[Ansteorra-rapier] Proposed revision to rapier rules

Pug Bainter pug at pug.net
Fri Oct 12 09:04:43 PDT 2012

Good Morning,

  I must apologize for stepping away from the discussion for too long. I
thought I was at a lull in work before starting this and then was blindsided
with a new analysis. I'm catching up on a number of topics all at once.

  First for some frivolity. Just because some people are pack rats and keep
items in their bags that aren't generally used or in some cases possibly
illegal, it doesn't mean we need support their addiction. We are forming an

  Second, the problem trying to be solved is the potential of safety or
rules violations raised from weapons that are used less than 10 times a year
(SWAG based on the bouts people have talked about). Even if it's 10X that
number, it is still less than 1%. Of the thousands and thousands of bouts a
year in this kingdom, the foil and epee are statistically not used in our
Kingdom. Unfortunately should there be an incident the SCA/Kingdom, marshal
and fighter could be held responsible because they are allowed by our rules
but probably not given the same scrutiny as the heavy rapier blades. To
correlate this, the recent lawsuit was not about if something was allowed or
that the SCA didn't have rules, but that the rules we have were not enforced
because of the limited use of the program or concern for the need to abide
by the rules.

  Based on some people's feedback, I should probably retire as a Rapier
Marshal (but not C&T) as I don't know how to inspect these weapons, but also
have not had a need to since I was authorized. While I am familiar with the
weapons, I am not familiar with the methods in which they become unsafe. I
am not an authorized combatant for them, so I will not inspect or learn to
inspect them, nor will I marshaling bouts because I don't know when
something wonky happened on the field that would generate an unsafe

  I think that the argument that I don't have to face a weapon can be a bit
misleading. While it is true on the surface, it means I must concede the
bout to my opponent since I will not or cannot face them with a weapon that
I am not authorized for. We do not have separate light and heave blade
tournaments anymore. In some smaller tournaments this could be used as a
method for winning in a very cheesy, but legitimate, way assuming there is a
marshal present who can inspect the weapon. Hopefully it couldn't come to
pass, but it is as legitimate of a concern as many of the arguments for
keeping them.

  Like some others, my norm is to give the right of weapons choice to my
opponent given my station in the SCA, defaulting to single blade if they
don't make a choice. I even succeeding in getting Don Robin to choose at
Queen's because of being a Landed Noble. In my fencing career, no one has
ever choose a foil or epee, so I am not seeing the same experience others
are saying they are seeing. It seems that some of us are moving in different

  For the youth program, there does not appear to be a requirement that an
adult working with them is actually authorized for the *youth* style. It may
be heresy, but this change doesn't prevent those that are comfortable and
safe per the marshal to train youth with these blades. Our youth program
(chivalric and rapier) extends beyond the Society rules as the ages are
outside of the Society rules and it is a separate authorization specific to
Ansteorra and not SCA-wide.

  In regards to medical conditions creating problems using heavier blades,
there is a solution that all of us should be doing that solves this.
Training and conditioning. Some people need to work on foot work more,
others need to work on stamina, and some need to work on wrist/arm strength.
This need is across any and all sports activity. One can train and be taught
with a wide variety of items from broomsticks to weight bars, it is not
until combat occurs that the restrictions for weapons kick in.

  Ansteorra not banning other Society approved weapons is a fallacy. We have
at least in the combat archery arena. We have set a maximum poundage (not
just inch poundage) on shafted crossbows and reduced the tube crossbow
maximums for both poundage and inch poundage. This means people with
legitimate weapons in other kingdoms can't use them here. Why did we do
this? In part due people voicing safety concerns, and in part to align with
Gulf Wars which is what our army trains for all year.

  Unless my reading of their rules is wrong, Ansteorra is the only Gulf War
kingdom still allowing foils and epees. I know we've fought to allow them in
tournaments at Gulf Wars in the past when we were told they wouldn't be
allowed by the hosting kingdom, but it is to the point now that we are being
unfair to our combatants by allowing them to be authorized for a weapons
style that they won't be able to find someone to fight nor use in honor of
our Crown and Kingdom.

  Regarding aesthetics, there are Kingdoms that do require plastic armor to
be covered and a policy came down within the last year (or so) that required
all modern logos to be covered Society-wide on the armored combat field. We
are evolving as an organization and it is good and right to do so. We do
need to remember the "good old days", but we don't need to keep them with a
stranglehold. Looking forward, there will be a day when modern fencing masks
die out as more fighters get helms, but that day is not here. The day for
foils and epees to die out has come, and in my opinion past.	

  Rattan is *not* used to simulate a sword, it is used to simulate a
training weapon such as a waster. Unfortunately because of the litigious
society we live in, we have to choose safety during a failure versus the
look and feel of a wood waster. On the other hand, a foil and epee are used
to simulate weapons that did exist, do exist, and we have safety measures
that permit the legitimate use of the "real McCoy".

  Personally, I think the Rapier community has a higher standard, at least
since I've paid attention, to not only dress better, but to look more
historically accurate than the Armored community. While we have our bad
apples, they have their good apples as well. Let's not use the argument that
because an inferior example exists as a justification that we should lower
our standards as well. 
  The proposed rules have not been published as they are not law yet. As
part of my role as marshal Webminister I definitely plan on getting a new
version of our handbook updated on-line, but will be publishing approved
changes as addendums until all of it is hashed out. The new rules will also
be small enough to publish on a single page in the Blackstar.


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