Belegarth (pronounced BEL-a-garth) is a term taken from J.R.R. Tolkien’s Sindarin language meaning “great realms.”
Belegarth itself is, “a medieval sword fighting sport where foam padding is used on the weapons to prevent serious physical injury to participants,” according to the Belegarth website.
Students may have noticed that on Wednesday evenings, across from campus in Julia Davis Park, a group gathers around 5 p.m. dressed in medieval- or fantasy-themed garb with an assortment of foam-padded weapons.
These individuals are members of the Rath realm (Boise), but Belegarth itself is a worldwide organization with groups in a variety of countries.
The organization is complete with a Book of War detaling the rules, adjudication (or marshaling), weapons classification, an extensive section on combat, weapons (what is and is not suitable weapon material), garb, armor and shields. This is no hodge-podge, rambling, unorganized assembly. These individuals take their sport seriously, but also have a lot of fun.
Current member Seth Curran, or Plithut as he is known in the Rath community, is a senior communication major who has been involved in Belegarth since he was
15 years old.
Curran said he originally got involved in Belegarth to escape from real life and assume a new identity.
“Not only could I hit my friends, but parents encouraged us because it kept us outdoors,” he said.
Now, however, after nearly 11 years of foam fighting, Curran is involved for different reasons, “Now-a-days … I am in it for the community and the hard fighting,” Curran said.
About three years ago, Belegarth’s Boise realm lost its status as a Boise State club when the then-president graduated and the club wasn’t renewed. This has not been a negative change for the realm and the unofficial status of the club made member retention easier Curran said.
Dane Johns, or His Majesty Sir Par Ohmsford the King of Rath, is president of the Boise chapter and president of all the realms.
He is responsible for teaching new members the rules as well setting up practices, collecting dues and a slew of other responsibilities.
“Belegarth is a place where all manner of people come together and enjoy each other’s company,” Johns said.
Curran also stressed the importance of the relationships he has made through Belegarth.
“Belegarth participants will take care of their own, if you need a place to crash, eat, sleep, whatever, these are the people that I turn to,” said Curran. “Not to mention there is something undeniably enjoyable about dressing up in funny clothing, calling myself by a fake name, running around hitting each other with padded sticks, only to come together later to drink and share stories around the fire.”
a. Oregon Opener, Portland Oregon, March 24-25
b. MANNETHERIN V, Mountain Home, ID March 24
c. Thaw Brawl, Ririe, ID , April 13-15, 2012
d. Western Wars, Portland Oregon, May 16-20
e.Yestare 12, Orem, Utah, May 25-2
f. War of the Forbidding, Boise ID, June 15-17
g. Chaos Wars, Hailey ID, July 22-29