Sunday, October 25, 2009

Different definitions of victory

Does studying an historically accurate fighting style in the SCA mean that you have to abandon winning tournaments?

Alot of people I talk to have a misconception about me when it comes to SCA combat...that I don't care about whether or not I win or loose. That's not entirely true. The Don I study with put it into my head that when you're on the tournament field, you're there to do a job. Do the job, maintain honor, treat your opponent with respect. This is basic sportsmanship, and its the core of how I feel about competition.

That being said, I think I take a slightly different approach to SCA tournament fighting than other people. I go into competition with a few objectives:

1: Keep perspective. Have fun. This is the obvious one, don't you think? These are friends we're fighting. The best prize is being told you gave a good fight, and knowing that everyone acted with honor. If everyone walked out feeling good about the fight, then its a win.

2: Have an additional objective than simple victory. I participated in a tournament in which we were expected to display historical technique. The participants were concerned with how they displayed their technique, much more than they were concerned with whether they won or lost. The question wasn't so much, "What could I have done to won," as much as it was, "Did I do this right?"

3: Use each victory and defeat to help with the details. How is your timing or your distance? What details of the technique that you're using helped? Its helpful having someone you study with watching from the sidelines. Ask them what they saw. Discuss it with them. Use every defeat to hone the technique.

Although some of us practice historical swordsmanship as an art form, it is still a martial activity. The ultimate objective of the period masters is victory. In the SCA, we have the opportunity to take our time to practice every detail with intensity and passion. We aren't fettered by a seasonal tournament schedule; we can take time to grow in our technique, using every fight as a learning exercise.

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