CaidRapier.org

Your Information Source for Rapier Combat in the Kingdom of Caid


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Greetings!

Welcome to the new CaidRapier.org!  We hope that this we become a valuable resources of News, Information, and General Communication.  As information develops, you will be able to find it here, along with general Opinion articles, Educational Material, Shopping and more…

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A Cutting Drill

By THLady Meala Caimbeul, Caid Cut & Thrust Marshal

Hello again. There was a quite successful Cut & Thrust workshop at Collegium Caidis, and I thought I’d share the drill we worked on.  It is fairly simple, but there are many options for adding complexity.

Short description:
Both partners are in a neutral third guard. They are just within measure, sword points crossed, but not much more. The active partner opens the line, inviting a thrust (if not a lunge) up the middle. As the passive partner thrusts, the active one cuts the thrust away, and returns a cut to the passive partner’s head.

Lesson one – the dissuasive cut. By delivering a good cut to the oncoming thrust the Active partner gains more time than if he simply gained the line by positioning, or sliding on the Passive partner’s blade.

Lesson two – the return cut. Try to use the true edge and make the turn as abbreviated as possible. Deliver a good cut that connects with the middle of the blade.

Lesson for the Passive Partner – Good guard and thrust/lunge. Make sure your starting guard is as perfect as is it can be; your weight starts back, hand is extended, and your are pointing at, if not above your opponents head. Deliver the thrust or lunge as if it was your practice; start with your hand, include the body, and only step if you need to.

Advanced lessons
Timing and Distance. Start the drill out of measure and let the Passive partner approach. The Active partner will invite when he feels the Passive partner is at lunging distance and would have to take a step to make contact.  If Passive is not close enough the dissuasive cut will fail, if too close the thrust will land or there won’t be space for the return cut.

Keep them honest. Passive partner attempts the second intention as the Active person makes the return cut. If the Active partner does not make a good dissuasive cut, the passive partner can counter-attack. If the Return cut is not delivered from a protected place, there will be a double kill.

This drill can be done on both inside and outside the Active partner’s sword.

Good luck and happy cutting!


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More on Cutting

By THLady Meala Caimbeul, Caid Cut & Thrust Marshal

Cutting is a very basic thing. Most blades were designed to do it with only a modicum of direction from the operator. As you can see from the different diagrams, there is much similarity even among very different fencing manuals.

Sword cuts according to:

Achille Marozzo – 1536
AchilleMarozzo1536

Joachim Meÿer – ~1570
JoachimMeòer1570

Salvatore Fabris – 1606
SalvatoreFabris1606

Gérard Thibault – 1628
GÇrardThibault1628

I have found one of the foundations to a good cutting game is to cut from one guard to another traveling through a very specific middle guard. (To give proper credit, this is not my own concept; it is prescribed by a few masters in our time period.) That middle guard is called by more manuals than not, Long Point. It is formed by having your sword extended, mostly from the shoulder-line, with the tip higher than the guard, usually pointing at your opponent’s head. By moving through this position your cuts are forced to move from one plane to the other, from high to low, left to right, or even on the diagonals. Look again at the diagrams – these lines achieved easily when moving through this middle position.

(There are exceptions to everything, and this is meant as a basic lesson. But one must know the basics before one can deviate from them.)
Though this is a simple position, there are many subtleties that make it successful. In solo practice, and even in controlled partner drills, I recommend adding an artificial pause to check this guard and confirm you are forming it correctly. Another advantage of this brief pause it that even though this guard happens in the middle of a longer action, it is a neutral position; you can use it to change your plan or direction depending on the actions of your opponent.

• The body is mostly upright, if not leaning a bit forward from the hip.
• The arm is extended, pushing forward from the shoulder, but not locked.
• The sword point is higher than the guard; pointing at, if not slightly above, your opponent’s head.

Special note – because this is a middle guard, happening in the middle of a cut, I am not prescribing any specific foot positions. They will depend on the methods and guards you are using.

A good way to test this guard is to have an opponent attempt to cut at your center line from long measure. As they enter with the cut, your head and upper body should be well behind your guard, and your trunk should be just out of range. You might have to direct your strong toward the assault, but you should be pretty well defended in the middle.

Once you have a good idea of what this guard is, practice cutting from one guard to another, pausing in the middle to check your Long Point guard. Remember to keep your hands soft and let the sword to most of the work. You don’t need much additional power for a valid cut; you just need to direct and control the weapon’s path. As you practice, that pause can get smaller and smaller until it is almost imperceptible. But don’t let it completely disappear and start rushing your actions. I find having a position in the middle of a large action where you can change your mind is quite useful. In fact, another fun drill is to have a partner call out a starting guard, and just as you get to that middle guard, call out a second one for you to finish with.

Good luck and happy cutting!

P.S. Don’t forget there is a Cut & Thrust Workshop at Collegium, May 17th – starting at 11:00 am
http://www.collegiumcaidis.org/2015/schedule.html
http://www.collegiumcaidis.org/2015/catalog.html#Rapier


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Darach Anniversary and the first elevation of the Order of Defense

By Lord Patrick of Lyondemere

Darachshire, Caid – A traditionally understated and joyous event became much larger on Saturday, the second day of A.S. 50, as the Shire and Kingdom welcomed the premieres of the recently created Order of Defense. Styled as “Masters of Defense”, Baron Alexander Kallidokos, Master Laertes McBride, and Don Colwyn Stagghorn were elevated to the peerage with much fanfare, pomp, a few tears, and of course, some shenanigans. Elevations occurred at opening court, with TRM Mansur and Eilidh, TRH Athanaric and Sigridr, and a large turnout including numerous members of the Order of the White Scarf, including a few seldom seen. The event was echoed around the Known World as every kingdom elevated their own Masters, who will share precedence as Premieres of the Order.
 
After some words from their Majesties and Highnesses, and various presentations and awards, the first Elevation was Don Alexander, who processed in with friends, family, and a seemingly endless list of awards and accolades that was both impressive and humbling. Alexander, resplendent in silver and sable, was welcomed into the Order in a moving ceremony that included eloquent and emotional recommendations from Duke Guillaume and Duchess Felinah, among others. Don Kallidokos asked to be dubbed with the sword of Don Kelan, Premiere of the Order of the White Scarf of Caid.
 
Following Alexander was Don Laertes, adding some levity by processing in with a dialogue between two heralds, one of whom was his young daughter, proud of her father but stern in her praise. His recommendations from the peerages including a heartfelt one from his Baroness of Altavia (ret.) Bridget, declaring him the most skillful rapier fighter she has ever known. Laertes, in his customary verdant splendor, was also the first to have been spoken for by a Master of Defense, in this case the freshly Masterful Alexander.
 
The third and final elevation (to the Order) of the day was Don Colwyn. Arriving with much fanfare (including the traditional heraldry that begins a tourney bout), preceded by Pretty Fairy Niko, and arriving on a chariot of his own creation in a glowing ensemble of azure, Don Stagghorn made what is recalled by many as the most amusing entrance of the day. The seldom serious but always genteel Don was lauded by many, including his daughter Duchess Cassandra, who declared him as being made of silliness and generosity, in perhaps unequal measure.
 
All three Masters were presented a collar and medallion representing the peerage, and cloaks with the peerage device. In between each elevation was a bardic interlude, a welcomed touch. As His Majesty himself stated (to paraphrase): ‘…this was a rare chance to see the establishment of a new peerage, and a once in a lifetime chance to see this peerage established…’ Many felt it was an honor to be in attendance, and many were also moved by the emotion and pageantry of the court.
 
Following the ceremonies, a team of heralds read new language regarding the rapier peerage, Order of the White Scarf, and associated changes into Kingdom law at an optional court.
 
After court, the new Masters went to be photographed and showered with gifts, and the many rapier fighters in attendance signed up for an impressively deep rapier list. The tournament format was a variation on the “Bear Pit”, with the victorious fighter holding the field and earning a point, with the vanquished leaving to inform the scorekeeper of the victor. Four matches were held simultaneously in two erics, with a seemingly endless line of fighters in waiting. At set intervals, the weapons format changed; first single-sword, then with dagger, followed by cloak, and finally buckler. The semifinalists were those four with the most impressive record in each category.
 
The Masters all acquitted themselves well, including Laertes holding his place for over a dozen matches in a row, with many fighters both scarfed and unscarfed putting together very respectable performances and maintaining a high energy and most importantly, very fun, tourney. In the end, Don Ian F. Duncanson was victorious over Don Michael Mallory, after winning his semifinal match from the ground.
 
In all, the event was a beautiful day in Darach, and a fitting beginning for the Order of Defense.
MastersofDefense_group2
Photo Courtesy of Brian Krinsley


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Cut & Thrust in a Nutshell

By THLady Meala Caimbeul, Caid Cut & Thrust Marshal

Those that know me know that a Cut & Thrust fight is just about my most favorite thing to do with a sword.  In a blatant attempt to get to do it more often, allow me to encapsulate what this art is, is not, and how you can get started.

By the book, Cut & Thrust is a type of rapier combat that incorporates percussive cutting and removes the push and pull (draw) cuts. It requires a little more armor to protect against these cuts, and does require a year of authorized rapier or unarmored experience, but those are not hard to accomplish. In standard rapier, to deliver a cut you must place and draw the edge along the target; this takes more time than driving a cut by turning the wrist. Cut & Thrust allows for single-time cuts, (as they are described in fighting manuals of the period) which are faster and more defensively sound.

These cuts do land with percussion, but do not have to be of a higher calibration than any standard heavy rapier blow.  That is, you don’t have to hit hard. It is the percussion that makes these cuts seem harder. Trust me, you need no extra force to deliver a valid percussive cut; the sword wants to make this action, you just have to direct it.

Not all Heavy Rapiers are designed to deliver these cuts. The schlager-style blades, with almost no taper from shoulder to tip, are not permitted in Cut & Thrust. (This taper helps prevent the blade from breaking in cutting situations.) Yes, there are heavier blades for Cut & Thrust only, but you don’t need them to play.  Most Heavy Rapiers that we use are perfectly suitable for Cut & Thrust.

There is also some additional required armor (and some that we recommend.) All of which can be purchased commercially; SPES makes a great back-of-the-head insert, and there are many options for elbow pads. I carry an extra set of elbows and a spare back-of-the-head insert in my kit; if you want to practice Cut & Thrust, I’m happy to provide the armor. (Also, you don’t need the armor to practice cuts on a pell, or participate in drills or other controlled and directed practice.) We also recommend heavier than standard gloves, especially when using the more open weapons that don’t cover the fingers or wrist.

And now the thing that makes Cut & Thrust different from Heavy Rapier – Percussive Cutting.  This can seem very intimidating; it often looks like we are wheeling swords at one another and should be leaving bruises and welts with every landed blow. But as I said above, you don’t need to hit harder for a valid blow. You do need to land a “controlled, well-intentioned blow, delivered with the striking edge of the sword with proper mechanics so to have been able to cleave the target.” These cuts are the result of circular motion, and are led with the hand (instead of the point.) While tip cuts are perfectly valid, most Cut & Thrust blows are delivered a little farther down toward the middle of the weapon.

When I teach cutting, I often use the example of cutting firewood with an axe. The arching motion, and the way one sends the weapon away from the body are some of the keys to good cutting technique. Least you think you must wind your sword to the top of your head to make a good cut, starting the arc at the shoulder; it is just as valid to cut from the wrist, transcribing a much smaller arc, and making a much faster attack.

Think of your average rapier play, your opponent is pointing a sword at you and initiates a lunge. You move your hand and dissuade the oncoming point, but now your point is off-line so you don’t have a ready thrust. To deliver a draw cut you’ll have to get closer, place the edge on the target, then pull or push the edge to finish the cut. In a Cut & Thrust bout, you are allowed to take that off-line point and, by turning the wrist, deliver a cut that will land much sooner that the draw, it will also be delivered at an angle that will keep you safer than the lateral draw cut.

The advantage of these cuts is first that you are defended by the nature of blade position and movement. Second, since you don’t have to place the blade first, they are faster than draw cuts. Icing on the cake is that these cuts are the ones described in pre-1650 fighting manuals, being able to perform them in the time described can allow for more historically-based combat
(Knowledge of historic rapier is not required for Cut & Thrust.)

One of the hurdles most fencers encounter when learning to cut is the tendency to “gather in” when they cut.  Good cuts are made on an arc that extends out from the body and (usually) through a guard most masters call Long Point. When one is accustomed to draw cuts, the habit is there to pull your hand in, toward your body in an attempt to absorb some of the kinetic energy.  While the instinct to not hurt your opponent is a good one, collapsing your guard in this way is more likely to result in a sloppy and invalid cut, and you being undefended while in range of your opponent.

The other way newer cutters attempt to compensate for the perceived excessive force is by ceasing to control the cut around the apex. When a thrust is about to land hard, many of us train to loosen our grip and stop pushing in order to take some of the power away from the attack. Applying that same technique to cutting can result in a sloppy blow that lands hard, but is not, in reality, a good cut.  The key to a good cut is control, from when it is initiated all the way through to contact. By keeping control of the weapon, and guiding it all the way through the cut, you will be able to better control the force you send into your opponent.

If you want more information, and some practical experience, I invite you to attend the Cut & Thrust workshop offered at Colligium Caidus at 11:00 am on Sunday, May 17th. (http://www.collegiumcaidis.org/2015/schedule.html)


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Intro to SCA Rapier Lesson Plan

Here is a Progressive Lesson Plan designed for Territorial Marshals who are looking for a good way to get a newcomer from Day 1 to Authorization, created by Lord Rhydderch Derwen.

If it helps, please use it, or adapt it to your needs.  This in not an end-all-be-all of fencing instruction, but a good skeleton to encourage participation and help develop a safe community that is knowledgeable of the rules while being prepared for the authorization process while not creating anxiety or apprehension.

Intro to SCA Rapier lesson plan


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On King’s Hunt, News, and the Closing of the Order of the White Scarf

By Rhydderch Derwen

Hello, I have good news and just in case you were not at the last King’s Hunt (and even if you were) please allow me to share some of the exciting things happening in our kingdom.

Saturday at the King’s Hunt featured the Unscarved Tournament, my favorite tournament of the year as I get to see and fence my friends I usually only see on the melee field. Even if you don’t fence, or don’t like to watch fencing, the challenges are worth staying for. Many people plan out days or weeks in advance what they will say and everyone is in their finest fighting garb. This year after we had lined up and were about to give our challenges their Majesties were inspecting the fighters and talking about the format with the White scarves they came to a problem. Lord Diego was called up and before everyone his list card was torn and it was announced he had been disqualified from the tournament and with shock on everyone faces the herald started the ceremony for a new White Scarf. After many tearful words a gorgeous new scarf was tied to his arm and after a few more heart touching words another beautiful scarf was tied to his arm and finally after some hugs and congratulations a third scarf was tied to his arm. During the ceremony it was announced that Don Diego would be the last Caidan White Scarf and that the order would be closed following a ceremony at Coronation (more on this later.)

Seeing a new Scarf being made is a wonderful occasion to behold, everyone is so happy for the new Scarf and thankful they are getting the recognition they deserve. But, when that new Scarf is a friend and fellow student it hits even closer to home as I have seen and benefited from all the hard work he has done over the past few years. He has inspired me to strive for greatness all the while working to achieve it himself. Well deserved, my friend.

The bitter-sweet news is the announcement of the closing of the Order Of the White Scarf at Coronation. This is of course to make way for the new Order of the Master of Defense but never the less many people have questions as our current rapier culture relies on the White Scarves as leaders in our community.

As I have been involved in many discussions about this topic with our and other leaders in the rapier community, please let me answer the most common questions I see time and time again and perhaps prevent confusion and fears on how this transition will take place.

Q: What does closing the order mean?

  • A: Simply that no new members will be made, each current member will retain all honors and regalia.

Q: What will happen to existing scarves? Will they have to give their scarf back?

  • A: Much like the answer above, nothing will happen to the existing scarves. I’m sure each of them will continue to proudly wear their regalia.

Q: Will all the White Scarves get elevated to the new order?

  • A: Not necessarily, they may eventually, but each new member will be voted on by the members of the order and new members may or may not be a White Scarf. This is due the different requirements of the two orders.

Q: What about our leadership structure? Who will run events, authorize fighters, hold practice, etc..?

  • A-1: This is really a two part answer so… First, Leadership was a requirement of being a White Scarf, but having a White Scarf is not a requirement to be a leader. Many non-Scarves are currently running events, holding practice, teaching in various styles. Quite simply not having a scarf is no excuse to not doing something for the community.
  • A-2: Second, Our current scarves are not going away and they certainly won’t stop doing all the Scarfy things they do (like fencing, teaching, leading the community, and talking too much.) There is no reason why they would not still meet to discuss the community and do things to support it.

Q: I have a teacher student relationship with a Scarf, what will happen to that; will I need to find a Master of Defense?

  • A: Well this is between you and your Scarf, but the short answer is – nothing, if you don’t want it to. In fact having a scarf is not required to take students, I know non-Scarves with students at this current time and I doubt that will change.

Q: Part of the reason I was so excited about the Master of Defense was because it gave us fencers three step award structure, doesn’t closing the White Scarf defeat the purpose?

  • A: No, as leaders in the community are working on options for a new GOA level award. Now this is not an easy task, as for anything to become official, it must first be submitted to the heralds and passed. At this point I do not know how far along the discussion is, but if you have any ideas I highly recommend you submit your suggestion to the Crown. But, this will result in the three step structure we currently have for many of our other activities.

Q: The White Scarf was hard enough to receive as it is, won’t the Master of Defense be even harder as it is a peerage?

  • A: No, the requirements for getting the Master of Defense will not necessarily be harder to receive than a White Scarf. However the requirements would be a bit different (such as service to the SCA as a community (not just rapier.))
    As for the reasoning on why I don’t expect it to be any more difficult; The White Scarf in Caid was treated as a terminal award, i.e. the very last award you will ever receive and was treated as such. One of the reasons for closing the White Scarf is so we would not have to lower the standards for new scarves as well as to make way for the two new awards (Masters of Defense and the new as of yet unnamed GOA award.) Now, the Master of Defense is the new terminal award and will be treated as such.

Q: Will the existing White Scarves be getting the new GOA award?

  • A: Doubtful, as they all already have a GOA award, it is unnecessary, and while it is possible for anyone to get any award at any time, people generally do not receive redundant awards for the same activity.

Q: I hear that people are very upset at this news and may leave the SCA?

  • A: While I cannot answer for everyone, the general feelings I have found expressed from most people is that they are a little bummed, but that is it. And while I do know a few people that are much more emotionally affected by this, the vast majority is nowhere near that level. Honestly, I find more people are simply confused than angry or sad.

Q: How does the news make you feel?

  • A-0.5: Ok, I expected to hear this question from my wife, and perhaps my teacher, but in the past two weeks I must have been asked this question at least 20 times in person, or online, and while I have tried to keep opinion out of this Q&A, if you really care what I feel read on. If not, skip to the next question.
  • A-1: I’m a little bummed, but at the same time I am ok with it. I understand that unless we wanted to lessen what the White Scarves are, that closing the order is the best option. Additionally, all of us “grew up” (as far as the rapier community) hearing how awesome the White Scarves are, that they were leaders, highly skilled, teachers, and good well liked people that we wanted to represent our community. And, they did all of that and they were our heroes because of it. But now we have the chance for our Heroes to be recognized, not just by us fledgling fencers, but the rest of the SCA as well. And for that mental shift to happen for new fencers, we have to be able to let go. Nobody said it would be easy, but for the new fencers coming in now, it is necessary for them to be pointed in the right direction, and it is our job as non-Scarves to lead them. Remember the White Scarves are not going away, and there is not any reason for any of them to stop what they are doing.

Their Majesties had the very difficult task of taking all the commentary from the populace and decide what is best for the community as a whole in the long run. I truly appreciate all the hard work and effort their Majesties put into this decision and I will be sure to express my gratitude to them for taking the necessary time and energy that this decision demanded. We are not losing the White Scarves, they are not going anywhere, but we are gaining the opportunity for our teachers, leaders, heroes, and friends to be Peers. However much I enjoy growing and supporting the community, I can’t imagine burden to make that decision myself.

Remember when I said I would finish with good news, the good news is this: The Order of the White Scarf is closing and in its place we are getting two new awards, the Order of the Masters of Defense and the new GOA award. Now, we will have the opportunity to see many new friends and heroes get the recognition they deserve. Right now in Caid (and across the Known World) history is being made, on not only how our game will be played, but how we show our appreciation to those that make our game into a dream we can all share. How we react and we shape the events within the next year will set the precedence, standard, and traditions that will be upheld in our community for years to come.


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Society Rules in Favor of Rapier Spears

A new ruling by the Board of Directors was officially announced this morning by the Society Rapier Marshal:

Greetings. 

The BoD held their Q2 2014 board meeting on July 12 and discussed the April 12 ruling on this class of weapons. Below is a link to the final ruling which is now in effect:

http://sca.org/officers/marshal/combat/rapier/

 
Immediate impact of the ruling:

As of today, the use of weapons that fall into this category require a separate authorization to be used. If your kingdom does not have an authorization procedure already in place, they cannot be used at official practices or events in your kingdom. For the kingdoms that do have a system in place, you may once again use these weapons as long as your rules comply with the Society-level ones.

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As one of the Kingdoms with an authorization procedure in place, Caid will look to the lead the way as an example of what how to handle these tools.
 
Have Fun and Be Safe!


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Counter-Disengage 4: On Boring Finals

By Don Todde MacDonnell

If this is your first encounter to the Counter-Disengage Forum, please read the Introductory post kindly provided for your convenience.

I had meant to take up this topic in December, but I realized I had to discuss my perspective on the audience first, and that proved a fair effort.  So if you haven’t read the previous blog, I would invite you to peruse it first….

The knight in the corner at your long, dull fight was not an allegory.  I met him, and another knight of his acquaintance outside the privies, after a dreadful three-way rapier final in Lyondemere, which had featured at least four fights, three of them slow, and two of them with extensive blow-call lawyering.  The crowd had groaned when the third fight did not produce a victor for the day.  It was the sort of fight where the fencers stopped watching and found something else to do, but the royalty and baronage weren’t afforded that choice.

The two knights were (unsurprisingly) bitching about rapier, and had come to the point where they agreed that rapier finals needed to be held in the main body of the list, when nobody had to pay attention, and not fought at the end of the day in front of the populace.  They changed the subject when I approached in a doublet and slops, but I freely agreed that the final was awful, someone needed to fix it, and I would try my best.  That day, my best amounted to short conversations with two of the finalists, both of whom were sympathetic but felt they couldn’t accelerate the fight without giving up the advantage.   This column amounts to a further effort to “fix it.”

Boring finals are among my SCA anathemas* because not only are they unpleasant to watch, I can feel the disappointment of the people around me as they unfold.  Here is the final, the climax of the tournament, and neither fighter has the courage to really attack.  Instead, they stand at the hairy edge of measure, hoping the other will give a tempo or lunge into a counterattack.  If we’re fortunate, they will change guards occasionally, beat swords carefully, make a witty comment, or circle purposefully.  That’s fine for a minute or two, but (for comparison) Iñigo and Westley’s duel atop the cliffs clocks in at three minutes.  After that, get on with it.

It’s my theory that fighters (me often included) go into a final determined, principally, to not screw up.  To our nervous minds, screwing up would mean getting one-shotted after approaching incautiously, or launching an attack that is too easily countered.  It means dying without getting to “show your stuff,” except I’ll assert that a boring final fails exactly that test.  It’s well enough to fight conservatively in the churchyard at dawn, but here you have a grand stage to display your virtues, and parry 9 (or worse, standing out of range) shows neither courage nor prowess.  So let’s use that as a basic test…

If, at long measure, you circle, take counterguards, compete for constraint, creep in under guard, wait a few tempos to see if the opponent will attack or give a tempo, you clearly display prowess, and no lack of courage to those who care to look; you need not launch a full-intent lunge when the 2-minute timer goes DING.  If your skills are limited and you make basic attacks, you display ample courage, and few will notice the lack of prowess.  But if you back away from such probing, simply batting their sword aside, you display neither courage nor prowess, regardless of how skillfully you managed the measure.  If it continues, even if you win, your opponent will have outshone you in the ways that inspire people both in period and now.

If a fight drags, both fencers ought to recognize it (you’ve made the finals after all, don’t tell me you don’t know a slow fight).  After some minutes, the gallery is waiting for one of you to show the courage to bring the action, and while their ire will fall on the favorite if neither does, more glory belongs to the underdog who takes initiative.  For the favorite, why are you so cautious?  You have earned a final with a favorable draw, and you squander a chance to display valor to instead improve your odds of winning a fruit basket.  If you should fall to a well-placed counter, let him enjoy the glory of a skilled victory; you will likely have another final soon.  If you are the underdog and face an intimidating white scarf who refuses to drive the action, know this: Most scarves dominate their fights, and are very good when the fight is on their terms.  If you can bring the fight to us, either by pushing us around the eric under guard, making us fall back, or dominating the sword, you put us in a position we don’t practice, outside our skill center.  You might not realize that Don Alexander, Duke Edric, and myself (if I may include myself in such skilled company!) all become far easier to kill as we retreat more than two steps.

To sum up and quote from Mark Twain**, “there are people in the world who will take a great deal of trouble to point out faults… and then go blandly about their business without suggesting any remedy. I am not that kind of person.”  It’s well enough to observe that boring finals suck, but why do they happen, and how can we fix it?

First, let each fighter in the final remember that the goal is to display their prowess and courage as well as their chivalry, and that dull fights squander that opportunity.  Fighting fearfully is not worth the fruit basket.

Second, let the better fighter feel an obligation to keep a slow fight moving.  Even if it is not to your apparent advantage, man (or lady) up and attack.  At the right time, and cleverly, yes, but as the fight drags on, with greater and greater frequency until the bout is decided.  Waiting at measure to throw a counter-attack fails this test, and the fault is yours if both fighters do so for too long.

Third, let the lesser fighter remember that not only do brave assaults display their courage, they may also expose the opponent’s weakness.  I sympathize with the desire to wait out the opponent and throw your best shot, but wouldn’t your prowess be better displayed if you had more than one tactic?  If not, I say it is your duty to keep yourself in range, that you may take that shot sooner.  Also, if there is no clear favorite, perhaps it’s you; see rule #2.

Fourth, if you leg your opponent in a final, you now control the measure, and bear with it responsibility for the pace of the fight.  Don’t walk into his sword, but neither spend the next five minutes stabbing at hands.

Fifth, all of the above count double if the final has multiple bouts, whether it’s best of three, or a three-way final.  One long bout is bearable; three are not.  If the first bout began with five minutes of probing, use what you’ve already learned to accelerate the other two.

Finally, apply these rules to any bout closely watched, and especially to those before a noble audience.  It’s telling that most long bouts are those with a large gallery; we feel the pressure to perform well, but transmute that pressure to caution, rather than revel in the opportunity to be part of a match that’s memorable for the right reasons.

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*My other least-favorite things are courts you can’t hear beyond a 20-foot radius, single- doorway battles that give neither incentive nor advantage to the attacking side, and 20+ minute breaks between scenarios at war.  Also, detailed armor inspections of the interdigital spaces on gloves.

** Thus Twain introduces his conclusion to “The Awful German Language”  appendix in A Tramp Abroad

 


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Capo Ferro 101 – Diego de Palma

By Ld Diego de Palma

Capo Ferro 101: A practical approach to the basic philosophies and techniques from Simulcro Dellarte Edelluso Della Scherma – “Great Representation on the Art and Use of Fencing”
Original Text by Ridolpho Capo Ferro (1610)Translation by Jerek Swanger and William E. Wilson

Class and Handout by Lord Diego de Palma

This class goes over some of the basic techniques and ideas from Capo Ferro’s work including attacking in defense, tempo and measure, and basic form. The handout also contains some advice for those who are looking into exploring the text in depth including what to expect from the various sections of the text and some alternative ways to look at the plates.

CapoFerro101_DiegoDePalma


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Connecting Sword, Hand, and Heart

By THL Mora Ottavia Spadera

This class handout presents the perspectives of historical texts, modern sports psychology, the science of perceptual motor learning, and observations from successful fighters in the SCA.

If you’ve been practicing for a long time, and can’t quite break through to the next level, or to the next round in tournament, it may be your head that’s holding you back. This handout, and the class it was written for, will provide you with vocabulary and tools to look at how your brain is helping or hurting your fight, and how to train it alongside your body. There is a long list of ideas to help you make your practice time more effective, enabling you to advance the application of your Art in whatever way inspires you.

The Fighting Headspace Questionaire will help you look at your tournament head-space as well. After answering honestly, if you find an answer you don’t like, it’s worth looking at ways to reframe that part of how you approach your game.
 While coming primarily from a rapier fighter’s perspective, this handout is applicable to any martial art or life activity you pursue.
Lady Mora is incredibly happy to spend time with individual fighters looking at how their brains are operating in their fight and looking for potential opportunities to improve. Please don’t hesitate to seek her out, at an event or electronically.

Connecting Sword Hand and Heart Handout

Fighting Headspace Questionaire

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