- Brandon Porter
Don't fret over the straight-outta-Westeros clashing of steel swords this Saturday at Liberty Park; it's not an epic, bloody battle for the Iron Throne, but it should be entertaining nonetheless. Local sword-fighting academies are hosting their annual tournament, and they're welcoming the public to observe the time-honored tradition. Jordan Hinckley, an instructor at Salt Lake City-based United Clan Swordsman Association, has been swinging a sword on and off since the late '90s, around the time a fanatic friend introduced him to the art. The competition takes place on the east side of the park just past the pond. It starts around 10 a.m. and should wrap up around 3 or 4 p.m., but times could vary.
What is this about a sword fighting competition?
It looks like we'll have about 20 competitors. They'll be fighting in either steel or synthetic, both long sword as well as short sword. It's a really good opportunity for our students to get out, fight with some other people and, overall, it's a good gathering point for students.
Who can participate?
Students who are coming up from True Edge Academy of Swordsmanship in Salt Lake as well as in Provo. We actually have some students coming up in Las Vegas. You have to be a current member of one of the groups competing, but we're definitely open for anyone to come watch and ask questions.
But you're sword fighting with real swords?
We use European long sword; it's a two-handed sword primarily from Europe. In the steel competition, you're using real swords. They're, obviously, not sharp, but they're the same weight, same length as a sharpened weapon would be. ... The synthetics are as close as you can get without being steel. They don't require as much protective equipment. More of our beginners are fighting with synthetics. The more advanced students are fighting with steel.
How does someone win a competition? Is there a point system or is it whoever stabs the opponent in the chest first?
What we're doing in this competition is you go to a certain number of points scored. So each round it's 10 points. A hit to the head or a hit to the torso is worth two points, hits to the arms or legs are with one point. If somebody is being really defensive, there is still an opportunity for them to score some points and do well.
Even though the swords are blunt, how do you prevent gnarly accidents?
What we use for head protection is actually Olympic fencing masks. That gives you visibility that you need but also protection against cuts and thrusts to the face. Heavy padded jackets, elbow cups, knee pads, shin protection and then heavy gloves.