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Why Jugging?
[05/27/2004] [Franchesca]

When I first heard the word ‘Jugging’, I was excited. “Ooo!” I said. “Amtgard incorporates rock climbing, my favorite extreme sport!” Michael Hammer of God gave me a rather confused look and asked, “Have you never seen The Blood of Heroes?” I heard muffled laughs all around us as I said no.

That was twelve years ago in 1992. I still think the type of rock climbing I did back then was a bit more of an extreme sport, but I didn’t have five of my best buds all trying to take my head off while I was scaling a vertical wall with no ropes. But I digress.

This will be the first of three articles from a non-traditional Jugging player. This article will be the intro. The second will be after my first workouts with the team. The last article will be after the tournament itself.

This year, I am going to try my hand at this sport. Granted, I will be on the second team for my company and this team may not get to play at all. Hell, the way things are going I may not even get to play with my team at all. Still, I’m going to train to be the Quick. This is a first for me. I have never trained for this. The closest thing to it is winning a double dagger tournament, if you want to call that close.

I am already getting lectured from my squire bro (we still call each other that even though we’re both knights) that this is the most brutal position to play. He has given me a work-out plan. He is making me promise to stick to it. He is not happy and is constantly reminding me about how not happy he is about this. My husband is also not happy. I really had no idea that agreeing to help my bros fill a position in a Jugging team this year was going to cause so many ripples, but it has.

From my point of view at this moment in time, it is a game; intense, worth the rush, and very physical, but in the end still a game that we should walk away alive from. That’s not the point of view most people seem to have. It was impressed upon me by Michael twelve years ago that Jugging is a religious experience that transcended all other tournament activities that an Amtgarder could participate in.

No one cared what gender you were once the game started, at least, not in the Kingdom where I was playing at the time. Nor did it matter in the next Kingdom, or the next. But at the last Rakis I went to, it mattered. Now that my bros want me to play, everyone I’ve talked to seems to care that I am female and playing. I am not certain if I like that gender now matters to them. I know many of you do not like it when we dinosaurs start with ... ‘In the old days …’ but I have to say that in the old days of Rakis when it came to Jugging, gender did not matter. Why did that change?

My expectations out of this experiment are to find out what makes Jugging such a religious experience for so many Amtgarders. That alone is worth a great deal to me. I do not think it is so much a journey into the male psyche as it is a journey into the extreme sport mentality, which isn’t a gender-specific thing at all. The other is to find out what is it about Jugging that binds us all together and, in the end, pulls us apart so horribly, when we know we are bros to the core. If this game is so life-threatening, is it saying something about society as a whole, a reflection of the events in our real world, of real war, real death, and real survival by the fact that we can get that damn skull in the stake to win recognition.

When you say the Blood of Heroes, do you just think of the movie or do you think of what is behind the title? Do you think of the myth that goes with that famous line? Did you even know it was a famous line? Is this the part that is a religious experience, the ultimate sacrifice, the quest for that ultimate gain by a fallen angel to get back where and what they once were?

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