Prowess and various topics (was: Re: Prowess- Is that a

Chris Walden cmwalden at
Fri Dec 13 02:42:48 PST 1996

On 13 Dec 96 Lenny Zimmermann wrote:
> 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 think I see where you're coming from, but let me give you a 
different perspective.  I don't deal as much with armored combat, so 
most of my info is gathered from the rapier field.

As a sport, SCA fighting is fine.  We get out there and learn and 
have a good time.  You get hit in one place over and over and you 
eventually learn to fix it.

But people of period NEVER saw their sword work as a game.  They 
built games around it, because it gave them a way to keep in practice 
without having to have a battle and kill people.  (Killing people for 
sport was a sin, you know.)

We don't tend to have a good respect for that side of things.  We 
tend to be focused on the sport part.  That may be healthier for us 
as 20th century folk, but I think we miss something.  We don't fear 
the sword.  I've seen men fighting with rapiers run at each other and 
play a "close game" where the blades are slashing and dashing while 
their hands are flailing trying to get a good grip.  I've seen people 
feel that the entire length of a blade is a suitable minimum draw 

I believe that Knights and other men who faced a sword in period 
feared the sword.  But they ate their fear and faced them anyway.  
They didn't have long drawn out discussions about how they could do 
this in a way that no one could get hurt.  I think tournaments were 
pretty damned scary to them as well.  (Although I'm sure the 
masters called that exhileration.)

If you allow yourself to accept that you are exercising death when 
you pick up a sword, you pass into another dimension of how they 
looked at life.  When you stop to think that every strike that you've 
ever received and said "good" could have been stone cold death for 
you if the circumstances were different, you begin to see more from 
their eyes.

We do have a sport, but it's based on some stark realities for people 
we are trying to understand.  I think you might enjoy what you learn 
about yourself if you accept death as a part of the equation.  Those 
who only know the sport, are missing a lot

Bryn Gwlad

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