Richard L. Rohde talen at
Fri Aug 22 12:19:01 PDT 1997

On Friday, August 22, 1997 11:51 AM, Carl John Hess 
[SMTP:cjhess at] wrote:
> I'm from An Tir.  I have *never* seen a marshall call *anyone* dead.
>  Much
> to my chagrin, as both a heavy and a light.  I had always thought it
> was up
> to the fighter.
> Having marshalls tell heavies they're dead could make for much better
> wars.
> C. Scipio Blah Blah Blah

I would like to respond to this comment with a lengthier comment on 
Marshaling and Blow Calling in general.

Marshals in Ansteorra don't call the blows.  Nor do they offer their 
opinion on the force of the blow, only on where it landed if asked. 
 This is the "Witness" section of the SCA Marshal's Handbook (the 
*minimum* requirements for the entire SCA).  I give here the first 
sentence of the section:

"You are expected to be an impartial witness to exactly what you saw 
happen during the fight...and to keep your mouth shut about it unless a 
safety hazard occurs or you are asked by the fighters."

Having marshals "call" the blows may seem to be an easy solution to a 
perceived problem, but it creates other problems as well.  One in 
particular is that it places a "judge" over your honor, someone who 
must call the shot based on experience (little or much), yet truly has 
no idea what the shot felt like.  Only the person hit knows for certain 
how it felt, and even though this allows for errors, I think having 
someone else call the force of the blow allows for more errors.

As a marshal, I can tell you where I saw it hit, and perhaps reason why 
you didn't call the shot (glanced, struck forte of sword, struck tip, 
struck with flat of sword, etc.) but I can't tell if the shot was 
delivered with "enough" force, whether it left your hand when it hit 
(hidden behind basket hilt), whether your sword was pulped out, whether 
you moved out or into the shot just right to take the "snap" off, or if 
you leaned away from your armor and just didn't feel the solid blow 
that everyone else thinks they saw.

I have been on the receiving and giving end of all of these in the past 
fourteen years.  In one Crown Tournament I struck my opponent in the 
face and he didn't call it.  I was disillusioned until I stripped my 
sword and found a small wedge-split at the tip.  Apparently this wedge 
spread the force so my opponent didn't feel it.  My opponent called 
honorably.  In another, I was struck by a great sword in the 
kidneybelt.  Part of the shot went into my leg.  I felt the leg and 
called it accordingly as I struck him a killing blow.  Others 
questioned me afterwards.  In replaying the scenario in my mind, I 
determined that I had leaned away from the armor at the time I was 
struck, and didn't feel it.  I called honorably, but went to my 
opponent and apologized anyway.  He was honorable, accepted my apology 
and we parted with no animosity.

To be honorable is not always to be right, but neither is being right 
always honorable.  The SCA says "Let the slain man say if he be slain". 
 If your opponent is honorable, this will work more often than not.  If 
he or she is not honorable, all will eventually know.

Centurion Talen Gustaf von Marienburg
Warlord of the Northern Region of Ansteorra
Deputy to the Northern Regional Marshal
Knight Marshal of the Shire of Mooneschadowe
talen at


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