelists, David Baker actually makes weapons and armor for films and tv, and Paul Macdonald is a swordmaker in Edinburgh.
After that, I went back to the demo area, where Kyle Rowling and two other guys had modern versions of gladiatorial weapons and shields and were talking about how the gladiators used them, what kind of matches they would have, how the gladiatorial fights worked and demonstrated the weapons and how they would be used.
|We met up with Carol and Eric, all picked up our dinners and went to their room to eat and talk for a couple of hours, which was awesome. Their room was very nice!|
|Here's the Saturday schedule; I had a 'fan pass', which meant I could go to anything green, any of the panels and presentations (middle yellow) and any two 'taster track' classes (right side of the yellow.) The Warrior Pass lets you take any of the classes in blue that you can get into, as well as everything else.||When we met up with Carol and Eric, they took us up to the video room to catch something that never appeared on the screen; this morning I was grateful for that, though, because on my own I would never have found the film room. This is it, wow, comfy chairs and all. I was there to see Paul Macdonald, the swordmaker from Edinburgh, give a talk about a sword in the National Museum in Edinburgh that he thinks has been mislabeled.
The Thousand Year Old Secret – Scottish Warrior Culture Redefined
This illustrated presentation brings to light a lost warrior culture and a remarkable sword.
In a dimly lit national museum in 2014, a few traditional Scottish craftsmen identified a particular sword that led to fascinating paths of research that now redefines our martial understanding of one of Europe’s most effective and least understood warrior cultures – The Picts.
This is a truly ground-breaking discovery that overturns previous academic thoughts and definitions.
Be in on the Secret!
it was interesting and he had a lot of good information to back up his claim. He says a show has been filmed about this, it will be on Discovery or History Channel, so keep an eye out...
|This is a knife made to practice knife fighting; the blade has sparkly lights when it comes in contact with anything, and the edge gives a mild electric shock. Pretty awesome!||This was a panel on sword making. Description: Meet our master weapons makers, and find out what goes into creating swords and how to try to make a living at it. The panelists were David Baker and Paul Macdonald, and the guy on the left with the beard is another sword maker...whose name I don't remember and who is not listed in the panel descriptions on the website, sorry! The second picture is taken one second after he put his foot in the middle of the sword blade and bent it into a U and it sprang back...wow.|
|Lunch with Carol and Eric; they were helping staff a book booth, where Carol's books were part of the offerings, and also were there for the SCA.||The SCA panel, with Eric at the end.||This panel was The Ethics of Modern Warfare, and it was great! Description: Is modern technology allowing us to lose track of the true horror of war? Presenter(s): Leslie Jones, TL Smith The two women who were hosting it were two of the authors selling books out front in the lobby, good friends, and they had both been in the military. Diana and I attended, and one other guy named John (whom we met again later) came...and that was it. So instead of a panel, we had a spirited five-way discussion of military ethics, and it was really fun!|
|Carol and Eric were responsible for bringing the SCA to Combatcon this year, as well as getting them to add panels for writers to write better fight scenes in their books. Very nice. The next 8 pictures are the SCA bouts, with Carol as the announcer and Eric as the referee.|
|Italian rapier dueling in the Demo area.|
| Time for my first taster track class! it was called Latigo y Daga, Whip and Dagger, and they were basically teaching how to use the two together. It was taught by Tom Meadows and Ron Lew.
Diana took pics of me trying to get the whip to crack (which I finally did, Ron was very patient with me) and pics of me with the instructors and thw whole class. The lighting in Rain was REALLY awful (it's usually a night club) but she did the best she could...
|Here's the Sunday schedule; the only thing I really had on was my second taster track class, Royal Airship Kamehameha. The taster track classes had been booted from Rain in favor of tournaments, so since it was easy to get to, Diana came as well and took pictures.
Defending your Airship
We are thrilled to revisit this class first taught at Combat Con year 1. In this interactive workshop, you will learn what every airship crew member needs to know when defending against an aerial attack. We will study close quarter combat use of Singlestick, 19th Century Saber, Whaling knife, Cutlass, war clubs and boarding axes on land, sea and air in our Steampunk universe.
Tom Badillo runs this virtual steampunk airship, and he handed out weapons; we were repelling boarding parties from behind the chairs, then he would tell two or three of us that we had to fight off zombies (the others) and get out safely, then we had to defend the admiral. We had hatchets, machetes, knives, singlesticks and a nerf pistol. WAAAAY fun.
|Our friend Margaret flew in Saturday night and joined us for Sunday, using James' pass. She was there to draw, and had a good time. This is her pic of Tom, with me on the left fighting off zombies! very cool.||The last panel I went to was Tales from the Trenches: On Set and On Camera Presenter(s): Anthony De Longis, David Baker, Kyle Rowling, Luke LaFontaine, Mary De Longis, Maya Santandrea It was just this amusing group of people telling stories about their experiences in TV and movies, and was a HOOT.||Then I went to Rain to meet Margaret, who had been sketching the tournaments. She looks like a child in these oversized couches!|
|Beautiful silver tiles. Nice patterns.||One of the exhibits in the 'steampunk musuem', which was just a miscellaneous bunch of displays of cool stuff.||Our reflection in the bathroom wall.|
|Combatcon was AMAZING. Not only was it fun and interesting (and in Vegas, so lots to do, but everyone was so nice. I had a great time and am hoping to go back next year!|