Friday, December 07, 2007
On Tournament vs. War
This one is mainly for the SCA folks out there. Those of you not part of the group are more than welcome to read on, but it might not make much sense to you.
Four or five years ago I got re involved with the SCA in Louisiana. I even got armored and qualified, but I have found myself growing more and more reticent to train, and to go to events to fight. At first I chalked it up to loss of skill, then to bad armor, then to laziness, then to fear of getting my ass kicked, but those things have never stopped me before. Usually once I got padded up and swung my stick for a while I was fine. But this absolute resistance I've been feeling has been puzzling me, but I think I've figured it out. It seems to me that SCA fighting has become less about the tourney, and more about the war. Everyone talks about training for Gulf War, or Pennsic, or whatever the next uber battle is to be. I have fought in a couple of wars, and numerous melees, and I have come to the realization that I DON'T LIKE THEM. Thinking back on my youth I was never good on a shield line, and I'm too small to be a pikeman. Back when I was young and fast I was often used as a shock troop, flanking the enemy line and trying to take out the pikes. And on the occasions that I was put in a small team of four or five people I would inevitably break ranks at the slightest provocation to engage in single combat. The last time I was in armor was at Hoggetown. We were doing a melee demo, and Tearlach put me in command of a four man team. I know he was honoring me, but I am the worst commander for that sort of thing. We got decimated. And even at non-war events the tourneys tend more toward bear pits and the like rather than the classic single combat. I think that part of it is that I love the spotlight. It's even right there in the marshall's instructions: For honor and glory. To me honor is at its zenith in single combat, and at its nadir in wars. And glory suffers similarly. To me SCA fighting was never about endurance, and brute force. Anyone who could safely swing a sword and stay on their feet for the time it takes to finish one fight was welcome on the lyst field to defend the honor of their consort, and to win a bit of glory for themselves. In a war there is shared glory in victory, and the camaraderie of hundreds of warriors, but when it becomes the perceived acme of our game I get turned off. And I think that is what is holding me back more than any of the other concerns. The fear that, in this game that I started way back when because it was one place that I did fit in, I won't anymore.
What say you, fellow medievalists? Is my assessment of things close to accurate, or am I full of bantha poodoo?