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:
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
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.
Photo Courtesy of Brian Krinsley
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.
A Rule Update on Spears was posted by the Society Rapier Marshal (Laertes McBride) regarding the use of Spears and other Polearm style weapons on the Rapier Field.
Please note, as with all rulings, it is subject to the BoD’s oversight and has been submitted as part of the Q1 report. Until otherwise notified, all weapons that fall under this classification are now subject to the ruling.
March 17, 2014 – Ruling on Spears/Polearms/Pikes
Additions/revisions are being made to the October 2013 version of the handbook to address the use of Spears/Pikes/Polearms on the rapier field. Please check with your area’s Kingdom Rapier Marshal on how this classification of weapon is being used.
See new section: Weapons and Parrying Devices 5. Spears/Pikes/Polearms
What this ruling does:
- Mandate that fighters must be authorized before using this type of weapon on the field.
- Establish a baseline definition of this class of weapon.
- Provide a common ground starting point for the use of these weapons at interkingdom events.
What this ruling does NOT do:
- Force kingdoms to use this weapon. As with all of the rules, kingdoms are allowed to be more restrictive than the Society rules. If a kingdom is not interested in having spears as part of their program, there is now a clear definition of the weapon.
- Limit how these weapons are used in wars. As with mock gunnery (RBGs), it is up to the kingdoms and stewards of interkingdom wars to determine how many of these weapons are used on the field. It is being strongly suggested that they follow the current convention of mock gunnery (percentage of fighters on the field – usually 10%).
- Detail the exact authorization procedure. As with all the other weapons and forms, it is up to each kingdom to determine the best authorization procedure for their area. Kingdoms also have the option to designate these weapons as “experimental” in their kingdom in order to build hands-on experience before moving forward.
Please see the post from the Society Rapier Office regarding updated rules for New Blade Testing Procedure.