Combat Con 2012: The Battle Thus Far

Don Pedro Menéndez de Avilés portrayed by St. Augustine resident Chad Light from 1565 with David Baker sword

Chad Light as Don Pedro Menéndez de Avilés

Combat Con 2012 started off slow, but by the end of the night had heated up quite literally. While registration opened at 8:00 AM on Friday, the only events until 5:00 PM were the special Master Classes in additional weapon techniques requiring a fee ranging from $75-150 for the two-hour sessions. Instead of shelling out for one of those, I spent much of the afternoon meeting some of the other friendly attendees, vendors, and coordinators whom I will be writing about soon. One of them was Chad Light, seen here portraying the historical Spaniard Don Pedro Menéndez de Avilés. Light is a returning student to Combat Con and would later attend one of Anthony De Longis’s whip classes, having attended the class last year and having had watched the whipmaster’s DVD over 30 times. Last year though Light was nursing a broken collarbone from a horse fall and couldn’t make full use of De Longis’s class. Light later confirmed that this session with the master immediately corrected several nuances he hadn’t been able to master. More on Light and Pedro Menéndez de Avilés to follow.

Combat Con 2012 Announcements and Be Here Now Charity Campaign

CombatCon Crowd Listening to Speech, Shot from the Side and Back

Combat Con 2012 Friday Night Crowd Listening Attentively

At 5:00 a film about bartitsu began, but all of the classes started at 5:30. I chose “From Real Combat to Stage Combat” along with roughly two dozen people. Co-taught by Matt Richardson, Paul MacDonald, and Bob Goodwin, the class was very hands-on and saw its students paired off and beating the crap out of each other in cinematic and theatrical fashion. Once it was over, I made my way to the Vendors’ Hall where Combat Con organizer Jared Kirby gave a speech and introduced his staff and the guest panelists and instructors. Kirby also announced several changes to the program. Knife-thrower Jack Dagger will not be able to make it to the convention and nor will Battle of the Nations. With their departures from the programming schedule, Kirby announced that more “X Classes” had been added, including “The Dancing and Dueling Connection”, “Medieval Sword and Buckler”, “Developing Fencing Fundamentals for Gaming”, and “Gigante’s Use of the False Edge”. Several of these X Classes were blocked out in the schedule, but the actual topics and instructors were TBD up until Kirby’s speech.

Last year Combat Con raised approximately $2,000 for the Michael J. Fox Parkinson’s Foundation and Combat Con repeated the charitable-focus again this year. For 2012 the charity is the Be Here Now Kickstarter campaign, which has already successfully met its $200,000 funding goal. Additional funds though will be used to help retain creative freedom for the documentary by Lillibet Foster. Star Wars stuntman Kyle Rowling introduced the campaign which is in honor of his close friend Andy Whitfield, star of Starz’s Spartacus: Blood and Sand. Whitfield passed away in 2011 after a battle with cancer, documented in Be Here Now; Rowling had worked with him in the first episode of Spartacus as his on-screen friend and fellow Thracian, Drenis. Various vendors contributed items for the auction which eventually raised over $2,500 for the Be Here Now campaign.

Meet and Mingle, Maxwell Alexander Drake, and Combat Con Gaming

With the start of the auction the Meet and Mingle period had begun with many vendors open for business and Wester Martial Artists meeting old friends and making introductions to new ones. I took the opportunity to catch up with fantasy author Maxwell Alexander Drake whom I’ll also be seeing again at Comic Con and Gen Con this summer.

The picture of gaming at Combat Con also came into sharper focus on Friday. About eight tables were set up in the corner of the Vendors’ Hall for gaming sponsored by Avatar Comics and Games, located here in Las Vegas. While some players were already taking advantage of the space for open gaming, Avatar will be running demos in the area throughout the weekend featuring games like Flames of War, Brushfire, and Dystopian Wars. Avatar also has a small selection of games available for sale.

Flaming End to the Evening

At 10:30 an announcement was made and most of us left in the Vendors’ Hall made our way downstairs to the Tuscany Suites parking lot where we were entertained by flaming whips and swords by Duel at Dusk Productions. Though they kept a safe distance and there were no incidents of a steampunk fan or classical fencer catching on fire, the heat from the weapons was very real. They used Coleman fuel and also brought out Sun and Moon Wheel weapons as well, but I didn’t catch the flaming butterfly swords which came out later on video.

Saturday promises to be a very full day at what is turning out to be an extremely enjoyable and fascinating convention.