Rude Slayings

dennis grace amazing at
Sat Oct 5 23:32:59 PDT 1996

find stick-jock stuff offensive, you may as well drop this one in the trash.

Greetings fellow warriors.  I have a war question to put to you.  First,
however, allow me to offer some background.  By their nature, wars are not
terribly courteous affairs; nevertheless, we in the SCA attempt to make them
as courteous as possible--within limits.  Sure, we gang up on individuals,
enfold smaller groups, divide and conquer, try to hide our numbers with
formation, and all that Sun Tsu Art of War stuff.  Still, what warrior worth
his rattan hasn't managed to get out of a tight spot by asking for single
combat?  No, it doesn't always work (unless you're fighting An Tirians), but
the fact that it ever works proves my point.

Typically, however, we draw the proverbial line only where injury is
possible.  We don't allow blind-siding, hanglining, harpooning.  We do allow
pinning a single limb, but we don't allow chicken-winging.  We're quite
thorough about keeping potential dangers off our battlefields (ironic,
n'est-ce pas?).  No hard shafts on arrows; no overly heavy weapon heads; no
chains, ropes, or grapples that might snap a wrist.  Battlefield maps get
redrawn to avoid overly steep draws; deep holes frequently get flagged or
fenced; and water beyond a certain width and depth is right out. Yet, in
spite of all this, we do allow socking an unwary fighter in the back or
(worse still) the back of the head.

Okay, some of you are probably furrowing brows and shaking heads by now, and
that's about where I wanted you.  

What we have in SCA battles is a quandary.  We don't want to blindside
opponents, yet the most effective tactics on any battlefield allow your
warriors to do precisely that:  sneak up from behind and destroy the enemy
before they can do anything about it.  Hit the enemy in a way, place, and
time that eliminates as much danger of counterattack as possible.

[What is this guy getting at?  Didn't he say he had a question?]

Essentially I want to ask just this:  killing from behind--yea or nay?  And
why or why not?

Anyone not familiar with both systems might want to skip this paragraph.
(Anyone, please, if I leave out anything pertinent to either of these
descriptions, correct me.)  When killing from behind is disallowed,
opponents can be engaged from the rear only by yelling at them or tapping
them on the shoulders until they acknowledge you WITH EYE CONTACT, at which
time you may spblap 'em in da haid in a chivalrous manner.  When killing
from behind is allowed, you accost the enemy from behind (weapon-and-shield
types and florentiners throw a shield or weapon around the opponent's body
and the other weapon across her or his face grill; pole, spear, and
greatsword fighters place the oversized phallus-de-guerre FIRMLY upon the
enemy's shoulder) and shout a loud and clear "You are dead from behind!"  

Now, having fought under both systems, I have reasons for liking and
disliking both.  To name just one negative aspect of each:  in the kill from
behind system, spearmen have the devil's own time convincing fighters that
they're dead; in the no killing from behind system, fighters are far more
likely to get blindsided or actually hit in the head from behind.  I could
go into a lot more detail, but I'd prefer to hear what someone else has to
say on this matter.  Thus, I will relinquish the electronic floor now in
hopes that some of my brothers and sisters in arms will take up the discussion. 

Killing from behind--yea or nay?  And why or why not?  

Many Advance Thanks

Sir Lyonel Oliver Grace
Dennis G. Grace
Assistant Instructor
Postmodern Medievalist
Division of Rhetoric and Composition
University of Texas

Baro, metetz en guatge                    |  Lords, pawn your castles,
Chastels e vilas e ciutatz                |  your towns and cities.
Enanz qu'usquecs no'us guerreiatz         |  Before you're beat to the draw,
                                                    draw your swords.

                   -- Bertran de Born (a really fun Viscount)

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