A series of peculiar events play out before student’s eyes twice a week in the quad as Saddleback Sword group members go into Medieval Combat, battling with large swords composed of foam.
Elijah Storm Dye, 23, psychology, founder of the Saddleback Sword group admits that people watch and respond with uncertainty.
“People are kind of laughing at it, and you know, I’m okay with that,” Dye said. “Because if people are laughing, then they are smiling and it’s somewhat positive.”
The group is described as a place where people who enjoy the sport of Medieval Combat can come together. Combat takes place twice a week, on Tuesdays from noon to 6 p.m., and Thursdays from 3 to 6 p.m.
Each sword is made up of three layers of foam on the striking surface, preventing most injuries, Dye said. There have been no sword related injuries.
Injuries that do occur are often due to surrounding factors such as slippery grass and metal drains in the quad. For preventive measures, the club now places chairs over the drains.
An increase in student participation led Dye to create a sign in sheet for every meeting, as well as liability waivers for all participants. “We had about 56 members signed in for one day,” Dye said. Another look at the sign in sheet later revealed that the number was even higher.
“A final count of attendance yesterday shows a total of 62 people who came and picked up a sword to fight with us!” Dye said. “Keep it up guys, and we will run out of swords.”
Despite the group’s growth since last fall, Dye is hesitant to take the steps towards making the group an actual club under Saddleback, in fear of losing its authenticity.
“There’s a lot of red tape we would have to go through,” Dye said. “There’s a liability factor, a need for an instructor, and I feel that these aspects would take away how open and free the group is currently.”
Dye describes Saddleback Sword as a laid back group, where anyone should feel comfortable exploring what it has to offer. Not only are people trying the unfamiliar sport, but everyone is talking about it, Dye said.
“I was actually sitting at a restaurant the other night with my girlfriend and we were just chatting with a friend,” Dye said. “A table over, we heard someone mention Saddleback, and sure enough they were talking about Saddleback Sword.”
The group’s Facebook page “Saddleback Sword,” has roughly 75 members. A website for Saddleback Sword is also in the works. Anyone interested in Medieval Combat can join the group. Rules of combat can also be discussed with current members of the group.
Posts within the group include discussion about upcoming events for group members, as well as costume and weaponry design.
In one post, group member Freddy Valdez expressed his love for the sport. “A bunch of dorks that want to swing foam sticks in an epic fashion,” Valdez posted. “You guys make it fun, I witnessed great honor out there too.”
Saddleback Sword’s recent interaction with the campus includes being filmed by a student for a class project. The student wanted to film members of the group in action for a short commercial.
“We got a couple cool shots filmed, and he took a couple of interviews,” Dye said. “Hopefully we will be seeing the progress on that soon.” Dye also mentioned that the best commercial project turned in, may possibly be aired on TV.
Saddleback Sword is not the only group where foam swords will be seen on a school’s campus. The University of California, Irvine, has a sword fighting club as well. UC Irvine’s sword fighting club is in the Belegarth realm of Medieval Combat, which is considered a national event.
Saddleback Sword has received recognition and guidance from the leader of the sword club at UC Irvine to become a Belegarth realm as well, Dye said.
Dye hopes that Saddleback Sword will continue to grow in size and popularity.
“I want to show people that this sport is not only fun, but acceptable,” Dye said. “Saddleback Sword is a recruitment realm, where all people can feel comfortable trying it.”