Prowess and various topics (was: Re: Prowess- Is that all??)

Lenny Zimmermann zarlor at
Fri Dec 13 07:38:48 PST 1996

On Thu, 12 Dec 1996 22:04:22 -0800, Viscount Galen wrote:

[Knightly virtues snipped for brevity]

>1.  No one who knows me would expect me to place winning above honor.  If 
>someone told me of a fighter who never lost, I would interpret that as a 
>fighter who never called blows.  But if you're not on the field trying to
>win, there's no point.  Why defend, if survival isn't important?  Why strike,
>if not to slay?  I agree with Sheridan, that making fighting a game, or
>worse, a _sport_, makes it something in which honor and chivalry become

Perhaps in your opinion, Sir, but I would have to disagree on the
issue of a "sport" being something where we cannot show honor and
chivalry. What we do IS a sport. What I envision I am doing as a
persona on that tournament field is also a sport, just as a tournament
would be seen in period.

Does this mean that since I am not trying to really kill my opponent I
cannot show honor? I agree that the basis of fighting, indeed of most
sports, is that it hones skills to be utilized in actual combat, but
this mere fact does not make it any less of a sport. If I were to look
at what we do as recreating combat, and not tournament (AKA a period
sporting event), then how do I explain my ability to get up and walk
off the filed should I lose by "death"? How do I explain "killing" my
wife and still being able to talk to her and so enjoy her inspiring
company later in the day, let alone wanting to fight her in the first
place? (enough comments about Italians marital relationships already!
;-) It's a mindset I just cannot grasp. 

I do not mean to say that this mindset is the "right" mindset to have.
We each play the game in a way we find most enjoyable. And my mindset
does not at all mean I do not try my best to win, just as I cannot
conceive that it does not allow me to show honor and chivalry on the
field. I am a proud member of the Bjornsborg Death Squad where our
motto is "We die well and often!" The only reason we have a motto like
that is because we are uncompromising with ourselves in calling blows
we feel would have done us harm, often blows that others will question
us about as "Are you SURE I got you?" or "That was a tip cut, you
don't have to call that!" We call them anyways because that is the
game we like to recreate, and my fellow Bjornsborgers who feel that
way show an exceptional amount of honor on that field.

Remember honor comes from the Italian "honore" which is in turn
derived from "honesta"... honesty. To "give the lie" was a grave
insult in period. We strongly hold that by being honest about our blow
calling, being honest about trying our best on the field, being honest
about showing every courtesy to our opponents and the watching nobles,
being honest about following the rules of the game we have all agreed
to, that we CAN and DO show honor and chivalry on the field without
compromising our attempts to win and provide a great fight for our
opponents and ourselves.

If we cross blades, Sir, rest assured that I would make every attempt
to give you the best fight I could and, indeed, to do my best to win.
I doubt I could succeed, mind you, but even though I see what we do on
the field differently from you I think we can both agree that we can
still provide a high level of challenge AND enjoy our own ways of
looking at this great game we play and fit it into our own versions of
what makes the SCA special to each of us. I would ask you to at least
allow me this one small favor of not looking down on me as a fighter
or as a person because of the fact that I do not want to kill you.

Honos Servio,
Leonardo Acquistapace, Barony of Bjornsborg, Ansteorra
(mka Lenny Zimmermann, San Antonio, TX)
zarlor at

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