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Oceanside park turns into medieval battleground

OCEANSIDE — Buddy Todd Park turned into a medieval battleground Nov. 1, as the annual Society for Creative Anachronism, or SCA, Longsword, Greatsword Tournament pitched its tents and roped off areas for hand-to-hand battles. Competitors came from as far away as La Habra to participate in adult and youth mock battles.
While longsword and greatsword battles — with 60 inches and shorter and 60 inches and longer swords, respectively — are contact sports, children’s battles are toned down with shorter foam swords, and a touch of the sword considered a blow. The fun competition recreates the history and chivalry of long ago. “Children are learning honor, respect and combat skills,” Mark Linsay, head of the SCA in Oceanside, said.
Soren Price of Del Mar, an SCA member with a year of youth battle competition under his belt, explained how chivalry is key in competition. “You try not to have an unfair advantage,” Price said. “If (your opponent is) injured, you let him fall before you beat him.”
Children play up a loss of a limb if their opponent’s sword touches their arm or leg, and dramatize a death when they are beat. Competitors are judged for wins, chivalry and “best deaths” in a competition where honor is as important as winning.
Adults at the event compete in a round robin tournament on a more serious level. Full metal armor is worn by adults, and during battles piercing clanks echo as swords hit metal. “It’s a contact sport, significant enough to do damage,” Dana Vrsalovick of La Habra said. Between battles, Vrsalovick and fellow competitors unstrap their leather and roll up their sleeves to point out injuries and share stories about their latest battle scars. While on-field battles are intense, it is still a gentlemen’s sport. “We hit each other as hard as we can and when it’s over say, ‘That’s a good fight,’” Vrsalovick said.
Vrsalovick, like many competitors, enjoys medieval history as much as the battle competition. Vrsalovick has been competing for 21 years, and also teaches seventh- and eighth-grade history and youth fencing.