We are a diverse group of individuals coming together to practice the art we love.
Read more about some of our members, past and present:


Austin “The Iceman” Straub

Ausin began his study of Longsword at the Crossing Fight School in the summer of 2016, and has come very far indeed since then. He is widely regarded as a premier level fighter by some of the most well-known names in HEMA, due to his outstanding point, blade, and body control. His explosive movements and effective use of creative techniques, lower guards, and Sprechfenster make him an intimidating and dangerous fighter. He has a very impressive list of tournament match victories to his credit, which has earned him a reputation as a formidable competitor.

His nickname derives from his calm, expressionless demeanor during fights, which is unnerving, and keeps his opponents guessing.

Austin has lent much of his time and talents to Crossing Fight School over the years. He became a head instructor after the departure of Nick Murro, introduced new subjects of study (Hans Medel, George Silver, and others), and helped keep our branch of the Guild organized as we underwent several changes.

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Dana “The Shield Maiden” Shoffstall

Dana is a central figure in Crossing Fight School, and has been instrumental in its survival. Known as a dedicated fighter and one of its most devoted members, she has led the way in ensuring that our venue has been retained, and that all measures necessary for its continued operation are addressed.

Her nickname stems from the ruthlessness and ferocity of her fighting, which was common to Viking warriors who bore that title.

Her fighting is spirited and powerful, and she is known for her withering combination attacks and her prowess in the bind. Despite numerous health challenges due to Rheumatoid Arthritis, surgeries, and injury, her love of Longsword has kept her motivated and competing, allowing her achieve a measure of success (medalling in the Women’s Tournament at the DC HEMA Open), and to continue her training. When not competing, she can always be found looking after her fellow Guild members and making sure everyone’s needs are met, and also obtaining footage of their fights.

These selfless tendencies and overall devotion to HEMA got the attention of the Board of Directors at the Longpoint League, who unanimously nominated her to be among its members earlier this year.


Kevin “The Spider” Zbranak

Kevin started training Longsword at Crossing Fight School in December of 2018, after seeing Steve Dougherty performing solo drills late one evening in the gym where he works. After going to his first class, he quickly became a devoted student, and has since built himself into one of the most lethal and capable fighters on our roster.

In the months that followed after they first met, Kevin took the time to train privately with Steve D. after work hours, a practice which assisted them both in further developing as fencers. Due to his steadfast dedication, Kevin made great progress in his first 11 months, and won the gold medal in the rookie division at the New Amsterdam HEMA Open in November of 2019, against some stiff competition.

He owes his nickname to his incredible stability, footwork, and overall strength. He has an uncanny ability to use his legs and lower body to alter or control measure in a fight, advancing or distancing himself with speed and precision. He also possesses amazing hand speed and a good defense. A personal trainer by profession, his athletic ability is profound, and is a primary reason why he continues to advance steadily in his HEMA training.

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Kari “The Judge” Thomas

A key figure amongst the members of our Guild, Kari has brought a love of Longsword and a wealth of knowledge to Crossing Fight School. She began her HEMA training in 2015, and has experience with a variety of weapons. Having studied with Maryland Kunst Des Fechtens (MKDF) in years past, she has had the opportunity to train with some very gifted fencers (Travis Mayott, etc.), and has certainly made the most of it.

Kari is known to be a patient, selective, and sound fighter, with excellent fundamentals and precise point control. Her knowledge of several different sources (and of HEMA in general), her intelligent approach to the fight, and her outstanding execution all conspire to make her a serious threat in the ring. She also has a remarkable sense of Fuhlen, and is proficient in the bind as a result.

She earned her nickname due to her broad martial knowledge, her tendency to punish imprecise fencing, and her ability to act decisively in the middle of an exchange.


Nick “The Hurricane” Murro

Nick is one of the most important figures in the history of Crossing Fight School, having assumed the role of sole instructor for a period of years after the departure of his predecessor. We are grateful for the efforts he put forth during that time, without which many of us would not have found this branch, or this Guild. He departed from the school in the first half of 2019.

He is a very accomplished and proficient martial artist, and has studied a great number of disciplines over a period of many years, including some Eastern arts, pugilism, messer, dagger, longsword, and more. He also possesses substantial knowledge of a number of sources, and has used it to great effect.

His nickname comes from his lethal combination of speed and power, which is on full display when he competes. Aside from these attributes, he also has outstanding footwork and very good hand speed. He is also a highly intelligent fighter, and uses both brain and brawn when confronting opponents.

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Steve “Berserker” Dougherty

Steve found Crossing Fight School in August of 2016, and has been training there diligently ever since. He is very much devoted to our group and to the Guild in general, and has worked consistently to ensure the continued operation of our branch. Thanks in part to his efforts, the venue we currently have was secured in the summer of 2018, ending a long search after the loss of our previous home in late 2017. He became the head instructor of Crossing Fight School in June of 2020, and has been working multiple sources into our curriculum.

Though a very devoted HEMA practitioner, he also does a fair amount of weightlifting and conditioning.  He considers this essential to advancing in his martial training, particularly because he often trains with much younger fighters.

His notable qualities include a good mindset for competing, quick hand speed, well-timed forward attacks, and a very sturdy defense.

He earned his nickname because of his forceful compound attacks, using strength when necessary, and a willingness to endure.

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Camilla “Madness” Frazier

Cam’s HEMA experience began with Crossing Fight School in July of 2017. Since joining our branch, they (Cam’s chosen pronoun) have become a formidable competitor and an indispensable member of our Guild, often devoting time and energy to holding classes or assisting in instruction, and helping other fighters from adjoining groups get to our venue.

A talented and energetic fighter, Cam has never seen a weapon, treatise, or technique they wouldn’t try at least once. Cam’s unending curiosity has led to an incorporation of techniques from a wide variety of manuscripts, including the Ringeck/Danzig/Lew material, Wallerstein, Hans Folz, Codex Guelf, and even material from Italian longsword. This makes for a well-rounded, knowledgeable, and very capable practitioner of the art.

Cam’s nickname stems from a maniacal sense of humor, boundless enthusiasm, and a willingness to try almost any technique to achieve success (no matter how obscure). Since they like to deploy unexpected techniques at unexpected times, it’s often successful.

Camilla doesn’t merely take risks, however. Outstanding form and control of both body and weapon have given Cam the ability to develop into a widely respected competitor. Cam is someone who has been a martial artist most of their life, training in Tang Soo Do for many years before practicing Longsword, along with rapier, dagger, and other weapons (while earning medals in competitions along the way).

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Aidan “The Phantom” Witherspoon

Aidan joined Crossing Fight School in the first half of 2018, and has been among the most dedicated of its members ever since. He has traveled great distances to train with the Guild and its members on many occasions, demonstrating sincere loyalty to his fellow practitioners and to the art itself.

Like many of those he trains with, he has recorded tournament wins against some very highly rated fighters, earning him the respect of his fellow competitors. His prolific use of Schnappen, grappling, and bind work have allowed him to steamroll his way through his share of tournaments, earning gold in multiple events while doing so.

Although his size and strength have been great assets, he also possesses a measure of discipline and a sound martial approach. Through his SCA and HEMA experience, he has developed keen martial instincts and has shown he can adapt successfully under the pressure of competition.

His nickname stems from his ability to move in a ghostly manner, smoothly rolling with the fight as needed, and suddenly enveloping his adversary before they know what’s happening, often overpowering them in the process.

John "The Bull" Contarino

John “The Bull” Contarino

John has been with Crossing Fight School since 2016, and has been a dedicated member of the Guild since the beginning. He is always willing to be of service to the school, and it is thanks to him that our branch has a website.

Although he has a friendly demeanor and always sports a positive attitude, when he gears up, he is as tough as they come. He’s also open-minded when it comes to his training, and is always willing to examine new techniques and apply them in his fencing.

A creative fighter with extremely powerful forward attacks, he definitely gets down to business when the need arises. Participating in competitive sport for most of his life has prepared him well to excel in his martial training.

John earned his nickname from his prolific and effective use of stabbing and other straightforward attacks, often focusing intently and expressively on his chosen targets. Another attribute that earned him this monicker is his overall sturdiness, which he certainly uses to his advantage when competing.


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Laurie “Radioactive” Murphy

Laurie’s HEMA journey began in 2016 at Crossing Fight School, and has been a great asset to the club since coming aboard. Not only has she worked very hard to become a capable fighter, but she has also served in an administrative capacity for our branch, reaching out to guest instructors, organizing special events, and securing merchandise. She has been extremely supportive of the Guild and its members, and we’re fortunate to have her among us.

Laurie has endured a number of physical setbacks during her training but has persisted nevertheless, even returning to practicing Longsword only weeks after receiving treatment for a life-threatening illness. It is the experience of fighting this illness which led to a form of treatment which caused her to set off a Geiger counter, which gave rise to her nickname.

Her primary attributes are her intensely analytical approach to the fight, solid structure, and well executed strikes (particularly the Schielhau).

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