Periodically, we will profile a fighter whom we feel exemplifies the best of the multi-dimensional SCA tournament fighter. This individual possesses skill at arms to be sure, but is also interested in further study, development, creativity and growth, enriching the tournament experience for themselves and for those around them.
Our featured person will come from all ranks, all skill levels, and all kingdoms across the known world. Even still, they will have characteristics that bind them together. To quote Jarl Sir Ulfred Draumfjeld, the man behind the vision that became Sport of Kings, “I would see our warriors as heroes. Not heroes on local terms, but heroes on any terms. Dress well, speak well, serve well, lead well, fight well and in victory or defeat, whatever the challenge, be noble and gracious.”
Recently, SOK caught up with the honorable Hjlmr inn Danksi, a squire from the principality of Tir Righ in northern An Tir. Squire Hjlmr was chosen as the winner of the annual “Most Amazing Armor” competition at last year’s Sport of Kings event by past competition winners Sir Torfin Torgulson and His Majesty, King Tiernan Mor Dal Cais.
SOK: Hjlmr, tell us a little about yourself. What is your fighting kit persona and weapon combination of choice?
H: I do my best to portray a Danish Viking living in Jorvik (York) around the year 865. My preferred style is sword and center grip round shield.
SOK: How did you choose your persona?
H: I started as a 14th century Danish fop named Donalbain Binnensnotz. The clothing required to pull that look off was beyond my tailoring abilities at the time. Slowly, I started drifting earlier and earlier until I found myself in the Viking Age. Finding the clothing more appropriate for camping and all around comfortable I decided to change my persona to its recent incarnation. Hjlmr is the Old Norse equivalent of my Grandfather’s name, Hjelmer. The Britons referred to the Nordic invaders as ‘Danes’ regardless of their country of origin (I just happened to sail from Denmark). Inn Danski means ‘the Dane’, so, Hjlmr inn Danski translates to Hjlmr the Dane.
SOK: What resources do you use to make your presentation more period?
H: The internet and books with Viking in the title is where I do the majority of my research. I have to credit the Armour Archive for showing me what was possible and inspiring me to build an authentic looking kit that was both functional and SCA legal.
SOK: What advice do you have to a fighter that might like to have a persona/kit of the same time and place?
H: You should already have a clear picture of when and where you want your kit to be. Then take baby steps to achieve the look you’ve settled on. It can be a daunting prospect to replace existing and trusted bits of armor. Taking the transition slow, piece by piece, ensures less armor bites, less overall expense, and the general satisfaction of working towards a goal.
SOK: How long have you been fighting?
H: I’ve been fighting for ten glorious years. When I started in the SCA I treated events like weekend long drinking contests. After almost a year I said to myself, “There has got to be more out there than this.” Shortly after that I started putting together my first suit, read and re-read the ABCs, and found the local practice. So, really, for me, it’s an incredibly fun and jocular way to participate in the Society.
SOK: Who are your greatest fighting learning and fighting influences?
H: Duke Thorin taught a class when I was a zygote and his instruction gave me the tools I needed to become a well rounded new fighter. His Grace excels at providing vast amounts of information in easy to swallow bites. Sir Hrothgar has continually, and gently, corrected my bad form for the ten years I’ve been playing. Thane Ulfgar is a paragon of chivalry on and off the field. Sir Arnsbjorn, Sir Octamasades, Sir John Wolfstan, Sir Richard, Viscount Savaric, Sir Yusuf …honestly, the list of sword brothers that continually influence me is endless.
SOK: To who are you squired? How did you choose your knight?
H: I swore an oath of blood and service to Sir Yusuf ben Josef at July Coronation AS 41/2006. I asked Sir Yusuf to guide me on my path for several reasons; his staunch loyalty to friends, Crown, and Kingdom, common interests within the Society, and his unswerving gentleness and kindness are the foremost among them.
SOK: Why SCA fighting as opposed to any other martial sport?
H: Having never participated in any organized sport I’d say the ferocious sense of honor and fair play appeal to me.
SOK: What, aside from the fighting, appeals to you?
H: I enjoy most of what the Society has to offer; archery, costuming, leather crafting, marshaling, flirting, autocratting, beer, persona development, research, heraldry, etc…
SOK: What do you think about the SCA tournaments as a whole? What do you think are the most important or most enjoyable aspects?
H: I love tournaments. Fun, is of course, the most important aspect. Aside from fun, I’d have to say the support staff is an indispensable aspect to any tournament. Lists, heralds, water bearers, and marshals are often overlooked and taken for granted. I enjoy tournaments because they allow us to showcase the best in each other, they allow our comrades to push us to excel.
SOK: What kingdom(s) have you lived and fought in?
H: I’ve been blessed to live and fight in the greatest Kingdom in the Known World. I traveled to Pennsic XXXVII to rally behind Their Majesty’s banner in 2008.
SOK: Have you ever been to Sport of Kings? If yes, what did you enjoy most?
H: Sport of Kings V was the first one I attended. I enjoyed the learning and fighting aspect, of course. But the camaraderie, the sense of everyone working together to improve everybody’s game truly blew my mind.
SOK: Are you planning to attend the next Sport of Kings? What do you hope to get from it?
H: Absolutely. Again, I want to improve my prowess and rekindle the same sense of teamwork and community I felt at the last one.
SOK: What advice do you have for new fighters?
H: Be gentle to the ladies. Be kind to the support staff. Listen to the veterans. Ask many questions.
SOK: You sponsored a tournament for period personas at Ursulmas this year. Can you tell me about the inspiration and how it turned out?
H: The Vicis Proeliator Conflictus was an idea Sir Arminius had and brought to me at An Tir/West War a few years ago. There were about a half dozen participants and I look forward to doubling that number next year. Start working on those kits, folks! I journeyed to Pennsic a few years ago and participated in the Warriors of History tournament and wanted to bring something similar to An Tir.
SOK: And you’re involved with Sir Eddie’s tournament this weekend. Do you have anything to share about that?
H: Sir Edward Zifran’s Memorial Championship Tournament is held every April in the sleepy Shire of Shittimwoode. There, we hold champion tournaments for Archery, Thrown Weapons, Rapier, Heavy Combat, and Arts & Sciences. It’s the Shire’s largest event and I have the honor of autocratting this year. The Heavy Tournament usually has about 30 participants but Sir Rauokinn was kind enough to add us to her Tournament Circuit so we’re expecting 50+ fighters this year. Fighting starts at noon, folks!
We’d like to extend our thanks to Squire Hjlmr for taking the time to answer our questions. We look forward to seeing him at this summer’s Sport of Kings event. If you’d like to meet up with Squire Hjlmr, he regularly attends the Shire of Shittimwoode’s Thursday practice in Bellingham Washington.
© 2011 Lara Baker-Olin