LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - To some people passing through, the members of the Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA) must look like visitors from the pages of history, who have somehow ended up in downtown Lake Charles.
The truth is, these members, dressed in full battle armor, are recreating pre-17th century Europe.
"We try to find out how things would have been done in the Middle Ages and then do them creatively and anachronistically," said Barbara Flagg, whose entire family joined after hearing about the group from her daughter.
The SCA was started in 1966 in Berkeley, California.
Today there are more than 60,000 participants across five continents. The organization is divided into 19 kingdoms, which stretch across countries and states. Each kingdom is "ruled" by a king and a queen. Within each kingdom there are different subdivisions. The subdivision in Lake Charles is known as the Shire of Blackmoor Keep. It's part of the Gleann Abhann Kingdom, which includes Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas and part of Tennessee.
On Saturday, the local group was practicing armored combat. During combat, the combatants wear real armor and they use rattan swords, which resembles bamboo and is springy. New fighters are trained by more experienced fighters. When training is complete, fighters can compete in special events or tournaments, which are held throughout the U.S. and in other countries.
While armored combat may be the most noticeable activity, there are numerous ways members can participate, including cooking, sewing, and dancing the way people did back in the Middle Ages.
Kelly Jenkins is the newest member of the Lake Charles group.
He is a soldier who is set to deploy to Iraq in a few days. Getting to the park and playing combat with his new friends is one thing he had to do before he left.
"It's like a brand new style of martial arts," said Jenkins. "It really is fun. It's great."