An Interview with
Seigneur Jean Paul Justin Cassť
How and when did you start fencing in the SCA?
Somewhere around 2000, I think. Lily had described the SCA and asked if I wanted to go to an event. I was all gung-ho to try heavy; but once I saw it, I turned to Lily and said, "Sooooo, fencing you say?"
What do you enjoy most about fencing?
The freedom of it, and the pursuit of that "perfect pass". It only happens a couple times a year.
What's your perfect pass?
Think of it like this: if you were to take two cats (whoíre ready to fight each other), get them soaking wet (for added pissed-offedness), then stuff them into a small burlap sack, that's the start of the perfect pass.

I guess it just boils down to no matter what one throws at the other, itís blocked, parried, or voided—so at that point it becomes a mental game, and the first one to slip-up will usually be the one who will lose the bout. 99.9% of the time these bouts end with roaring laughter and ear-to-ear smiles while walking off the list.
What's the perfect mindset for a fight?
Well, for me itís empty and centered.
What usually goes through your mind during a fight?
Nothing at all. If Iím thinking, then Iím dead (Pascual taught me that in the K&Q finals).
How would you describe your fighting style?
Adaptively fluid.
Influenced by any period style?
All of them, but if I had to say which one influenced me more it would be French (of course)—specifically Henry de St. Didier.
What do you favor about fighting case?
Ultimately fencing always comes back to the basics of single. Case offers the best of single in each hand.
What would you change about your fencing or about the fencing community?
Hmmm, toughie. Self-realization. Iíve seen some really good fighters make it just so far and plateau: I wish I had a way to teach the self-confidence for them to believe in themselves enough to see that they are really good. For some people, thatís the last step for them to become a truly great fighter.
What do you wish you knew when you started?
That the pointy end goes in the other guy—that piece of information would have been useful in the beginning! Seriously, I guess it would have to be that drilling really is worth the time. Had I known, I would have been doing it right from the start.
Name three people who have influenced your fencing.
Pierre, Alexandre, Nigel.
What does mentoring mean to you? How does it differ from teaching?
Mentoring is the whole package: honor, comportment, service, fencing. Teaching is just the fencing portion of it, for me.
Why have you chosen to teach each student that you have?
Different reasons for all of them, but mostly because the trial period worked out well, and they showed me in their effort that they wanted to learn.
Melees or single combat?
Hands-down, single combat.
Any rules changes you'd like to see?
Corps-a-corps combat—it can be done safely and would make this game soooo much more fun!
What's your favorite accomplishment?
Developing the Beanie Baby™ footwork drill.
Can you describe that?
Beanie Baby™ Footwork/Posture Drill: Take a Beanie Baby (I recommend the smaller flat ones as they tend to work the best, personally I use, "Stinky the Skunk") and put it on the ball of your leading shoulder (the one that is closest to your target). Take your guard as normal. Now advance, retreat, do any footwork movement at all: if the movement isnít smooth the Beanie Baby will fall. If youíre leaning or bouncing it will fall—as a matter of fact, if you're doing anything wrong at all, it will fall.

These silent little creatures are the meanest teachers in the world. They wonít say a thing; they just fall to the floor, and continue to do so until youíre in perfect form.
How can you be bribed?
Thatís easy: Lily.
How can you be defeated?
Patience, and waiting for the mistake.
Tell a bit about a favorite fencing day.
Any time I can go out hammer and tongs with someone, full out, no holds barred, for 15 minutes on a single pass is a favorite. Man, I love those fights!
How do you like being in a relationship where both partners fence?
Love it! It gave me the ability to try things (and most of the time they were stupid things) early on, during the week. I do wish that she fenced more.
Whom do you admire?
Don Pierre de Tours, Maitre Alexandre Lerot d'Avignť, Master Quinn Kerr, and Master Ian Keyard, to name a few.
Favorite opponents?
See above list, and to name a few more: Marion del Okes and Thomas delbroc, Ian of Tadcaster, and my Nemesis, who knows who he is.
What should a fencer look for in a good nemesis?
Well, I canít really say what others should look for; I can tell you what I was looking for: someone who seemed to be a new challenge every time I fought him. I have never once gotten an easy fight from my Nemesis. Heís also not that dissimilar to me, in that he takes the Arte of Defense seriously.

I guess my advice would be: look for yourself in another fighter, but look for someone who's better.
What advice do you offer new fencers?
Do drills at home. They are well worth the time!
Give someone in the fencing community a call sign.
Thomas "Sidestepper" delbroc
Without naming the speaker, give me a quote from someone in the fencing community.
"The department of defense has never won a war. Attack, damn you!"


Interview from October 2007.