Friday, June 13, 2008

The Master Warrior's Land

As I climb toward the peak, I stop often to rest. Why does the Master Warrior insist I meet him in such difficult places? Then I glance down at my expansive midsection, and I wonder no more.

I seek the wisdom and the warrior spirit of his ancient land -- a land with terrain not unlike this. As I draw near the craggy peak, I hear him chanting. It's a traditional song, beloved by his people.

I try to approach quietly . . . respectfully, but his trained senses know my approach. He speaks. "Come. Stand before me, Clodhopper."

I see him, standing relaxed but straight and strong in spite of his advanced years. He wears the venerable war garb and weapons of his ancient land: great kilt, claymore and dirk. He is the Master Warrior.

Last Saturday, I went to the Greenville Highland Games and Scottish festival. Merrianna, my youngest daughter and I ate haggis for the first time -- very good, but then again I like steel-cut oats without sugar for breakfast. That was just one highlight.

Another was the bagpipe bands. At any time of day, you could find small groups of pipers playing. The sound of the war-pipes provided a constant background to the day's activities. I love the sound of them.

For me, though, the best part was watching the medieval warriors from the European Martial Arts of America (EMAA). They were impressive. They used real weapons (not sharpened, but still able to wound) in their unchoreographed fighting exhibitions.

The temperatures rose into the high 90's, and still they performed. I liked talking with them, for they displayed knightly courtesy and wit. I could clearly see their camaraderie and their love for historic combat arms.

Dame Jennifer regaled Merrianna & me with some entertaining stories. She spoke of how Celtic wives and mothers knew the combat arts and tutored their children in fighting techniques. She also revealed that the EMAA teaches unarmed self defense. And I was pleased that their approach has definite similarities to my own.

Sir Teahawk offered me a welcome drink of ice water. And Sir William gave me one of his organization's promotional coins because I cheered for him in the contests. A more courtly group of medieval warriors I have never met.

As we watched them fight, Merrianna said, "Daddy, look." A burly man with a bushy black beard walked by, dressed in a bright plaid kilt with a big two-handed broadsword slung across his back. O, for a land where men walk freely about, armed or unarmed, as they please. Later, I paid way too much for an authentic carbon steel Culloden dirk, but it was a souvenir, and souvenirs are always overpriced.

All the way home, I could hear in my head the pleasant drone of bagpipes. Merrianna said she could, too.

"Master Warrior, I have been to a gathering that makes me homesick for a place I've never been, a land of haggis and tartans and warpipes and fiercely independent men who toss the caber, fear God and sing the Psalms."

"In that case, Clodhopper, there is hope that you may yet become a warrior."

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Stephen Boyd said...

Aye! So ye like the Haggis? and the pipes? Sounds like ya'll had a great time.

The Scots are truly the greatest example of a sheepdog culture. So the Scots had their own "martial arts"?

Are you perhaps of Scottish ancestry?

Gravelbelly said...

A wee bit. Two of my great-grandmothers were Scottish, Sarah MacFarlane & Jane Davidson.

Most of all I like to think of myself as MacAvram. It's not an official Scottish clan name, but I associate it with the Scots because Paul probably wrote Galatians to the Celts of northern Galatia.

Gravelbelly said...

Stephen, I wish I'd read your post about the swords in Scotland before I'd posted this.

If anyone reads this comment, you can go to Stephen's blog and read a poem that expresses how I felt when I saw the man at the festival with kilt & two-handed broadsword:

Stephen Boyd said...

Thank you! I consider that a high compliment.

Bruce said...

It was an enjoyable day.

Hot, HOT, make-you-sick hot.
(not good when you have to drive
a thousand miles the next two days)

But I'd do it again.

I liked "Hunting McLeod" best.
I bought their CD.
I bought the lady earrings.
Two souvenirs.

Thanks for the day.

Michael said...

Michael here. I am very glad to have found you all. I am a Christian Soldier and am ready willing and able to put myself and my skills and training on the line for God, Christians in danger and my family. I look forward to talking with all of you.

Gravelbelly said...

Welcome, Michael. The readers' favorites and the most-visited links at the right of the page will help you find what we're all about here.

Also, you can use the search feature to find out my opinion (for what it's worth) on a lot of topics that have to do with self defense & the combat arts from a Christian perspective.

Always room for another Christian soldier here.