My Response to Liam

Greetings all,

I warn you, there’s an epic entry behind the cut, in full Rhodri style. I’m an academic, so I cannot say anything in two words where fifty will suffice 🙂

I responded to a post on liamstliam’s LiveJournal about his question to me about my opinion on fencing. My response was:

“I perceive fencing to have harmed the SCA as a whole, not simply Calontir.

Fencing promotes divisiveness, selfishness, and misogyny. I say this not because “fencers are bad” or “fighters are good” but because both the historical culture that fencing derives from and the nature of fencing in the SCA make people act more in those ways than if fencing did not exist.

Individual fencers are generally wonderful people, as are most people in the SCA, but fencing tears at all of our souls.”

Not surprisingly, this generated a lot of response. I thought rather than simply adding to Liam’s huge list of responders that I would simply put my response here and start a new thread.

First, some background about myself since most of the responders have no clue who I am. I started playing in the SCA in 1997 in Calontir. While I have only lived in Calontir per se, I have traveled a goodly amount throughout the Knowne World. I am now currently in the midst of my fourth full summer in Ealdormere. I have been to fighter practices in Calontir, Ealdormere, Ansteorra, Outlands, Atlantia, and the East. I have been to events, not counting wars, in Calontir, Ealdormere, Drachenwald, Ansteorra, Outlands, Meridies, Northshield, and the East. In terms of wars have been to Pennsic 8 times, Gulf Wars 8 times, Estrella 8 times, Trillium War 3 times, Armorgeddon 3 times, and Lilies 8 times. I say all this not to say that I’m better than anyone, nor that I am the most well-traveled person out there, but merely to point out that I am not simply a Calontir guy who has his head in purple sand and can’t see because of it. I do feel that I have some perspective of the SCA as a whole.

I have fenced before and in fact fenced some once I had joined the SCA, though not in the SCA context. I like fencing; in fact I like it a lot. It’s a great sport. My fencing has helped my fighting, and if you watch my fighting you can sometimes see the fencing influences in my style. Initially, I was all in favor of adding fencing to the SCA and was all in favor of doing work to bring it to Calontir. Even since my opinions have changed, I have brought water to fencers on the field at multiple events, and I have heralded fencing tournaments.

What changed?

Well, it happened as I traveled about the Knowne World. The first time I came up to Ealdormere in 2003 is when I started to see the “divisiveness, selfishness, and misogyny” that I referenced in my response to Liam’s post. I must emphasize that it was after I started leaving Calontir that my opinions changed on fencing. During the time that I was the most insular of Calontir loyalists that I have ever been I was in favor of fencing in the SCA but now with my horizons broadened I have become staunchly against it.

Having told you about my background, I will now proceed to first expand on the response to Liam’s comment, and then I will make specific responses at the end of the post to those good gentles who responded to me.

Divisiveness. Sadly, this is the easiest one to prove. The simple fact that we’re having a discussion with as much emotion and deeply seated opinions on both sides is merely one point. Given the vehemence of some of the responses to my post, I suspect some of you are going to be pre-disposed to dislike me. I find that sad. I try to be a genial, respectful, generous person. Liam and the others on the list who know me can attest to my success or failure in these attempts. I hope that no one dislikes simply because of my position on fencing, but if there are people who do not like me because of my position on fencing, as opposed to me being a jerk, then I consider that divisive. In short, I believe that the discussion on fencing in the SCA has hurt friendships that either existed or might have existed, simply because two people on different sides with deeply held convictions often struggle to overcome some of those feelings.

Divisiveness also extends to the resources available to the SCA. Many of you who responded are probably from larger kingdoms than Calontir, so perhaps you’re not aware of the resource challenges that fencing adds.

Both fighting and fencing need a fairly large area to fight in, and not every event can provide particularly large spaces, especially during inclement weather. This means that either fencers or fighters, depending upon who comes to the event in greater numbers, have to make do with less than the other. If 35 fencers come to fight at an event and they’re squished on to a small list field to make room for 16 fighters, then that is an inefficient distribution of resources and the fencers, in this case, have to make do with individually less space. Vice versa if the numbers are reversed. One can suggest that the events be held in sequence as opposed to parallel, but that rarely works smoothly as whichever goes first will almost surely go longer than originally scheduled, forcing the other to wait to start and either hurry to finish in time or force other things such as court or feast to be delayed. We all know “SCA time,” but there’s no need to add more things to mess with an event schedule.

Both fighting and fencing need waterbearing support. If this is done in the same room as the above situation suggests, that’s not a big deal, but if they’re in two separate places than the waterbearer in charge has to split his or her resources, which is not necessarily easy.

Most importantly, fighting and fencing need fighters and fencers. In smaller groups, there are simply not enough people to support both activities. Any division of effort tends to drastically hurt the ability of all to participate in either sport. If you have 4 people come to a practice, 2 to fence and 2 to fight, then you essentially have no practice at all. Small shires do not always have the ability to support both. I’ve even been to baronial practices in two kingdoms where the practice did not happen because there were neither enough fencers nor enough fighters to make it worthwhile. And this was with an out of kingdom person, myself, in armor and ready to go.

The traditional response to the above argument about resources is to suggest that fencing will bring in its own resources. More people will participate, for example, if fencing is allowed. Yet, while more people do participate, it does not seem to suffice to replace the entirety of the siphoned off resources, as evidenced by the failure of baronial, much less shire-level, practices. Also, waterbearing resources and field resources are finite, meaning that even with new participants, these might not be sufficient to provide for all of the resources.

For example, if there is fighting and fencing in two separate areas, then the waterbearers probably need two separate shade-flys or pavilions. Is the addition of, say, 10 new people who only do fencing worthy of forcing a barony of 50 other people to buy a new pavilion? If not, how about 20? What’s the break point? If there are 10 new people who come only because of fencing, are there also the 2-3 new people who will volunteer to provide them water and the 2-3 fencing marshals? Can you even get 10 people in a group that only play because of fencing? Not often, I suspect.

In shires and small baronies I can almost guarantee that the population level is such that a group simply cannot add enough population and financial resources to balance out those that fencing requires. They may, and often do, find enough resources to make things work, but I suspect often this requires more effort and sacrifice from all, not simply fencers, than if fencing did not exist.

For example, in my shire I’m the only warranted marshal. As a PhD student I barely have time to marshal the fighting I’m supposed to. There is no guarantee that adding fencing to my shire will automatically provide a marshal for fencing, meaning that either I devote more time to the SCA and less to my real life or fencing does not have a marshal in my shire. Just to let you know, my fighting has dropped from 5-10 times a month to 2 times a month while I’m working on my PhD. I simply cannot add another set of responsibilities to my life. You say that this is anecdotal evidence and my use of synecdoche is inappropriate. Perhaps you’re right, but my experience traveling to other groups suggests that my evidence is supportable.

There’s another point to this particular discussion on resource management which I will discuss when I get to selfishness below.

In short, fencing is divisive because we have different ideas on the issue and because fencing takes away from the resources that would have been devoted to fighters. How many resources should be devoted to fighting? How many to fencing? This is an argument that can never be answered completely, and one that will always divide us. Hence adding fencing is, almost by definition, divisive.

Selfishness. I said that fencing in the SCA has both from the historical culture fencing derives from and the nature of its implementation in the SCA promotes selfishness. Here’s how.

First, fencing is at its core a one-on-one martial art. It is a great martial art, and as I mentioned above I love it. But while there are fencing melees, those that I have seen generally boil down to many one-on-one bouts with the occasional two-on-two matches. The nature of the martial art does not lend itself to teamwork. It can be done, but what I’ve read of the fectbuchs had very little on teamwork, and more on body position, balance, and mental clarification. This was an art designed not for the battlefield, but for the duel.

Duels are, almost by definition, between individuals. Yes, you can have groups that hate each other, but that’s less about dueling and more about battles. It’s a subtle but important difference. This difference essentially is the difference between a soldier and a warrior. One can be both, but ask any serving member of the military the difference between the two. In short, the soldier can only succeed as part of a team, and a warrior can generally not work well with a team. Facing a team of soldiers, an equal number of warriors is outclassed because soldiers create something more than the sum of their parts. Fencing, as a dueling sport, trains warriors, not soldiers, meaning that they are trained as individuals.

And as individuals they are trained in the SCA to be selfish. I have had multiple fencers tell me that one of their favorite parts of fencing tournaments is the boasting about themselves and the insulting (in friendly fashion of course) of their opponents. I was shocked with what I heard on the fencing field at Pennsic when I was in hearing distance. Occasionally, there are times when heralds are set up to boast about the prowess of a fighter, but not routinely. The response when I asked was that this was part of the romantic culture that they liked, the dashing derring-do of the swashbuckling period…

Which was essentially a selfish period where fencers had a vested interest, most notably their lives, to be the proudest and brashest. Those can be survival traits, in that they can often either intimidate their opponents or get them angry enough to forget their proper movements. That being said, these are attributes that tend to promote selfishness. Not every fencer in period thought this way, but pretty much all fechtbuchs talk about seizing mental control of the fight and asserting your ego on the fight to be successful.

This is not to say that such feelings do not exist among fighters. They do, and I dislike it when I see a fighter act selfishly. No doubt that the tournament culture often breeds such selfishness. My statement was not to say that fighting cannot promote these things too. My statement merely said that fencing promotes selfishness, and it does. It is a me, me, me sport only.

Yet at least one part of fighting actively works to train teamwork, melee combat. This is emphasized in Calontir, but I know many groups across the Knowne World that work hard to place themselves in a larger context, to subsume their own personal glory to the success of the team. The Lion-Dragon group headed by Sir Jean-Paul de Sens in Ansteorra is one example (yes, I know JP fences, but I’ll bet that his formative years in the SCA were primarily fighting) and I can think of a variety of others groups who emphasize teamwork.

Fencing melees, however, do not work well with groups. The reason why fighting has the ability to work in groups is because the weapon systems are sufficiently different to provide certain tactical situations where each weapon system is king. Sometimes it’s spears, sometimes it’s polearms, sometimes it’s scutums, sometimes, it’s smaller shields, and so on.

With fencing, there is essentially only one range, and that is of the sword. You say you can add firearms. Sure, and fighters can add combat archery. The tactical equations do shift, but not on the basis of the primary weapon systems. You say you can train next to another and work more smoothly in tandem. Indeed you can. But once you get past two on two, the range of the weapons simply is not sufficient to allow striking of the opponent on the far side of your partner. With fighting weapon systems, much larger individual teams that contribute to all of the combat can be created because of the length of the spear and nature of the surrounding weapon systems.

In terms of application in the SCA and how fencing promotes selfishness, as a Calontiri, I will relate some anecdotal evidence based upon the attempts to add fencing in Calontir. I have paid a goodly amount of attention to the subject of fencing in Calontir. Initially, as I said, I was in favor it, but starting in 2003 I have switched sides. I fully admit this is anecdotal, yet the experiences I have had in the Knowne World have reinforced this impression.

In any case, several times Conde Fernando Rodriguez de Falcon posted a 12-step program for the addition of fencing in Calontir. Basically, you follow these 12 steps, and you’ll bring fencing to Calontir. As of this point, no one has completed these steps. The primary stumbling block seems to be in the work of creating the rules, assembling the marshallate, and generating the infrastructure needed for fencing. In short, Fernando basically said that if you do the work, you can have the sport. No one has completed these tasks.

Fernando fully admits that whomever does this will face political challenges. This is not surprising given the history of the fencing issue in Calontir (see trimguy for a primer on fencing in Calontir) Nevertheless, anyone who wants fencing in Calontir must do the work themselves. A common thread from proponents of fencing in Calontir has seemed to be something along the lines of: “why won’t they let us have fencing?” but the real truth in response is: “why don’t you create it and give Calontir a reason to like it?” Many of the proponents of fencing who actually live in Calontir have not done the work, but instead expected the Earl Marshals to create the rules and the infrastructure for them. Not surprisingly, this has promoted the response of “why should I do a whole bunch of work for something I don’t like?” from many in Calontir.

In Calontir, at one point on the Calontir-fence YahooGroup, an anonymous poll was provided asking people’s position on fencing in Calontir. Here are the results:
I am IN FAVOR of Rapier Combat in Calontir. I am currently NOT ACTIVE in Calontir. I plan to be an ACTIVE participant. 2
I am IN FAVOR of Rapier Combat in Calontir. I am currently NOT ACTIVE in Calontir. I plan to be a CASUAL participant. 1
I am IN FAVOR of Rapier Combat in Calontir. I am currently NOT ACTIVE in Calontir. I do NOT plan participate. 0
I am OPPOSED to Rapier Combat in Calontir. I am currently ACTIVE in Calontir. I plan to be an ACTIVE participant. 0
I am OPPOSED to Rapier Combat in Calontir. I am currently ACTIVE in Calontir. I plan to be a CASUAL participant. 3
I am OPPOSED to Rapier Combat in Calontir. I am currently ACTIVE in Calontir. I do NOT plan participate. 10
I am OPPOSED to Rapier Combat in Calontir. I am currently NOT ACTIVE in Calontir. I plan to be an ACTIVE participant. 0
I am OPPOSED to Rapier Combat in Calontir. I am currently NOT ACTIVE in Calontir. I plan to be a CASUAL participant. 1
I am OPPOSED to Rapier Combat in Calontir. I am currently NOT ACTIVE in Calontir. I do NOT plan participate. 0
I DO NOT CARE if Rapier Combat is allowed in Calontir. I am currently ACTIVE in Calontir. I plan to be an ACTIVE participant. 0
I DO NOT CARE if Rapier Combat is allowed in Calontir. I am currently ACTIVE in Calontir. I plan to be a CASUAL participant. 0
I DO NOT CARE if Rapier Combat is allowed in Calontir. I am currently ACTIVE in Calontir. I do NOT plan participate. 0
I DO NOT CARE if Rapier Combat is allowed in Calontir. I am currently NOT ACTIVE in Calontir. I plan to be an ACTIVE participant. 0
I DO NOT CARE if Rapier Combat is allowed in Calontir. I am currently NOT ACTIVE in Calontir. I plan to be a CASUAL participant. 0
I DO NOT CARE if Rapier Combat is allowed in Calontir. I am currently NOT ACTIVE in Calontir. I do NOT plan participate. 0
I DO NOT live in Calontir. 3
I am IN FAVOR of Rapier Combat in Calontir. I am currently ACTIVE in Calontir. I plan to be an ACTIVE participant. 8
I am IN FAVOR of Rapier Combat in Calontir. I am currently ACTIVE in Calontir. I plan to be a CASUAL participant. 8
I am IN FAVOR of Rapier Combat in Calontir. I am currently ACTIVE in Calontir. I do NOT plan participate. 5

Total people who voted in favor of fencing: 24. That’s all who could be bothered to spend the few minutes to vote for fencing. Was every possible fencer on this list? No, of course not, but the list is essentially open to anyone, and only 24 people spent the less than 5 minutes it would take to log on to the group, become a member, vote, and leave the group. Was this publicized in the fencing community? I have no clue. If not, why not? Those in favor are pushing for something and were given the opportunity to get a bunch of friends to say they wanted it. This was their great chance to show that there was a great demand for fencing in Calontir.

The polls been open since March, 2007. Less than 20 people said that they would fence if Calontir had fencing. Only 4 of those said that they did not participate in Calontir but would if it had fencing. 4!

Let’s assume that there are actually three times that number (feel free to pick a reasonable multiplier). That’s still less than sixty potential fencers total. That’s 12 people only who would play if fencing was allowed. Assume they all bring a spouse. That’s 24.

24 people? These 24 people insist that the only way they’re going to play is if we let them do what they want to do? This seems selfish to me.

OK, so I will fully admit that these statistics are generally meaningless because of sample size but less than one quarter of those who happen to be on the list actually voted (41 out of 170) I personally voted Against but plan to be a Casual participant. If fencing is such a big deal in Calontir, why can’t there be more than 30 people who would vote for it? Would you change your kingdom for less than 30 people?

Just out of curiosity, what is the percentage of people who fence at Pennsic as opposed to everything else? I’d be very curious to figure that number out and compare it to fighters.

In short, there is nothing in fencing that tends to promote working in groups, and both the historical background and implementation in the SCA tends to promote the one or few over the many. This is not to say that every fencer or fencing group is like that, merely that my experience suggests this to be the greater trend.

Finally misogyny. I have said this before and I have gotten a lot of “what the hell are you smoking, Rhodri?” Well, I have two responses to that. One, I mean it. Two, it’s some good stuff, wanna hit?

How many women fighters are there in your kingdom? I’ll tell you exactly how many there are in Calontir: none. You want to call Rhianwen a chick fighter? You go right ahead. Tell Her Majesty Sir Ariel that she’s not a fighter, but a woman fighter? How about going up to Cassandra? You go spout some crap about women-only tournaments to her. Please. But let me get marshmallows and popcorn first because the show’s gonna rock.

In Calontir, people who fight are fighters, and our army includes not simply the fighters but the waterbearers, Soup Kitchen staff, and chirurgeonate. None of those titles have anything to do with gender.

Sadly, I have seen many instances of gender prejudice generating because of fencing. A fighter might say: “We should not authorize this person because she’s a small woman and will get hurt.” A fencer might say: “You should not fight, you should fence because as a small woman you’ll get hurt.”

I’ve heard both, or their equivalent, in multiple kingdoms from multiple fighters and multiple fencers.

Do I think most people feel this way? No, but this is a trend that I deeply despise. We probably all agree that such statements, from whomever, are wrong. Yet, it does happen, it’s not a regional thing, it’s not a proponent of fencing thing or a proponent of fighting thing, but rather it’s something that has developed because some people perceive fencing to be a more woman-appropriate sport.

I have heard from women in multiple kingdoms that they have been discouraged from fighting. I have also heard from women that they have never felt so encouraged to fight as in Calontir. I believe that this difference is directly attributable to fencing.

So, look about your kingdom, and look at the number of female fighters as a percentage. Then come and watch the hats get taken off at Pennsic or Estrella or Gulf or Lilies.

I chose most of the words of my initial post with care. I did not say that fencing causes “divisiveness, selfishness, and misogyny.” I said fencing promotes those things. There is an important difference between those two words.

Those things are part of humanity, sad to say, and fencing in the SCA brings out but does not cause such behavior in both sides.

Let me reiterate. This is not a problem with fencers themselves. It is not a problem with fighters themselves. It is a problem with mixing the two cultures in the blender that is the SCA. It is a problem with mixing historical periods with vastly different viewpoints and cultures. Both sides are innocent. Both sides are guilty.

OK, some specific replies to responses on Liam’s thread:

liamstliam asked: “But it is fencing that you perceive has harmed the kingdom or the arguments about fencing?”

I believe fencing has harmed the SCA as a whole, because we have this divisive issue that gets people mad at each other over a hobby.

nomadwe said: Can you provide concrete examples of these, especially the last?

Edit: Oh, and I’m pretty sure that fencing doesn’t tear at my soul, thanks very much. My soul likes fencing Just Damn Fine.

I tried to give some concrete examples, if those are not sufficient, I can elaborate further. As to the edit, it’s not a question of your soul liking fencing, but rather that the simple fact that we are arguing so vehemently suggests to me that our souls are not at peace with this concept. If our souls are not at peace, then our souls are harmed. Maybe not yours directly, but I honestly feel that anything that hurts any of our souls hurts all of us.

The only argument that I truly find difficult to respond to is: “well so-and-so could do nothing if they could not fence.” I feel bad about that. That indeed tears at my soul. But how many people exist where such a statement is truly applicable? I refer back to the poll results. I feel very uncomfortable with the thought of saying to you: “change this just for me or those few like me.” I think, again, the placing of the few over the many hurts all of our souls, whomever does it.

math5 said: Is that a “Some of my friends are fencers?”

I think that’s the most prejudiced comment I’ve seen here.

I responded to this on the thread, but my original post was specifically not: “some of my best friends are fencers.” I stated then, as I state now, fencers, like everyone else in the SCA, are generally wonderful people. I know some asshats in the SCA. Some of those asshats are fencers, some are fighters, some are artisans, etc.

My point was is that we, as a whole, are generally really good people. We may disagree on this argument, but we, as a whole, are really really cool. I wanted to distinguish my arguments from attacks on fencers themselves, but focus on my overall argument, which is that I think fencing has hurt the SCA.

silverstah said: Can you explain this more in detail? I don’t see how fencing makes people act any more divisive, selfish, or misogynistic than any other activity commonly practiced in the SCA.

ferriludent said: I would like to hear more about your thoughts on this “divisiveness, selfishness, and misogyny” position, as well.

I hope I have in the above epic post, but if not, feel free to ask for clarification.

rufinia said: What the hell. I mean, really, what the hell. I can make the SAME argument against heavy fighting.

purpura said essentially the same thing.

The point I was trying to make is that the presence of fencing makes all of us as a whole, fighters and fencers, act worse. Individually, everyone here may each act just as well as they would have, but I’m referring to bell curve kind of generalities. I point out that you yourself said in another thread: “I think Calontir has its head up its ass.” Is this your normal behavior, or has your vehemence on this issue pushed you a bit? Maybe it is your normal behavior, and I’m the last person to criticize saying something rude, but is everyone who says something like that not without emotional influence based on the argument?

Yes, Rufinia, you can make a similar argument about fighting and I probably will agree with much of what you say. It’s the mixture of differing cultures that I struggle with, not the actual activity. Had fencing been the root of the hobby, and fighting was the newcomer, the positions would be reversed and I would say the same things about fighting as I do about fencing now. Essentially, your argument is that I as a fighter have to change my ways and sacrifice time and resources for something that I don’t want. And, at least in Calontir, that seems to be a request from a smallish minority which explains much of why it’s not there.

valr said: a bunch of things but since he was generally supporting my position I won’t really emphasize his here. However, this opened a new thread between him and soldiergrrl. The end result of their discussion is that probably the “sneering at Calontir” comment earlier in Liam’s responses was probably tongue in cheek.

OK, fair enough. Believe me, I say enough tongue in cheek things that sometimes get taken wrongly. I am, not surprisingly, a mouthy bastard. However, my initial response was, essentially, I’m sorry you feel that way, but please come to Calontir and meet us at Lilies or join us under the pavilion at Gulf or Pennsic or wherever. Soldiergrrl made the point that my reply might have been more appropriate to follow the “sneering” comment, but I was actually responding to Liam’s specific question about my opinions, not really responding directly to her or her husband.

Nevertheless, assume that someone was “sneering at your kingdom.” Would you be happy about it? Whatever the reason? Even if you agreed? Even if it was tongue in cheek? Would you always respond well to that? Or would such a comment be likely to occasionally cause divisiveness?

The “sneering” comment is not a big deal in itself, but I have, indeed, had people be rude to me because I’m from Calontir and we do not have fencing. That is, no matter what you want to say, divisive.

math5 and valr asked about misogyny. I hope I responded to that. Again, if you’re unclear, please ask for a follow-up.

lumineaux said: Misogyny?!? In a Kingdom that has had just as many female Kingdom Rapier Marshals as male, I’m trying to figure out how fencing has promoting misogyny.

Selfishness? A huge number of our active high-level rapier fighters are also Pelicans for service to things above and beyond fencing. If anything, the need for fencers to be self-sufficient and independent has created a sub-culture of service within the East’s rapier community.

I do Calontir the courtesy of letting it choose its own path and not “sneering” at them for their choice. Please do us the courtesy of refraining from ad hominem attacks when you don’t know us.

Lumineaux raises a number of interesting and valid points. The misogyny wasn’t to say that women could not become Rapier Marshals. The misogyny has to do with a trend, again that I have seen personally from multiple fighters and multiple fencers in multiple kingdoms to direct women to become fencers because it’s “safer.” I personally think that such behavior, no matter who does it, is total crap. Sadly, it exists and it tends to promote (again, not cause) misogyny because it makes fighting more masculine and fencing more feminine, as opposed to simply two different sports.

That’s great to hear that a large number of your fencers have become Pelicans in service to their sport. Sadly, I have not seen enough of that thought process in terms of fencing in Calontir, though perhaps I mistaken. I’m perfectly willing to be proven otherwise, and I hope that happens in the future. I am always admiring of those people who sacrifice for the many as the Pelicans in this sub-culture in the East have proven themselves to have done so.

I am not sneering at any fencer or any kingdom. I am not making any personal attacks. I don’t think this is an issue that revolves around any one person. I am merely saying that fencing promotes such things, and while certain individuals and groups stand out and move away from these negative things, I believe that fencing has caused the center of the bell curve to shift on these issues in negative ways. In other words, I am specifically not attacking ad hominem, but rather I suppose ad rem or at the thing.

I’m also not telling any kingdom or person to change their ways. I simply was asked my opinion and I gave it, with no specific direction to any person or place to change something. There’s no changing anything here, only that my preference is that the status quo remain the status quo.

Both rufinia and dulcinbradbury suggest that the gender balance is more on the fencing side than the fighting side because of upper body strength. No arguments, but that’s not the focus of my point on misogyny. Why do more women fight in your kingdom? Is it because they only wanted to fence, or because they were directed towards fencing away from fighting?

goldsquare says: You and I agree in many ways – but we certainly don’t agree in degree or detail, my friend.

I used to fence, and am an Iren Fera, and I can assure you that the confraternity of feeling in both parts of our culture is near-equivalent. I think your comments go much too far.

I think the native issue here is that fencing has followed its natural migration, and is now in direct conflict and competition with the SCA’s primary form of combat.

That is why I agree that it has harmed the SCA as a whole, and may continue to do so, despite ITSELF being a pleasant and harmonious activity with some of the same best sort of people you can find in the Shieldwall.

The origin is not in the sector of period it re-creates. The origin is that the SCA has bred a competitor to classical combat, and that competition while natural, has to stop.

Goldsquare might very well have phrased what it takes me a book to write in one post. I suspect that my clarification will remove at least some of his doubts on my position.

I reiterate. I like fencing. A lot. It’s a blast.

Nevertheless, in the SCA context it causes problems.

soldiergrrl said in response to goldsquare: I disagree and I feel that it would exclude a great number of our rapier inclined members.

There’s nothing wrong with competition and it keeps everyone on their toes.

Granted, Ansteorran rapier fighters have worked long and hard to become valued members of our kingdom.

lady_guenievre essentially stole my response to Soldiergrrl: Rapier *inclined* – see, I have to wonder, and this is actually an impossible thing to know, if there *was* no rapier if we would still have these members or whether they would have just chosen armored as “the only game in town”. To remove rapier *now*, would certainly be exclusionary. But if it had never happened? That’s an entirely different question.

Moot point, of course…

This lead the two of them onto a much larger discussion. One of their points was the fact that the rapier community is much more female-friendly than the fighting community. I think that this is evidence for my misogyny point. In Calontir, we encourage everyone to participate in fighting, male or female, and show how no matter how big or strong you are you can contribute to the fighting success of the kingdom. I think Calontir, because it does not have fencing, tends to encourage women to fight more than any other kingdom. The fighter community is, from what I’ve been told, very female-friendly in Calontir. I certainly work to welcome any new fighter, no matter what, to Calontir as is not only my personal preference but duty as a fyrdman of Calontir.

Nevertheless, both raise a lot of good points. One other point I do want to address is that Silverstah says that she and her husband play in the SCA because they like the SCA. I’m glad they do, I’m glad they’re here, but the intellectualism, research, and scholarship combined with the martial art are not, of necessity, exclusive to the SCA.

There are a number of posts I’m going to skip over but I want to respond to lumineaux’s statement that in the East they’re glad they’re not shat upon. I reiterate, I am not saying that any individual is bad, only that the introduction of fencing exacerbated other things.

I say that because I have the perspective of a kingdom that does not have fencing while seeing how fencing works in other kingdoms. I feel that this gives me a better ability to see the forest, but of course you’re welcome to feel that I’m not close enough to understand the trees.

Nevertheless, that post, and Lumineaux’s follow-up posts to Goldsquare emphasize the trials and tribulations that she has faced in her efforts.

That tells me that her efforts created some divisiveness in the East and that a lot of work was required to heal part of it, but given the vehemence of her position I don’t know if it’s completely healed yet or not. Lumineaux, I admire your work ethic.

Again, my comment assigned the blame to the activity in the SCA context, not to individuals and not to the activity as a whole. Individuals on both sides have done extremely rude things in the name of furthering their position. You might think my comment was another. I do not, given only that I specifically avoided ad hominem attacks and merely made a statement in response that I have at least some evidence to support.

soldiergrrl said: When we live in Calontir, I’m sure we’ll end up at Lillies. However, I take horrible offense at your supposition that “fencing has harmed the soul of the SCA.”

Personally, I think it’s brought a grace and class to the society.

(And in case, it’s not clear, the gentle who sneered at Calontir is my beloved husband, and yes, he’s played in Calontir. We just happen to be Ansteorran down to our bones.)

You’re sort of proving a couple of my points, actually. You think it’s brought a grace and class to the society. I think that it has reduced much of the grace and class that brought me into the SCA, as evidenced by the simple fact that tongue in cheek or not, I hardly think that sneering at a kingdom reflects grace and class. Both of us are correct in our opinions here, we just have different preferences. It’s essentially the same as saying that you like red and I like blue (azure, a cadwalladr passant or, within a bordure engrailed or 🙂 )

You don’t have to live in Calontir to go to Lilies, by the way. For example, I know a bunch of people who are leaving the greater Toronto area for Lilies in a few days. I’m very jealous as I’m in Toronto right now and can’t get back to Lilies because of a class.

As an alternative, come to the Calontir encampment at Pennsic and I’ll give you a beer or cider. I’ll probably be at the next Gulf too. And I offer beer or cider to any and all that come around (if they’re over 21 of course)

OK, I think that’s all the responses to my post. I will follow with a few concluding statements.

First, I have generally declined to respond to all of the comments in the two posts of Liam. I suspect you all think this is long enough 🙂 However, hopefully this has answered some questions.

I hope that those of you who read through this epic will realize that I am not against fencers, but against fencing in the SCA. It’s a subtle but real difference. Do I actively work against fencing? Nope, that horse done left the barn though I will freely admit I wish we’d shut the door. I was, however, asked my opinion so I gave it.

I am sure that the vast majority of the people who have responded to my post are friends that I have not yet met. I hope that many of you come visit me at Pennsic and we can debate this in a proper forum, over beer. To find me, come to N05, I’ll be the first tent in the Calontir courtyard along the road. I have a shade-fly, big coolers, and lots of bags for the empties 🙂
I’m perfectly willing to come visit you and drink your beer too (right Liam?). I’ll be there on the first Saturday so I’ll be there the whole time to discuss things and I love a good argument (not the automatic gainsaying of everything I said 🙂 ).


PS No balloons were harmed in the making of this post

PPS If you offer me a beer, I prefer pale ales in the heat of Pennsic

PPPS Mad Anthony Wayne: “He’d charge hell, but only if you plan it.”

PPPPS Wyrd bith ful araed

PPPPPS Think about where’s man’s glory most begins and ends, and say my glory was I had such friends

PPPPPPS Did I not warn you about epics?

PPPPPPPS Some will sell their dreams for small desires, Or lose the race to rats, Get caught in ticking traps, And start to dream of somewhere to relax their restless flight

PPPPPPPPS Free Luna!!!!

158 thoughts on “My Response to Liam”

  1. Hi – first, let me say that:

    1) I’m a fencer. And an occasional heavy list fighter (I’m not terribly good, but I follow my kingdom to war, lugging my spear). And a scribe, a cook, and general dogsbody when cleanup is required. Why list all of that? Because the presumption most anti-fencer people hold is that fencers only fence.
    2) I do not care if Calontir ever allows fencing. I feel it’s Calontir’s choice.
    3) You’re welcome to your opinions, and I salute you for expressing them. Since you’ve been so good as to lay your thoughts out for us, I’m compelled to respond. Picking just a few points:

    “Divisiveness. Sadly, this is the easiest one to prove. The simple fact that we’re having a discussion with as much emotion and deeply seated opinions on both sides is merely one point.

    Actually, it’s not proved at all. It was a pretty calm discussion – even when covering the potentially provocative “let’s pick Crown by some other method” repeating thread.

    All the emotion began after two comments: first, the provocative and unfortunate “sneering” remark, and then your comment accusing fencing itself of being bad for the society. I don’t, in fact, dislike you, but you should take responsibility for the heat you helped to generate.

    And please note: Most of the people who took issue with the “sneering” comment are fencers.

    Your argument about competition for resources can also be applied to any other activity. Smaller groups may also not be able to support both heavy list and dance, or bardic, or pick anything. Are all of those “divisive” also?

    But the misogyny argument is hardest to fathom. I’ve played in four kingdoms and two principalities, beginning in 1976. I haven’t heard the “she should be allowed to play” line in twenty years or more… and I’ve never heard it in fencing. I’m not claiming that your reports are false – just that they’re extremely unrepresentative.

    Indeed, fencing is provably a much more level playing field for women than heavy list.

    1. It was and is a pretty calm discussion, but that’s not always the case sadly. Included in that discussion was at least a “sneer” at Calontir and the statement that Calontir has its head up its ass. Even in jest, on a topic this hotly contested, that seems divisive to me. I also saw a great deal of emotion prior to my comment, though there’s no doubt that my response did not calm the fire 🙂

      I agree with the comment on the fencer response to the sneering. It’s not that any individual is wrong here, but that it’s so easy to offend the other side because we’re all so emotional on that issue.

      Again, divisive 🙂

      I’m perfectly comfortable standing behind my opinions. I was asked my opinion. I answered. It’s not the majority opinion in the Liamverse, so I’m expecting heat. Won’t change whether I wanna drink beer with you 🙂

      I get your point about other activities, but the fighting/fencing question is a bit different simply because they are essentially competing for exactly the same resources. A fighter can dance, perform (that’s my thing), do research (another thing), and so on. However, if I go to an event I can generally do either fighting or fencing, but often not both. Waterbearers on one field may or may not be able to help on both, etc.

      You may have an argument with archery, but they’re not exactly the same and do not compete for the same resources in terms of space and time. You can often do both fighting/fencing and archery at the same event.

      I hope that my misogyny thing is misrepresentative. I really hope so. I have, sadly, again heard it in multiple kingdoms from multiple people.

      And it’s not a question of level playing field per se, it’s a question of providing the opportunity to participate. I will never be good at sewing, but I’ve never lacked the encouragement to do so by others.

      1. I could be wrong, but I have an impression that there was more fighting (as in, more battles) at Pennsic and possibly at Gulf Wars before there started to be fencing war point battles using the same scenarios on the same fields. I have nothing but a wildly imperfect memory on which to base this observation, however.

        As far as waterbearing…I *can* address that, intimately. 🙂 This elderly broad does not have the energy to give her all for, say, the Pennsic woods battle and then turn around and work a fencing battle an hour or two later. But if Calontir had fencing and a bunch of our guys were participating in the fencing battles? I’d probably feel I had to try. And I’d probably hurt myself in so doing. That resource is not infinite.

      2. Ah, right, the “head up ass” comment. Sorry, I should have included that as well.

        I think that every activity essentially competes: none of us can do more than one thing at a time. You may live in a place where things are scheduled so that only fencing and archery are scheduled in opposition, but where I’ve lived and played, I see lots of things happening at once. While fencing and heavy list are happening (archery is less common, for site-related reasons), so are cooking, waterbearing, listrunning, heralding, helping the royals, shopping, socializing, and basically everything we do.

        We *always* have to choose. Taking away one thing wouldn’t change that.

        Fencing is not divisive.

        It’s not as … what’s the reverse of divisive? Not inclusive, but tending toward bringing people together – I’ll call it groupogenic…

        Fencing is not divisive. Agreed, it’s not as groupogenic as beer, but then what is?

        1. Fencing is not divisive. Agreed, it’s not as groupogenic as beer, but then what is?

          Ahh… but then you haven’t combined fencing AND beer, have you?

        2. The barony I live in, Dance was a full thriving activity. We had a preformace group that actually did enough paid demos that we certainly paid our own expenses plus our income often was used to cover fighting needs.
          Then they decided that they should schedule a group A&S activity at the same time. Dance went away almost completely for years. It only just started back up because people scheduled it on a different night.

          I don’t care if it is fencing, archery, fighting, or what, but if something is scheduled at the same time as another thing, people have to choose.

          By that token Rob… I am sorry, I have to say that part of the arguement against fencing does not hold water for me personally. I heard the same thing from people about archery for a while back when, (It takes large spaces, people, and resources) and in time, it became almost as honored as fighting. If we are to exclude one thing because it takes away from others, then we need to put up a finite list of activities across the board for the SCA. We can’t have woodworking, it takes resources and people away from cooking. Embroidry threads could be used for weaving, and surely that is more productive…

          1. I see what you’re trying to say, but there’s a problem here.

            Dancing and A&S do not have to be at the same time. They don’t have to compete for resources. A&S is often done in the day at events. Dancing is often after feast. One can easily do both.

            Fighting and fencing, however, are direct competitors. They have to be at essentially the same time, in the same kind of places, with the same support staff, and the same people doing both.

            Yes, you can schedule practices on different nights, but that tends to mean that you’re asking people to go to 2, maybe 3 things a week if there’s a group meeting, plus go to events. That’s a lot, just to be able to do fencing and fighting knowing that you can only do one at events.

            Yes, I agree, other things can compete for resources, but fighting and fencing have to.

            I did not say that we should not have this resource competition, what I said was that this resource competition exists, and this competition creates division as people debate what the correct balance of resources is.

            You proved my point in your post, by the way. You showed that A&S night squished dance. Were the dancers happy about this? Nope. Was there some division created by the end result? Almost surely. Any time you start juggling resources, there’s going to be division.

          2. Why do fencing and rattan have to be at the same time? I’ll grant the same *kind* of places, but the same time?

            And you’re both right and wrong in your reply when you say “Any time you start juggling resources, there’s going to be division”.

            You’re right, because any time there’s a choice, there’s two sets of people created: those who chose A, and those who chose B.

            But that doesn’t mean that B is divisive. And in particular, I assert as strongly as I can without spilling my virtual beer, that given a list of activities A, B, C, D, E, and F, it’s hard to support the contention that only activity F is the problem, or bad for the Society.

    2. I think you need to read rhodri’s post more carefully; some of the points you’ve made are not actually contrary to what he said.

      His point about divisiveness is not that fencers are inherently more argumentative than fighters; just that the issue itself ends up being divisive. His point is that the whole situation, of having two combat arts that compete for participants, space, resources, and recognition, cause both fencers, fighters, and even people uninvolved to much more acrimonious debates than they would if there were only a single combat art.

      His point about misogyny is also not that fencers themselves are misogynistic, but that having what is perceived as a “harder” martial art, and a “softer” martial art, has a tendency to cause both fencers and fighters to encourage women to take up the “softer” art.

      Note that in both of these cases, he’s not saying the fencers are bad; he’s saying the existence of fencing in the society is making the society weaker. It may be that the fighters are to blame, or people who do neither art; his point is just that the existence of fencing has weakened the society.

      Note that I don’t necessarily agree with rhodri; I’m just trying to make sure we’re discussing the points that he was making, rather than a misinterpretation that makes it look like he thinks that all fencers are divisive, selfish, and misogynist.

      1. Saying fencing promotes misogyny is like saying librarianship or teaching promotes misogyny. Not all women have wanted to take on the misogyny of a traditionally male career. There’s a reason I’m not a lawyer. This is like saying that I should only have been allowed to be a lawyer to fix the gender problems in the field.

        1. I get your point, and there’s some validity to it. However, what if your only choice was a traditionally male career? Would you forget about a career? Or would you deal with it? And then what if you added a new, more traditionally softer career option and had people urge you to do it because “it’s more appropriate.”

          I didn’t say fencing causes misogyny. I said fencing promotes misogyny in the SCA because it created a more, as someone put it earlier, female-focused option.

          Prior to the addition of fencing, I’m betting more women fought. I know that in Calontir there’s a much higher percentage of women fighters than in any other kingdom I’ve traveled to. I attribute this difference to the creation of a “softer” option to use the post you responded to. I make this attribution because of the actions I have seen from a variety of people, not simply because of a theoretical viewpoint.

          I really hope I’m wrong, by the way. I hope that the presence of fencing has not increased misogynistic behavior in the SCA. My experience, however, lends me to think I’m not wrong.

          And I totally get what you’re saying about the choices of women. My grandmother was one of the strongest women I have ever met. She chose to be a prim and proper housewife and cook not because she didn’t have options, but because that’s what she wanted to be. Nothing wrong with that choice. What’s wrong is someone suggesting she should be pushed to a traditionally female role because it’s “better for women.”

          1. “Prior to the addition of fencing, I’m betting more women fought.”

            In the interest of presenting all information, whether it agrees with what I would like it to agree with or not:

            Eh, I’m not sure you are right about that, Rhodri. Prior to the advent of fencing, I’m betting more women didn’t participate in any combat form. I *do* remember, clearly, though some people who lived there at the time will deny it, that when rapier started taking off in Northern Ansteorra (which was where I played a great deal, since we then lived in Grimfells) many, many Ansteorrans commenting that it was a good thing because it gave women and the physically less-endowed a way to participate in some type of combat. This, despite the fact that the first female knight I ever met (Sir Sif O’Donnell) lived in Tulsa. On the other hand, the stereotype of the Ansteorran fighter at the time was a big, beefy guy–and Sif was about six feet tall and well-muscled. 🙂

            I can remember a time when in certain quarters (not in Calontir, to my awareness) there were male fighters who refused to fight women.

          2. And I agree with you that that kind of misogyny is wrong — but it’s wrong to put the blame on the alternatives. The existence of fencing didn’t create misogyny — it just gave some women an option of something combat oriented that they could do without having to put up with the boy’s club they apparently saw in rattan. Yes, some of those women *might* have said “I’ll try it anyway” in absence of the option. Maybe. And others would have said, “Forget it, I’ll take up archery or brewing or ____ instead.”

            If I lived in Calontir, I still wouldn’t fight heavy. I’ve no interest in wearing heavy armor, in having people swinging large heavy objects at my head, in coming home bruised and armor-bitten. I don’t like the noise of it.

            I’ve considered trying fencing because it looks like it might be fun. All banning fencing would do (in my case) would keep me from considering anything martial at all.

          3. I’m not saying fencing created misogyny. You can talk to anthropologists about when that came about. I’m merely a historian 🙂

            What I am saying is that the presence of fencing in the SCA gave misogyny an outlet that it might not have otherwise had in the SCA.

            I get that not everyone who fences would automatically fight, male or female. I am only saying that in Calontir, where there’s no other option, everyone is encouraged to fight, given the help and the support, and so on.

            Misogyny exists, fencing did not create it, but in the SCA context fencing provided an outlet for misogynists that increased, or promoted, misogyny in the SCA.

            I suspect we’re going to have to agree to disagree on this, which is fine.

            This just means you’re going to have to come drink my beer at Pennsic and tell me what an idiot I am while sitting under my shade-fly. 😉

          4. Wrong. Misogynists gave misogyny an outlet. Might as well say that cooking fostered misogyny because some people think women belong in the kitchen.

            Having an alternative, at most, made the misogyny more obvious and made it so that people didn’t have to accept it in order to get their martial fix.

          5. Oh, and I’m not in favor of banning fencing. I’m merely stating the effects that I have perceived from the existence of fencing in the hopes that the status quo in all kingdoms remains the status quo 🙂

          6. re: Prior to the addition of fencing, I’m betting more women fought.

            Having nothing else remotely resembling hard data on this, I’ll note that gives us the dates of all knightings of women in the SCA, with a fairly steady rate of a 4/5 knighting per year since 1976.

          7. Re: re: Prior to the addition of fencing, I'm betting more women fought.

            Cool, thanks for the link.

            While 4/5 a year is a good rate, what has been the rate of knighting in general?

            This might prove the point either way. If there are 4/5 women knighted per year in the SCA and this has stayed steady, but the number of male knights per year has dramatically increased, then the percentage of women fighters has probably decreased. If, however, the number of male knights has stayed essentially the same per year, then my argument is crap 🙂

          8. Re: re: Prior to the addition of fencing, I'm betting more women fought.

            Having now gone and looked at the link, I’m not sure where you’re seeing the 4/5 per year. Or is that 4/5ths per year?

          9. Re: re: Prior to the addition of fencing, I'm betting more women fought.

            OK, .8 I see. I looked and thought you said 4 or 5 per year 🙂

            Now, to find the rate of all knights per year.

          10. Re: Prior to the addition of fencing, I'm betting more women fought.

            In the EK (where I know how to get the data the fastest), there are approximately 5.8 knightings per year, in again a (mostly) linear fashion. The curvature is slightly more pronounced, though, with slightly more happening in ’88-’92.

  2. Dude. Epic much? 🙂

    Seriously: I think it was that said that the only way fencing happens in Calontir is if it can be conclusively shown that it would be good for the Kingdom, and that’s pretty much where I am.

    Mostly what I want to know is — why is it so important to other Kingdoms that we have fencing in ours?

    (Miss you…)

    1. Your question is a very interesting point. Some of the most active people promoting fencing in Calontir don’t even live in Calontir. That strikes me as odd.

      And I look forward to making more SweetNLow, Embattled 😉

      1. I honestly think it’s less about the fact that you don’t happen to have fencing at events, and more the vehement objections. The impression I have gotten is that Calontir reacts to fencing the way the rest of us do to elf ears.

        It is possible that the friend who shared this POV with me was just needling me because he knew how much fencing was a part of what I did at events.

        1. No, it isn’t an ‘elf ears’ thing because you would hate elf ears no matter where you saw them; Rapier (I HATE the term fencing BTW), at this particular point in the kingdom’ 25 years, is not desired as part of the culture in Calontir. Nothing more than that.

    2. From what little I understand? (And this is coming through the filter of out kingdom friends. I am not a fighter, will never be one, so I only have second hand info)

      It is because they either would like to fence when they come to events here, or because they know friends in Calontir who would fence if they could.

    3. Mostly what I want to know is — why is it so important to other Kingdoms that we have fencing in ours?

      Because the standard answer in many cases to “why isn’t fencing recognized on a Society level” is “because it doesn’t happen in every kingdom”. I don’t think most people would care, otherwise…your kingdom, your culture. ‘Least that’s my impression.

      1. And there, honestly, is the crux of the problem.
        I live in this Kingdom.
        It’s not that there’s this MASSIVE push to have fencing in Calontir from WITHIN Calontir. Contrary to what you may have heard or been told, it is a very small minority. Not to say it isn’t growing, but for the most part it hasn’t been organized within our borders.
        Believe it or not… A majority of us don’t miss rapier fighting, wouldn’t participate, and wish this damn discussion would DIE already.
        But it’s those OUTSIDE that want that “cookie” of Society recognition that are so vehemently DETERMINED to force it down our throats so they can have their damn dubis.
        So we have to change what we ARE so that THEY can have what they WANT.
        I’m friends with a woman who was Queen one of the other times this issue came up. She remembers being at a foreign war, in her privy chamber, being screamed at by a Don from another Kingdom who told her that Calontir was going to have fencing come hell or high water whether we wanted it or not.
        Do you really think that it’s just coincidence that just two or three months ago they ran the poll on having a “fourth peerage”, and then there’s this sudden open push for Calontir to fall in line and adopt fencing? Really and truly, do you? Especially considering for the most part the people who are participating in the demonstration at Lilies are from outside our border?
        And another issue is this… So we finally have fencing. Great. Traditionally, in other Kingdoms, the fencers are the Queen’s Guard. We already have a Queen’s Guard in Calontir. The Fyrd. So what happens next when someone moves in and suddenly feels slighted because they don’t get THAT cookie? Do we continually have to change what we as a Kingdom are, our traditions and our culture, just so that we are constantly appeasing everybody who wants some form of recognition?

        I don’t mean this to come off sounding angry at YOU…this has just been my trigger issue. It’s the selfish, entitled attitude of those who hunger for recognition at the expense of a very unique culture within the SCA that bothers me. They could honestly give a damn about us as a Kingdom, as long as they have their dubis.

  3. A king of the East suggested I, and Cornelia, (not that long ago actually) take up Combat archery because it is safer for us girls. We could be near the fighting without really getting into it. I told him I prefer to drive a scutum and it went over his head. (Bless him).

    (I jumped on your misogyny).

  4. Ahhhh! That’s what you meant by misogyny.
    I have to say, I would agree with that assessment. I’ve often heard “the cripple defense”. As I read this, I realized how many women actually do subscribe, or were encouraged to subscribe to the idea of them being inherent “cripples”.

    I knew this would be a good argument.

    1. I have never fought and I will never fence or fight, but I *totally* hate this argument. Sometime, on another rant, I can give my “what-it-was-like-growing-up-before-Title-One” speech. Which has actually caused a few younger people of both genders to stop and think, on occasion.

      1. I’m not sure I’m quite clear as to which argument you mean. Do you mean the “it’s safer” argument or something else? Subscribe this to it being late 🙂

      2. Title One? The “No Child Left Behind” act of 2001?
        That’s what I find when I Google “Title One”. I’m not sure what that has to do with this discussion.

  5. I take particular issue with the selfishness assertion.

    In the East, the Queen’s Guard does the heavy lifting for setting up thrones, royal pavilions, unloading regalia, etc. The Queen’s Guard is 90% (or more) made up of the rapier fighters. A decent number of the court heralds (for kingdom court) are rapier fighters. We run events. We man a large number of the guard shifts for our royal encampments. And when our kings asked rapier fighters to cross over and authorize in combat archery and rattan, many did (and our kings and queens have been lately joining us on the rapier field). We help marshal the rattan field battles at Pennsic. We set up hay bales, we carry water, and we clean up trash left after the fighters have gone home. (Is it *that* difficult to find a trash can???) We have tremendous pride in our kingdom, just like you do.

    But we do and are more than that. It is rare that I find someone who *only* does rapier. Most of us are heavily involved in A&S, heraldry, and the other activities that fall under the SCA’s umbrella. I’m not sure I understand how we’re aloof and selfish, when we’re no different from the majority of Scadians.

    I am a kingdom officer (submissions herald) in addition to being my shire’s herald and rapier marshal. Before that, I was shire chatelaine. And no, my practice doesn’t compete with the rattan practice, and both are quite viable. I’ve been asked to try out rattan combat, and I’d be welcomed if I did. (For medical and time reasons, I cannot do so.) I helped build my shire’s rapier practice from scratch and became our second marshal, now marshal in charge. For many of the newbies, we’re the gateway to the rest of the SCA, so we take a lot of time exposing them to other activities and encouraging their other interests. I’ve found that my level of activity is not atypical in the East’s fencing community. (In fact, I’m on the low end! It bothers me when I can’t do more.)

    Whether or not Calontir ever accepts rapier combat is immaterial. That’s your kingdom’s business. But don’t invent controversy in ours, or decide that the words of a few asshats means that their attitudes are endemic.

    1. I am grateful for all of the work that you have done. I have responded as such with my points from Lumineaux. Nevertheless, the nature of a single combat sport means that you have overcome that tendency, not that the tendency does not exist. I may or may not have proven my point, but my point has little to do with your excellent work.

      Also, I never said aloof. I merely said that an individualistic sport tends to promote individualism/selfishness. That is, I think, a slightly different point than you responded to.

      I totally understand your point about pavilion moving, etc. We in the Calontir Fyrd are usually the people called on to do that work here, so it is great to hear that the fencers are doing that in the East.

      And I’m only trying to be argumentative in the sense of making a point, not in being a jerk, but if most fencers do other things in the SCA, then why should those people who will only participate because of the fencing have much input? There’s not many of them, by your own point, and they don’t want to contribute to the whole. You, obviously, are not like that, but there are a number of people who’ve mentioned that some only do the SCA because of fencing.

      This may be more incoherent than I like because I’m up past my bedtime 🙂

      I would love to continue this discussion at Pennsic over a beer.

      1. Nevertheless, the nature of a single combat sport means that you have overcome that tendency, not that the tendency does not exist.

        Do you mean that being involved in a (generally) single combat sport subverts one’s other interests? I maintain that there was nothing to “overcome.” People gravitate to service or they don’t. It’s not the sport that’s a factor, it’s their innate personality and character.

        We tend to be Scadians who do rapier, not rapier fighters who do Scadian. For the rest, just having more people out playing the game is a “contribution”. They add to the atmosphere and the magic that is the SCA just by dressing up and taking part in that one thing, and they serve as opponents so I can improve my skills. And not being in their shoes, I see no reason to judge them for doing less than me. (I’m a parent – I’ve frequently had to bail as soon as the fighting was done. To someone who didn’t know me, how would that look?)

        (Interestingly, for some folks who seem to never contribute more concrete things – time, work, etc – all that needs to be done is to *ask* them for help. Some don’t know what’s needed before that happens, and just want some direction.)

        And as long as it’s good beer, sure!

      2. I am kind of perplexed. I fail to see how fencing is more “single combat” (and thus selfishness-inducing) than rattan fighting. This might result from IKA.
        As far as I can tell _here_, fencers are an asset to the Kingdom, and as a group providing services to the larger community.
        I could tell you about the ways I serve the SCA, or give you various examples of fencers doing the same (I’m not an exception) but I feel that it wouldn’t affect a deeply rooted conviction.

          1. Ah…
            Part of the disconnect may be that we increasingly actually do practice melee tactics. The tactics are just a little different when your protection is your neighbors sword.

          2. And in the East we have been instilled with a strong sense of service to our local groups and kingdom, part of which is emphasized in training those of less skill. I would argue that a concentration on melee, while building teamwork, takes away from the individual prowess, and the desire for one to improve him/herself. We have seen that in the East where the skill of the individual suffers due to our concentration on melee for Pennsic. Our knights and dukes have commented many times about that. And if the sheild wall is only as strong as the weekest member, doesn’t that mean that we should concentrate on individual skill so that we can be of greater assistance to our kingdom?

          3. The shield wall is not as strong as its weakest member, it’s as strong as it’s weakest teammate, which is an important difference.

            I know a number of really good fighters, some who are knights, that I do not want next to me in a shield wall because their focus, and their skills, do not mesh well. Whereas I know a number of people who essentially cannot fight their way out of a tournament paper bag who, by virtue of their discipline and melee skills, are excellent to fight with in a shield wall.

            Melee skill and individual skill are two different skills. They are oftten synergistic and helping one can help the other but not always.

          4. But would not that weakest teammate with more individual skill be of more assistance in the sheildwall if they had developed a better understanding of timing and distance, and could throw a telling blow on an opponent more often? Skills that come from individual combat?

          5. Often yes, but if at the same time they stop being willing to work in a team, or their new footwork demands more space it’s entirely possible that not be the case.

            A 7.5ft polearm is not a tournament weapon, yet it’s a different skill set than a 6ft polearm. There are momentum and reach differences that kick in.

            A scutum driver does not use a scutum in the manner of a smaller shield, nor do they swing a sword the same way. Scutum drivers throw quick sharp hacks sometimes, but thrust a lot. It’s the reason that the gladius of the scutum wall in the Roman infantry was replaced by the spatha in the Roman cavalry and in non-shield wall infantry. Two different weapon systems.

            Individual skills help, but they do not always translate. I would far rather have the weaker fighter that knows how to do one job next to me than a knight who cannot work in the shield wall.

          6. actually, I know a lot of guys who use a 7.5′ polearm in a tournament. And I have used a 5′ pole arm in melees.

          7. Me too to both, but that doesn’t change the fact that they are primarily one or the other and that the skill set changes depending upon the context.

          8. Standing and applauding. And the good fighters, no matter the rank, know their limitations. I am particularly fussy on who is my polearm at rough wars like Estrella. I need to know my teammate has my back.

            The East does not promote having your buddy’s back. It isn’t wrong – it is just a very, very different style of fighting. So unless an Eastie rides the bus they have no idea what we are talking about, Rhodri.

          9. The East does not promote having your buddy’s back. It isn’t wrong – it is just a very, very different style of fighting. So unless an Eastie rides the bus they have no idea what we are talking about, Rhodri.

            This is insulting.

            When I’m fighting rapier melee, yes I do. My skills don’t lend themselves to the “lone cowboy” type rapier fighter. I do best in line work and in defensive situations, so that’s where I usually get assigned. I protect my wingmen (and women), no question. We make openings for each other, we block shots, we work in tandem or in unison, and we take one for the team if needed. If we’re told to hold a position, you can be damn sure we don’t give it up lightly. If we can’t keep our wingmen alive, we often don’t stay alive.

          10. This has not been my experience. I am sorry yo are insulted but too many times I have seen differently to worry about your individual insult. (For your personal example I can cite a dozen otherwise).

            I am glad your experience is better but my mild concussion from fighting with VDK at Estrella tells me different.

            It has been near impossible to teach three-man melee up here let alone redirect the cowboy mentality. It is a long-standing style of fighting – it is not a horrible style but certainly not one I enjoy unless fighting across the line from it.

          11. Ahh… recently in the southern region, we divided up the army by skill set, and used colored armbands at least once so we knew who we all were (and so commanders could easily ID us to send us out where needed). We had a few cowboys. Their job was to head to the backfield and just cause havoc. (We once had 2 surround – and decimate – 10.) They work solo or in pairs, as the need arises.

            We have the units of offensive fighters – 80% offense, 20% defense – who are supposed to kill and kill again.

            We have skirmishers who are 80% defense and 20% offense – they’re the ones who protect the flag in that kind of scenario, hold a doorway, or act as rear guard if there’s a withdrawal and regroup.

            If discipline is maintained, it works. At one Kingdom Crusades, we ran through 2 scenarios using that set up and kicked butt. Then, we were set free to all play cowboy for the last scenario. We got creamed. Our commanders wanted us to lose to learn that lesson.

            We’re not always perfect, but we’re improving.

          12. *GRIN*

            See, you get it! I agree it is often all about discipline – too bad we do not fight the same format (aka rapier vs rattan) sounds like I’d love having you in a shield wall with me 🙂

      3. You stated this much more clearly here than in your main post. that you think fencing is an individualistic sport. In the Midlands, your neighbor, armored combat is the individual sport. I have to work very hard to get people to join in melee. It was even worse 20 years ago. Of those knighted in the Midlands between 1985 and 1995 over half avoided taking the melee field whenever possible. We have chivalry that feel that melee has not place in our game unless it is the Pas d Armes style.

        The fencers of the Midlands work as units. They are teams. I wish that I could get the armored fighters to join together like them.

        Let me introduce you to Anton at Pennsic

    2. In the East, the Queen’s Guard does the heavy lifting for setting up thrones, royal pavilions, unloading regalia, etc. The Queen’s Guard is 90% (or more) made up of the rapier fighters.

      For which they (or ANYONE on QG for that matter) get recognition…not really the average rapier fighter, and not really what Rhodri was addressing…QG is a very small percentage

      1. For which they (or ANYONE on QG for that matter) get recognition
        They do?
        I am a fencer, have been Queen guard because the incoming Queen asked me to. I did my job and that was good enough for me, but I have no memory of getting any specific “recognition” for it.
        Or do you mean that Queen’s guards, as a custom, get some form of recognition? If yes I’d be curious to know which one. The only effect I’ve seen is that it seems to have reinforced the reputation of fencers as reliable workers around here.

        1. Oh I get to see your name on a list when you are announced as one of the chosen. I see you thanked in the Pikestaff at the end of a reign, or in court by the Queen. Funny, I saw that as recognition – as in you are recognized for your efforts. You know…publicly chosen and thanked by the Queen. For me that would be specific recognition. Oh and enough for me as well.

          …or were you looking for an award?

          1. …or were you looking for an award?
            I am starting to get sick and tired of the assumption that anything people do is done for an award. Some people do things for that, some people just like to do their part to help the game run and find it a satisfaction in itself. I know where I stand and don’t really care about others opinions about me on that matter.
            Maybe removing all awards altogether would make the SCA healthier.

            As for the rest, I’m sorry but I haven’t spent all that time looking for my name on lists or in the Pikestaf, and I didn’t know that it appeared there.
            Do I care now that I know it? Not really.

          2. Good, that has never been my impression of you, so your comment initially surprised me a great deal.

            It is a fact that Royalty often use venues like Queens Guard, etc, to bring people to public notice – rarely without warrant, I’ll add. It is an honour – one the “good ones” work their butts off serving, but an honour none the less. Thus recognition.

  6. EDIT: Sorry, this belonged here, not there.

    I came over from Liam’s journal to read your response. I thank you for taking the time to explain and clarify your points. I now can understand and appreciate why you feel the way you do, where the post in Liam’s journal left me confused and mildly upset.

    As [info]beckishadow described the rapier fighters of the East, I heard him describing and pictured the rapier fighters of Ansteorra. Rapier fighters are far from selfish, even if the sport does not easily lend itself to fighting as a cohesive unit.

    I have not spent much time around the rapier fighters (too busy doing other things, mostly), but I have not seen that their sport promotes selfishness and selfish fighting any more or less than fighting in chivalric tournaments does. Our rapiers often form teams to accomplish other things (like pushing cars out of a muddy field after one rainy event). Our rapier fighters often fight as teams – the tactics are different, but the courtesy and honor are still there, and they still fight and win or lose as a team, not a collection of individual fighters.

    1. fighting as a team… actually figuring out how to develop a really cohesive unit seems to be a frequent topic among the fencers of my acquaintance.

  7. I am not going to address all of this Rhodri, cause it is way late, but a couple things.

    I have heard over and over again that fencing promotes selfishness.

    The Blackhearts here in Wichita were the -first- to step foreward to offer to help TE Thomas and Cerridwen during their time as baronage, with event clean up, set up, things like that. If someone mentioned something needed done, (Someone who had not already openly scorned them solely for being fencers) they would drop anything they were doing to help.

    When the majority of the fighters after a fair or event just wanted to go get a beer and clean up, the fencer kids jumped up and offered to help take down the shadeflies.

    Their group has its issues, every one does. They are no better or worse then any group however in the society.

    I remember a few Faires for instance where even though the Dancers danced every other hour, for a half hour to an hour, thus just as much as the fighters were fighting, (we did not get breaks between other dancers dancing to wait in line generally, we were on the field in the sun, sweating without waterbearers the whole time) we were told we had to work in another area of the dell. The fighters on the other hand got to relax and rest between fighting. This led to some of the same kind of division you are talking about between fencers and Fighters.

    It is late, I am rambling… I guess what I am trying to say is it isn’t the fencers making this a divisive issue, it is the personalities of the people in general on all three sides. If they were not argueing about the fencing, they would argue about something else. Calontir is family. When we are not being attacked from outside, we argue and fuss among ourselves like any family. When you attack from outside, everyone turns on you. In this case, that outsider is the fencers. At other times its been different countries, different hobbies.

    1. But was this not divisive? Was this not selfish? The point is that fencing, in the mix of the SCA promotes those things, not necessarily because the fencers are more selfish or divisive.

      I reiterate that my feelings on fencing changed once I started traveling. I like fencing, but do not want it in Calontir not because it’s an outside thing, but because I do not like what it has done to other kingdoms.

  8. Data Points, or Gasoline?

    Greetings, here from Liam’s LJ. IANAF, IZ MINSTREL.

    I regret to hear of the kind of selfishness or misogyny you’ve experienced.
    I wish you knew the fencers I know 8)

    Having observed from these latter days what a well-oiled machine of self-sufficiency the EK fencing community currently is, the notion that somewhere there were fencers insisting that something has to be provided from outside with minimal effort on their part was, to say the least, alien. After the relentless, drama-free fun that was the last Kings and Queens’ Fencing Championships, I saw the kind of teamwork that inspired King Lutr of the Midrealm to award their order of the Dragon’s Teeth to the EK fencing team last Pennsic. Grimm the Skald wrote a poem about it–I hope you get to hear it someday 8)

    Full disclosure: I live in a Crown Province whose Viceroy is one of those fencing Pelicans to which lumineaux and others referred. AFAIK, he is not in favor of imposing fencing on places which don’t want it. He’s not in favor of a fencing-only Peerage. He’s just in favor of fencing. If the behavior he and others like him inspires a self-sufficiency model for fencing in other places, then I predict arguments/train wrecks like those cited here and elsewhere would rapidly fade into well-deserved oblivion.

    Full disclosure II: Said Viceroy also fights rattan, but selectively, because of high-calibration issues which have nothing to do with the existence of fencing and everything to do with how rattan fighters want to fight here.

    Busy-bee Viceroy also wrote a verse about fencers (since IANAF) for a march I wrote. The seeds that grew into that march were nurtured by a discussion on an EK list about how nifty it would be to teach/learn a few songs we could all sing together “like the Calontiri do” 8) (and it’s frankly a badge of honor here to insist that “We Don’t Do NOTHIN’ Here Just Because OTHER Kingdoms Do It, In Fact That’s The Reason I’ll NEVER Do It”…)

    We hope to use the march at Opening Ceremonies, with horns/shawms and drums 8)

    1. Re: Data Points, or Gasoline?

      “Full disclosure II: Said Viceroy also fights rattan, but selectively, because of high-calibration issues which have nothing to do with the existence of fencing and everything to do with how rattan fighters want to fight here.”

      Actually… Calibration issues tend to arise (or so I’ve heard via the fighters in other Kingdoms, and what I’ve witnessed myself) in Kingdoms where fencing has been introduced.
      From what I was told and seen, by encouraging people to who are smaller, weaker in upper body strength, or older to go into fencing rather than armored combat, it knocks out the lower end of the bell curve of what is “acceptable” in armored combat. The “guys” (to use a non-gender specific label) who remain in armored combat at that point do not feel the need to calibrate their blows as they once did… the scale by which their blows are measured are skewed upwards. Which has the effect of driving even more people out of the arena of armored combat and into fencing… which once more skews the scale, which once more drives more people out of armored combat… and so on and so forth. They feel they can play rougher, and the prevailing attitude becomes, to put it in southern speak, “If ya can’t run with the big dawgs, stay on the porch”.
      It becaomes a pretty self-destructive cycle.
      This is not to say that this situation is the FAULT of the fencers… rather an unfortunate effect that armored fighters could stop if they wanted to. There’s just no direct need for them to do it, because… well, if the person can’t take they way the game is played, they can always go fence, right?

      1. Re: Data Points, or Gasoline?

        Your arguement doesn;t hold water since fighting and fencing are not the only activities in the SCA. Someone could just as easily decide they don’t want to fight due to calibration and take up archery or pursue reseach in the arts and sciences.

        1. Re: Data Points, or Gasoline?

          Once more…
          I didn’t say it was the fault of the fencers. I said it appears to be a side effect.
          And fighting and fencing ARE the only full contact fighting activities in the SCA. If you want to fight in some way shape or form, those are your options.

        2. Re: Data Points, or Gasoline?

          Sure, I agree with your point…

          However, if I say we shouldn’t have fencing in Calontir one of the responses is always: “what about those people who can’t fight? Why don’t you want to let them have their fun?” You just said that people who don’t want to can do other things, which is my response.

          However, understand that my response is built around the idea that in Calontir our waterbearers and logistical staff are routinely appreciated as a part of the army. They are our Fourth Company, and they get recognized for their direct contribution on the field. If you don’t fight, you can still contribute to the army.

          So, if her argument does not hold water because of other opportunities in the SCA, then others who argue that they have the right to fence in Calontir also do not hold water.

          1. Re: Data Points, or Gasoline?

            I never said that Calontir has to allow for fencing, but if everything is built around serving the armored community, then who supports the archers, and the thrown weapons people and the artisans? Do they fend for themselves? Are they even allowed to attend events because they will take up resources that are dedicated entirely to fighting and the Calontir fighting culture?

            Please note that yes this is a snarky response, but I do not intend it to be so. As people have mentioned, fencers and other “lesser” activities have often had to fend for themselves. We normally run ouw own lists, herald our own tournaments, marshal our selves, normally provide food, and often just ask for a cooler for water (point us in the direction of where we can get water). When we have someone come out to run our list table, we are very appreciative. When we have someone bring us water or food, we are very appreciative. We also recognize the work they do, maybe not by royal fiat. So if we contribute and support the logistics of our own activity, how does that effect what happens on the heavy list? I am asking because I honestly do not understand.

          2. Re: Data Points, or Gasoline?

            Good points, and I’m good with snarky. I’ve been known to be myself 🙂

            Understand that in Calontir everything is built around doing things as a group. The Army is merely one aspect. Another example is our singing. You watch our singing circle and the primary rule is: “if you can’t sing well, sing loud!” Join in with what you know of the song. Hum the tune if that’s all you got.

            This means that the archers/thrown weapons people do get support from the army staff. Perhaps not as much, given that they are significantly less in number than fighters. However, we routinely do things like march out as an army to the archery field with the archers (which sucks climbing Mt. Eislinn in armor 🙂

            The difference with all of the other things in the SCA and with fighting/fencing, is that the two essentially compete for exactly the same resources. They need the same kind of field, the same kind of waterbearing support, the same kind of participant, etc.

            That your group has worked their tails off to provide the support staff is great, and I commend you for it. Nevertheless, I bet you’re still taking some resources away from fighting. Some of you might fight if fencing wasn’t around. Sometimes, I’ll be the fighting hall at an event is cramped for one or the other type. How much has your group invested in pavilions/coolers/tables, etc. that might have gone to fighting?

            It’s a subtle thing. And I want to emphasize that I’m not saying that the resources I speak of should not have gone to fencing, only that once you start competing for resources, including people, time, space, and items, then that will cause divisions. I suspect most of the divisive behavior individually comes from fighters, too, which is not something I am pleased about. Nevertheless, there’s a division there and I hate divisions 🙂

          3. Re: Data Points, or Gasoline?

            We do things as a kingdom as well. Our fencers are glad to support our fighters and you are starting to see more fighters support fencers. While you speak of resources, again, I don’t equate them to being finite resources, but sometimes you have to look beyond your scope to come up with additional resources. We are always looking for additional resouces to support all our activities, not just the fighters. As for what we have invested that might have gone towards fighters, all property of the Barony goes to benefit ALL its members. The group has one garage tent, that is set up for use by the group and we allocate it appropriately as needed based on the event. For our largerst event, Mudthaw, since we draw upwards of 70 fighters, the tent ois allocated for the MOL. At other events, it it for the use of A&S. At other events, it is set up for their excellencies. Most of our inventory is of the cooking type so that we can provide for our populace and visitors. We have coolers that we put out for everyone, not just the fighters. Should others suffer thirst and hunger just so a fighter can drink and eat?

            Do you think that everyone who fences would fight in armor? If not, do you think they would support the Calontir army? Do you think they would join the SCA? Do you think there will be a mass exodus from the fighting ranks in Calontir should fencing be allowed?

            And if it is as you think the fighters who are the ones being divisive, does that make it right and what can be done to correct that?

            Personally, I see a lot less of a devide than I have in years past. Part of that is due to the crossing over from one activity to another. Part of that is due to WHO is crossing over or supporting the other activity. I think that helps to change the stigma more for both sides of the equation.

      2. Re: Data Points, or Gasoline?

        With respect, the argument that rattan calibration issues tend to arise in Kingdoms with fencing is completely unsupportable. There’s only one Kingdom without fencing. It’s somewhere in the middle with regard to calibration.

        There has been a tendency for rattan calibration to rise across the Known World, though IK differences still abound.

        The best thinking on the rise seems to point to two very simple causes: 1) better training yields the ability to hit harder; and 2) better armor. Nobody but the anti-fencing crowd wants to blame fencing for it.

        Now, global warming, that’s probably caused by fencing.

        1. Re: Data Points, or Gasoline?

          As I said, it was just information gleaned from my own personal observation and talking to fighters that had been fighting in certain OTHER Kingdoms both _before_ and _after_ fencing was introduced in those areas, and what they thought the issue was with calibration.
          As I said, I don’t beleive that it’s TOTALLY a “fencing did this” issue. But do I think it has played a part? Based on what I’ve seen… yeah, I do. Sorry.
          I also have no problem whatsoever with you disagreeing with me. 🙂

        2. Re: Data Points, or Gasoline?

          Now, global warming, that’s probably caused by fencing.
          I was getting to that conclusion myself 🙂

      3. IKA, again

        I could see that happening. Self-fulfilling prophecy indeed. Hoo boy 8P

        The old-guard people in my limited circle of acquaintance hadn’t mentioned fencing as “something you should try if you can’t run with the big dawgs”. Here in the “land of 1000 championships”, the calibration issue featured in discussions about winning event bouts or Crown Tourney. (The other feature of THAT discussion was usually “KONVENSHUNAL WZDM” that “Nobody every won Crown wearing period armor”–but I digress…)

    2. Re: Data Points, or Gasoline?

      I look forward to hearing the march. We’re humbled by your desire to something a little like the Calontir way.

      I think one of the greatest strengths of the SCA is the cultural diversity of the kingdoms. Each of the kingdoms, IMHO, get stagnant periodically and have to grow. Having the others around tends to provide inspiration and new ideas.

  9. I think the selfishness is a VERY Calontiri attitude, though I understand you have traveled more than that. The Calontiri “Recipe for a successful army” seems to read “unity is the key to victory”, while if you asked an Atlantian, it’d read more “Become a bada** on the tourney field and, with a little extra melee practice on the side, it’ll translate to the war field”. (I exaggerate for effect; we actually do have more war practice and tactics than that, but the point remains.)

    1. I’m unclear what you mean here. At first glance it seemed like you said that “Calontir is selfish.” At second glance it seems like you mean that my perception of selfishness relates to the fact that I’m viewing things through a Calontir lens of army teamwork. There might be other glances too 🙂 Can you please expand?

      And I reiterate, I did not say that the selfishness only comes from the fencers, merely that fencing promotes selfishness in the SCA. A very distinct difference.

      1. Your second glance is actually what I meant. My perception, based on what you and others have said, is that melee/war army teamwork is considered much more paramount as a virtue and as a goal in Calontir than elsewhere. As such, teamwork would be placed above individual prowess.

        My kingdom… our army philosophy is much more one of “A Band of Heroes” – the idea that as you raise the individual level of prowess (usually on the tourney field) you raise the success of the army.

        And I realize you didn’t say selfishness comes from the fencers; what I meant was that your (extended) point of fencing being a tourney/duel based sport and armored combat being much more team based is *really* not such a dichotomy elsewhere.

        1. At the kingdom level, no, it’s not a dichotomy. At the smaller group and household level it can indeed be. There are a number of groups who have worked at teamwork, and they some of the least selfish people I know.

  10. Another interloper from Liam’s journal – and just here to say that I have lived in Meridies (during the fencing ban, to boot) and the East in my seventeen years in the SCA, and I have never EVER been told that, as a woman, I should stick to fencing because it was “safer.” I’ve tried both rattan and rapier and concluded that combat just isn’t really my thing, but that was wholly my own decision.

    An Eastern count who is a dear friend to both myself and my lady was nearby one Pennsic when she expressed curiosity about rattan combat. Within five minute he had cleared a space in camp and was teaching her the basic theories of spear combat as an intro – and I have found his attitude of cheerful encouragement the norm, not an outlier. I understand that we all draw our conclusions based on those we meet – and there are enough people in the Society for us each to meet wholly separate groups of people. But I would submit that I have met least enough experienced Eastern rattan fighters who happily encourage women to join their ranks to make me find your conclusions on the subject of misogyny a little baffling.

    1. That’s great to hear, and I have no problem with your decision. Also, I know a lot of other great fighters in a lot of kingdoms that acted in just that manner. I probably didn’t emphasize it enough that the misogyny that I’ve seen is, quantitatively, significantly less than the acts of kindness and generosity.

      Nevertheless, I could introduce you to multiple women who I know have experienced this sort of thing, and if it were only in one kingdom, or one person, or one fighter, then I would agree that we’re dealing with an individual small problem. However, sadly, that does not seem to be the case.

      I’m glad that you have not experienced such behavior, but hate that such behavior has ever happened.

      1. I’m glad that you have not experienced such behavior, but hate that such behavior has ever happened.

        I am glad that we are of like mind on this.

        I would submit, a bit tentatively, that this behaviour is not actually rooted in rapier combat as such. I would submit instead that the availability of rapier combat is a convenient outlet for boorish thought and behaviour that would have found a different outlet were rapier combat not an option. Reading your post in detail, I suspect that we might agree on this as well – but your position simply removes rapier combat as that outlet, while mine (albeit perhaps fruitlessly) hopes to change the boorish thought and behaviour at the source.

        1. We do agree. I think that it is the combination of fencing in the SCA that has promoted, i.e. allowed, the increase of such boorish thought and behavior.

          I decry the boorish behavior too, yet I don’t think we’re going to rid humanity, even the cool humanity in the SCA, of divisiveness, selfishness, and misogyny.

          I wish we could. 🙂

          However, given the number of responses that I have had saying something like: “hmmm, never thought of that,” then I bet we can reduce the use of fencing at a misogynistic outlet. Whatever happens, I hate the idea that women are being directed, however overtly or subtly, from the legitimate opportunity to try fighting.

          1. However, given the number of responses that I have had saying something like: “hmmm, never thought of that,” then I bet we can reduce the use of fencing at a misogynistic outlet.

            It only ever happens one awakened mind at a time. 😉 This is a happy potential outcome, one for which I will wish as well.

  11. re: misogyny

    Sadly, I have seen many instances of gender prejudice generating because of fencing. A fighter might say: “We should not authorize this person because she’s a small woman and will get hurt.” A fencer might say: “You should not fight, you should fence because as a small woman you’ll get hurt.”

    This does not say to me “fencing promotes misogyny”. It says to me “some fencers are misogynists”.

    1. Re: re: misogyny

      In a sense that’s true. It also says “some fighters are misogynists.”

      The point is that fencing gives people, whatever they do in the SCA, the opportunity to direct women to a “safer” sport. Which I think is crappy thing.

      1. Re: re: misogyny

        That is a crappy thing. But not only is fencing not to blame for that, blaming fencing both wastes effort in not confronting the real problem and gives the real problem freer rein to grow.

        I find it downright baffling that you credit the lack of fencing, and not the idea that all Calontiri are already working for the Army (and hence have a foot in the battlefield already) as the source of your alleged greater gender parity. (I say alleged because I have no reason to believe or disbelieve it than your word, and relish the opportunity to witness it this summer; to wit: Trust, but verify).

        1. Re: re: misogyny

          I agree with the trust but verify. And I understand your point about Calontir already working with the army.

          However, what I’ve seen of misogyny only occurs in kingdoms with fencing. I was shocked when I left Calontir and experienced it the first time. My immediate response was to ascribe the behavior to an individual jerk.

          Sadly, it’s happened in multiple kingdoms, with multiple fighters, and multiple fencers. When I saw it elsewhere, I came back and looked for it among the Calontiri (say by directing them to archery or something). I have not seen it here. It could happen here, of course, but I’ve not seen it. I’ve only seen it happen in kingdoms with fencing.

          You could be right that it’s a strength of Calontir, not a weakness of fencing. I’m certainly OK with that, but since fencing is the stated cause (“you should fence because it’s safer), then I tend to think of fencing as the cause.

          1. Re: re: misogyny

            However, what I’ve seen of misogyny only occurs in kingdoms with fencing.

            Er, how many Kingdoms have Calontir’s Army mentality *and* fencing? Couldn’t that have just as easily read “However, what I’ve seen of misogyny only occurs in kingdoms without our mentality”?

            but since fencing is the stated cause…then I tend to think of fencing as the cause.

            Replace “fencing” with “drunkenness” or “sluttiness” and surely you will see the error in that sentiment.

          2. Re: re: misogyny

            Oh, I did see the error in the statement, and it’s possible it’s the army culture in Calontir that prevents the misogyny. Again, I’m good with that because it makes Calontir look better 🙂

            I’m very reticent about assuming it’s a “well, Calontir is so wonderful” kind of thing because I know I’m biased in favor of Calontir. With fencing as the context of the behavior, that would tend to direct me to fencing, using Occam’s Razor, unless I get evidence to the contrary.

            Remember also that I have seen fencers bring women in to fencing with the same words.

            Of the two options, I think that the proximity of fencing is the more likely cause. Feel free to disagree with me, most do 🙂

        2. Re: re: misogyny

          as the source of your alleged greater gender parity.

          Speaking from extensive research… In 1999, after playing SCA for 15 years in the East Kingdom, I was inspired to don armour and fight rattan while living in Calontir purely based on their parity, which I had not witnessed in the East. I was on the field when Calontir knighted Syr Ariel who stands the same mighty 5’2″ that I do. I found that the attitude toward fighters in general much more fosting than in my corner of the East. Since returning here I have all but stopped fighting, often only getting back in armour to fight at Estrella War yearly. The attitudes here are changing but I still do not have a penis and to many up here that is what fighter practice or tourney is about – who has the biggest.

          I fight for fun.

          Find out for yourself by all means, but as rattan fighter who happens to be female, that *has* been my experience.

          Oh and before I started fighting no one ‘expected me’ to water bear or do anything else particularly ‘girly’ either.

  12. Damn you.

    I cannot take up the time that reading your comments would take, and so INTERESTING, so evil, so tempting, oh, too much work, woe. 🙂

    I understand your points better, and we still have much to talk about. Woe. I go to do more work now. I’ve got this discussion bookmarked, I’ll try to return to it.

  13. I have to say, on the misogyny argument, that you are about one thing. I was told when I started in the SCA, in no uncertain terms, I that I should not fight. I was a 16 year old female, a bit on the small side, and I was informed that I would have the crap beaten out of me if I dared to step on the list field. I was advised to go do other things and patted on the head.

    Did one of those other things include fencing. No, because Caid didn’t have fencing in 1977. In, I believe, 1976 women were ‘allowed’ to fight by the BOD. That’s the only place I ever felt true misogyny in the SCA, and I’ve never forgotten it.

      1. That’s why I don’t get the misogyny argument that you put forward. The only place I ever felt welcome to fight was in fencing. I always felt truly unwelcome in rattan.

        You don’t have to say I’m sorry for what happened, but you do need to acknowledge that the misogyny came first from the rattan community, where the fencing community only showed tolerance.

        1. Oh, I don’t disagree with that. I’m saying that the presence of fencing in the SCA exacerbated an existing issue by providing a way to “protect women.”

          I never said that fighters did not share responsibility, only that the presence of fencing exacerbated it.

          And I will point out that the fencing community may very well have shown tolerance, but they have also exacerbated the situation with statements like “you should come fence, it’s better for people like us.”

          1. But you could use that argument about sewing, or archery, or any other activity in the SCA. “You’re a woman, come over here and do archery, it’s better for people like us, you won’t get hit and you can still compete”. It’s not fencing, it’s anything that takes people away from Rattan.

          2. Perhaps you’re right. Perhaps it is anything that takes away from fighting.

            Does archery? Not really. You can often do both at an event. Perhaps in terms of practices conflicting. Perhaps in terms of waterbearing though most archers take care of that, at least in Calontir, and the waterbearing requirements are smaller. They certainly don’t compete for the same space.

            Does A&S? Absolutely not. You can almost always do both and A&S generally makes fighting better (in terms of equipment, kit, etc.) You can usually do A&S at any time you want to.

            Does Bardic? Absolutely not. It helps fighting when you do them together (I love singing in armor), and usually it’s a late night thing.

            Does Service? Maybe at a given event, but I don’t mind autocratting the occasional event or volunteering. Somebody’s got to at each event after all. Generally no, then, and the people that work are volunteers. Want to fight? Don’t volunteer.

            Does Equestrian? Yes, actually, but the number of people who do that are minimal as most of us do not have horses.

            Does Fencing? Absolutely, for the reasons given above.

            I’m probably missing something, but fencing is the only direct competitor to fighting, and as such is the only serious competitor for resources.

            Perhaps archery to a small extent. Equestrian to an even smaller.

            Again, I’m not saying that fencing shouldn’t have resources devoted to it, only that when you have competitors for similar resources, you have division.

          3. True, but I’ve NEVER heard that myself in any other context but fencing. You’re telling me that such statements happened in the 70s. I don’t doubt you. I merely say that I have only heard it, in the 90s/00s, in the context of fencing.

        2. I understand Rhodri’s point (bearing in mind that I am not following this particular discussion full well, yet I have seen it before elsewhere.)

          I think he’s got a good heart, but his premise is effed up. In Calontir, there is no tolerated discrimination based upon gender or sexual equipment. It is, in fact, the high ideal we might all strive for.

          In Calontir, some say (I’m not sure), creating a fencing option would therefore ENCOURAGE the sort of thing you discussed and experienced. I think it could, but I think the same miracle that permitted a zero-tolerance policy in gender discrimination in Calontir would continue to work anyway.

          He, I think, prognosticates that the lack of gender bias in Calontir is a product of a lack of fencing environment, and that a lack of fencing environment is the cure. I think that Calontir is not, in many ways, like the other children and that’s the reason.

          1. In Calontir, there is no tolerated discrimination based upon gender or sexual equipment.

            Whoa, there. We’re still talking about on the list field, right? Not in every single aspect of life? Because if it’s the latter, I would very much like to visit this utopia of which you speak.

          2. I observe the world through my experience, which means I may have missed something that others might have seen.

            BUT: I can say that my experience with Calontir overall, is that it is far more gender neutral than even the East, and I think the East is pretty good at it.

            Of course: every group that is created by a combination of territory and interest can have creeps in it, and I am sure that Calontir has creeps in it.

            But the creeps find no succor or support, as far as I can tell. Of course, while I am in close contact with Calontir, and see them and camp with them whenever I can, I do not and have not lived there. Perhaps my view is not merely the product of my background and personality, but also merely insufficient.

          3. I would gently suggest that you might not notice it quite as much because it simply does not apply directly to you. I applaud Calontir and Its Way(tm) if they have indeed engendered a gender-neutral environment that is free from gender discrimination, but because of my own experience with such avowed environments, I will reserve judgment for myself and hope to find it true.

          4. You understand my tap-dancing well.

            Many, many, many years ago, someone on the Calontir mailing list, a friend who I know and trust, used a casual anti-Semitic phrase. It was absolutely not meant as anti-Semitic, and he was horrified when I pointed it out.

            But I noticed, because that’s my background.

  14. As someone who lives in a really fencing-prolific area of Ealdormere, I found your post really intersting. Right now, I’m not sure if I agree or not, but it is a different perspective.

  15. You may have an argument with archery, but they’re not exactly the same and do not compete for the same resources in terms of space and time. You can often do both fighting/fencing and archery at the same event.

    I quibble slightly…

    Archers require water and food too, and are generally at the furthest point possible from all other activities at an event, meaning they are more often than not overlooked in terms of support. We don’t tend to acquire an audience either: no one wants to go out to the archery range unless they have to.
    As a result, the archery community tends to be almost entirely self supporting.
    We take our own gack, we supply our own water, we are often in the position of cutting down grass and cutting out brush for our ranges, we bring our own sunshades and provide our own tournament prizes.

    We don’t compete for “resources”, because the reality of the situation for us is that if we want them, we have to create our own.

  16. Hi Rhodri,
    I got directed here by self_serve and I was wondering if would mind verifying if I have correctly understood your position.

    You feel that Fencing is bad for the SCA because it promotes:
    1. Divisiveness by
    a. generating a difference of opinion over whether there should be fencing or not and
    b. causing competition with fighting for limited resources
    2. Selfishness by being a solo activity and thus not encouraging a team mindset
    3. Misogyny by providing an activity that women can be encouraged to do instead of fighting

  17. I would agree with most of what you’ve said here, but not exactly as you’ve said it.

    I support the position that fencing is divisive. What I mean by that is I believe they are certainly a fringe group that is parasitical and ultimately uninvolved in my Kingdom (Ealdormere), but they are no different than the pirates and belly-bunnies we see everywhere. I think that if they chose to be more involved in SCA-related activities, like A&S, working as staff at events or taking offices, I’d be more supportive of them. Most of what I’ve observed is the tendency for them to show up, use the space the SCA has rented and then leave. Maybe if they, as a community, participated more actively in my club, I’d see their value. As it stands, I feel that they take up space and display a complete disregard for the rules, traditions and culture of our Kingdom.

    A great example of this was the absolute refusal of fencers to stop fencing during our most recent Crown Tourney. TRM’s ordered that nothing other than the tourney was to be going on, especially during the finals. After being told more than once, these folks continued to fence. I don’t care how much fun it is; this type of discourtesy is typical of the fencing community in Ealdormere. If they want to be welcome and considered a part of our club, they should act like it.

    Misogyny- I’ve encountered very little of that in this Kingdom. I think it’s perhaps more a perception than a reality up here. Of course, it could be that people are a little afraid to tell me ‘no’, but I doubt it. Most of the gender biases I’ve encountered have been while out of Ealdormere or Calontir- mostly at Pennsic. I feel very welcome to fight at home and at Lilies! I don’t think fencing leads to this behaviour; I think people are going to do this no matter the hobby they’re in. Also, anyone who lets a little discrimination stop them from doing what they love is a damned fool.

    I do not support fencing simply because I do not appreciate it’s current parasitical nature in our Kingdom. If our fencers acted like they are members, not over-staying guests, I would welcome them with open arms. Dancers, jugglers, singers, artisans and merchants are all welcome if they play by our rules. Fencers would be as well, if they do the same.

    1. So once again, why not come down on those few asshats and smack some courtesy into them? Put the blame on the individuals, not the community as a whole. Get the fencing leadership to police their own if you have to.

      I’m willing to bet that a large number of the fencing community in Ealdormere DO contribute to the kingdom as a whole. I truly doubt that all of them are “parasitic”.

      1. You’d lose that bet, I’m afraid. The fencing community is tremendously insular and does not participate regularly in Kingdom activities. They are welcome to, but routinely choose not to. Our Kingdom is run by a very small group of people, without whom the work would not get done. They are a varied group of artisans, fighters, archers and those who just like to serve the Kingdom. Other than the Rapier Marshall, which is a pretty self-serving office, fencers do not take an active role in Ealdormere. I wish it were otherwise, but that is the case.

        Perhaps if the Kingdom was larger or geographically more dense, things might be different. As it is, they do not contribute and have not for as long as I’ve been playing. They make no effort to join in, even though we try to encourage them. I feel that they prefer taking the easy way out and just using the SCA as a venue for their hobby, much like the pirates and Tuchuks use Pennsic for theirs.

        As for smackdown on the fencing leadership, who do you think was doing the fencing? I would love to be able to talk to them as a group, but they wouldn’t listen- trust me, I’ve tried. I’ve attempted to build bridges at events I’ve autocrated and opened doors that they are unwilling to step through.

        Ealdormere is overall fencing friendly. We want them to play with us, but they want nothing to do with our game.

  18. Fascinating thread.

    The first thing that comes to mind is:

    “Rapier’s don’t kill people, people kill people!”

    These ills will exist regardless of the context. I would rather they be exposed and expunged wherever possible. If rapier allows this to happen, I welcome it as a positive force.

    I accept your arguments, but respectfully disagree with your conclusions. That an activity may promote certain aberrant individual behavior is, to my mind, not a valid reason to exclude that activity.

    Thankfully, Corpora allows Kingdoms to make their own decision. Offending my, or anyone else’s, sensibilities should not be an acceptable excuse to force change.

    Disclaimer: I am from the Liamverse, a heavy fighter and young in this hobby.

    1. Please note, I did not say that I wanted to exclude the activity. It’s here, and probably here to stay. I merely stated the ills that I believe it has promoted. I specifically did not make any commentary about what is to be done, as I don’t think there is anything to be done 🙂

      1. I did take note of that, I was commenting on the Calontiri (as a Kingdom) response.

        The Kingdom chooses not to support the activity and some people, from what I’ve gathered in this and it’s related threads, wish to attempt to force a change to allow the activity there.

        Whether the choice is made for demographics or other reasons, regardless of outsiders’ opinions, I appreciate the choice for what it means.

        Calontir is inclusive in a true social sense rather than a nervous politically correct sense.

        I can be supportive of the Rapier community in my own Kingdom of the East for the value I perceive in it while also applauding the decision made by Calontir on an intellectual level.

  19. I have *never* seen a woman pushed into fencing when she was really interested in rattan. I fought for several years, long before the East had any female knights at all, and while we were correctly told about the disadvantages we’d have to overcome, we were never sent packing.

    I have seen women choose fencing voluntarily over rattan because they themselves fear the effects of the size and strength disparity. I have seen men make the same choice. Getting hit by a pole arm swung by a 300′ guy twice your size is scary scary stuff. Rational people can decide it is not for them.

    However, I’ve also seen women who entered into martial sport by fencing first use that to work up the courage to enter into rattan combat and do well in it.

    Your posited exampel of misogyny assigns blame to the wrong place. When someone pats a woman on the head, treating her like a girl, and sends her off to do something other than fight IT IS NOT the fault of the activity she’s being sent to. It’s the twit who is treating her as being unable to make a rational choice on her own. If fencing didn’t exist, it would be, go tend to your embroidery, Ermentrude, and let the boys play with their sticks. That doesn’t make embroidery misogynistic. That makes the men who are talking jerks.

    1. It’s nice to see someone else who understands Rhrodri’s point carefully, and rejects it for much the same reasons that I do.

      I don’t believe it encourages misogyny, except insofar as it gives misogynists a different easy target. They might even think they are progressive for sending “the girls” to a combat sport. But that’s more a symptom of jerkdom, than something intrinsic to fencing.

    2. I’m answering this here in the hopes that all who are responding to the misogyny thing in a similar way will answer this.

      If it’s not fencing, then why is Calontir one of the best places for women to fight? I believe it to be a very welcoming fighitng community for women given what many women, both from Calontir and outside of it, have said.

      Some have posited some variation of “Calontir is better.” I find that hard to believe, for two reasons. One, I want to believe it as a Calontir patriot and this desire makes me suspicious. Two, I’ve seen a lot of great people throughout the Knowne World.

      So, if it’s not fencing or “Calontir is better,” then why are women more encouraged to fit in Calontir?

      1. Luck, and “Calontir is better”. 🙂

        I’m not quite ancient enough in the SCA to remember the days myself, but a close friend was the first authorized female fighter in the East. On rare and intimate occasion, she’ll mention what she went through to get there.

        But even back when I joined, the local fighting household that had the most visible members, were told off by the Earl Marshal for hitting women too hard, and they printed stickers and put them on their foreheads – warning women that they hit too hard for women. (At least, that’s how I recall it.) People rolled their eyes, and laughed at the “boys”, but it was part of the general culture. We thought those guys recidivist, but allowed for individual eccentricity.

        (Many of them went on to become some of the best, most fun, kindest, and fairest Knights. It was a youthful phase, I think.)

        When Calontir started the Army project, it seems to me that the founders who had the social power, said in no uncertain terms that they wanted everyone, and they weren’t going to put up with any of that nonsense. They had the fearlessness and fairness to say it, and the ability to make it stick. That’s the lucky part.

        The better part, is that the lesson became as ingrained as “sing” and “bare is the brotherless back” and “no heroes”.

        That’s my opinion.

        1. I find it admirable that Calontir succeeded in this (wanting everyone and not putting up with naysayers). Perhaps that kind of social pressure should be applied to the jerks apparently still out in the wild…

          (But I maintain that rapier – as the convenient target – hasn’t created the jerks. It just brought them visibility. The jerks are still responsible for their actions/words and any fallout as a result.)

          And NOT that I’m saying Calontir should accept rapier, but I think “everyone plays” would carry over if it was. If it’s that engrained in the culture, another activity won’t suddenly change those mores.

          OTOH, I’m from the baby-eating East. Maybe eating the soul of the SCA would be amusing for a change. Nom nom nom…


          1. Goes well with beer. 🙂

            (And once again to be VERY clear, I have no interest in forcing rapier down Calontir’s throat. Your kingdom, your decision. I am trying only to refute arguments pertaining to problems attributed to rapier.)

  20. Short answers:

    I understand most of the things you have said. I can see the logic, but I think it is flawed. Sword fighting is sword fighting and different ways of doing it are fine. I look at a rapier, a rattan broadsword and a two handed great sword as simply three different sword that I should be skilled with. I can not fight with any two of them at the same time, so I have to choose which to concentrate on.

    The other quick answer is to the melee thing. I really need to introduce you to Anton and the Thieves of Hearts. At a Ravenslake practice in the midrealm they have dedicated melee every week. Usually about 2/3 of the practice. The armored fighters in that group only have melee practice in the summer and then it is maybe 1/3 of the practice. Rapier melee makes great sense and tactical in things like bar rooms and building to building fighting. The kind of places you would have fought with your sword and no armor.

    I know of groups that would have fallen to nothing if not for the rapier fighters. And the rapier people made sure that the armored fighters had room to play. Many of them strap on armor to fight war, because that is when you wear armor. At least if you are in the 16th century.

    The one thing I agree most strongly with you on though is that no one in Calontir did the work properly. I remember when it would be a cold day in hell when the Middle added rapier. Master Inchihngham, Master Alfred, and THL Maire would not give up and did all the work. That is what Calontir has lacked.

    1. “I know of groups that would have fallen to nothing if not for the rapier fighters. And the rapier people made sure that the armored fighters had room to play.”

      I understand what you’re saying, and I can see the benefits of what you’re saying to the Kingdom. I, however, have witnessed exactly the opposite thing in a Shire to the south of us, where rapier fighters have pushed the armored fighters out, formed a household, taken over the offices, and pretty much spent their time sniping at the heavy fighters and pulling political power plays. I have seen THOSE particular rapier fighters NOT allow fighters space for practice, NO time on the field at “their” events and hoarding of shire resources (waterbearers, etc) for rapiers only. What started as a shire with ten to fifteen armored fighters with 5 or 6 rapier guys now have three armored fighters and 15 to 20 rapier guys. I know, deep in my heart, this has more to do with the political climate, the culture down there and the personalities involved.
      But what I mean to say in a round about way is that yes, there will be good examples of what rapier fighters are, and there will be horrendous examples of what rapier fighters are. You can use bad behavior or good behavior to support whichever side you choose to support.
      But mainly, what this particular discussion comes down to is that a lot of people are feeling like this decision to push Calontir into rapier is coming from the outside, without taking our wishes into consideration. And that’s where the rub is with a lot of people… That so many who don’t live in Calontir are trying to force their wants on us. As it was once put to me… “Calontir is the friendliest bunch of xenophobes you’re ever gonna meet.”

  21. I’m going to skip the 150+ comments in this thread and just post my thoughts. If I’m repeating a point that others have made, so be it.

    1) You’re arguing from authority when you proceed to list all of your accomplishments.

    2) You’re showing observer bias when you go on about all the negative behaviors that you’ve witnessed from rapier fighters. Simply put, every-time you see it, it re-enforces your opinion, but you’re *ignoring* all the positive examples you see. You do the exact opposite with heavy fighters, excusing their negative aspects and counting all the positive ones.

    Observer bias is a perfectly normal and human thing to do, but it doesn’t prove anything and you really should try to work past it.

    3) You’ve been accused of making the “some of my best friends are X” argument and you’ve denied it. Except here’s the thing: That’s exactly what you’re doing. You can go on and on about how *individual* rapier fighters are great upstanding people, but the whole point of this post is “fencing harms the SCA because it’s divisive, selfish, and misogynistic. Make that same argument about an identifiable group and you’d be justly accused of racism no matter how many minorities you called friends.

    Now on to some of your specific arguments.

    On divisiveness: You call them divisive because of all the people who objected to your arguments? Dude, people *defending themselves* when you attack them is not evidence of divisiveness, it’s evidence that they want to *defend themselves*. You don’t get to hit people and then claim they’re violent when they *hit back*.

    On misogyny: You’re seriously suggesting that encouragement for women to fight rapier is evidence that the *rapier* fighters are misogynistic? I notice in you laundry list of Kingdoms that An Tir wasn’t listed. I’ve yet to see a female discouraged from any martial art if they wanted to pursue it.

    On selfishness: Rapier fighters are selfish because they’re boastful and practice duels. You do know that this is all an elaborate piece of make-believe right? They’re playing a role out of The Three Musketeers, just like a heavy fighter is playing a role out of Ivanhoe. You realize that a Civil war re-enactor or a Roman Centurion could make the exact same arguments against SCA heavy fighters? “Good heavens, they engage in single combat rather then support their legion? How selfish”.

    On polling as evidence of apathy: Only 24 people voted in favour. I note that only 41 *voted at all*. Seriously, you’d get this kind of response on *any* poll. It could be “free beer for all” and you’d get a dozen opinions and a small turnout. That’s the nature of the Society.

    Summary: You’re whole post boils down to this:

    You know that thing you do in the SCA. I don’t think you should do it because it’s not that thing *I* do in the SCA and I’d rather more people paid attention to this super thing I like.

    I don’t think you’re a bad person, I’m not angry at you. I am a little sad that you’re remarkably biased and can’t even recognize that the bias exists, much less that it colours your perceptions so much.

    However, that doesn’t mean that I’m not willing to say that, on this topic, you’re simply wrong.

    You’ve acknowledged in your post that you’ve witnessed all of the “sins” of rapier in other aspects of the society. At the same time you’ve acknowledged that positive traits in other parts of the society exist in the rapier community. You need to step back and seriously consider the implications of this and what it means to your arguments.

    Most of all you need to concentrate on doing what you want in the society and ignore what everyone else is doing. I’m not into A&S, do I care if people pursue it? Not at all, I think they should follow their passions and I’m thankful that the SCA is diverse enough to include so many different facets. If the group decides it wants to split it’s resources, that only means that people are enjoying themselves. It doesn’t mean *you* have to split *your* resources. Nobody is pointing a gun at your head saying “support rapier” – ignore it if it’s not your cup of tea.

    And if you’re at Estrella next year, look me up (James Q, Avacal/An Tir), I love a good debate.

    1. “They’re playing a role out of The Three Musketeers”
      Just a quick point that my husband made to me… Musketeers are called musketeers because they primarily used… Muskets. Not rapiers. Rapiers were their backup weapon.
      So… when someone figures out a way to do black powder safely, are we gonna encourage that as well?
      Just asking…
      Secondly… I don’t see many SCA members wanting to force Civil War guys or the Roman guys to open their game to them, the way that rapiers have tried to go about it here in Calontir, or pressure us from outside Calontir.
      “Most of all you need to concentrate on doing what you want in the society and ignore what everyone else is doing.” If someone was wanting to change an aspect of your Kingdom’s culture without Kingdom wide consent, or with only the consent of a small minority who were not too willing in the past to do the work necessary to implement that change and make it easier for everyone… How well would you ignore it?

      As you stated, I’m not mad at you, I’m just asking you how you would react.

      1. Muskets and simulating black powder combat: Rubber band guns exist, so this is already handled. Whenever I’ve witnessed massed rapier scenarios, it goes like this: There’s a flurry of shots fired and anyone who survives the initial barrage then charges with swords drawn. Pretty much just like they did historically or in fiction.

        Civil War/Roman: Try not to get too caught up in the analogy. The point was that others can make the same arguments against heavies that they do rapiers.

        Third point: If you’re not comfortable with small groups making changes to the kingdom’s culture without Kingdom-wide consent, then you should be against the idea of us choosing our leaders via single-combat. I’ve been around long enough to see Kings and Princes rule by fiat and without consultation of the populous to know it’s the norm, not the exception.

        Conversely the rapier community isn’t imposing changes on other people, they merely want to be able to do their thing in their corner.

        Now if wants to make the argument that the rapier community of *Calontir* hasn’t gotten off their collective asses to do the work of becoming “official”, then he should just do that. Arguing that it’s harmed the SCA *as a whole*, simply because it’s not his geek is unsupportable.

        Does it break your arm or pick your pocket? If not, why should you care.

        1. “If you’re not comfortable with small groups making changes to the kingdom’s culture without Kingdom-wide consent, then you should be against the idea of us choosing our leaders via single-combat. I’ve been around long enough to see Kings and Princes rule by fiat and without consultation of the populous to know it’s the norm, not the exception.”
          Then I guess Calontir is once more, the exception. Although some Crowns do on occasion override the will of the populace, the common thinking here is that the King and Queen are “First among equals”. Once more, a very Anglo Saxon concept of ruling. Tribe leaders in that culture knew that without the popular support amongst the tribe, they wouldn’t last long. This has been traditionally the way that good rulers in Calontir have regarded the burden of the Crown. Those that tended to ignore this fact tend to have a massive sh*t sandwich handed to them the minute the Calontir crown comes off, and they are once more among equals. Those Crowns that ignore the wishes of a majority of the populace still have people spit after their names are uttered.
          “Does it break your arm or pick your pocket? If not, why should you care.”
          I care the minute our traditions are violated. I care when we, as a Kingdom, are essentially being “date raped”.
          A majority of us have said we don’t want fencing.
          We are told we have to justify why we have said “no”.
          We explain.
          We are told that we really don’t mean it, or our reasons aren’t good enough, and if we just go along with it, it will all be fine. Our reasons don’t matter, because it will be more fun for them if we give in.
          We have said, “no.”
          We are told that everyone else is fine with it, so just shut the f*ck up, take it and enjoy it, because its gonna happen whether we want it or not.

          Are you beginning to see why this matters so much to us?

          1. I’m seeing that you don’t like being disagreed with. I’m seeing that when people rightly point out flaws in your arguments that it upsets you.

            Equating a portion of the SCA community that wants to pursue something they’re passionate about with “date rape” tells me that you’re way too emotionally invested in this. Seriously, do you *really* want to make that comparison?

            If a bunch of guys stabbing at each other with rapiers over there really gets you this hot under the collar, then I think the problem is with you. Chill out, do your thing, enjoy the society. It’s really not that hard.

          2. While there are minor elements of Rhodri’s point I agree with, and major ones I don’t, I think you are too sure of the unassailable parts of your argumentation.

            For example, your introduction that his background introduction is an argument ad hominem, is absurd. He was merely providing context so that the informed reader can determine his qualifications to his opinions, as well as interpret his style. It is wise to evaluate both claims and opinions from an authority – but the fallacy exists only when the proffer of proof is “I’m an expert”.

            Just as your dismissal of his points because “you are upset, and too close” is a logical fallacy.

            Some of your points of apposition are just as strained – or oddly dismissive. For example – nothing in his opposition says that having, say, An Tir “stabbing at each other with rapiers over there” is a problem. Clearly, while he is not a fan of other people’s choices, he’s prepared to make them. Categorically, that which takes place in his Kingdom of residence and allegiance is different than that which takes place elsewhere.

            It would be more fruitful if you could honestly display why having it IN Calontir is no more intrusive to the lifestyle of Calontir, than having it “over there” is.

            Your “chill out, do your thing, enjoy the society. It’s not really that hard” conclusion is, purely, ad hominem and somewhat insulting.

            Go thou, and do better. 🙂

      2. Hi,

        Antir rapier fighter here.

        I need to pick a few nits before anything. First off, while musketeers are popular throughout the 16th century, most of the popular imagery is from the late 17th century and early 18th. This is far out of period, even for me. I am early 17th century, 1620 or so. The secondary weaponry of a musketeer would have been more likely a side sword or a heavier sword. While the musketeer may have had a rapier, it is less likely. It is more of the weapon of the nobility for walking the towns then a soldier’s sword.

        I have seen us characterized as pirates, and musketeers. I don’t see it as such. While I have seen those in our kingdom, I don’t see them fighting. If you must foist a historical epitaph upon the Rapier fighters, call us cavaliers.

        As for how one reacts when the Royalty changes a major part of the culture without consent, I haven’t seen a Old Guard Combat Archery in many years.

        *** Not related to your comment, but to the original post because I am lazy ***

        When I first read the post I was angry, and hurt. I haven’t travelled outside of the kingdom so maybe I am spoilled here in An-Tir. From what I read, the problem is more cultural then anything. The Rapier Fighters aren’t really part of the SCA culture. They need to be better taught to be honest.

        Divisiveness. We deal with it. We don’t have tourneys conflicting, except at wars. There are times when our tourneys are really early in the morning, and times when the heavy fighting is really early in the morning. It is usually us fighting in the bright and early.

        The communities aren’t separate, we are all in the SCA together and we work together for the betterment of the community. We help the other when we can, and vice versa. It astounds me to no end to hear about it happening otherwise.

        Misogynistic. Really? Must be a cultural difference between the kingdoms. There are more female Heavy Fighters then Rapier Fighters in our barony. We have slight small females who fight heavy, and if you try to tell them to fight rapier instead…. well I;ll let you do that. We all know what is expected of us as fighters. They sign the waivers and plays Whack a Knight.

        If anything I find this arguement the hardest to relate to.

        Selfish. As a whole the community is otherwise here. I don’t see it. We see as much duelling in Rapier as we do in Heavy. We see as much war as the heavies do. The weapons are not the one’s that would be used in war but our wars tend to mimic skirmishes that would occur between households.

        As for the rudeness, brashness, et al. That is more of a issue with proper indoctrination into the SCA.

        It confuses me to be honest, this entire situation. When I know that our King and Queen are rapier fighters, our upcoming princess is a OWS, and a lot of our fighters are multi-talented. I don’t get it. Maybe we are a merely a anomaly in the SCA. I dearly hope not.

        A lot of the main post, the phrase “fencer” seemed to be replaceable with “Archer”, “Combat Archer”, “Siege Weaponeer”, or any other sub group of the SCA.

        As well there seemed to be a lot of the late period VS early period debate that seems to be really common. I dearly hope not. The rapier and the heavies have a mutual respect that makes it all work. Do I think this will help Calontir? If the two communities can foster it together, and only if this happens. I can’t say, it isn’t my community.

        Anyhow, that is all I got. I would hope that you might travel to our kingdom and see how it can work well.


  22. I’m sorry for not responding to the points you raised specifically to me sooner. I’ve had some bad real life stuff happen in the past few days and just ran out of energy for a heated debate. I’d be more than happy to continue the discussion at another, better, time; but now is not that time.

    1. I’m very sorry to hear about the bad life stuff. I really hope we can meet at Pennsic over some of my beer, and I hope everything’s great by then.

      Again, I’ll be in N05. At the very least, I hope we can meet. I’m perfectly willing to meet and chat about non-controversial stuff like how cool beer is 🙂

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