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Rapier Polling

Hey guys,

I have been hearing a lot of mixed comments on whether or not SCA rapier has become more competitive over time. I am also curious about what people's preferences are.

Soooo . . . here is a little polling for all of you.

Have fun!

PS. This is the first time that I try to do a polling, so I am not sure whether this is going to work out as a fill in the blanks thing or not.

Poll #803934 SCA Rapier

Has SCA Rapier gotten more competitive over recent years?

Yes, and I like it that way.
Yes, and as a result I don't enjoy it as much as I used to
Not really. It is the same as it has always been, only with more people
I don't know. I don't get out much.
Rapier? What's that?

What style of rapier fighting do you enjoy the best?

Melees! Lots of melees!
Individual tournaments.
Pickups. I like fighting a lot of people without worrying about who won or who lost.
I only like to fight at practices.
All of the above.



( 18 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 23rd, 2006 03:20 pm (UTC)
I can't compare it to previous years, but I can say the "We've got to WIN!" football (US) coach style pressure is No Fun. Running around and killing people for fun and occasional profit is much better. :D
Aug. 23rd, 2006 03:22 pm (UTC)
Aug. 23rd, 2006 08:35 pm (UTC)
I really, really like the team sports coach speeches and attitude, since I come from an athletic background where winning was commendable.

I also really, really like doing pickups, but only with people who are true students of the science of fencing, where I am able to use technique and strategy rather than facing the more common brawling style.

I also like tournaments and melees for different reasons, but mainly because I am a huge competition junkie and they are also the most effective credibility builders around. For example, I have a class I've taught on finding the sword, which I think has been well-received. However, if I didn't have a reputation as a skilled fencer built up from melee and tournament performances, then it is less likely that my class would get as many attendees. Similarly, if I have a battle plan, it will generally at least be heard out, which is again another factor of credibility. I have often remarked that one of the best things about being a Free Scholar is that I don't always have to re-prove myself at every new area I visit.

I enjoy teaching at practices, but unstructured sparring has less and less appeal for me. I'm going to try and start some historic combat workshops in the hopes of attracting people to the fine art of the drill.
Aug. 23rd, 2006 09:46 pm (UTC)
I'm all for inspiring pep talks. What I'm not a big fan of is the "Go out there and CRUSH THEM! and if you don't, you're all lilly-livered sissies! Losing is not an option" type stuff. It's not that winning isn' comendable, it's that losing shouldn't result in screaming and punishment...

Might have something to do that I joined the fencing team in college because I wanted to have fun and they said they were laid back... and then got pressured into fencing teams like Yale and Harvard after 3 months, with the implicit understanding that I should try and win. Yeah. No. Good way to kill the fun.

Totally with you on the pointless sparring thing, though. At this point, I at least want people to give me some feedback.
Aug. 23rd, 2006 11:22 pm (UTC)
One of the best lines I have ever heard on this was from my wrestling coach:

"Yeah, we're here to have fun. Does anyone here have a good time losing? Laying out, flat on your back, counting lights? Is that fun? Is that a good time? WINNING IS FUN. If you guys are here to goof off at practice and then not wrestle worth a damn, that's fine, but tell me now so I don't waste my time on you."

That's pretty much how I feel. If you're going to dabble in something, you need to be prepared for people who are going to put their heart in it.

Now, I also feel very strongly about sportsmanship. I think that it's incumbent upon people engaging in competition to give it their all, expect their opponents to do the same, and to be gracious in defeat and victory. This doesn't mean you have to apologize for winning, nor does it mean that you have a hissy fit when you lose. It means you always, always try to succeed and achieve more.

Not going out and CRUSHING THEM doesn't make you a lilly livered sissy, but not even TRYING to just might.
Aug. 24th, 2006 12:16 am (UTC)
Trying and failing, howeer, should not be seen as a personal failing for which you should be ostracized. I could try to beat fencers who had been at it since they were 5 (and once I did!) but having my coach act like I'd just let down the entire universe when I didn't? not an incentive to keep fighting.

This may be a boy lizard/girl lizard thing (studies show that on playgrounds, boys who get hurt will go do the same thing again. girls, on the other hand, won't). it may be an ana v dominik psyche thing. But I think it's awesome you have the brain to Win! and don't go into "I am teh suck" when you lose.
Aug. 23rd, 2006 04:28 pm (UTC)
Has SCA Rapier gotten more competitive over recent years?

Not really. It is the same as it has always been, only with more people

I think that in our Kingdom it has gained more acceptance over the past 20 years and is usually (but not always) fun. When it comes to Pennsic, however, I think that other Kingdoms take it a Hell of a lot more seriously, and hit a Hell of a lot harder than Atlantia does. "You're Atlantian? Well, I'm gonna Whale the Tar out of ya!" I have given White Scarves (or whatever they are in other Kingdoms) an earful on the field for hitting too hard - Including Brian of Darkwood fame (he dented Jeff's mask last year & gave him a headache, so I chewed Brian a new asshole & then some. Surprised the Hell out of him!).

What style of rapier fighting do you enjoy the best?

Melees! Lots of melees!
Pickups. I like fighting a lot of people without worrying about who won or who lost.
I only like to fight at practices.

As you know , Bel, I like to marshall tourneys (face it - marshalls have the power!), but I hate to compete in them. Is it because I'm a not competative? Heck No! I just don't like the "I must win at all costs" attitude which some people have. I don't do this to prove how macho I am or that I am so superior to others - I do this for exercise. I don't need to win a tourney to feel that I'm doing well.
Aug. 23rd, 2006 04:29 pm (UTC)
Oh, I agree. Fear the marshals! (And whatever you do, do not piss them off!)
Aug. 23rd, 2006 05:32 pm (UTC)
i don't think rapier has gotten more competitive over the past few years. it's become more visable (especially in this kingdom), and there are goobs in any activity who have the 'must win' attitude. however, i think the 'competitive aspect is more of each person's perspective.

as a beginner, you generally aren't competitive, cause you know you aren't that great, and you just want to learn more stuff. as you get better, adn you start making people 'work' to kill you, or you kill them, etc, people seem to get more competitive. they're getting better, and know it, and it becomes more of a competition, since now you're not a pell.

it's not a bad thing, unless you let the competitino turn you into a goob (which i think we've done a fairly good job of controlling around here). it's just the natural progression as people become more experienced and more talented in a specific activity
Aug. 23rd, 2006 05:47 pm (UTC)
OK so where is the option: No, rapier has become much more focused on the warm and fuzzies?

Rapier is a contact sport, always has been. If you go out in to any kind of fight only worried that you will get hit to hard then you will not have any fun. The only thing you can really do is to make sure that you are good enough that you can compete and be successful while being

That being said rapier fighters are social creatures by nature and there will never be a dirth of social time. Nor will there ever be a lack of people willing to help you improve. However rapier fighting is not like a sewing circle. Without the competition aspect, or the incentive to improve and to excel then basically it just serves as a way for people to frustrate themselves.

Having stiff competition helps people become secure in their skill. If people know how good they are, and how good they aren't then they will be less likely to do something stupid like hitting too hard or blow off shots.

Understand that the game we are playing is a competition, in essence you are trying to best the person facing you. If you don't like competition fine, but don't put down people who are and who enjoy testing themselves against their peers.
Aug. 23rd, 2006 05:53 pm (UTC)
OK so where is the option: No, rapier has become much more focused on the warm and fuzzies?

I ran out of lines :-)

This is just a little polling just to find out what people are thinking. Call it curiosity. (Plus, you have no idea how vicious a sewing circle can be, mwahahahahahahaha!!!!!!!!!)

So far it has been very interesting. Personally, I don't find it any more or less competitive than when I started. This little survey is not intended to put down anyone, just to gather information. :-)
Aug. 23rd, 2006 05:58 pm (UTC)
I didn't mean to imply that you were putting it down.

But too many times I've heard the line "That guy is too competitive. I only play rapier for fun". But what about people who find competition fun? Some people put more emphasis on the handshake afterwards than the fight itself.

Everyone is free to play their own game. To find what they like about rapier and do that as much as possible. But just because they aren't good at a certain aspect or don't find part of the game fun doesn't mean they can look down on others.
Aug. 23rd, 2006 06:07 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I understand. The nice thing about rapier is that you can play it any which way you want.

Personally, I don't have a problem with competitiveness -- being myself a very competitive person. I do have a problem, however, with attitude.

Some people confuse competitiveness with bad attitude, and refer to someone who is being a goob as "too competitive."

Being competitive means bringing out your best game and giving it all to the fight, pushing your best game into making it even better. Nothing wrong with that and nothing wrong with wanting to win a bout.

And also, nothing wrong with losing a bout if you know that you gave your best. Being competitive also implies that you can be both a gracious winner and a good loser.

Being a goob on the other hand, is not being competitive, it is simply being a goob. Call it like it is. I am all for competitiveness. I am not for rude behaviour. :-)
Aug. 23rd, 2006 08:07 pm (UTC)
And for the record, you are on my list of competitive people. You are not on my list of goobs, my dear Cuddly Orange Terror.

Keep up the good work!
Aug. 24th, 2006 12:56 pm (UTC)
One person commented on winning being fun (I believe it was Dante quoting a former coach). I take the tact that LEARNING is fun - winning is irrelivant. Do I like to occasionally win a point against someone I am fencing? Yes - because it means I am learning something and can apply that knowledge. Is it necessary for my enjoyment? No. For example, I've had times when I didn't beat Marcellus all evening, but I learned a hell of alot and I had a blast. That, too me, is why I fence. Winning or losing is immaterial to why I engage in this form of exercise.
Aug. 24th, 2006 08:08 pm (UTC)
I have a tough time with that. I completely agree that learning is fun, but fencing is itself the physical application of knowledge. If you've truly learned something, doesn't that imply you should be able to do it as well, and isn't all knowledge of fencing specifically related to harming someone while avoiding harm yourself? If I learn about girata, but can't perform girata, have I really learned it?
Aug. 25th, 2006 02:38 pm (UTC)
As you know, Dante, learning is a process. Sometimes, while learning how to successfully execute a specific move, it takes much time to be able to actually win a point against one's opponent. Does that mean that you are not learning during this process? Absolutely not. Sometimes you learn how NOT to do something first, and that can be a vital lesson in and of itself. It is all part of the process.

There was a time when I had difficulty with this concept as well. I was extremely competative. Then, in the process of becoming an architect, I learned that sometimes the journey is more important than where you end up. There is a time to "keep your eye on the prize," but one should remember that there is more to see and experience along the road when one doesn't spend all of his or her time focusing on the end of the path.
Aug. 25th, 2006 08:40 pm (UTC)
Ah, but at what point do you go from "learning" to "learned"? Mastery is the end goal of any learning, be it a tiny piece of a greater whole or a specific skill set. While I would say that I am still learning girata, I would also say that I have learned a number of other skills which I can demonstrate mastery over through the repetitive successful completion thereof.
( 18 comments — Leave a comment )

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