Wel-Rnded-Ftr-art - 12/5/04
"The Well Rounded Fighter" by H.E. Brian du Val.
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.
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.
Mark S. Harris...AKA:..Stefan li Rous
stefan at florilegium.org
The Well Rounded Fighter
H.E. Brian du Val
In this article we will discuss what makes a well rounded fighter. The topics we will cover are what a fighter is and what type of tournaments we fight in. We will also learn how a fighter and their consort interact to help create a presence on and off the field. Lastly we will touch upon other outside influences that affect a well rounded fighter.
What is a fighter?
In the Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA) we have two arenas in which we are able to fight in. These are known as Rapier and Chivalric or sometimes light and heavy fighting. Both have similarities even though the armor standards and weapons are vastly different. The goal of most Rapier fighters is to some day become a DON and the goal of most chivalric fighters is to become knighted. Regardless of your choice of persona, time era or style of fighting, sooner or later you will have to decide at what level you feel comfortable in your fighting pursuits. By this I mean the type of detail you apply toward how you look, your conduct on the field and the way you present yourself when attending SCA events and tourneys.
“Wow, did you see the how Sir So and So and Mistress You Know Who looked today?” “Yeah, they are the embodiment of Chivalry and Grace, and they just exude presence on and off the field!” “Sigh.”
Some fighters possess a natural presence that people are drawn to. Others develop and shape theirs as they progress in their persona development. Through good research and careful recreation you can develop a persona unique unto you. Try to be yourself, relax and observe others who possess a strong presence and yours will develop too, in time.
As fighters we all fight in tournaments. Some to prove our prowess, others to experience the thrill of pageantry and display of arms in period style tourneys, and some just love a good melee! Some tourneys require some level of persona play and presence to participate. For example, a Letter of Intent may need to be produced to the landed noble before you will be allowed to enter the list. The giving of Ransom is used on occasion so the combatant may be able to keep their armour and weapons to proceed in the lists. Last but not least we can not forget the Consort or the one whose favor we wear. Not all tourneys require the whole nine yards, but remembering some of the customs of your persona will bring out the presence that you are trying to cultivate. Regardless of your intent you may consider the following when participating. What type of foot wear do you sport on and off the field? Tennis shoes or something more period like, like leather boots or even some modified modern shoe that feels good and looks close to period? Please do not sacrifice comfort for good looks. If you can’t walk, you can’t fight so look for some thing less modern looking if you can. Do you wear sweat pants and a t-shirt? These items can really distract from the image that you are trying to present when attending events. Please understand that you can surely wear anything that you want so long as it is not obviously modern. After all, we were all new to this wonderful society and a part of persona development and research is trying to look more period. The wearing of hose and breaches would be better than sweats. A good looking tunic and tabard are generically acceptable at most events.
Do you wear a surcoat with your device or arms? How about your shield? Does it have your device on it? Do you wear your kidney belt outside your tunic or inside? Is plastic or foam showing on the edges of your armor and do you wear baseball gloves when you fight? Is your armor clean and in good working order? I personally hate the thought of duct tape on my armor unless it is for marshaling purposes. Finally, do you have a banner to display so others can locate you or your pavilion during the tourney? Heraldry and armor go hand in hand when fighting in tourneys. When doing research in to your persona, look for more common period ways your culture used to display your arms. Even the use of a Herald is nice to the nobles viewing the tourney can identify you by your name and not just your arms.
Before I go any further, I must bring to light some facts that cloud our concept of a consort. A consort is important in some of the tourneys that we fight in such as Crown Tourney and lesser tourneys such as Pas de’ Armes and high persona events that specifically require the combatant to have a consort. The consort is very important and has just as much to do at a tourney as the fighter does. In short, the consort completes the fighter and together they make a whole. With out a consort a fighter is just out there swinging their stick and shaking hands. The consort adds the elements of grace and beauty to the tourney by their presence. The combatant should insure that the consort has the required comforts need to participate in the tourney. These items can be but not limited to the following: a pavilion, comfortable seats, pillows, a tables to hold largess, and plenty of refreshments to give to guests during the tourney. Now the consort does not always have to be the one who’s favor the fighter wears. In some tourneys a fighter will have a consort who agrees to participate as a consort due to mundane reasons or personal choices of the fighter’s lady or lord. This was not uncommon in period times.
When a fighter enters a list and has an opportunity to extend largess to his or her opponents, fellow fighters and consorts, it is the hospitality of their pavilion that is often given. This is sometimes a short rest between rounds or the offering of food and drink. It is hospitality that separates most fighters at tourneys. This help to create a sense of presence by displaying noble virtues to ones fellow combatants and their consorts. It is important that a balance is created between the fighter and his consort so that they both enjoy the activities of the list and the event.
Salutes and Favors
In the first few rounds of most Tourneys you will be prompted by the field herald to salute the Crown, the one for whose favor you bear, and you’re most worthy opponent. Now this can become quite repetitive and rushed. Don’t let the Herald rush a moment that you feel needs to be addressed. If you need to address your consort, your lord, or your lady, take the time to do so. Your opponent and the Crown are just as important, and if you need a moment to speak to them, do so with out hesitation.
Before your first fight, take the time to share a moment with those who inspire you be it your consort, your lord or lady, your Don or Knight. The clearing of your mind may make the difference in how your day will unfold.
When waiting for you opponent do not pace the field and tap your boot with your sword. Kneel and relax. Take the time to address the Gallery or the nobles viewing the round. Have your herald announce you on to the field if you have time.
When you are offered a favor to fight with for the day, accept it with honor and be sure not to get it ripped or torn off. Some Favors in period were made of sleeves, scarves or other articles of clothing (with taste), and given to the combatant. In the SCA we create favors with household badges or artwork, and many times attach them to our belts. These favors are given out of love or as tokens of friendship. In short they hold as much honor and symbolism as their for runners and should be respected.
Other influences that help balance a fighter
The learning of Courtly Graces such as Dancing, Heraldry, Bardic, and the Arts and Sciences will help you learn how to interact and conduct your self when not on the field. Sewing your own garb, building your armor and knowing how to blazon a shield is always good to know. Being able to dance and perform a period style song or poem is a mark of refinement even in period times. These all add immensely to your development of presence and your persona.
Life and Reality
As we have heard many times; we all must return to our mundane jobs and lives.
It is the life that we live and the influences that affect us in every aspect that makes us who we are. Sometimes we can not afford to attend an event or the level that you want to participate at is not realistic for you at that time. Do not be discouraged. You do not have to have deep pockets to pursue your fighting interests. You can take the ideas and concepts that you researched and apply them to what ever aspect you choose. It is some of the simple things that we do that make the difference in how we participate in the SCA.
I hope this article helps in your fighting pursuits. It is not meant as a list of things you must do to participate but as a guideline of what one can do to become a well rounded fighter in the SCA. Keep in mind not all personas and cultures used some of the examples used in this article. Your own research and studying will help you to decide what you should and should not do in developing your persona and presence on the field.
Copyright 2004 by John Reuter, 6 Whippoorwill Dr., Huntsville, Tx. 77340. <cobalt60 at lcc.net>. Permission is granted for republication in SCA-related publications, provided the author is credited and receives a copy.
If this article is reprinted in a publication, I would appreciate 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.