[Namron] Story from Crown Tourney

Miles Grey Kahn at West-Point.org
Mon Jul 12 21:43:58 PDT 2010

There is a solution to this, and it's in use in Calontir.  There are 
industrial-type pieces of tough foam floor padding about 2' square with 
puzzle-piece edges.  All pieces are the same size and shape, and every 
fighter has one or two of them and every group has a bunch.  I've 
watched those pieces used for an indoor tournament and for indoor 
fighter practices - they protect the floor very well and, when assembled 
correctly, they present no edges that will catch your foot.

I haven't fought much for three reasons.  One is that, save for a 
six-month contract in Chemin Noir, my mundane life has prevented me from 
attending practice with any regularity.  The second is that I 
procrastinate very well.  The third is that, because of a childhood 
injury, I'm very susceptible to the heat.  Despite this, I dug 70' of 
30" deep French drain through undisturbed clay during triple digit 
temperatures in July about 10 years ago.  Simply put, I was in better 
shape and kept myself well-hydrated.

All that said, I agree with Sir Thomas.  While you may say it isn't a 
tough man competition, it is both physical sport and martial art.  
Practice to develop the skills and reflexes necessary are only part of 
it.  Physical training is also essential.  Strength and endurance are 
integral parts of heavy combat.  When you ask to move the fighting 
indoors, you're asking to try to negate an advantage that a fighter who 
has had the dedication and time to be able to devote himself or herself 
to the regimen necessary.  Would you consider for a moment "leveling the 
playing field" so that someone whose mundane life - or lack of personal 
dedication - won't allow the time necessary to do Laurel-level work 
become a Laurel?  Nor do we award an Iris to someone whose efforts are 
deserving of nothing more than a Thistle.  Why, then, do you suggest 
that we should do the equivalent in the chivalric fighter world?  What 
will you then do for the figher who can throw 50 shots with enough force 
to be killing blows, but not 60?  If that fighter faces someone who 
defends well in a tournament, he or she may reach the fourth or fifth 
round and be physically unable to defeat his or her opponent despite 
being more skilled.  Tournaments are the chivalric fighter's equivalent 
of A&S competitions.  Each such competition - be it A&S, Rapier, 
Archery, Chivalric, or anything else has its own character, requiring a 
different level of performance from the entrants.  Crown Tournament is 
the penultimate competition for the Chivalric fighter.  We should not 
cheat neither our populace nor the those fighters who enter this 
Tournament of Tournaments.  The one who wins must know that the victory 
was well-earned.

To that end, we must realize that Chivalric combat is far, far more than 
mere skill.  It is conditioning.  It is strength,  It is endurance.  It 
is chivalry.  It is courtesy.  It is honor.  It is all of these and much 
more.  First and foremost, it is the personal dedication necessary to 
develop all of these to sufficient levels to be able to enter the list 
field and defeat not just your first opponent, but your sixth or 
seventh, in the heat or cold or rain.    To do this, a fighter must 
attend organized practices to develop the skills necessary.  But this is 
only a fraction of what is needed, the bare minimum.  Pickups after 
tourneys and melees that go on and on help develop the stamina necessary 
to land killing blows when one reaches late rounds.  But there must be 
more; the daily physical training that will develop the strength, 
quickness, finesse, and endurance necessary.  That can be boxing, 
running, weight lifting, pell drills, splitting wood, or anything else.  
The same regimen will not work for everyone because we're all very 
different.  In the end, this physical conditioning will lay the 
groundwork to be able to compete successfully in the heat of an 
Ansterran summer tournament.

And yet there is more.  The tactics of the day cannot be ignored - 
seeking out shade, hydration, and perhaps some sort of cooling.  
Depending on the fighter, tourney prep might have to include the right 
diet for a day or or more beforehand, and throughout the day.  Even if 
all of this is done just right, there is more.  A fight with spouse or 
friend, a bad day at work the day before, trouble with bills, family 
illness, a bit too much overtime early in the week, a bout of 
constipation or the runs, a headache, a pulled or strained muscle, a 
touch of a cold or flu, one of those frustrating physical plateaus that 
all athletes encounter, a meal where the food wasn't quite as fresh as 
thought or the particular spices disagreed with you, or myriad other 
things can and will conspire to steal a fighter's edge.  But on any 
given day, every fighter will be dealing with some combinatiuon of 
performance-robbing reality.

Thus, on the day of any tournament, as the day progresses, it is 
incumbent on each fighter to be able to tell if he or she can continue 
and to stop otherwise.  Of course, the nature of Crown Tournament is 
such that a fighter might push himself or herself more than in any other 
tournament, elevating the importance of squires, consorts, friends, and 
others who are part of the entrants' circle.  In most cases, as long as 
the fighter remains sufficiently hydrated, it won't really be a 
problem.  The heat will take its toll, robbing soem fraction of speed or 
strength; the blows thrown won't be fast enough and get blocked or won't 
be strong enough.  At the same time, the fighter's defense will lose 
just a little too much.

Chivalric combat is very physical.  Certainly, it shouldn't be merely a 
tough man competition.  But that must be part of it.  After all, we are 
replicating the medieval tournament, which was intended to develop, 
measure, and test the skill and readiness of the knight, squire, or 
man-at-arms for battle.  Nothing about battle would level the playing 
field, and if the heat of the afternoon drained you such that when you 
made that fourth charge up the hill, you reached the enemy shields too 
exhausted to hammer down his defense and defend yourself against his 
attack, you might have died (or perhaps just ended up captive).  There 
were battles in which men really did drop dead from exhaustion.  
Certainly, we are just playing a game and our tournaments have none of 
the seriousness of those our forebears faced.

Had the Chiurgeion been called two minutes later, Sir Thomas may well 
have needed an ambulance.  But he was not called two minutes later.  
Summer Crown comes but once a year.  Crown Tournament at Thirtieth Year 
was far hotter, with temperatures in the triple digits.  Were any 
ambulances called then?  We have multiple tourneys in the blazing 
Ansteorran heat, and the vast majority require no medical attention for 
heat injuries.  Others were dealt physical injuries, yet I hear no call 
for carefully measuring, leveling, and sanding the list field or to stop 
hitting each other with sticks.

Finally I note that Sir Thomas himself decried this desire for softening 
up Crown Tournament.  This is the very man who had to withdraw from the 
final round because of the heat.  Which of the Chivalric fighters are 
asking for this lenience, this lessening of the rigor, this diminution 
of the challenge?  Even though I know full well that however hard I 
train, and however much skill I develop, the heat may ensure I might 
never be able to make it to the final round of a summer tournament - a 
real possibility I hope doesn't manifest - I wouldn't have it otherwise.

Of course, that's just my opinion.  It's worth every bit of what you 
paid for it.

  Miles Grey

David Reynolds wrote:

> There are drawbacks to fighting indoors as well.  We discussed in for 
> this event.  However, it was the general opinion that the polished 
> concrete floors would have been a safety hazaard for 
> slippage.  Furthermore, competitors falling (as commonly happens even 
> outside of the controled falls of death) on the harder surfaces 
> creates injury problems.  If we move to softer and less slick surface 
> such as wood or carpet, we have to find a facility willing to allow us 
> to fall on the surface.  Wood or carpet floors can easily be damaged 
> by armor.  There are places that could be used, but they are fewer and 
> further between. 
> One other possibility would be to have required water breaks if the 
> temperature is over a certain temperature and the fight last more than 
> a certain amount of time.  Thus if you have a fight like the one at 
> crown, then at 15 minutes, the fighters are required to get take 
> a three minute break and get some water.
> ------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Date: Sun, 11 Jul 2010 17:21:24 -0700
> From: rose_welch at yahoo.com
> To: namron at lists.ansteorra.org
> Subject: Re: [Namron] Story from Crown Tourney
> As a person with utmost respect for the warriors of Ansteorra, 
> including the one that I'm wife to, an avid waterbearer, a spectator, 
> and a paying entrant, I think it sucks.
> I think it would be healthier for everyone if we had been inside that 
> spacious and gloriously air conditioned hall. As several people 
> commented, all of our pavillions and the field would have fit inside 
> the hall and we would have had a lot less people needlessly affected 
> by the heat.
> I recall a statement made not long after Sir Thomas spoke in favor of 
> our traditions. I remember the Kingdom Chiurgeon commenting that if he 
> had been alerted to Sir Thomas' condition two minutes later, he would 
> have had to call an ambulance.
> Two minutes.
> I respect Sir Thomas' opinion, but I absolutely disagree with the idea 
> of continued fighting under these conditions. As my husband just 
> stated, it's not a 'tough man' contest, and safety should always come 
> first.
> I understand that most of the twenty- something (?) entrants were 
> happy to fight in the heat, but I urge them (and any future summer 
> event autocrats) to consider the people who come out to support our 
> warriors, of which I am one. Please let us gather inside when the heat 
> is at it's worst.
> -Rose the Obnoxious
> Money can't buy happiness, but it can buy marshmallows, which is kind 
> of the same thing.
> --- On *Sun, 7/11/10, Doug Copley /<doug.copley at gmail.com>/* wrote:
>     From: Doug Copley <doug.copley at gmail.com>
>     Subject: [Namron] Story from Crown Tourney
>     To: "Kingdom of Ansteorra - SCA, Inc."
>     <ansteorra at lists.ansteorra.org>, "Barony of Namron Mailing List"
>     <namron at lists.ansteorra.org>, "Wiesenfeuer Group"
>     <wiesenfeuer at yahoogroups.com>, "skorragardrvirtualskald"
>     <SkorragardrVirtualSkald at yahoogroups.com>
>     Date: Sunday, July 11, 2010, 6:36 PM
>     Greetings good Ladies and Gentles!
>     I wanted to share a story from Crown Tourney.
>     The battle between Duke Ulsted and Sir Tomas had lasted for 1/2
>     hour in the sun and both combatants were feeling it. Duke Ulsted
>     struck a blow to the head of Sir Tomas who promptly called the
>     shot and went down. It then became evident that Sir Tomas was
>     suffering from heat exhaustion and we had to help him to up the
>     hill to the air conditioned hall. Sir Tomas was so weak he was
>     hardly walking at all and was mostly carried.
>     Once in the hall his gear having been removed and cool clothes
>     placed on him to cool him down a few people started talking about
>     the heat. A couple of people talked about how it was too hot
>     outside and that the tourney should be moved inside somehow. Up to
>     this point Sir Tomas had just started to get some color back and
>     had hardly spoken and was still doing good just to sit where he
>     had been placed when we brought him in.
>     Sir Tomas raised his head up and spoke clearly and said
>     "No, this is Ansteorra and we fight outside!"
>     Wow, talk about a warrior and a fighter! Even after having to
>     withdraw from the fight he still wanted to keep the traditions
>     alive and loved the way things are done in this great kingdom!
>     My hat is off to all of those that competed in heat this weekend
>     for the right and honor to be our next King and Queen.
>     YIS,
>     Vincenti
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