Rude Slayings

Michael Gunter michael_gunter1 at
Mon Oct 7 16:46:24 PDT 1996

Sir Lyonel,

The point you raise is interesting and I don't feel that there is a good
answer because, as in so many aspects of SCA combat, it depends upon how well
the fighters are schooled in the methods and the effectiveness of the

The first thought of Killing From Behind is "We don't do that.  After all,
we're all heroes out there."  Heroes, either standing up and going single
combat or crouching down and holding the gap in a shield wall, face their
enemies and don't allow trickery to soil their victory.  I've never read in
any of the romances of the hero stabbing the villan in the back.

The second thought is "The Medieval Knight was no romantic hero either."  The
knight's purpose was to defeat their opponent, whether in war or tourney and
they did it to the limit of the rules.  (In war there were no rules unless
they were on "Parade".)

We allow archers who are able to kill from a distance that the fighter cannot
even reach.  Spearmen are able to sneak the point through the line and kill
you while they stand behind several defenders that keep you away.  Neither of
these appear "heroic" in the romantic sense but they are accepted and, in
fact, usually very necessary.  Especially since they contribute so much to
the real "feel" of a melee.

I have been in melees in which killing from behind was allowed and because
there was intensive explanation in the do's and don'ts of killing from behind
and also because the marshalls were quick to intervene in any violation, it
was very realistic and enjoyable.  Imagine two fighters taking out an entire
squad simply because someone didn't think to have someone keep an eye out
behind.   A light, quick "rap" to the face and a verbal "You're dead,
m'lord!" was all it took.  Most of the "killed" basically shook their heads
in a "Boy was I stupid!" way and fell down.  No problems.

There also the instances where things weren't so nice.  As I stated before I
feel that this was because of poor explanations and marshalling.  A fighter
spinning around after someone has politely not creamed him from behind needs
a severe dressing down by a marshall.  Whereas, if killing from behind is
allowed in the melee, if a fighter spins and catches an unsuspecting assassan
more power to him.

I'm sorry to say after such a long-winded letter that I am neither "For" nor
"Against" K-F-B, it has it's place as so many aspects of SCA combat does. 
Ignorance is our only enemy.



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