Knights, Knaves, And Knocks On The Head

Members of the Society for Creative Anachronism do research to keep historic traditions alive, but mostly it’s the fighting that attracts them

Yu Shing Ting
Friday - September 02, 2005
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Joseph O’Malley (left) takes a ‘fatal’ blow to the head
from Joseph Hoapili III

Step back in time with the Society for Creative Anachronism, where local folks play knights and squires, and battle each other with swords and shields every Sunday afternoon at Pohakupu Park in Kailua.

It’s Hawaii’s version of the middle ages (650 to 1650 A.D.), where men and women get firsthand experience of the ancient times by wearing the garb, drinking out of goblets, playing at sports like archery and even creating a persona for themselves.

And, of course, there’s the battlefield.

"What originally drew me to the group was the fighting," says Lawrence Mullen Sr., who is active duty military. "But now it’s just the whole social gathering."

Mullen started "fighting" with the SCA back in 1987 while he was stationed in Germany.

"A friend of mine was involved and got me involved," he recalls. "Now I’ve been with the Hawaii group for about 18 months, and two of my three sons (Lawrence Jr., 18, and Joshua, 20) are involved too.

Lynn Mills attacks, but Joseph O’Malley is about
to take out his knee with a blow

"Being in the military I don’t have a whole lot of time, so I take full advantage of it. That gives me a couple of hours a week to spend with my sons. We also practice at the house, we make armor together and swords. We have different ideas and we work together. My sons even helped me create what I’m going to use as my device, which is my recognition and heraldry."

Mullen is still waiting for approval of his SCA name. Right now, he follows an Irish persona from the 11th century.

"My character really came about because my actual family tree comes from Ireland," he says. "And my armor is made from old road signs I pulled from the dump. You just have to learn to clean it, reuse it and shape it."

In the SCA, Hawaii falls under the Kingdom of Caid, and is known as the Barony of the Western Seas. There are about 100,000 members worldwide and about 100 in the 50th State.

Lawrence Mullen gets a hand from son Joshua as son
Lawrence Jr. watches

Activities range from dancing to arts and crafts, but it’s the combat that seems to draw most of the men to the group.

"I like that you get to dress up in armor and face off with other fighters just about every Sunday all year ‘round," says Joseph Hoapili III, aka Kagetora Noichi Igo. "I didn’t join until 1994, but I was first introduced to the group when I was 7 or 8 years of age. The same group used to do Renaissance fairs and my mom took me to one and I was hooked."

In the SCA, Hoapili plays a mid-15th/16th century Japanese samurai. His costume is made of plastic and leather and weighs under eight pounds.

Each person’s SCA name has to be researched before submission to the kingdom herald, who then decides if it is an authentic name from those times.

"I’ve always loved Japanese samurai movies," Hoapili says on how he chose his character.

"I always fell in love with it, and the armor is so much more beautiful."

While "hitting your friends with sticks is always fun," as Joseph "Master Yoseph" O’Malley says, it can be dangerous. The fighting is full-contact and non-choreographed. It’s also based on an honor system, meaning the person who is hit judges the blow. And blow for blow, women are just as intrigued with the fighting as men.

"There are women fighters, but we have to treat them the same," says Hoapili. "And the injuries are there. I’ve


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