Armored combat in the SCA resembles medieval foot tournaments. Combatants can face each other in single combat in tournaments or can take part in large melee battles with dozens or even hundreds of combatants on each side.
SCA combatants wear real armor and use swords and spears made of rattan wrapped with duct tape. Similar to bamboo, but with a solid core, rattan is springy enough to absorb some of the force of the blow without snapping, and light enough to approximate the weight of a steel sword. Building armor is more complex – a complete suit has many parts, which can be made from hammered steel, rivets, leather, padded fabric, even rigid plastic (if well-disguised). Some pieces of armor can take many, many hours to construct.
Novice fighters are trained by the more experienced fighters. They are taught how to use their weapons, how to defend themselves, and how to judge blows received in combat. Every fighter on the field is on their honor to accept a blow they judge sufficient to “wound” or “kill”. At the end of training, if the marshals (our safety officers) decide that the fighter is safe – not necessarily good, but unlikely to hurt themselves or an opponent – then they are authorized to fight. The process of becoming authorized can take from a few weeks to several months.