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On-Warfightng-art - 7/22/13


"On Warfighting" by Master Donal Mac Ruiseart.


NOTE: See also the files: melee-tactics-art, Sword-Fighting-art, Wel-Rnded-Ftr-art, warfare-msg, caltrops-msg, b-battles-art, battle-ideas-msg.





This article was submitted to me by the author for inclusion in this set of files, called Stefan's Florilegium.


These files are available on the Internet at: http://www.florilegium.org


Copyright to the contents of this file remains with the author or translator.


While the author will likely give permission for this work to be reprinted in SCA type publications, please check with the author first or check for any permissions granted at the end of this file.


Thank you,

Mark S. Harris...AKA:..Stefan li Rous

stefan at florilegium.org




On Warfighting

by Master Donal Mac Ruiseart, O. Pel.


There are two very different fighting environments in the Known World.


In what we call tournaments, individual fighters test their skills against each other in a contest of prowess and courtesy.  We fight in tournaments for our own pleasure, to advance our honour and by association the honour of our consorts and households, and sometimes for the sake of an actual prize.


In melée or war, teams of fighters contend with each other sometimes for nominal control of an area, but most commonly to settle a supposed difference between the principals.  In truth it comes down to bragging rights.  We fight in melées and wars also for our own pleasure, but the other motivations are different.  Rather than our own individual honour, we fight for the honour of whatever entity we represent, be it our Kingdom, Barony, region, household, "company," or what have you.


The mechanical fighting skills that we use in these different contests are the same, but we apply them differently, and some of the rules are quite different.  For example:  In a tournament, if a fighter is disarmed the fight is halted to allow the fighter to rearm.  But in a battle, no such niceties are observed.  Unarmed fighters are fair targets.  


Just as the rules are different, so must one's approach to the fighting be different.  In a tournament, it's all about ME!  Whether I win or lose a bout is affected only by my skill and that of my opponent.  If I win, I get the credit.  If he wins, he gets the credit.  There is no sharing.  (It is true that one who fights well gains renown even in defeat, but that is another topic.)


In battle, however, this sentiment must change.  In any contest of arms where the numbers reach double digits, it can almost be assured that with VERY rare exceptions, one who enters the field hoping for individual glory will be disappointed.  Forget the glorious image of standing triumphant in the centre of a ring of slain foes.  Not bloody likely, my comrades.


If, however, one enters the field of battle as part of a team or band with the idea that the band is all important and that one's every action must be for the benefit, survival, and success of the band, he and his band will both benefit.  In fact, a band all of whose members think that way is almost guaranteed to have a measure of success in battle.


And paradoxically, in subordinating one's own honour to that of the band, one not only enjoys success, but attaches honour to oneself by association with a successful band.


The whole IS greater than the sum of the parts!  I have seen it many times, where a band composed of skill levels ranging from a few outstanding, a few novices, and a majority of experienced and competent fighters will take on and defeat a comparable number of fighters whose individual  skill levels almost entirely exceed their own.


One often hears that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link, but the chain is not a good analogy for a fighting band.  A much better analogy is a net.


A net is strengthened by the addition of any strand, even a weak one.  And the loss of any one strand, while it may weaken a net, will not usually cause it to fail.  Thus it is with a well-trained fighting band.


So band together as a shire, a barony, a region, a household.  


Train together as teams, learn to support each other both on command and spontaneously.


Wear the livery of your band and fight for its glory and that of your kingdom.


And remember always that we fight not for territory or for monetary gain, but for honour, and that there is honour in a well-fought defeat as well as a hard-earned victory.


Copyright 2011 by Jeb Raitt, 1875 East Bayview Blvd., Norfolk, VA USA 23503-3209. <jbrmm266 at aol.com>. Permission is granted for republication in SCA-related publications, provided the author is credited. Addresses change, but a reasonable attempt should be made to ensure that the author is notified of the publication and if possible receives a copy.


If this article is reprinted in a publication, please place a notice in the publication that you found this article in the Florilegium. I would also appreciate an email to myself, so that I can track which articles are being reprinted. Thanks. -Stefan.


<the end>


Formatting copyright © Mark S. Harris (THLord Stefan li Rous).
All other copyrights are property of the original article and message authors.

Comments to the Editor: stefan at florilegium.org