You may recognize the Ascalon Sports Festival as something that is familiar. You would be correct if you recognized it as the fencing event that was part of the Arnold Sports Festival held annually in Columbus, Ohio.
Recognizing the popularity boom of the fencing sport and the event, expansion was inevitable and needed. Breaking from the Arnold Sports Festival weekend, the Ascalon Sword Festival was born and in 2022 was held at Kasich Hall at the Ohio Expo Center.
This is a 3 day Historical European Martial Arts (HEMA) and Olympic fencing extravaganza and if hosted by the Royal Fencing Academy’s founder Julia Richey.
Ascalon is the name of the sword used by Saint George to slay the dragon. Information on this can be found HERE, for those that wish to dig deeper.
Historical European Martial Arts is generally considered a broad term that encompasses any fighting or grappling arts, either armed or unarmed developed between 1200-1800 AD. These skills and techniques are taught and then have been adapted for competition.
The day we covered the HEMA competition, the longsword form was on display. In contrast to Olympic style fencing, the fighting stage is square and combatants can move anywhere within the square to attempt to score points.
One of the most common areas to score were the hand and arms, although you will see in some images that a few matches had body contact that scored points as well.
There were 2 judges and a referee and depending on where the exchange took place, awarding of points was sometimes discussed amongst the three. After the discussion, the points could be awarded or called off, with the final decision coming from the referee.
The competitions were fraught with action. Some were calculated, with well timed counters, while others were hit with quick first strikes.
Being our first time covering HEMA at an event like this, we can see the attraction of this sport and we believe that the popularity will continue to increase with more exposure in the future.
This is the more commonly known type of fencing and the one you see in the Olympics. Above, we discussed the difference in how HEMA stages are used. The Olympic fencing stages are more linear, encouraging straight on confrontations.
Olympic fencing does have judges/referees, but technology has progressed to allow for electronic scoring when the foils touch a part of the combatants body. While not always fool proof, the judges/referee has final say on any points awarded through the system.
If you are familiar with the way Olympic fencing is played out, you know how quick the speed of thrust and parry can be. The fencers on display at Ascalon aged from very young to adult. Despite the age, the action was intense and fast paced.
There were times when you could see what some may consider a lull…but if you are familiar with any combat sports, you’ll know that there are times when sizing up your opponent is necessary in calculating the best strike or the most effective counter.
Jim LorimEr HONORED
Jim Lorimer, who has had a long and storied history with Ohio and the Arnold Sports Festival was honored at the 2022 Ascalon Sports Festival. He weas honored for his dedication to health, fitness and promotion of overall wellbeing through physical activity.
Jim Lorimer has served as an attorney, F.B.I Special Agent, and Mayor and Vice Mayor of Worthington.
He founded the National Championship Ohio Track Club in 1959 and served as Chairman of the U.S. Olympic Committee for Women’s Athletics during the 1960s.
While promoting National Athletic Championships in track/field and weightlifting during the 1970’s, it was at this time that he and Arnold Schwarzenegger started a friendship/partnership that continues to this day.
Arnold and Jim had their first partnership in 1976 with the Mr. Olympia contest in Columbus, Ohio and continued various annual athletic collaborations.
These collaborations eventually morphed into the Arnold Sports Festival which began in 1989 and has been an annual event ever since, not only in Columbus, Ohio in 5 continents across the globe.