Duchess Marieke greets her Youth Combat champion at a Ladies of the Rose tourney.

Duchess Marieke greets her Youth Combat champion at a Ladies of the Rose tourney. Photo by Lady Lavina Attewode

The Gazette thanks Lady Karrah the Mischievous and Lord Raven of Rusted Woodlands for writing this article for the How To series.

Are your kids really excited when they see the heavy fighters on the field?  Do they wish they could be out there, too? Well, welcome to Youth Fighting! As you look around at SCA events, you might see a group of Youth out on a field, armored up and hitting each other with padded weapons. Youth Combat is the way for kids, aged 6 to 17, to enjoy field combat with less risk than their adult counterparts. 

As you watch the youth fighting on the field, you might notice they are divided into 3 distinct groups– Division 1: ages 6 to 9 years old, Division 2: 10 to 13 and Division 3: 14 to 17. Rattan combat, known as Division 4, for ages 16 and 17 is available for experience in adult rattan

Master Seamus Donn's daughter prepares to enter the lists for the first time.  Photo by Baron Fergus MacRae

Master Seamus Donn’s daughter prepares to enter the lists for the first time. Photo by Baron Fergus MacRae

without the stress of going out on the adult field.  Due to adult heavylist being open to 16+ now, Division 4 is only offered on a limited basis at events. These divisions are set up for the safety of the participants and so the youth marshals can keep order on the list.

Youth marshals help the youth combatants understand the various fighting forms and the rules of the list as set down by the Board of Directors of the SCA, the Kingdom Heavy Marshal, and the Kingdom Youth Marshal. The marshal’s explain the concepts of Courtesy, Chivalry and Honor.  All youth marshals must pass a background check every 2 years.  Aside from that, the marshals are fellow parents, graduates of the program, or those who have an interest in helping Youth Activities flourish in the Kingdom.  That being said, Youth Combat is NOT a babysitting service.  If your children participate, you are expected to as well, to the extent you would if your child were taking part in teeball, swimming, or other “mundane” sports.  Most site rules require adult supervision under the age of 12, and all authorization bouts require the consent and attendance of the responsible adult, regardless of age.

 

Youth fighters in a melee at Birka.  Photo by Lord Trentus Nubianus

Youth fighters in a melee at Birka. Photo by Lord Trentus Nubianus

That being said, there are a few things your child needs to participate in Youth Combat.  Though many practices and events have loaner gear, there are many things your child may already own that work well for Youth Combat.  Division 1 only requires a helmet with a grill (a one-piece hockey helmet is most popular), gorget, personal protection (also known as a cup), and gloves (of any weight), along with at least cloth covering the torso, knees, and elbows.  Once they are old enough for Division 2 and 3, they also must protect their kidneys, xyphoid, cervical spine (weightlifting belt and hockey or football chest pads work great), and have sturdier protection over their hands, knees and elbows (plastic, padded elbow and knee pads like you use for street hockey are easy go-tos, as well as ice hockey gloves).

Weapons are made with  rattan, PEX, or siloflex, with minimum 1/2″ closed cell foam over the striking surface or 3/8 cell foam doubled up to make it 6/8 thickness. http://youthfighters.eastkingdom.org/howto.html offers a great in-depth guide, with pictures, on how to create the weapons.  It also includes guides for gorgets, aventails, and crossguards that are easy to make and safe for Youth Combat use.

Youth Combat Tourney at Fall Crown 2013, photo by Eleanor le Brun

Youth Combat Tourney at Fall Crown 2013, photo by Mistress Eleanor le Brun

If you’re at an event with Youth Combat, it’s simple to get involved. Stop by any Youth field. We promise. No, seriously. Please stop by and talk to us. We will be more than happy to explain things to you, show you the armor and weapons, tell you how to find all the information you need on the youth program, and how to find it on the web. We will demonstrate the proper fighting forms, where there is a fighting practice in your area or the closest one to you, or we will put you in touch with a youth marshal that can help you.  Some events have loaner gear available so your child can jump right in and give it a go.

If you wish to prepare before coming to an event, there are lists of rules, armor requirements, and contact information at http://youthfighters.eastkingdom.org/

Sir Michael of York instructing fighters at Birka.  Photo by Lord Trentus Nubianus

Sir Michael of York instructing fighters at Birka. Photo by Lord Trentus Nubianus

Although we build towards adult competition, our main purpose is to have fun. We explain to the youth that they are all part of a larger group, including Fighters, Artisans, other combat activities and administration, and that each group is as important as the next because without any one of these forms, there would be no larger group.

Youth Marshals on the field will be more than happy to explain to you, include you in the day’s activities, work with you and show how a youth list is run. We will be more than happy to include your youth in the mix with all the others. At most events, there is loaner armor that can be used if your youth does not have their own kit of armor set up. Youth marshals also give classes in armor, weapons making and is generally an expert on toys for 9 year old boys. But most of all, youth marshals will help all the participants to have fun and, above all, do it while being safe.

For questions, local practices, or to get in contact with an area marshal, you can also. Mail youthcombat.central@eastkingdom.org , youthcombat.south@eastkingdom.org   to talk to the current Regional Youth Combat Marshals.