The knights who say ‘tea’

Kurt Stuenroth and David Herzog, founders of Eugene’s Order of Steel, assume fighting stances in front of Townshend’s Tea House. The club routinely spars for the public in local bars and tea shops.

The two founders of the Order of Steel, Kurt Stuenroth and David Herzog, spoke of their club of well-practiced knights over tea. The men spar publicly in full armor and maintain a goal to display honor and history to the community.

When they saw each other for the first time, they both thought: “that guy’s trouble.” The men started sparring in Eugene together and a couple more members joined them. Before long, their practices became regular. When they started to get attention from the media and press, they officially named themselves the Order of Steel.

“It requires constant devotion to be a good swordsman,” Stuenroth said while he and Herzog sat, fully armored, in Townshend’s Tea House. They sipped tea from ancient silver cups. “Our non-fighting-related activities tend to revolve around drinking tea.”

The two knights didn’t start their club on purpose.

“I would say it was a phenomenon,” Stuenroth said.

The knights originally sparred at local parks in 2015, trekking in their armor even on the hottest summer days.

In Jan. 2017, the Order of Steel went to Old Nick’s, a local pub in the Whiteaker neighborhood. The owner allowed them to come in and stage a fight in full armor. The performance was such a hit that the owner asked them to come back. Soon, the OS was performing regularly at the pub, every Thursday night.

“We’re an exhibition. Most of us have been formally trained,”  Herzog said. “It’s very much connected with honor.”

To become a part of the OS, members have to undergo an initiation so the founders don’t have to “babysit” fighters.

“We don’t have referees,” Herzog said, reiterating that “it’s very much about [the] honor system.”

“Of course we like to fight,” Herzog said. “But also, educating people on what we’re wearing, or our swords or fighting styles is a big part. That has to do with what we are pursuing.”

“You have to be a poet, a historian, all of these things to be a good swordsman,” Stuenroth added.

The knights can be seen at Old Nick’s Pub on the third Wednesday of every month, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., and can be found on Facebook under their page “Order of Steel”.