The sun was just beginning to set when half a dozen men in tunics, helmets and armor stomped into the Rockridge BART parking lot. Thwack, thwack, thwack. The hollow sound echoed as one of them, dressed like a ninth century Norseman, dropped to his knees, arched back and raised his shield to receive the blow of his opponent's rattan sword.
"I've never seen that before. It's certainly elaborate," said a man walking by who stopped in his tracks at the performance. "Is it jousting?"
It's called sword fighting, and the practitioners are members of the Society for Creative Anachronism who have gathered in the parking lot every Thursday for 35 years. When they -- men and women -- are not trading tips on how to get the best fit in a helmet or where to find chain mail, they study and practice all forms of medieval life: dance, shoemaking, brewing, blacksmithing, singing and even cooking. They take on personas, names and devise their own coat of arms, like a medieval Social Security number.
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