Photo by Brenden Crane
Doña Lilias de Cheryngton, the incoming Kingdom Marshal of Fence, talked to the Gazette about her new position, diversity in fencing, and the Order of Defense.
Please describe your job responsibilities.
The Kingdom Marshal of Fence sets and enforces weapon and armor standards for fencing, supervises the authorization of rapier combatants, and deals with disciplinary and administrative actions that cannot be handled at the local or regional levels. I am responsible to both the East Kingdom Earl Marshal and the Society Rapier Marshal.
What do you enjoy about this activity?
Fencing has always been a source of joy and pride for me. The narrow focus and reflexive reactions of combat have a wonderful way of clearing the head and making one focus on the immediate here and now. I love that it is a skill I can work on independently by drilling footwork and point control, but also collaborate with others to test ourselves and teach each other. My favorite thing to do is pickups (a series of one-on-one passes where the combatants are trying out their skills on each other and the outcome doesn’t matter). I love when my opponent surprises me with a move I wasn’t expecting or when a fight doesn’t go the way I think it’s going to. I love seeing the gears working in a new fencer’s brain and the triumph in their face when they perfectly execute a maneuver they’ve been working on. My favorite thing in the world is when my opponent and I both walk away from a fight laughing about how much fun it was.
Do you have a goal for your term?
In general, my goal is to promote fencing within the kingdom and the society and help our vibrant community continue to flourish. Here are some of my specific priorities:
— Promote diversity in our community by ensuring our rules are inclusive, and by encouraging tournament and melee formats that allow people of different skill levels, body types, and physical limitations to have a fun and satisfying experience.
— Encourage more discussions/salons at events on various fencing-related topics.
— Foster innovation, historical study, and experimental efforts.
Are you currently looking for any deputies?
Yes! I am looking for a deputy Kingdom Marshal of Fence. This person is responsible for acting in my capacity when I am not available. Anyone interested in the position should contact me at email@example.com.
What was your first event? And what made you stay?
My first event was the Coronation of Brion and Anna in AS 33. It was intimidating for a new person who was still learning how things worked in the Society, but I remember Their Majesties being extremely kind and welcoming when I spoke to them as they were sitting in state. I think I had a huge advantage as a new person in the SCA because I was in an active college group inside of the Barony of Carolingia. There was something to do — dance practice, cooking, brewing, period games, A&S classes, what have you — every day of the week! It was easy for me to get to activities on public transit and try anything I was interested in. The thing that really grabbed me and cemented my place in the SCA was a series of introductory classes given by the Carolingian fencers. It was a structured curriculum designed to take someone from zero to authorized, and by the time I got to the end, I was hooked.
Which people made an impact on you in the SCA and why?
To this day, the person who made the biggest impact in my SCA life is my Don and mentor, Martin Quicksilver. He somehow saw potential in my rudimentary fencing skills and took me as his cadet, which made all the difference in my fencing career. He taught me the discipline of daily drilling, the rigor required to internalize complex techniques, and the mental game of the tournament. Most importantly, he was a friend and staunch ally during a challenging time in my life.
The person who is essential to my current SCA life is my husband, Master Donovan Shinnock. Not only has he encouraged and enabled my fencing despite the real-life constraints of raising a child, he also pushes me to pursue other interests within the Society that make the whole experience richer. His study of period masters’ fencing manuals and his success with those techniques in the list is inspirational.
Could you share with us a moment – or several moments – that describe what makes the SCA special for you?
Every time one of my friends receives an award is special, but the moment I feel most honored to have witnessed is the creation of the Order of Defense and the elevation of the three premiers. I can still call to mind the words of endorsement from other Peers and the emotional reactions of the candidates. It was a truly historic moment for the Society and one that showed me our organization is able to grow and change if enough people put in the hard work and believe it is possible.