Medieval knights mock fight in Balboa Park!

Look what I watched today!

Every Sunday afternoon, on a large area of grass in Balboa Park’s Morley Field Sports Complex, medieval knights come together and engage in mock combat! These brave knights hail from the Realm of Andor. They are a part of the international Belegarth Medieval Combat Society.

Wielding foam weapons like swords, maces and battle axes, these guys get a super fun athletic workout. I was told by a friendly member of the Realm of Andor that the sport is like a mixture of fencing and rugby, with fairly simple rules. When a combatant receives a strike to a critical area, they fall down as if dead. A hit on a limb results in a loss of its use. Two limbs gone, you’re a goner. The last one standing wins!

I watched as the combatants veered all over the place, swinging a variety of formidable ancient weapons. Two or three knights would gang up on another; others would be struck by a sneaky knight from behind. Some of the members, in their cool costumes and bearing shields, appeared to be rampaging extras in the filming of Lord of the Rings. Many make their own weapons. It’s all about fantasy and high energy fun!

If you’d like to learn more, or perhaps join, check out their website!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Strength and determination in wheelchair rugby.

Today I watched some of the world’s best athletes compete. I headed up to Balboa Park to experience the 28th Annual Best of the West Quad Rugby Tournament in the Municipal Gymnasium. Most people know the sport as wheelchair rugby, or murderball. That last name sounds rather tough, but it’s for a good reason.

The quad rugby players that participated in this tournament are among the best in the world. Some have competed in the Paralympic Games. There were teams from California, Arizona, Texas and Minnesota, and even from London and Australia. The amazing team from Australia was this year’s Best of the West champion.

At the very top level, wheelchair rugby players are unbelievable athletes. They are strong, fast, agile, and can turn and accelerate on a dime. To block opposing players, trap them defensively, or upset an unfolding strategy, players will literally smash their chairs into one another. As if in some sort of crazy demolition derby, the bashing wheelchairs sometimes tip sideways, even turn over. And the players don’t seem fazed in the least. Each is an irresistible force, determined to assist their teammates and find a way through the opposition to score, no matter how.

Here are a few photos that capture a bit of the action.

The composition of one photograph turned out to be exceptionally dynamic, but the image was completely unfocused, so I altered it to appear like a cool oil painting.

You really have to see quad rugby in person to appreciate the heart of these players.

Raw human determination can be unstoppable.

Watching quad rugby is inspirational.

For an explanation of quad rugby, click this photo and it will expand for easy reading.
For an explanation of quad rugby, click this photo and it will expand for easy reading.

The victorious Australian quad rugby team celebrates by joining hands.
The Australian quad rugby team celebrated their championship by forming a circle, joining hands and rocking the gymnasium with a spirited, victorious shout!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Star Wars lightsaber combat at Maker Faire!

This member of the San Diego Sabers has personally made many lightsabers. Some examples lie on the group's table during Maker Faire in Balboa Park.
This member of the San Diego Sabers has personally made many lightsabers. Some examples lie on the group’s table during Maker Faire in Balboa Park.

The last couple of years at Maker Faire San Diego I’ve watched a group of Star Wars enthusiasts entertain audiences with lightsaber duels. They have engaged in their elaborate play on the main stage, swinging their illuminated lightsabers in mock combat, to rousing music from the Star Wars movies.

This year, as I walked around Maker Faire, I happened upon this group’s cool lightsaber exhibit. These local Star Wars fans call themselves the San Diego Sabers. They are one of many similar groups all around the world that make their own lightsabers and engage in mock combat.

I asked all sort of questions and learned more than I expected. Most of the extremely elaborate lightsabers used by the members produce colored light, illuminating a long clear tube that can be attached, thereby appearing much like the Jedi and Sith weapons made famous in the movies. Most of the mock weapons also generate that distinctive lightsaber sound. I learned that it’s also possible to order a variety of lightsabers from several online vendors.

Regional competitions are often held between groups, and the method of scoring is similar to that used in fencing. The sport is lightning fast, highly athletic and incorporates various styles of martial arts. The San Diego Sabers provide demos free to the public, teach all ages including kids (often using foam lightsabers for safety), and encourage acceptance, respect, and a positive attitude.

And it’s obvious they have a lot of fun!

Many DIY lightsabers are surprisingly elaborate, generating light and sound, while appearing as authentic as any movie prop.
Many DIY lightsabers are surprisingly elaborate, generating light and sound, while appearing as authentic as any movie prop.
The San Diego Sabers provides full contact lightsaber training based on fencing, HEMA, Kendo and Wu-shu. Kids are welcome and it's free!
The San Diego Sabers provides full contact lightsaber training based on fencing, HEMA, Kendo and Wu-shu. Kids are welcome and it’s free!
Someone picks up one of the cool lightsabers on display.
Someone picks up one of the cool lightsabers on display.
Members of the San Diego Sabers demonstrate mock combat using foam attachments. Together they've got enough lightsabers to take on General Grievous!
Members of the San Diego Sabers demonstrate mock combat using foam attachments. Together they’ve got enough lightsabers to take on General Grievous!
A kid checks out one of the cool lightsabers. As you might have noticed, I took these photos on two different days during Maker Faire San Diego.
A kid checks out one of the cool lightsabers. As you might have noticed, I took these photos on two different days during Maker Faire San Diego.
Kids have a lot of fun with the foam lightsabers.
Kids have a lot of fun with the foam lightsabers.
Members of the San Diego Sabers arrive at the Maker Faire main stage in the Plaza de Panama. A combat exhibition is about to begin.
Members of the San Diego Sabers arrive at the Maker Faire main stage in the Plaza de Panama. A combat exhibition is about to begin.
As Star Wars music plays, two members of the San Diego Sabers simulate an epic battle between the Jedi and Sith.
As Star Wars music plays, two members of the San Diego Sabers simulate an epic battle between the Jedi and Sith.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of fun photos for you to share and enjoy!

Team of Santas urges kids to eat healthy food!

Real Santas United to End Childhood Obesity pose for the judges in the Uniform Contest at 2017 OTL. Photo courtesy Bill Swank.
Real Santas United to End Childhood Obesity pose for the judges in the Uniform Contest at 2017 OTL. (Photo courtesy Bill Swank.)

People playing Over The Line on Fiesta Island today had to be blinking their eyes. They didn’t just see Santa Claus striding across the sand–they saw a whole team of jolly Santas!

Real Santas United to End Childhood Obesity is competing this year in the OMBAC World Championship Over The Line Tournament in San Diego! And they’re spreading the important message that kids should eat healthy, nutritious food!

The unique team of Santas is organized by “Sustainable Santa” Richard Eckfield, and its members were observed this morning parading around the island handing out carrots and talking about the dangers of processed, sugary junk food and the rise of childhood obesity. Supported by several sponsors and the International Brotherhood of Real Bearded Santas, their mission is simply to promote healthy eating habits for children. “Healthy, Happy and Fit for Life!”

Members of Real Santas United to End Childhood Obesity can also be seen from time to time at farmers markets across San Diego County. They encourage children to eat real, honest-to-goodness wholesome food.

Will they win the OTL Camummy Division this year? I don’t know. I do know these Santas have a winning message!

You might like to follow the Santa & Mrs Claus for Healthy Children Facebook page!

Unlike most presents unwrapped at Christmas, good health is a gift that will last a long, merry, magical lifetime!

Kristin Francy, Miss Emerson in 2015, and a team of sporty Santas at the Over The Line World Championship tournament in San Diego. Photo courtesy Bill Swank.
Kristin Francy, Miss Emerson in 2015, and a team of sporty Santas at the Over The Line World Championship tournament in San Diego. (Photo courtesy Bill Swank.)
Photo of Baseball Santa Bill Swank and Richard “Sustainable Santa” Eckfield at the Linda Vista Farmers Market last December. Photo courtesy Bill Swank.
Photo of Baseball Santa Bill Swank and Richard “Sustainable Santa” Eckfield at the Linda Vista Farmers Market last December. (Photo courtesy Bill Swank.)
Front and back of cards that Sustainable Santa hands out at farmers markets throughout San Diego County. (Click to enlarge.) Image courtesy Bill Swank.
Front and back of cards that Sustainable Santa hands out at farmers markets throughout San Diego County. (Image courtesy Bill Swank.)
Baseball Santa Swank holds up carrots which the Real Santas United hand out to kids instead of sugary candy canes. Photo courtesy Bill Swank.
Baseball Santa Swank holds up carrots which the Real Santas United hand out to kids instead of sugary candy canes. (Photo courtesy Bill Swank.)

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Italian American baseball players on India Street.

Mike Napoli
Mike Napoli

Dozens of Major League Baseball players are hanging out on Little Italy’s India Street! I saw them yesterday! I took their pictures!

One great thing about Little Italy is there are always lots of colorful street banners.  They celebrate the neighborhood’s Italian culture and rich history. As baseball season gets underway, a bunch of banners have been hung along India Street that feature Italian American baseball players, past and present.

Joe Garagiola
Joe Garagiola
Tony Conigliaro
Tony Conigliaro
Bart Giamatti
Bart Giamatti
Phil Rizutto
Phil Rizutto
Tommy Lasorda
Tommy Lasorda
Joe Torre
Joe Torre
Anthony Rizzo
Anthony Rizzo
Joe DiMaggio
Joe DiMaggio
San Diego Little Italy's neighborhood boys who played baseball, circa 1938.
San Diego Little Italy’s neighborhood boys who played baseball, circa 1938.
Jason Grilli
Jason Grilli
Sal Maglie
Sal Maglie
Christopher Denorfia
Christopher Denorfia
Frank Torre
Frank Torre
Christopher Colabello
Christopher Colabello
John Montefusco
John Montefusco
Alessandro Liddi
Alessandro Liddi
Joey Votto
Joey Votto
Nick Punto
Nick Punto
Frank Crosetti
Frank Crosetti
Dave Giusti
Dave Giusti
Gus Mancuso
Gus Mancuso
Frank Viola
Frank Viola
Mike Piazza
Mike Piazza
Dom DiMaggio
Dom DiMaggio
Paul (Li Mandri) Lattman
Paul (Li Mandri) Lattman
Barry Zito
Barry Zito
Jason Giambi
Jason Giambi
Devin Mescoraco
Devin Mescoraco

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of fun photos for you to share and enjoy!

Fun pics from World Baseball Classic in San Diego!

Team USA fans in line to buy merchandise at Petco Park during the World Baseball Classic in San Diego.
Team USA fans in line to buy merchandise at Petco Park during the World Baseball Classic in San Diego.

Team USA beat Venezuela tonight in an exciting World Baseball Classic game in San Diego! The United States won 4-2 with an amazing come-from-behind victory! Today’s baseball game was the second in a round robin between four international teams– the Second Round’s Pool F.

I’ve got an assortment of fun photos! It was a perfect San Diego evening to take in the sights, sounds, pageantry and great play of what turned out to be classic baseball game!

Fans for the four different teams in the World Baseball Classic's Second Round Pool F could be seen all around San Diego's Petco Park.
Fans of the four different teams in the World Baseball Classic’s Second Round Pool F could be seen all around San Diego’s Petco Park.
Fans of all ages were having fun before the game began in the Park at the Park.
Baseball lovers of all ages were having fun before the game began in the Park at the Park.
Some outrageous costumes and lots of patriotic clothing could be seen all about the stadium.
Some outrageous costumes and lots of patriotic clothing could be seen all about the baseball stadium. And many Padres fans, too!
It's approaching game time. Fans walk up a ramp to the upper level.
It’s approaching game time. Families walk up a ramp to the upper level.
Fans at the World Baseball Classic in San Diego point to the outfield.
Fans at the World Baseball Classic in San Diego point to the outfield.
Fans of Team USA watch their baseball heroes warm up on the field before the game.
Young supporters of Team USA watch their baseball heroes warm up on the field before the game.
Players for Team USA come out of the dugout for the opening ceremony.
Players for Team USA come out of the dugout for the opening ceremony.
Players for both Venezuela and the United States were given a rousing introduction.
Players for both Venezuela and the United States were given a rousing introduction.
Fans watching the opening ceremony hold up an American flag.
Team USA fans watching the opening ceremony hold up an American flag.
The players for the United States and Venezuela shake hands at the end of the opening ceremony.
The players for the United States and Venezuela shake hands at the end of the opening ceremony.
The game has begun! It's a beautiful evening for baseball in San Diego, of course!
The game has begun! It’s a beautiful evening for baseball in San Diego, of course!  Even some Dodgers fans have come to Petco Park for the fun.
Venezuela is at bat as the sun sets and Petco's lights come on. They were first to score.
Venezuela is at bat as the sun sets and Petco’s lights come on. Venezuela has a great team and was first to score.
As I walked about the stadium, I took a photo of the Chair of Honor. The empty chair honors prisoners of war and those missing in action.
As I walked about Petco Park, which USA Today rated the finest stadium in Major League Baseball, I took a photo of the Chair of Honor. The empty chair represents Prisoners of War and those Missing in Action.
Team USA loaded the bases in the early innings, but unfortunately failed to score.
Team USA loaded the bases in the early innings, but unfortunately failed to score.
These fans of Team USA scored, however, on the Kiss Cam!
These fans of Team USA scored, however, on the Kiss Cam!
George Washington was in attendance, rooting on Team USA during the World Baseball Classic in San Diego! And his team won!
George Washington was in attendance, rooting on Team USA during the World Baseball Classic in San Diego! And his team won!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Photos of archery range where Olympic athletes train!

If victory is your destination, make excellence your governing value and perform the work necessary to become great. Wisdom on a plaque outside Olympic archery training range in Chula Vista.
If victory is your destination, make excellence your governing value and perform the work necessary to become great. Wisdom on a plaque outside Olympic archery training range in Chula Vista.

It’s not often you get to visit where Olympic athletes train!

Today, my favorite part of the Celebration of Champions event at the Chula Vista Elite Athlete Training Center was checking out where Olympic archers hone their skills. There was more to see than the immense indoor and outdoor archery ranges. My eyes and mind were captivated by a large museum-like display of the history of archery at the Olympic Games.

Please enjoy the following photos. To learn more, read the captions!

A special public event is held at the Easton Foundations Archery Center of Excellence, part of the U.S. Olympic Training Center, now called the Chula Vista Elite Athlete Training Center.
A special public event is held at the Easton Foundations Archery Center of Excellence, part of the U.S. Olympic Training Center, which is now called the Chula Vista Elite Athlete Training Center.
Kids see what Olympic-level archery is like during the Celebration of Champions event.
Kids see what Olympic-level archery is like during the Celebration of Champions event.
Outdoor archery targets in a row. Some of the world's greatest athletes take aim at these!
Outdoor archery targets in a row. Some of the world’s greatest athletes take aim at these!
Words inside the archery building at the Chula Vista Elite Athlete Training Center. To be disciplined athletes of great character; challenging ourselves to achieve excellence in the pursuit of glory.
Words inside the archery building at the Chula Vista Elite Athlete Training Center. To be disciplined athletes of great character; challenging ourselves to achieve excellence in the pursuit of glory.
Photos on the wall inside the front door show Olympic archers together and in competition.
Photos on the wall inside the front door show Olympic archers together and in competition.
Bows await inside the immense indoor archery range at the Chula Vista Elite Athlete Training Center.
Bows await inside the immense indoor archery range at the Chula Vista Elite Athlete Training Center.
Participants and spectators against the back wall of the indoor archery range.
Participants and spectators against the back wall of the indoor archery range.
Youth learning archery skills check arrow positions on targets after a period of shooting.
Youth learning archery skills check arrow positions on targets after a period of shooting.
An Easton arrow flying through the air lit the Olympic flame in the 1992 Summer Games.
An Easton arrow flying through the air lit the Olympic flame at the 1992 Summer Games.
A display case shows artifacts relating to the history of organized archery and Easton bows and arrows.
A display case shows artifacts relating to the history of organized archery and Easton bows and arrows.
Along a corridor running the length of the Archery Center of Excellence are museum-like displays concerning archery during past Olympic Games. (Click image to enlarge.)
Along a corridor running the length of the Archery Center of Excellence are museum-like displays concerning archery during past Olympic Games. (Click image to enlarge.)
The first modern Olympic Games took place in Athens, Greece in 1896. Archery was featured in some of the early years.
The first modern Olympic Games took place in Athens, Greece in 1896. Archery was featured in some of the early years.
Photo of FITA President Mrs. Inger K. Frith who helped archery to become reestablished as an Olympic sport by the International Olympic Committee.
Photo of FITA President Mrs. Inger K. Frith who helped archery to become reestablished as an Olympic sport by the International Olympic Committee.
Early year displays include a 1904 program for the Louisiana Purchase Exposition and an early version of archery competition where the bird target sat atop a 31 meter pole.
Early year displays include a 1904 program for the Louisiana Purchase Exposition and an early version of archery competition where the bird target sat atop a 31 meter pole.
As one proceeds down the hallway, time moves forward. In 1972 John Williams became archery's first male gold medalist and Doreen Wilbur won the first gold for women's archery.
As one proceeds down the hallway, time moves forward. In 1972 John Williams became archery’s first male gold medalist and Doreen Wilbur won the first gold for women’s archery.
Walk down this hallway and you might rub shoulders with Olympic athletes!
Walk down this hallway and you might rub shoulders with Olympic athletes!
The 1972 Olympic Games in Montreal, Canada saw the United States set new archery records.
The 1972 Olympic Games in Montreal, Canada saw the United States set new archery records.
In 1984, at the Los Angeles games, New Zealand's Neroli Fairhall was the first paraplegic athlete to compete in Olympic archery.
In 1984, at the Los Angeles games, New Zealand’s Neroli Fairhall was the first paraplegic athlete to compete in Olympic archery.
The 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta based the competition on head-to-head single elimination, a change that proved very popular.
The 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta based the competition on head-to-head single elimination, a change that proved very popular.
In 1996 American and crowd favorite Justin Huish became first male to win individual and team gold.
In 1996 American and crowd favorite Justin Huish became first male to win individual and team gold.
In 2000 South Korea's women dominated archery at the Sydney Summer Olympic Games.
In 2000 South Korea’s women dominated archery at the Sydney Summer Olympic Games.
More fascinating Olympic Games history on display at the indoor archery range at the Chula Vista Elite Athlete Training Center.
More fascinating Olympic Games history on display at the indoor archery range at the Chula Vista Elite Athlete Training Center.
In 2004 the Olympic Games returned to its birthplace--Athens, Greece. The archers competed in Panathinaiko Stadium which is about 2300 years old!
In 2004 the Olympic Games returned to its birthplace: Athens, Greece. The archers competed in the marble Panathinaiko Stadium which is about 2300 years old!
Beijing, China hosted the 2008 Olympic Games where many records were broken.
Beijing, China hosted the 2008 Olympic Games where many records were broken.
And perhaps, one day, these young people will break world records!
And perhaps, one day, these young people will break world archery records!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!