2015 Parasol Duelling World Championships

Thursday, October 15, 2015 0 comments

A beautiful day for duelling!

The Second Annual World Parasol Duelling Championships took place on September 19th, 2015, in Calgary Alberta Canada.

Central Memorial Park in Calgary AB Canada
Central Memorial Park
The Championships were held in Calgary's elegant Central Memorial Park which was the site of one of this year's Beakerhead installations, "Intrude" by Australian artist Amanda Parer.

The park had three giant inflated white rabbits, a quirky and exotic back ground for the World's greatest Parasol Duellists.
 On the Thursday evening before the competition the Rabbits were lit up with coloured lights and synchronized music which made for a magical evening.
We added a little parasol fun to the event.

Cover illustration by
Kipling West
As part of Calgary's annual Beakerhead event we had great coverage leading up to the day, even making it onto the cover of one of Calgary's regular "things to do" magazines.

On Saturday afternoon the results of the coverage showed in the excited crowd that was gathering to watch the Ladies compete.

Soon the Chief Judge Madame Saffron Taxus-Hemlock arrived and was escorted to the Judges table by Doctor Adler joining the other judges for this year's World Championships.
Madame Saffron Taxus-Hemlock, Chief Judge, arrives and is greeted by Doctor Adler

Judges for the event were:
Photo by MetallYZA
L to R seated at the Judges table:
Her Grace, Christine Pearse the Duchess of Argylle, aka Christie Vanderloh.
Virgo Vermeil, aka Char-Min Wade-Creller.
Chief Judge and Black Sash, Madame Saffron Taxus-Hemlock, aka Jayne Barnard.

The Doctors for the event were:
Photo by Peter Justine

Left: Maxwell MacDonald-Smythe, aka Kevin Jepson (me).
Right: Doctor Johann Portsmouth Adler, aka Stewart MacPhee.

We had nine contestants for this year's World Championships.
L to R
Sarafina Kain, Josanna Justine, Nicki Brown, Cindy Bedford, Katherine Eleanor Lingwood, Cali Brewer, Deanne Robbins, Monica Willard and Raven Hawthorne (missing)
Photo by Karlo Keet

After a brief demonstration of the rules for the audience and an explanation of how the afternoon would proceed, we asked if anybody in the audience would like to try it out. Two young Ladies leapt at the chance!

Being shown the ropes by Raven Hawthorne
Photo by MetallYZA
Future Duelists try their hands at doing Snubs
Photo by Karlo Keet

 This year Street Duelling was included for the first time as an exhibition sport. The exhibition was conducted in the form of a "hold the field" type challenge. After each bout the victor held the field against a new challenger.

Steely gazes and intense action ensued!

Monica Willard
Photo by MetallYZA

Here is the bout between the 2014 Compulsory Figures Champion Josanna Justine and one of the most famous Street Duelists, Monica Willard with dual parasols always at the ready.
Photo by Karlo Keet

After a short break while the judges finished their paper work, the formal competitions began with the Compulsory Figures.

 The Ladies were paired off and each pair did three sets of the figures, the order being determined in advance by the judges. The sharpness of the completed figures and the smoothness of the transitions were notably better this year.

Deanne Robbins with a perfect Snub
Photo by MetallYZA
Raven Hawthorne with an elegant Twirl
Photo by MetallYZA

Raven Hawthorne and Sarafina Kain
Photo by Karlo Keet

Josanna Justine and Monica Willard
Plant and Plant with Ankling!
Photo by Katie Edwards
The Flirtation Trials, always a crowd favourite, demonstrated the artistic interpretations, and flirtatious stylings of the competitors. The competition was also done in pairs. In addition to the judges score, one point came from a vote from the audience by way of applause at the end of each round.

There was a lot of applause!
Nicki Brown and Raven Hawthorne
Photo by Katie Edwards
Cindy Bedford
An elegant Oriental Twirl
Photo by MetallYZA


Monica Willard in mid flirtation
Photo by Clare Gibson

The formal Parasol Duelling competition had only eight contestants as one Lady had to leave to attend a family wedding. Timing is everything wot?

The first rounds of the competition showed the speed and intensity increase noted at every competition since last year's Worlds! The Ladies really showed their skills and both the Doctors and the Judges needed to keep a sharp eye on the competitors to make sure each figure was complete at the hold.

Parasol Duelling in the Streets!

Monday, October 12, 2015 0 comments

Anytime and any place!

At the 2015 World Championships on Sept 19th  Street Duelling was included as a demonstration sport!

Since then I have had some questions about what Street Duelling is and how it compares to the usual Parasol Duelling we are all familiar with.

Street Duelling first appeared in the later years of Queen Victoria's reign and likely originated somewhere in the American West. The reasons for its popularity probably have to do as much with how "exotic" and a bit "unladylike" it was, in comparison to the more stately and formal duelling of the British Duelling Schools as with anything else :-)

Street Duelling is based on the Brandenburg Variations rules that we normally use but with a couple of changes that result in a strong resemblance to an Old West gunfight. Tales of such rough gun play were popular in England long after the real "Olde West" had passed into history.

 A Street Duel is conducted with miniature parasols, typically 8" or so long. These are kept in holsters, like that for a gunfighter's revolver, or tucked into a belt. They can also be kept in a "Parasol Pocket" sewn into a Lady's skirts.The figures are the familiar Twirl, Snub, and Plant. Because the Street Duelling parasol is so short the plant is just held straight down, and the twirl only has to go to the side.

There are some Street Duelling parasols that are even smaller that can be operated with one hand which can make for a very fast duel indeed!

The Duels themselves are typically conducted without a Doctor, the count being done by the duelists themselves. This meant that Ladies could duel anywhere! It also meant grudges and "duels for cause" between Ladies could be conducted in private.

Under Her Majesty's Rules any "duel for cause" must be conducted with a Doctor present.

Street Duels start with the Ladies facing each other, rather than back to back. They stand closer too, only a few paces apart just out of reach of an extended arm holding the short parasol. Much better for giving your opponent the "look".

Monica Willard
Photo by MetallYZA
The Duelists start with their parasols holstered, their arms at their side. Then like a gunfight the Ladies "draw" their parasols quickly and bring them upright in front of their face. The first Lady to get her parasol into position starts the count and the other Lady must follow that count.

From there the duel proceeds like normal.

This sequence of photos from Twitter user MetallYZA, taken at the 2015 World Championships, captures the intensity of the "draw".

Monica Willard is one of the best Street Duelists in the world and carries dual Street Parasols in her tooled leather holster.

Monica Willard
Photo by MetallYZA
The Draw! 

She draws the parasol and holds it up in front of her face.

Her eyes never leave her opponent's face!

Speed is important but so is being able to move smoothly into the figures once the count begins.
Monica Willard
Photo by MetallYZA

Here she has moved into a well executed snub still focused intently on her opponent.

From this position she could easily move into a plant or a twirl as needed.

Two things to keep in mind here:

1) There is no start signal for the draw like there is when the Ladies turn from their paces in a normal duel. This gives great opportunities to try to psyche out the opponent.

2) Counting while doing the figures is trickier than it seems :-)

At first Street Duelling was not permitted in formal competition because it was considered rather unladylike. It was very popular however and many Ladies carried Street Duelling parasols, even sporting elegant leather holsters on finely tooled leather belts imported from the American South West.

In a nod to this popularity Her Majesty decided to allow Street Duelling in competition. However Her Majesty decreed that the duels must be conducted with a Doctor present to do the count. The duelists still face each other and do the draw on their own time but, in competition, the Doctor starts the count when the first Lady gets her parasol into position upright in font of her face.

Street Duelling was never included in the scoring for the World Championships but there were still prizes and awards given for the best duelists.

The Street Duelling at this year's World Parasol Duelling Championships was very well received and the Ladies demonstrated great intensity and speed.

Next year's competition will include a formal Street Duelling tournament and is going to be very exciting indeed.

Keep your sightglass filled, your firebox trimmed, and your water iced.

To find out more about this great sport go to:
Madame Saffron Hemlock’s Parasol Duelling League for Steampunk Ladies
Click here for information on the history and development of Parasol Duelling
or click the Parasol Duelling tag.

The Rules for Parasol Duelling are here.

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