Instructor Interview: Jarl Ulfred

Ulfreds Device“In my youth I traveled to England from Danmark, and spent many years in the service of various Thanes and Jarls. Eventually, I became a companion of Steingrim Stallari and traveled further abroad to find service in the Varangian guard at Byzantium. Eventually, I returned north to find some lands of my own. This did not happen and I continued to travel the lands of the northern seas, until I found myself upon the shores of An Tir. Here I found I was preceded by Steingrim and so I entered into service again as he was a Prince in this land. Years later during my own court – having proven my worth and been accepted as King in An Tir – a young man did arrive who by his witnesses and history did prove that he was my son Dak, who had traveled to these lands as Squire to Steingrim’s son Torgul. I did acknowledge him before all assembled establishing that the threads of Ulfred and his sons were now forever woven into the tapestry of An Tir. I met my true love Elfreda a short time later and we did settle on lands in the Barony of Three Mountains.”

Thus begins the story of one of An Tir’s legends, a man whose fighting, teaching and dedication to the Dream have earned him a place among the Lions of An Tir, those who are recognized as most embodying the ideals and essence of the kingdom.

When asked what he fights for, Sir Ulfred replied: “These days I fight in honor of my Lady Baroness Elfreda. In wars, I will fight for King and Baron. When occasion occurs that neither needs my services, I stand with kin and friends.”


Ulfred family portrait

Front row (sitting): Jarl Sir Ulfred Draumfjalr; Baroness Elfreda of Kingeswode

Back row (standing): Sir Fiach CuCool Feardri Ulfredsson; Sir Olin Ulfredsson called Wartooth; ban-Iarla Daedin nicGlenn Ulfredshallsdottir MacAoidh a’Mhonadh, ban-Bharan nan Tir; Lord Magni Ulfredsson; Jarl Dak Ulfredsson, Duke of An Tir.

More than 30 years ago, Jarl Sir Ulfred Draumfjalr was one of the founding members of the shire of Coeur De Val (although he notes that the founders originally wanted to call it Caerleone…) Now he makes his home in the Barony of Three Mountains, where he enjoys wood and iron crafting, hosting events where people gather in the spirit of sharing knowledge, skills, good food and drink and camaraderie, and of course, sharing with others some of the knowledge and experience that he himself has picked up over three decades on the fighting field.

Sir Ulfred has served An Tir once as King and twice as Prince. In his earlier days he preferred war fighting, because it provides an ability to identify with a group, and because those participating can contribute to the group’s success by using a myriad of skills, not just physical prowess. These days, however, because of torn knees, war terrain becomes its own not-so-fun danger, making tournaments more appealing. Among the advice he gives to new fighters comes this related tidbit that he wishes someone else would have told him as a new fighter: Don’t play basketball, football, soccer or any of those other dangerous sports that can ruin knees!

Among Sir Ulfred’s favorite events are Ursalmas and other tournaments that draw fighters from across large areas. He does note, however, that he feels that the “dressing” around tournaments has not progressed over the years as much as the fighting arts themselves have, and thinks that much could be learned from theme events like the Emprise of the Black Lion.

High among Sir Ulfred’s current motivations, in terms of fighting, is “to become conscious of all the minute details of what goes into success.” For new fighters, he notes that most folks “hold themselves back,” having somehow become convinced that they cannot succeed for various reasons. Most often, however, the reasons for not succeeding are either not understanding how to do it yet, or expecting success to come faster or easier than is realistic. For more experienced fighters who want to “kick it up a notch,” Sir Ulfred says that progress depends on where they already are as fighters. Those with improper execution need to focus on better technique, while those who have the technique down but are not yet finding success may need to turn their attentions internally, finding a sense of focus and motivation which can be difficult to teach, as it depends predominantly on the fighter’s personality.

Sir Ulfred rarely misses the Monday night Three Mountains fighter practice that he began several years ago to accommodate the work schedule of one of this then-squires. He also meets regularly with another set of squires on Wednesday nights and believes that “the folks who stand out above the competition these days attend at least a couple of practices a week and get to as many tournaments with unknown competitors as they can.”

Interview conducted and article written by Jess Hartley: Please do not reproduce without permission from the author.