CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — If you’ve ever happened upon the area between the Watergarden and Harbor Playhouse on a Wednesday evening, you might have seen what looks like a scene from the movie “Braveheart.”
There are men in full medieval regalia, metal armor and all, taking full on swings at each other with heavy wooden swords.
But don’t expect kilts — according to local fighters the movie was historically inaccurate by putting Mel Gibson in a kilt.
These fighters are part of “Society for Creative Anachronism,” an international organization dedicated to researching and recreating the arts and skills of pre-17th century Europe.
The group has more than 30,000 members from around the globe.
Forty-nine of those members are part of the “Shire of Seawinds” in the Corpus Christi area. Their Shire is one of the smaller communities within what they refer to as a kingdom. Theirs is Ansteorra Kingdom, covering Texas and Oklahoma. The worldwide organization has 19 kingdoms.
“Remember when you were little and you play fought in the backyard with sticks and hubcaps? — This is the same thing accept you’re older and it’s more expensive,” said Gary Johnson.
Johnson is one of the founding members of the Shire and is known as Godric Gordan Redwolfe. The name is that of a soldier who fought with England’s King Edward the First in 1280, during the invasion of Scotland and Wales.
Each member has a persona, a character they portray from a certain period and culture. The persona is well researched and can’t be someone too famous.
The group meets every Wednesday for fighter practice, where members suit up in period garb and practice a variety of mixed martial arts to prepare for competitions around the kingdom.
The fights are not choreographed, which is why members take safety seriously.
All fighters must follow strict rules during fights and wear required protection, including a helmet and a kidney belt.
Clayton Randolf, a student at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, said the reaction he usually gets when he tells people about his hobby is, “You larp?”
“Larping” stands for live action role playing, and what Society for Creative Anachronism members do is much different.
“We are living history,” Randolf said. “We recreate history with combat and the arts and sciences. We don’t re-enact it.”
It’s not just fighting the members recreate; the group also convenes weekly for artisan meetings where they make crafts and share history.
Paula Cloud-Hudson, also known as Lady Rosa De Armanno, an herbalist from 14th century Italy, is learning how to produce handmade lace, beading for Viking broaches and period clothing.
Hudson said there are people from all walks of life in their kingdom from teachers to lawyers to people who work for NASA.
“I wanted to be an archeologist when I was a kid,” said Hudson. “This is my way of pursuing that.”
Information from: Corpus Christi Caller-Times,http://www.caller.com