With weapons drawn, SwordFest makes its dramatic return to the Relic Room



COLUMBIA, S.C. – What’s all that clanging? Why do you hear the sound of deadly steel slicing through the winter air? Are you dreaming? Have you been transported back into the middle of the battle of Agincourt, or a tournament at the court of King Arthur?

None of the above. And the reason it sounds so eerily familiar is that this is the fifth annual SwordFest at the South Carolina Confederate Relic Room and Military Museum. We’ve been here before, and it’s been awesome each time.

SwordFest 2022 will be on Saturday, Feb. 12, starting at 10 a.m. And the sights to be seen and things to experienced will be as varied as ever – if not more so – covering thousands of years of the history of bladed weapons.

Joe Long, curator of education at the museum, describes it this way: “We’re having demonstrations from ancient Rome, all the way to a galaxy far away, from 10:00 until 3.” In the atrium, there will be sword-related re-enactment displays and private sword collections, as well as information tables about opportunities for recreational sword study in Columbia.

And as always, in the Kids’ Training Corner, children will receive lessons in swordfighting throughout the day – using safe “swords” made of foam, of course. Special tours of the museum’s own extensive collection of swords will be available, with particular attention to the items in the new “Ploughshares to Swords” exhibit.

Everyone present will be encouraged to wear masks to protect against COVID.

Here’s the schedule:
• 10 a.m. – The IX Legion. A demonstration of Roman sword tactics by the legionnaires of this re-enactment group.
• 10:30 a.m. – Making it “Real.” Professional fight choreographer Allen Johnson will demonstrate how dramatic swordfights are created for stage and screen.
• 11:00 a.m. – Carolina Cavaliers. Cavalry living historian Neil Rose will demonstrate how Wade Hamptons’s 19th-century South Carolina cavalrymen used the saber from the saddle.
• 11:30 a.m. – Aikido. USC Professor Doug Wedell and the USC Aikido Cub will demonstrate sword training and “sword taking,” showing how the wooden sword (bokken) is used as a training tool in aikido – including unarmed defenses against a real sword.
• Noon – JROTC Sword Arch. A local Junior ROTC unit will demonstrate the traditional “saber arch” of ceremonial drill, to welcome our panelists and visitors for the next event:
• 12:15 p.m. – Swordmasters’ Panel. Representatives of the various sword disciplines will answer questions about swords and swordsmanship in the Education Room.
• 1 p.m. – Iaido, the Art of Sword-Drawing. Dan Bernardo of WellWithin in Columbia will demonstrate a traditional Japanese sword art.
• 1:30 – Swords of the Jedi. The Aiken Saber Club will put on a display of one of the newest forms of fencing, inspired by the Star Wars universe.
• 2 p.m. – Palmetto Knights Steel Combat Team. These medieval warriors have been a hit at SwordFest year after year.
• 3 p.m. – Closing ceremony.

About the South Carolina Confederate Relic Room and Military Museum

Founded in 1896, the South Carolina Confederate Relic Room and Military Museum is an accredited museum focusing on South Carolina’s distinguished martial tradition through the Revolutionary War, Mexican War, Civil War, Spanish-American War, World War I, World War II, the War on Terror, and other American conflicts. It serves as the state’s military history museum by collecting, preserving, and exhibiting South Carolina’s military heritage from the colonial era to the present, and by providing superior educational experiences and programming. It is located at 301 Gervais St. in Columbia, sharing the Columbia Mills building with the State Museum. For more information, go to https://crr.sc.gov/.

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