Society for Creative Anachronism goes medieval with armored combat at Minneapolis park
MINNEAPOLIS (FOX 9) - On a warm summer night at Brackett Field Park in Minneapolis, people are doing everything from playing basketball to jogging. But one of their outdoor activities makes this urban oasis look more like a battlefield from centuries gone by.
"Geeky people getting together and geeking out with each other is just a blast," said Markus Olfson, president of the local chapter of the Society for Creative Anachronism.
Every Tuesday night, about two dozen history enthusiasts practice the art of war from another age. They take up swords and shields to work on the methods and techniques of armored combat.
"There's a lot of living history in there because we're basically recreating the best parts of history," said Olfson.
The combatants wear real suits of armor and chain mail, and fight at real speed. But their swords are made of rattan, a grass with long fibers that sags instead of splinters, with styrofoam tips on the ends, instead of steel.
On a warm summer night at Brackett Field Park in Minneapolis, people are doing everything from playing basketball to jogging. But one of their outdoor activities makes this urban oasis look more like a battlefield from centuries gone by.
All the participants are members of the Society For Creative Anachronism, an international organization devoted to bringing history to life. They study and recreate mostly European cultures from before the 17th century, from combat and arts and sciences to feasting and throwing weapons.
"If there's somebody out there who did it back in history that there was some documentation of doing it. there's somebody in this group who's deep diving to try to figure out how to do it," said Olfson.
Scott Theisen has been taking part in armored combat for more than a decade. He goes by the adopted alter ego, Vladimir Radescu, in what has become an all-consuming pastime.
"I love the chess game aspect of being able to defeat my opponent before I actually land a blow. For me, it's mostly a tactile thing. In order to acknowledge my victory, I need to strike my opponent. It's about beating the opponent, not hitting them. I'll acknowledge it but that's just the finish of the fight. The enjoyment for me is everything up to that," said Theisen.
Theisen and his wife, Salli Weston, who goes by the alter ego Petronella Fitzallen, got involved with the group while looking for something they could do together after they got married.
"Sal said 'There's this group that does medieval reenactment'. I said 'I don't know'. She said 'They do sword fighting'. I was like 'Really?' said Theisen.
Theisen not only suits up for armored combat practice, he also makes his own armor in his armory shop in his basement in Roseville.
"The trick is you wear good armor. That protects most of it. So you do occasionally get some bruises. Usually, it lands on armor and learning is a little more painful but once you've learned to block it's reasonable," said Theisen.
While Scott is interested in armored combat, Salli is fascinated by the clothing of that time. So far, she's made more than 30 period-accurate costumes for herself and her husband, who isn't afraid to go medieval when he's not under 65 pounds of stainless steel.
"They say she who dies with the most fabric wins. I don't really believe that, but I might die with the most clothes," said Weston.
"At our heart, we are dressing up in funny clothes and playing with our friends. At this point in my life, more people know me as Vlad than know me as Scott. So its been an amazing journey we've been on that we have no plans of ever ending," said Theisen.
Theisen says the group gets a wide range of reactions from people passing by their practice at the park.
"We get a mix of strange looks, curious people and we are always happy to talk to people because we are always looking for people to enjoy our geek with," said Theisen.
But those who get caught up in this fantasy world hope their ode to the Middle Ages takes the crown for years to come.
"A: It's fun. It is so much fun. B: It's educational. Learning stuff is just so amazing. And to do it on a hands-on kind of basis, it just makes it so much more enriching," said Olfson.