This is a lot of money to raise, but bear with me, it'll be worth it...
Last year, Maria Dedvukaj and I, Zorikh Lequidre, were part of the first American team to compete at the Battle of the Nations, the world championships of medieval armored combat, in Poland. At that same event, I was the first American to fight in a "pro rules" fight in Europe. Maria was part of the support staff, providing invaluable assistance to the team. While neither I nor the team won the championships, we did very well, impressing the world with our enthusiasm, chivalry, toughness, and ability to learn quickly. This year we are doing it again, only this time the event will be in France, May 8-12, 2013!
Now please watch this video http://youtu.be/UjPgzwbtz7g , or just read on...
After a year of training and recruiting, our team has grown from 29 to 50 men, and once again, I made the cut, passed the the tryouts, and am on the team! Maria, likewise, will be with us in support with increased responsibilities. This year she will be the team's Logistics Officer, making sure that the team has the best travel and lodging possible, a large task considering our team members are from all over the country and the specific location in France has not been announced yet! She is also helping me out personally, with travel to local, regional, and national practices, squiring for me at the tournaments, and shooting video. Together we hope to show the world that the USA can produce world-class competitors in this new/old sport.
Some have questioned the appropriateness of the United States in a competition of medieval martial arts, as the USA "does not have a medieval heritage." What they don't realize, however, is that we are a nation of immigrants, and almost every culture in the world has a "warrior elite" tradition that dates back to a "medieval" period. We also have a history of medieval reenactments and recreations that goes back over 40 years!
Furthermore, we are a nation that likes to achieve. We grow, we learn, we work hard. When we are knocked down, we get back up, figure out what happened, and do it right back to whoever knocked us down, and then to whoever else gets in our way. We got knocked down last year. I got knocked down last year. We, collectively and individually, got up, brushed ourselves off, and went to work. This year we are bigger, stronger, more skilled, and are ready to take it to the world!
Last year there were 12 nations represented. This year that number has doubled, and we know that as the team that won "best team debut" last year, everyone is going to be gunning for us. Please help Maria and I go and show what this country is made of!
On a personal level,I learned that yes, I can go out there, push through personal comfort zones, and crash and bash with the big boys. However my fitness, my strength, and my skill in this particular game was not as high as it could have been. I have been training specifically for this now, adding kickboxing and sword technique to my training regimen, hitting the gym harder, and reaching new levels of skill, strength, endurance, and limberness. I have been fighting with my head more, trying to look for openings and opportunities rather than rushing in like "Leeroy Jenkins." This kind of preparation, however, takes time and hard work, and requires diligent and repetitive practice. We have a full compliment of 50 men on the team, but any of them could drop out , get hurt, or fall behind, and I have to be ready to step up and step in to seize the opportunity to fill in and do the team, and our country, proud.
Last year I was fortunate enough to have gotten a good job in time to save enough money for this trip, with the help of a fundraising campaign like this one. this year, Hurricane Sandy caused my company to cancel the project I was working on as I was coming back from the national practice in October. I have been living on unemployment and getting occasional part-time gigs since then, but this is going to be tough this year. France is more expensive than Poland, and there is a lot that needs to be tone to ensure that I fight my best when I am over there.
What we need:
Armor, weapons, and accouterments:
The armor I wore last year was good. It protected me. However elements of it can be improved upon to improve my performance.
Helm: My current helm is taking a beating. It limits my vision and I cannot turn my head in it. I cut off a few pounds of the chain mail aventail to save weight, but there are better helms out there. $600
Arms: My current arms are bulky and don't protect my upper arm sufficiently. They also don't fit behind my shield. I am looking for a pair of arms with longer, more protective rerebraces (upper-arm guards) and a sleeker profile. $300
Legs: I actually put $200 down on a new pair of stainless steel legs from Allen Joyner with a more ergonomic design and better articulation, I just need to finish paying them off. $350
Torso armor: My current torso protection consists of a Cherburg-style breastplate with a coat-of plates underneath. This is semi-redundant, but is necessary because the coat-of-plates covers my upper arms and my hips. Unfortunately, the coat-of-plates has taken a beating and will need to be retired soon, and the Cherburg does not cover enough on its own. I took a shot to my lower back at the national tryouts two weeks ago and the bruise is still affecting me. There is an armorer that makes a coat-of-plates "kit" for under $200 that weighs less than 10 lbs. I can put it together with some leather and rivets to fit me and cover me and save about 10 lbs or more off my armor. $200
Gauntlets: My current gauntlets don't fit right. It is difficult for me to keep a good grip on my weapon and my thumbs keep falling out. My dream gauntlets are a pair of Milanese-style gauntlets made by Icefalcon that have steel fingertips, but they cost about $1000. I have been shopping around and have found perfectly good gauntlets for around $300
Greaves: My current shin guards don't go completely around my legs, so I have modified them by attaching a splinted leather wrap. They still have a tendency to slip down my legs and rest on top of my feet. What I need is a pair fo greaves that are more ergonomically shaped and will encase my entire shin and calf. $250
Arming sword: I have been competing in singles combats, in which I need a sword to fight with a buckler and a shield. I have been borrowing other people's swords so far, but they are frequently too heavy and besides, they are not mine. There are lighter swords out there, including one new model from Baltimore Knife that I have my eye on. $400
Longsword: Singles fights consist of three round: longsword, sword and buckler, and sword and shield. I need a longsword of my own. Baltimore Knife makes a lovely one. $600
Mace: I have been fighting with a polearm in the melees so far. There are times hen the team will need me to fight with a shield. For that I will need a weapon suitable for such melees. $150
Shoes: The rules say that the shoes must be of a medieval pattern. My current shoes are a bit too large and I have been tripping and stumbling over them. I have found a perfectly suitable pair of shoes and merely need to add Vibram soles to them at my local shoe repair store. The total cost would come to $130
Tabbards: The team has commissioned new tabbards so we all look sharp. Last year's tabbard was traded with a Russian in the heat of passion at the end of the event for his surcoat. I should get two, one in which to fight, and one for dress occasions. $150
Gym membership: $100
Pull-up bar: $30
Kickboxing classes: $150
Travel to local weekly armored combat practice: $200
Travel to practices and tournaments in North America:
Springfield last October and this February: $450
Wash. DC in March: $200
Montreal in January: $400
T-shirts: as needed. (The more shirts get ordered, the lower the per-shirt price)
Return to Pennsic video duplication: $200
Battle of the Nations 2012 videos: duplication: $200
Art prints: as needed
Total: $400 as needed
$13,430 ( as needed promo items)
I realize this is a lot of money, more than I have earned in certain years of my life. But remember, this is not just for me, this is for Maria also, without whom this adventure would not be possible. We are going as a team, and support for one of us is support for both of us. In the words of the US Olympic Committee: "Without your help we can't afford to win."
- Annie Desjardins
- Yevgeniya Pechenaya
- Elizabeth Dunhom
- Alden Ford