An Interview with
Dona Marion del Okes
How and when did you start fencing in the SCA?
We were introduced to the SCA in September of 1994. Our first "event" was the Lakewood Demo. We ended up getting introduced to a few folks from Barren Sands who invited us to one of their fencing practices. We went, got to try it out, and ordered our Triplette starter kits that day.
Do you have other combat arts experience?
Outside of the SCA? No. I have, however, become addicted to combat archery. I'm also considering a spear qualification, but that'll probably happen sometime in 2008.
What do you enjoy about combat archery?
It allows me to play on the heavy side, something I've been wanting to try out. It lets me contribute in the bigger fights at Pennsic. It's really satisfying to team up with a couple of spearmen, cover a corner of a wall battle, and decimate anyone that tries to get by. It's something new and exciting. And I think it adds another period element to what we do.

I can't wait till we have enough combat archers to do mass, concentrated firing during a fight at Pennsic. That'll be awesome.
Do you consider yourself more of an offensive or defensive fighter?
I think it depends on who I'm fighting. There are times when I'm aggressive. But overall, I think I'm a more defensive fighter.
What's your worst form?
Case. I always feel incredibly uncoordinated and sloppy when I try case. So, I routinely avoid that weapons form.
What do you enjoy most about fencing?
I love the camaraderie. I love the varying styles people use. I love watching really good bouts. I love trying out new techniques. I love seeing that moment when something clicks for the newer fencers.
What would you change about your fencing or about the fencing community?
Part of me wishes I had a better combat mindset. The other part realizes that I'm happy with where I am and doesn't fret over it.
What do you wish you knew when you started?
That patience is a virtue and I shouldn't get so easily frustrated. Also, that I shouldn't rush into a formal relationship without a good deal of thought and discussion.
What has kept you fencing over the years?
I'm still having fun. There will always be new people out there to challenge me. I love that I'm still learning new things. There are always ways to improve on what you already know. It hasn't become stale or boring yet.
Name three people who have influenced your fencing.
Don Dylan, Don Thomas de Castellan, and Don Pierre.
Any thoughts on being in a relationship where both partners fence?
I think it's groovy. Although initially, while we were still trying to figure things out, Thomas (delbroc) and I avoided fighting each other. It was too stressful and not fun at all. Over time, once we were more comfortable with our own personal styles, we started playing more. That has been, and still is, a hoot.
Describe the mentoring and teaching in your relationship with your cadet, Lissa.
To me, teaching encompasses the nuts and bolts of fencing. My responsibility is to help her improve her fencing, whether that's through drill work, observing fights and dissecting them, or just general discussion. As a mentor, I'm able to give advice and insight on certain situations. I'm there to help pick her up if she falls. I'm there to intercede if she's done something wrong. I'm also her biggest cheerleader and supporter.
Do you prefer teaching or marshalling projects?
I don't have a preference. At one point, I'd have said marshalling projects. But I'm becoming more comfortable as a teacher these days. So, I'm good with either.
Melees or single combat?
Single combat. I don't like candy corn... er, melee.
Candy corn?
Oh yeah, melee (to me) is just like candy corn. Candy corn is supposed to be a delightful treat. Yet, after you've tried it the first time, you realize it tastes really, really bad. It's like chewing on candle wax actually. And despite knowing that it's like chewing on candle wax, I go back and try it every year. As if I've forgotten how the candy really tastes.

My melee experience has been quite similar. It has the potential to be really fun. Yet every melee I've participated in has been an unpleasant experience. And, seemingly every year, I look at the melees being run at various events and think "Man, that looks like a hoot." Until I go out there and realize that it continues to be an unpleasant experience.

So no more melee for me, thanks. It isn't fun for me, so I don't do it. Credit Lewis Black for his original rant regarding candy corn.
Foot rubs or freezy pops?
Can't I have both?
Has that happened yet?
Separately yes. Sadly, never at the same time.
What’s the Pilot MIT Training Program?
It's a proposal that Katryne Blak and I put together. We're still working on it, but the basis is to implement a common procedure for teaching MITs in the East Kingdom.
What's your favorite accomplishment?
Fencing-related: Taking Lissa as my cadet. I wasn't sure after I got my OGR if I'd ever take a cadet. I wasn't adverse to the idea, I just didn't know if I'd find the right person. I had one person in mind before Lissa, but they were cadetted by another and, in the end, we were better for it. After discussing the cadet/OGR relationship with Lissa, I knew it was something that we could really make work. I'm extremely grateful and continually pleased that she accepted a scarf from me. I think it's a big reason why I'm still having such a good time with fencing. Her enthusiasm is infectious. I look forward to seeing her progress 'cause I know she's going to really kick ass when it all clicks.

Not fencing-related: Finally getting my combat archery auth and fighting in my first battle this past Pennsic. That was exhilarating.
How can you be bribed?
Raspberry martinis.
How can you be defeated?
See above.
Tell a bit about a favorite fencing day.
Oooo, I actually have a few that come to mind. But if I can only choose one, I'd choose my very first Pennsic Champions bout. I was an alternate and had been called up to fight that day. I didn't know anyone on the Middle Kingdom's team. I did know that when my pairing was called there was an audible sound of deflation from the crowd. I was paired with Audrey, a fencer of some renown from the Mid. I was nervous as hell. But I figured I was just going to do my best and try to enjoy the experience. Our bout (at least from my memory) lasted quite a bit. We had some really good exchanges and with a little luck on my side, I managed to win. I don't think I came down from that fight for the rest of the week.
How did you earn the nickname "The Liver"?
I'm not sure where or when that started. I suppose it stems from this idea that I'm able to consume mass quantities of alcohol with little to no effect.
How about "Pooh-slayer"?
Let's just say it has to do with a land dispute between the Oaken Glen and the Hundred Acre Wood.
Is there a meaningful gift you’ve received related to your time in the SCA?
A few things come to mind. But, again, if I only had to pick one, here it is. Years ago I participated in the Ansteorran tourney at Pennsic. I was still relatively new but I didn't care. I went out and had a blast. After I was knocked out and packing up my gear, I notice that someone had come over and stood next to me. I realized that it was Her Majesty Ansteorra. Apparently, a few of my opponents had commented to her about me. So, she gifted me with a pair of rather nice brass candlestick holders. They've been part of our feast gear ever since.
Whom do you admire?
Master Ernst, His Grace Darius, Mistress Katherine Barr.
What qualities do you admire about each?
Ernst: He's honest, understanding but direct. He understands the Scadian game and plays it very well.

Darius: His never-ending youthfulness. His love for the SCA. His loyalty.

Katherine: Her composure and grace.
Favorite opponents?
Lady Katryne Blak, Don Pierre.
What advice do you offer new fencers?
Remember, it's a marathon and not a sprint.
Without naming the speaker, give me a quote from someone in the fencing community.
"That's great, ya whore! Now go put something on your head."

Interview from November 2007.