Eerie Silence

 

I’m still in a bit of shock about what I saw transpire last weekend at the SCA’s East Kingdom’s Crown Tournament, a competition of chivalric combat in which the next prince (who in about 5 months would get to be king for another 6 months) is chosen.  I am sitting on a plane, 4 days after the day, and I want to get my thoughts down in print to help myself sort out what I saw, heard, and felt.  And I might even publish this because for reasons that I don’t understand, I don’t see anyone else doing this.  Lots of whispered conversations, yes, but nothing with open discourse.

 

Of course, that could be on purpose, for reasons unknown and not understood by me. So, under those conditions, maybe it’s a “mistake” to publish this…. We’ll see.

 

I will likely write long. I do that when I’m confused.  So, at least, I’ll try to keep things to specific topics.

 

First, some background

When I first joined the SCA I thought it was a little odd that the king is chosen as the person who wins this one tournament, but then again, figuring it was a figurehead (after all, there are senechales apparently in charge of the actual legal side of things) I accepted that although there may be other ways to choose the king, that this was not necessarily any worse than any other way.

 

The prince-who-would-be-king chooses their princess, and about 5 months later they become King and Queen.  The genders aren’t strictly as implied by the nouns used here, but that’s the basic gist.

 

Eventually I came to understand that the king and queen actually wield real power, at least in terms of setting the rules and the tone by which the SCA medieval reenactment game is played.  And let’s keep this in mind: this is a game.  But it’s a game that a lot of people take seriously.  There are awards and accolades that you can get in this game.  Even though it’s “only a game” these awards still mean something to the people who play this game.

The king and queen get to do these things, among many others:

  • set rules
  • decide who gets the awards (at least, the ones at the kingdom level)
  • decide what awards to create, even
  • set the tone for the biggest event, Pennsic
  • install officers, including the senechale, if that position’s tenure is up during their reign

 

So, the king and queen aren’t just figureheads.  They get to affect rules and the tone during the time of their reign, and they get to affect real change that can last a long time.

 

Therefore, winning Crown is a Big Deal.

 

Now, a little about me

Because all of this is from my point of view.  And what I saw, heard, and understood are informed by who I am and what I know.

 

–          I’ve been playing in the SCA since 1998.  Among many people, especially the key participants in Crown, this is a very short time.

–          I have done a sliver of chivalric combat in the SCA.  Not even enough to know the rules inside and out, but enough to understand the basics.

–          I fence. A lot.  This helps me see some of the mechanics of fighting better than the average non-fighter.

–          I tend keep my ears open, as much as I can.

–          I sometimes can’t keep my mouth shut.

–          A group of people saw fit to recognize me as a Peer of the Realm. That’s a Big Deal award, that I am completely floored and humbled by.  I’m never sure I deserve it, but I think it means something about my character that these people think I’m a good person, and a decent representative of the SCA ideals.  At least, that’s what I think it means.

–          I don’t always have the best hearing (I have a condition where my hearing will go from AMAZING to not so great depending on the time of the month).  Last Saturday, it was in the AMAZING stage.

–          I’ve attended a lot of Crown Tourneys. I enjoy watching them.  Maybe it’s because a Fall Crown tourney was my very first event ever, back in 1998.

–          Broadly, I play in the SCA at the local level in all aspects, at the Society level in fencing, and at the Kingdom level with my metalwork.  There are reasons why I don’t play much at the Kingdom level with my fencing, and those reasons are because the SCA is made of people, and people bring politics into it, and those politics have been used to hurt me at the Kingdom level in the fencing community. Not with all Eastern fencers. Heck I daresay that it’s not even a large minority.  But still, since I’d rather avoid conflict if there is another place to play, I let those politics play by themselves and prefer to stay away from them.  But, since I care deeply about historical fencing, I have found a niche at the Society level because at that level, what I have found is that since people are so spread out, they don’t get to know each other personally, and so they don’t tend to play the politics game as much.  There is too much pressure, for example, for the Society Rapier Marshal to pick deputies that are spread out, and who travel a lot, for him/her to choose their close friends.  If I could help affect change at the Kingdom level, especially by setting up a system where personal politics can make less of an impact on people’s experience, then I’ll be all over that.  For now, I’ll wait and watch.

 

That all said, the discussion below is merely my observations as a lowly and humble observer.

 

 

A bit about the combatants who are the main players in this scenario:

I’ve known both of them for a number of years.

Omega, I know only in passing, but I’ve known him longer of the two.  He’s outgoing and gregarious.  At least, that’s the way he comes across to me.  He’s always been nice to me.  When I started to come out of my shell after having my second child, I remember he paid me one of the nicest compliments, and he did so by stopping a conversation when he saw me.  It stuck with me.  I figure it’s not “me” per se, and that most likely he’s that way with everyone – i.e. he can make you feel like the most important person in the room.  That’s a nice quality, especially in a leader.  He has his close circle. He trains his squires.  His household has become, from my outsider’s perspective, more cohesive in the last few years.  While that last one can be a double-edged sword, in general these things are all positive.  Gregarious is a good word to describe him.

Kenric, I’ve known for less time, getting to know him during the first time he was prince. But I’ve gotten to know him (and his wife) better, having gone to far away events with them, and through his interest in fencing and our mutual interest in metalwork.  (Side note: I love fencing with people who are primarily trained in the “heavy” (i.e. chivalric) combat, although I won’t digress about why, and I like challenging myself by fencing against lefties. Kenric is both, so I love fencing him and do so every chance I get, which as he trained up for Crown, was unfortunately less and less).  He’s never not been nice to me.  Honestly, despite him having been king at least once, I think I intimidated him for a bit, when it came to metalwork and fencing.  He strikes me as someone who is shy, normally reserved.  Reserved. That’s a good word for him.

 

Both Omega and Kenric have won Crown before, more than once. They are both very good fighters.  I don’t know enough to know what is their favorite weapon form, and what weapons they’re particularly good with.

 

Now, let’s talk about this past Crown Tournament.

In the semi-finals, Kenric fought against Ionis (my apologies if I am spelling that incorrectly), who is of Omega’s household.  This is pertinent to what happened in the finals, I feel, because I saw that it set a tone that carried into the finals.

 

I had a great front-row position for this and for the finals.

 

The semi-finals were ‘best of 5’, where Kenric needed to win two, and Ionis three, since he came from the “injured” part of the tournament tree.

 

There wasn’t anything I particularly noted in the first bout, but Kenric won that one.

The second bout was fought with polearm.  They lined up, and I noted that Ionis was twitchy in the forward direction (i.e. he was moving his polearm like a pool cue, a few inches forward).  So I was expecting him to thrust.  I figure that since I could see this, so could Kenric, so he should expect Ionis to have a thrust game.  In one exchange, indeed, Ionis threw a thrust at Kenric’s head.  They had moved so that I had a full view of Kenric’s face.  I saw a look of surprise sweep over Kenric’s face, as he brought his polearm up to try to deflect the shot.  He also moved his head to the right.  I don’t know how his neck bent that way. It was impressive.  But between the two actions, the thrust ended up lined up with his left eye.  The crowd exclaimed.  A long-time highly experienced fighter near me said “He Egyptianed that”.  I hadn’t heard that expression before.  If it applies to side-to-side head movements where your head doesn’t tilt much, then it was appropriate in this scenario.  Please note that although my vantage point allowed me a perfect view of the FRONT of Kenric, I couldn’t see him from the side, so I don’t know if the blow landed well enough to move his head back.  But given his body motion (to his right and back) and that they were interrupted, I figured that at best, what landed was barely a touch.  It would have been a good shot, had Kenric not taken evasive action.

 

The fight continued, and Kenric landed a winning blow on Ionis.

But the fight wasn’t called for Kenric.  Instead, the marshals descended on Kenric and there was much pointing at the region of his left eye.

It became clear that they were asking him about that shot.   Ionis stayed on the field, waiting, armored up.

Honestly, I was expecting that they’d make them refight it.  And had that happened, I would have chalked it up to not because it had been a good shot, but because Kenric seems to me to be the type who can be swayed, in whom doubt can be planted, and because he’s a nice guy who might agree to refight it just so that it’s a clean bout.

But, to my surprise, it wasn’t refought, and Kenric was declared victor.

 

So now, Kenric had to face Omega in the final.

 

Once again, it was “best of 5”, and in this case both combatants needed to win 3.

 

The first fight was sword and shield.  They fought, and there were some hits that were questioned.  I thought the fight was over at one point, but it wasn’t.  They centered up again, and Kenric took a hit to the leg.  They took their positions, then Omega ran forward.  He practically knocked Kenric over.  But regardless, by this point, with Kenric on the ground, the fight was Omega’s.

 

The second fight was polearm.  They ran all over the field.  Kenric pushed Omega so far to my side that we opened the circle by about 20 feet to give them more space.  Kenric was lined up to deliver a devastating blow, but Omega backed up into the crowd and his weapon fell from his hand.  Someone called hold, and Kenric halted his strike.  In another exchange, Kenric landed a blow on Omega’s helmet, but Omega brought his own weapon up and caught at least some of the blow there.  The sound of weapon on helmet was loud, but I guess there was enough that Omega deflected that he didn’t consider that as a good blow.  There was one exchange where Omega’s weapon was lined up with the crook in Kenric’s right leg.  The tip was barely two inches away (it was closer to Kenric’s body than the width of the tip itself).  Omega moved the tip forward just as Kenric launched himself.  The tip on Kenric’s body was enough to slow his momentum.  Kenric called it a push, which are not considered killing blows.  From my vantage point, with the weapon having started so close to Kenric’s body, this was a fair call.  It’s entirely possible that Omega was starting to throw what would have been a good shot, had Kenric not moved forward to make body contact with the weapon.

 

I mentioned to a fellow spectator that, from my professional opinion, each of those last two blows would, in real life, have done serious damage to the combatants. But rules are rules, and the rules allowed each of them not to accept the blow as a killing blow, and thus fight on.

 

Another exchange happened in which Kenric landed a blow to Omega’s helmet followed immediately by a blow to his leg.  Omega called them as “now that was good. Good head and on the knee. Ouch on the knee”.  Now, it’s been four days. The above quotation marks are not meant to denote an exact quote, because I didn’t write it down immediately.  But the sentiment is accurate to what I heard, and the words are as accurate as I can remember.  One of the marshals asked “did he just say good to the head?” loud enough for me to hear even though he was facing away from me, and I called out “yes that’s what I heard”.  So that part was fairly well seared in my memory.   Someone next to me echoed this, but likely not loud enough for the marshal to hear him.  I also remember very clearly Omega’s holding his knee up a little, taking a step on his toe, as though his knee was hurt.  I know that hits to the knee or below aren’t allowed hits.  But he had called it good to the head.  At least, that’s what I heard.  And indeed, his initial few words seemed to me to have been said with a bit of a laugh, and I took it to mean “well, the earlier shot wasn’t good, but that one was; see you can land a good shot sometimes”.  Yes, this is all supposition, but it was my immediate reaction, and so that stayed with me.

 

But the fight wasn’t called for Kenric. I was, and still am, very confused. He had left the fighting area.  Omega was ready to continue before Kenric was.  I heard Omega tell the marshal something along the lines of “I’d better get him with my first blow because he isn’t going to take anything else”.  I thought that was in poor taste, but then again, Omega strikes me as one who doesn’t hold back his feelings from his words. I can empathize with that. Maybe he was saying that out of nerves, or psyching himself up.  I hope that the marshal didn’t put weight on his words because he (the marshal) shouldn’t be biased, and from my vantage point that statement was uncalled for.

 

They centered up again, and Kenric brought out a longer polearm.  One of my fellow spectators said “I wonder if Omega will realize that Kenric has a longer weapon”.  Sure enough, Omega asked Kenric if that was a new weapon.  Kenric paused, looked at the weapon, and went back and exchanged it for his old one.

 

They kept fighting.

 

Eventually Omega landed a thrust to Kenric. Omega’s back was to me, and they were close enough to each other that most of Kenric was hidden from my view by Omega.  Omega’s weapon dropped. No hold was called.  Kenric acknowledged a killing blow.  If a blow lands as the weapon is dropped, it’s not considered a good hit.  I didn’t see the blow, but given what transpired the blow must have landed and *then* the weapon dropped (or the force of the blow caused it to fall. I don’t know. It didn’t look excessively hard, judging by how Kenric moved. In either case, Omega was declared the victor in this bout, and was now up 2 to zero.

 

The third fight was two-sword. Or two-weapon, I guess, because although Kenric brought out two swords, Omega brought out a sword for his right hand and a madu for his left hand.  That’s a straight weapon with thrusting tips on each end and a small shield in the middle (in the case of his weapon, it was off-center, so the part above his thumb was shorter than the part held below).  Madus had been banned fairly recently, so frankly, I was surprised to see him bring it out to the field.  I found out later (yay reading the rules!) that after some revisions, madus are indeed allowed in the East Kingdom so long as they are more than 48” long.  Shorter than that, and they aren’t allowed a thrusting tip on both ends.  The marshals didn’t measure Omega’s weapon, but maybe they had done so before, or maybe they felt it was longer than 48” inches.  I also found out later that madus don’t have a striking surface (i.e. no “edge”). I didn’t know this at the time of the fight.

 

The centered up, fought, and from my vantage point (which is: in profile, with my vision being on Kenric’s right and Omega’s left).  I saw a hit on Kenric’s right leg, as Kenric’s sword made contact with Omega’s helmet.  Kenric called what I heard as “good to the thigh”, then Kenric threw down his gauntlets and walked away.  I thought that he had lost, and chalked it up to the rule that mass weapons landing a blow on the hip are considered a killing blow, and so Kenric was walking away in frustration because he had lost this bout and his frustration was because of the bout before.  But neither a thrust-only weapon or a sword are a mass weapon, so Kenric wasn’t dead.  I heard later that he said (so now this is NOT what I heard personally, but what I got from a trusted source) that if Omega wasn’t going to “take” the shot that he (K) landed on his (O’s) helmet, that there was no shot that Omega was going to take, and so Kenric conceded the fight.

 

Stunned silence.

 

Someone ran after Kenric.

 

Kenric returned, said something to Omega, gave a partial bow, and walked back off.  I didn’t hear what he said then either, but I recognized myself in his body language.  The body language of “I should go and say something, point out that I concede, but I don’t want to”.  Sorry dear reader, these aren’t facts, just my placing my personal suppositions onto the situation.

 

The marshals talked.

The fight was declared for Omega, and the herald announced that Omega had won the tournament.

 

Silence.

 

Complete silence.

 

Eerie complete silence.

 

Not even Omega’s household spoke or cheered.

 

No, this wasn’t normal.  Normally there is at worst polite applause. Usually there is cheering.  At best, of the ones I’ve seen, was the first time Kenric won Crown.  His last blow had barely landed when the whole crown burst into cheers and applause.  I kinda felt bad about his opponent, but when he took his helmet off I saw he was smiling too.

 

In conclusion

What I have tried to do in the above is to write what I saw, and what I felt, and my suppositions.  I hope I have clearly indicated what parts of it I know as fact, and what parts of it are my feelings.

 

During the finals, it seemed to me that Omega, by being no more than his usual self, which is boisterous, got under Kenric’s skin.  Was he doing that on purpose?  I don’t know.  No big deal to me if he was. It’s not disallowed.  Head space is a huge part of winning tournaments.  I don’t think he should have been talking to the marhals the way he did, but the marshals hopefully didn’t let that influence their actions.  Was he blowing off shots?  A lot of people think so, but are only talking about it in hushed whispers.  Other than the one where he called it as a good shot to the head, I cannot tell you whether the shots I saw land were “good” or if he deflected them enough.  It’s not hard to do with thrusts, but it’s not easy with cuts.  And since he didn’t actually take that one shot I heard him call, I am left confused as to what actually happened.  Surely I was mistaken?  But I wasn’t the only one who thought I heard him call it as good to the head.  So what really happened?

 

There were questionable shots on both sides, but it seemed to me that the marshals questioned Kenric more than they questioned his opponents, and that, I feel, wasn’t fair.

 

I don’t know why the marshals didn’t question Omega like they questioned Kenric.  I do know that what transpired, what was perceived, has left a bad taste in a lot of people’s mouths, but eerily no one is talking about it!

 

I have heard that there were videos posted of the finals, but that they have been taken down.

 

There were at least three people taking pictures of the finals.  One was standing next to me and two others were opposite me, so I’ve been looking for their pictures because I should be in the background and I like seeing pictures of me.  But they haven’t been posted.

 

What gives?  Is there a code of silence I’m not aware of?

 

Someone posted that maybe people are afraid to speak up because saying something bad about people in power can cause one to be blackballed and not get any awards.  Yeah, it’s a human world, and humans can be mean like that.

 

But this is just speaking the truth, and looking for answers among confusion.

 

Both Omega and Kenric are good fighters.

Omega could have won that tournament fair and square, cleanly and without question.  But somehow that didn’t happen.  I don’t understand why, and I hate that such an important tournament ended so awfully.  That there is a question about whether he won fair and square.  I hate that.  We deserve better.  Not “better” as in “a different person”, because frankly he’s been a good king and I fully expect that he’ll be a good king again.  But “better” as in, let’s clear the air and move on!

 

So if no-one else is writing about this, why am I?  I guess my scales have been tipped out of a sense of frustration.  Also, see one of the points I made above: I have a hard time keeping my mouth shut, especially when something doesn’t make sense to me.

 

It’s entirely possible that what will come out of this is getting “You know nothing about heavy list fighting”, which is perfectly acceptable.  But rest assured that I’m not the only one with these questions rattling around, so feel free to say exactly that but also make sure to add “here’s what really happened” because I am unlikely to be the only one who wants to know, so that we can lay questions to rest.

 

What do I have to lose?  Well, depending on who you ask, quite a bit, actually.  Speaking out negatively about those who have power and influence can generally create a negative reputation, but more specifically, it can mean I’ll lose out on awards or positions.  But, see above…. That has happened to me in the past through no real action on my part, and I have learned to live and thrive regardless.  More importantly, I don’t think I’m speaking ill of anyone.  I have laid out the truth as I know it and am making a plea to get more facts.  My words are only the truth as I know them, and if that’s bad for me, then so be it. Getting the air cleared is more important.

 

[ed’s note: even though I read it dozens of times, I didn’t realize till now that I switched between “Darius” and “Omega”.  I have corrected that and not made any other changes].

 

 

Edit:

The above was posted on Nov 5, 2014. On Dec 30, 2014, the Earl Marshal of the East Kingdom posted this to the EK FB page:

unto the populous of the East
The East had a bad crown. We have heard a lot of people complain and some point fingers. Some want to blame the Chivalry as a whole. Others want to blame the Marshalette. Some have gone so far as to point at our King. None of this is accurate. I did not hear one fighter call a shot good. As a result I let that bout continue. I waited till I was absolutely before calling some one down for not taking a blow. Once I had clarity It was too late one fighter could not take anymore and withdrew. There is only one person responsible for not stopping the fight. That is me. There are no mitigating circumstances for not taking firm action in a timely manner.
Moving forward we need to communicate with one another try and cut each other some slack. In order for the fighters to get better at being consistent. we need to see that we agree with what is good. Disabling an opponent through chain, and or boiled arm and leg defences is the standard. that is stout. We need to ensure that fighters taking the field trust one another. If you can not trust your worthy opponent. the stage is set for anger and spiraling calibration. We can not allow this if a fighter or worse yet both fighters are not treating each other with courtesy the fight need to stop. If there are fighters who are not trust worthy they need to be corrected, censured and suspended. it is that simple. We can not continue to hope some one gets better.
I am unsure if I will continue on in my current position but in any case I will work towards the betterment of our art and the advancement of honor on our field.

31 thoughts on “Eerie Silence

    1. Rozi Post author

      I must have read it 20 times, and missed that. Indeed I had written “Darius” not once but three times. Thank you. I have corrected that.

      Reply
  1. Colleen (Kinbrough)

    I have seen bouts mostly in Rapier big tourneys of the same type for Kingdom rapier here in the East do the same. As you know the lightest touch here. So similarly the lightest touch to the tightly gloved hand would then be a loss of limb, except when the person calls “costume” apparently.

    My thought would be having Kings & Consorts start declaring that all decisions made during a bout will be announced loudly by the Marshals overseeing the bout. 1 If someone does not fall down, the crowd knows what is happening. 2 If a blow is not taken, the responses from both parties will be declared publicly. Onlookers will then be more apt to know what is happening and it will have all information in the public eye. Repetition of not accepting blows will make you a less popular person, and possibly we can have more acceptance.

    Another option, use the old calibration of a bowling ball on a pole for crown tourneys held outside so each combatant can show a good blow and see if what they call good goes sailing out of range! That one just might be fun. I do not bet as effective as saying what is happening.

    Just my humble opinion by someone without enough clue to count in heavy list.

    Rapier however could benefit from the same, I have been turned off the kingdom events and awards for Rapier after seeing costume to the gloved hand be an accepted call by someone of the OGR level.

    Kinbrough

    Reply
    1. Rozi Post author

      Thank you. I too have been bothered more and more lately about this issue in both heavy and light combat, and am writing another post about that. Stay tuned…

      Reply
  2. Rowen

    What struck me, what hurt my heart, wasn’t just that total silence though that was a big part of it. It was that as the King made to place the coronet on the Prince’s head, half the assembled crowd just turned and walked away. It’s always been my experience that respect for the tradition, if nothing else, kept the crowd assembled until after the Prince and Princess had been crowned. People walking away silently and then Darius delivering a victory speech… that was odd, uncomfortable, awkward. I haven’t yet figured out my way forward from here.

    Reply
  3. Jessica

    Greetings,
    I am very glad you did write about this. Keeping quiet does not help matters. Writing may not help much either but you stated in your own description that you are a peer of the realm and as such it is your duty to speak out and ask questions. Thank you for this act of bravery.

    yis

    Reply
  4. Jonathan Doughty

    Hey Rozi! Jean De Montagne here. I appreciate the detailed first-person view of what happened at Crown. I wanted to let you know that I’ve been in some careful, clear, open conversation about this over on Google plus, and that those conversations have been going on for the last four days or so. I’ve found that people are talking about this, and doing so honestly and sensibly with concern. Have you found anyone to dialogue with about this?
    Thanks again for posting.
    Jean

    Reply
    1. Rozi Post author

      Hi Jean. I wrote my post after I looked at G+ and didn’t see any conversations. So either I’m not friended with the right people there, or I missed them. I have been peripherally involved in many conversations, and the hushed nature of them frustrated me enough to write my post.

      Reply
  5. Sean

    And this is why I do not play with the SCA any longer. It has become too political and not enough fun. I truly miss the bardic circles, the comradery, the sharing of knowledge…. but not the politics and the petty cliques.

    The dream has festered and truly died.

    Sean Angus MacDougall

    Reply
  6. Cúán

    Rozi,

    Thank you for writing this. As a new member I’m struggling to understand what took place on Saturday. It was my first Crown and the first time I’ve watched fighting for more than a few minutes so I was struggling to keep up as well as rectify the rules as I understand them (not very well, but things weren’t meshing). It was definitely an emotional day and I know many conversations have been taking place all over, but nobody seems to quite know how to move forward.

    The silence has been broken though http://eastkingdomgazette.org/2014/11/06/a-message-from-the-king/ and is now being openly discussed on Facebook.

    Cúán

    Reply
  7. Arastorm

    Thank you for pointing out the “Elephant in the Room”. There’s been a lot of “vague-booking” going on, but most people are not talking about more than personal reactions. In my (over 40 years of) experience in the SCA, I have often found that what “everybody knows” is too often not known. People preface unsavory stories with “you know who we’re talking about, a certain court baroness married to a knight…” and then dozens of court baronesses married to knights are suddenly tarred with the same brush. We often don’t know who we’re talking about, and if we don’t name names, other people will carry away bad information. I applaud your use of names. I also applaud your very clear expression of the way that in the SCA, only the recipient gets to call the blow, although the marshals and others may ask him to think about it.
    What’s done is done, and now we have to move on and make the East the best place we can from this point.

    Reply
  8. MIKE CRAMER

    I haven’t watched the videos. I watched the sword-and-shield fight and the polearm fights, but I did not watch the two weapon fight. I saw some questionable blows in this fight, and some other questionable actions, and I will discuss them in person with the fighters, who are both good friends and men whom I love and respect. I will not discuss what I saw, at this point, in this forum, because I think it does a disservice to the fighters if I do so, and because it is all speculation. This much was obvious, however: each of them thought the other was ignoring their blows, and I think it was frustrating both of them.

    I had walked away prior to the two-weapon fight, so I did not see the blow which prompted Keneric to withdraw. I had returned at that point to be close enough to hear what he said, however, and while it was clear that he was leaving because he believed Omega would not take his blows, he did not from what I heard publicly call him out on this. His exact words were “I respectfully withdraw,” He said this twice (the second time, as you point out, after he was pursued and asked to return). This is a classy way to exit, and it is clearly in our rules that anybody can withdraw from a tourney for any reason without dishonor, so the door on that issue should be closed.

    The other issue you bring up with regards to the marshalate I think is an error on your part. You say they questioned Keneric more than they did Omega and that this was not fair. I think they question what they saw fit to question. The one criticism I will make of this fight in public is that there was too much talking on everybody’s part. A fighter calls a blow as not good and that should be the end of it. If he asks for help (“where did that blow land”) or makes a statement that you believe to be incorrect it is okay to say “Wold you like my opinion” and then give it. There was too much accusation going on in this fight, but that was an unintended consequence. You left something out of your narrative that I think is important. His majesty before the lists made a speech, not uncommon for a Crown Tourney, that he wanted lots of communication and discussion. If any issues came up they were to be talked about. Nothing was to be carried off the field. We were directed to talk about any blows we found questionable and to settle any issues immediately, not take them off the field. He made this clear and repeated it. It was a good sentiment. I think the marshals were carrying out his majesty’s directive. If they were questioning Keneric more than they were Omega, it was because they saw a reason to question and were under directions from the king to do so. THis is not an accusation toward Keneric–it is a defense of the marshals in this fight.

    I am a firm believer in the great weakness of our combat system–I call it a weakness because it is the thing most people criticize, but it is also the thing I cherish most–the fact that we call our own blows. I could go on for days about this aspect of combat, but the long and the short of it is that, after 35 years of doing this, I have come to the conclusion that there is no such thing as cheating in regards to calibration. This is not merely a philosophical position, though that is part of it: it is based on the simple fact that if we give the fighter the sole authority to call his own blows then we have to stick by that, and the logical conclusion to that position is that there can be no such thing as *not* calling a blow. There is the practical portion of this–we can never truly now how a blow felt–but also a logical part–the authority is not real if we can question it. DId I see blows that I was surprised were not called? Yes (I won’t say on who)–but that does not matter. Had someone asked I would have given my impression and described what I saw (as you do very well above, though I did not see everything as you saw it–which is one reason why this is a futile exercise–we all see things differently), but I would not have said “I think X blow was good.”

    The best description I’ve heard of calibration in SCA combat is that a blow has to be hard enough to convince someone that they have been bested. That is a completely subjective criteria on the part of the person being struck. I don’t think it is presumptuous of you to discuss this at all. I wish I had more clarifying things to say, and that I wasn’t being so vague, but I believe that it is not my place to ever call another fighter’s shots for them.

    These are both good men. I trust them completely. I don’t think either of them intentionally blew off the other’s blows. But it seemed clear to me they each thought the other was doing exactly that.

    Count Valgard Stonecelaver, East

    Reply
  9. Grim

    I believe I was standing on the opposite side of the field. What Kenric said, incidentally, was “Your Majesty, I withdraw from the competition.” He may have used the word “respectfully,” I’m not sure – as you said, it was a few days ago and I didn’t write it down.

    Thank you for writing this down, incidentally. I saw pretty much what you saw and have come to very similar conclusions.

    Reply
  10. Carl

    In regards to the blow to the Omega’s knee, followed by the headshot that puzzled you, I heard what Omega said after that exchange. It is my understanding that the illegal blow to Omega’s knee came first, and the pain of it made him bend over. Kenric hit him in the head as he was recovering from this low blow. That is why that blow to the head was not a killing blow: Omega had let his guard down to check on the low blow to his knee.

    Reply
    1. Donovan

      At least from what I can see in the video “Polearm 1,” it looks like the sequence of events is reversed? There’s a shot into Omega’s leg (which may or may not have been low, but he doesn’t react to it, and is still trying to fight), the head shot, and the followup leg shot that causes him to bend over.

      (I’m not trying to start an argument, I’m just saying that I’m seeing something different in the movie, is all.)

      Reply
  11. Matthew

    Carl – I don’t know where you heard that from but you’re wrong.
    I heard what Darius said at the time. I’m the marshal standing right there in the middle of the video, you can recognize me easily because I’m the guy standing there that isn’t in armor and isn’t Edward or Osgkar.

    There was no discussion about the head shot coming after a leg shot.

    I’ve talked with both Edward and Osgkar since the tourney and they confirmed that the blow was not waived off by them.

    Watch the videos. There are two of them showing that shot. Darius is not checking on his knee. He’s out of position and scrambling backwards. His head is up and he’s looking straight at Kenric when the head shot lands.

    Reply
  12. Samir

    I watched the video of this with a couple of other fighters. I dont fight anymore but I have hard suited. When a Duke say you have to see this and we sit and start counting multiple massive head shots that somebody blows off and doesnt take well it says something. I dont know what led up to the sword and shield battle but when the marshals dont step in and they should have and question the fighters the chivalry should have. Crown is a massive fight people are stressed, on edge and hyped on adrenalin. Fighters fight harder and may not be thinking straight a King stepping in and asking if you think that last shot was good might have snapped him out of it and back to reality that didnt happen and now you have this fallout. However that might hurt somebody’s feelings so they didn’t and now thanks to modern technology and the internet fighters across the entire planet are looking at this and asking ” what the hell ? ” Now instead of a bruised ego you have massive public shame for an entire Kingdom. When the video is being talked about in other kingdoms and people cant believe what they are seeing it is obvious that fight should have been stopped.The SCA has more problems than just that one fight. There is a massive problem in the SCA that is an echo of the problem in this country and it boils down to “How dare you question my honor-chivalry” Which is compounded by the bullshit of SCA politics. In the real world its being non PC . When the BOD breaks there own rules and banished Duke Mann and Dutches Katerina I gave up on the SCA as a Hobby I still have friends and I still attend events but the glory and the star shine is gone . When I joined there were drums 24/7 at Estrella War there was fire dancing and people out to have a good time. The drums are silenced at 10p the fire dancing is banned and now blatant fighters in a Crown Tourney acting like my 5 yr old and the worst part is they where allowed to. The SCA exists however the dream I think for a lot of us is dying.

    Reply
  13. Alys Mackyntoich

    We are talking about it, just carefully and possibly not in places you can see. There’s a rather substantial discussion on my G+ (which I think you can see). Thank you for being brave enough to post publicly about what you saw and your feelings.

    Reply
    1. Rozi Post author

      Thanks for pointing that out, as I’ve been too busy to keep up with G+ in the last couple of days. I wrote my blog after carefully checking FB, LJ and G+ and finding nothing other than very very tight close-guarded discussions. I’m glad to see that people are talking more openly now, and am humbled that my post helped start these conversations.

      Reply
  14. Justin du Coeur

    Thanks for posting this; it jibes well with my recollection of events. I hadn’t said much myself because my memory for detail tends to be weak, and, frankly, I was just plain uncomfortable with the situation, being friends with both of them…

    Reply
  15. Sven

    I have fought heavy for many years, but stopped fighting actively a few years ago. The reason I stopped fighting was because I no longer found enjoyment in the SCA fighting style. I disagree with Valgard’s assertion that there is no such thing as cheating where calibration is concerned. As a fighter, the idea of “uncheatable calibration” is challenging and fun. There are few things more satisfying than succeeding in getting your kingdom’s resident rhinohide to take your shots. It’s great if you are a fighter; but it is not great if you are a a member of the populace who has come to watch chivalry and honor made manifest on the list field.

    The fact is, as fighters, we train to one level of calibration but compete at another. It is not unusual for knights to train unbelted fighters to be scrupulously ethical about acknowledging blows, while taking great liberties for themselves. I have personally witnessed incidents in which the king intervened in a crown tournament fight simply because a relatively unknown fighter had bested the king’s friend in the list. The king’s justification was that the unknown fighter’s style was “different” and his friend had not been prepared to defeat it. The king made the two fighters re-fight until the new guy lost. At the time, everyone simply accepted this decision as right and proper.

    The fact is, SCA fighters cheat. Far too often, the higher the rank, the greater the sense of entitlement to take liberties with calibration becomes. This sense of entitlement is fundamentally dishonest. As a fighter, I was enmeshed in this system until one day, my wife told me that she wouldn’t go to another tournament or event. She had spent years watching one tournament after another cross over to the dark side. She had listened to the frustration of the audience afterwards. We both sat in shocked disbelief as the knights closed ranks and settled the issue of rhinohiding by blaming the audience for noticing.

    Eventually, we were forced to take a hard look at ourselves and ask if it was worth it to continue to support a game that was so deeply broken. As the old saying goes, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.” I had invested more than ten years into heavy fighting. I knew it was frequently corrupt. I knew that fighters lied about blows. I knew that fighters protected their buddies no matter what. At the end of the day, was it their shame or mine, for allowing myself to be fooled? Was it honorable to stand by and support a king who cheated his way up the ranks?

    Eventually, my kids became old enough to participate on sports teams. I found that I couldn’t reconcile the standards of fair play that my kids were expected to maintain as athletes while explaining away one rotten tournament after another. That was the end of the road for me as a fighter.

    My family and I no longer play in the SCA. There are many other families like us. At the end of the day, the SCA chose to sacrifice thousands of passionate, committed members rather than acknowledge that the SCA has a serious ethics problem. It’s called cheating. It’s not ok. It’s a waste of time, people and money. If it cannot be fixed, it will cost the SCA it’s life.

    Reply
    1. Rozi Post author

      Wow. That is a very sobering look on things. Thank you for writing your perspective. I’m sorry you didn’t find a niche of good people. You sound like a thoughtful person and we might make good company.

      Reply
      1. Sven

        I think we would have made good company as well. Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of people in the SCA that I consider to be great friends. I socialize with several of them to this day. My family and I have happy memories of our time in the SCA. My kids still talk about things like feasts and bardics. Hell…..we even have good memories of the bad feasts! But we couldn’t live with the ethics problems.

        Deep down, I will always think of myself as a Scadian and a warrior, but sadly, my family and I have chosen to follow a path outside of the SCA.

        Reply
  16. Ygraine

    Thanks for posting this, Rozi, and thanks to all who commented. It is helpful to read others’ perspectives on this.

    Reply
  17. She-Who-Walks-The-Rows

    So, looks like there’s trouble on and off the lists this season…

    I had a major problem with bullying recently, because I caught someone’s eye and they became inappropriately interested in me. Now, I’m an easy-going person, but this person got angry after I’d refused. I’m a flirt, I’ll admit, but when I say no, I mean no. This person used their influence as a Peer to try to pressure me into accepting their advances, and when I still refused, he carried out his threats to ruin my reputation with everyone.

    I’ve had strangers threaten me, I’ve had supposed friends from as far away as Texas spying on me for him… it’s gotten bad to the point where even my own supposed friends, whom I’ve given no cause to doubt me, called me a liar. It hurt.

    In short, I’ve been bullied right out of the SCA, and I’m sure I’m not the only one. These political power-struggles have to stop, not just in who gets to make what rules, but also in who is believed or given credit. I don’t doubt there was probably some misunderstandings on the field on one or both persons’ parts. I’ve never been to Crown, or even to many events outside of my Shire. I don’t think I ever will be now… the dream, for me, right now at least… is dead. I hate saying that, because I still love the SCA, but it’s true.

    I hope your issue at least can be resolved. I hope that that silence speaks volumes to even the spectators who didn’t know what was going on, and that we can work toward a better future. Sometimes, wounds have to be bled out to heal… and if that includes reprimanding dear friends or taking corrective actions against beloved figures (with no hard feelings or grudges), then it should be done. What is taken by unchivalrous action (whether justified in the taker’s mind or not) is never truly earned or won.

    There should be provisions for a re-trial so to speak, between finalists, should this type of situation happen again. Should it be seen that blows were not taken fairly or accurately, anyone should be allowed to declare a redo, maybe after a short break in which everyone is checked over for gear condition and rule review, maybe get a Snickers because they weren’t themselves due to hunger, whatever.

    But that’s just one SCAdian-at-heart’s opinion.

    Reply
  18. Li Kung Lo

    I’m a former heavy list fighter, and I’ve refereed and judged at the U.S. Open in karate. So- as they go, I’m pretty good at seeing who’s hitting who. But- that’s irrelevant in this case, and the details have been well covered above. What’s important to me ? First, as a Lieutenant-General of Archers, I’m a military officer of the East, and the king is my commander in chief. Secondly, as the good count above pointed out, it is the place of the combatants, not me, to determine who hit who. If the king says Omega is the victor, then it is so, and that is all I need to know. Since before the days of crown finals with Lucan and Morgan Sheridan of blessed memory, combatants have disagreed about blows. Thinking that that will somehow end is like thinking that batters will stop arguing balls and strikes. It is not appropriate for we, the common people, whether peasants or high nobles, to express our displeasure with boycotts and tokens. I serve the crown, I don’t judge it. As to the combatants, they both serve the interests of the East as they see it, and they both have tempers. Any personal opinions I have about the combat itself, I will keep to myself, because my opinion doesn’t matter. This wasn’t the first crown tourney with a less than satisfying outcome, and it won’t be the last. The worst thing we could do is to try to rectify this with pressure-sensitive armor and electronic weapons, instant replays and active marshalling. Omega, if you have need of me, I’m there for you, as I would be for Kenric, if he was declared the victor. Long live the Kingdom of the East!

    Li Kung Lo, Co Pel

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


× 9 = fifty four