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.
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.
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!!!!