Rohrich says Delaney encouraged him to take up boxing; he thought Rohrich's size and strength would make him a good no-holds-barred fighter. But Rohrich says boxing wasn't for him.

"I found that I had a problem being violent without being provoked," he says. "In boxing, when you hit a guy good and hard, you know it, and I didn't see the point in continuing to pummel someone after already dealing a devastating blow."

Shortly after giving up amateur boxing, Rohrich found a new hobby that allowed him to capitalize on his size: battling in the Phoenix faction of the Society for Creative Anachronism. There, he says, he really grew up.

Rise of the machines: Woodbury and Rohrich built an RV with interior data shelves as a beta version of the S.P.E.A.R..
courtesy of Simon Rohrich
Rise of the machines: Woodbury and Rohrich built an RV with interior data shelves as a beta version of the S.P.E.A.R..
Jamie Peachey


The SCA took root in Berkeley, California, on May Day 1966, when a medieval-studies graduate named Diana Paxson threw a "Grand Tournament" party, in which people battled with plywood swords in homemade costumes and then paraded down Telegraph Avenue singing "Greensleeves." Today, SCA worldwide membership is around 32,000, spread throughout 19 "kingdoms" in the United States, Japan, Australia, Africa, and Europe.

Arizona falls into the Kingdom of Atenveldt, which also includes parts of Utah and California. The SCA kingdoms have full courts (including kings and queens), officers, and a distinct, unifying culture. Members create "personas" tailored to a particular place and time within the SCA period (roughly 600 to 1600 A.D.). In addition to the battles, members also practice the costuming, cooking, crafts, and music of the period.

"The fighting is just the most visible aspect," Rohrich says. "A bunch of fat guys in leather beating the crap out of each other makes a lot of noise"

New fighters are "squires" who must study under the tutelage of a "knight." Rohrich says studying fighting and history with an older, experienced SCA member was a great experience for him. "I didn't have a father, growing up," he says. "In reality, the sense of honor and fair play and how to treat other people, for myself, [SCA is] where I learned it. I sort of grew up and emotionally matured in the SCA."

When Rohrich becomes Baron Josef Donnerbauch, he's a vicious warlord, larger than most other fighters and very hard to knock down. After all, his last name means "thunder belly" in German. But he's taken his knocks, too. In fact, he suffered one of the SCA's more legendary injuries. It's a story the SCA uses to convince new fighters they are required to use groin protection.

Rohrich was 20 and had been a fighter in the SCA for only about a year. He went to a tournament in Mesa, but was so enthusiastic to fight that he forgot to bring the jockstrap for his protective cup. So he duct-taped the cup to his boxer shorts and went out to fight in the scorching summer sun.

"So, as I'm fighting, of course, you get warm and there's moisture, and the duct tape sort of lost its adhesion," Rohrich says. "Well, I got swung at toward my left leg with his right arm, and I stepped my left leg out of the way and took it right into my cup. The problem is, when I stepped back, my cup fell down my pant leg. So I took it right in the nether regions, and it shot my testicle through my abdominal wall."

Doctors gave Rohrich two choices: He could have a $10,000 operation, or he could lie on his back for a month. "I had no medical insurance," he says. "So I said, 'I can lay on my back for $10,000.'"

Men aren't the only fighters in the SCA, either. There are several women who don armor and charge into battle, and they can be as brutal as the men.

"One time, I got speared in the bladder by a chick," Rohrich says. "I was coming at her full sprint, and she put her spear on her hip and popped me right in the bladder. The reason I wear that big belt buckle on my armor now is because of that. I got stabbed in the bladder so hard I almost pissed myself right in my armor. If I ever pee myself in my armor, I have to move. I gotta go somewhere else."

For the kid who says he grew up building space ships with Legos and dodging his father's fists, the SCA's become a metaphor for the man he is today.

"I like the SCA so much because there's a certain . . . football-ish aspect — basically, it's rugby with clubs and armor," he says. "But then there's arts and crafts and the educational part of it. I'm high-tech and into education and knowledge, and then I do the medieval thing, and the SCA is split that way, too. There's the medieval, athletic, foaming-at-the-mouth part, and there's the refined parts. Just like me."

Rohrich's group of friends in the SCA extends around the globe, and his social circle in Phoenix includes a handful of pretty women who don't seem to mind picking up the tab on the extremely rare nights he goes to a bar. Rohrich's work with Elliptical Mobile Solutions consumes most of his days, and he says he doesn't hit the clubs much at night because it costs money — and he's careful with his money.

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6 comments
buffalobills515
buffalobills515

Love the story. It is great to hear a fellow SCA guy doing great things in the world. I will need to put a post about this inventive warrior on my medieval blog

Dennis Ward
Dennis Ward

Simon used to work with/for me a few years ago at ValueOptions. He's a gentle giant and I'd definitely want him in my corner.Glad things are going good for you, Simon.

Simon Rohrich
Simon Rohrich

I hope you have been practicing. ;-)Thank you for the doubleedged compliment. You and you household are formidable. I do ride on my rep. I don't hurt anyone on purpose. Any injury I cause that results in financial loss I feel terrible about.

see you in two weeks,thank you in advance-Nerd of War-

BammBamm
BammBamm

Only the bravest men dare poke the bear. Let alone 2 of them. See you @ practice

Leo
Leo

Its about freaking time you guys did a story on the SCA here in Arizona and the fact that you did one about Simon shows some actual intelligence. Simon is a straight thug and the inventor of the phrase "militant geeks" Alot of the time though he rides to much on his reputation as a bone breaker. He hurts one guy a year and the rest of the year everybody in the game is like "OOOH here comes Simon and Bam BAm." But us Romans have no fear and Constantly have to show the rest of the community that he isnt that mean. Believe me though when I step on the field the first thing I do is look for Simon cause when he hits you and your not aware of it its like being struck by a runaway train. But if your ready for him he falls just like all the rest. Good luck selling your Spear Brother and remember Saterday Night at Highlands is the bucket party swing by your more then welcome LORD LEO Roman Thunder

 
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