An Interview with
Madame Brunissende de Brocťliande
How and when did you start fencing in the SCA?
About five years ago there was a student activity day at Penn (when the different groups on campus present what they do to the new students). The Penn Gamers (group I belonged to) was located next to the SCA. I got to discuss with the SCA people, and learned they had fencing in Philadelphia, and got started the following week.
Do you have other combat arts experience?
A very long time ago I did some Judo (I donít think you consider fighting a lot at school combat arts experience).
Who is your alternate persona?
My alternate persona is Chrestienne la pescheresse, a 12th-century French woman from Paris who joined the Sisterhood of Saint Walburga.
Why did you create her?
Because they live very different lives, because I like to have an unknown SCA name that I can use for A&S-related things, and because I couldnít resist the temptation of registering a name that also means "Christian the sinner".
What do you enjoy most about fencing?
When I stop thinking and it becomes a smooth instinctive motion, a game like dancing with a sword and/or a dagger. Fencing is a challenge in some way: I have been trained to learn almost anything intellectual but fencing is about learning I donít know how to learn. So Iím learning other ways to learn, which makes the nerd in me happy.
What would you change about your fencing or about the SCA fencing community?
About my fencing? Make it better. ;)

About the SCA fencing community? Mostly, like everything else, Iíd like for everybody to feel responsible and that people who think that something doesnít work try to improve it instead of complaining.
What has kept you fencing over the years?
The fact that itís fun, and the friends, who make it fun.
Name three people who have influenced your fencing.
I tend to pick things up by observation, so I guess the more Iíve fenced somebody, the more they have influenced me. That probably means Ian, Collin, other people who attend the Bhakail practice regularly. The exception would be Connor who, at the first Fishy I attended, gave me a class on dagger that deeply influenced how I see dagger play.
Do you prefer teaching or marshalling?
I canít say that I prefer one or the other. I donít think they are really comparable. I like to teach but in fencing thatís something Iím trying to learn and Iím not sure I know enough about it to be a good teacher. Marshalling is useful and more directly accessible.
What does mentoring mean to you? How does it differ from teaching, if at all?
The way I see it, teaching is about a specific topic (fencing, 14th-century Spanish embroidery, uncial, whatever), while mentorship is something larger where the area of teaching is not restricted, but requires more of a personal interaction between the people involved.
Melees or single combat?
Mostly single combat. Melees can be a lot of fun, on occasion, with the right people...
Any rules changes you'd like to see?
Not really. Thereís nothing in the rules that upsets me.

I wish there was a better system to train the MiT but some people are looking into that.
Describe a full outfit of legal fencing armor that you'd love to fight in but do not currently possess.
Iíd like to have a heraldic gown to fence in, but when I tried to make one before last Pennsic I rushed and messed up the measurements, and it wouldnít fit above the spectra jacket. :) Iíd like to have some better looking head protection and shoes too.
What's your favorite accomplishment?
In fencing? Getting, finally, my marshalate (and keeping it too).

As a fencer? Probably the demo we did for the MDA camp. I felt that I had done that day something more useful for these kids than the four-something years of scientific research I had done in Texas.
Fencing: art or science?
Both, but I donít consider art and science to be drastically different: both are an aesthetic and intellectual quest. The difference is mostly in the way to express it.
Do you consider yourself primarily a mercenary, or are you loyal to a group?
I am loyal, mostly. ;)
How can you be bribed?
Chocolate, hard cider, shinies...
How can you be defeated?
Bribes or distraction (oh! Shiny!).
What advice do you offer new fencers?
Thereís the classic "The pointy end goes in the other person" and "Donít worry: they are not as look as they crazy..."
Favorite opponents?
Mostly about anybody who is having fun.
Without naming the speaker, give me a quote from someone in the fencing community.
"Nunc est bibiendum."


Interview from June 2007.