Night on the Town

Last weekend, Ruairc, Letia, Ibrahim, and myself piled in a car and headed up to Night on the Town.

Blacksword Tournament:

The day started off as many events do, with a Blacksword tournament. Blacksword tournaments are fought single pass, single elim with double kills counting as a loss for both fighters. This one had a bit of a twist. The top 4 fighters from the tournament were to serve as team captains for the rest of the day.

I decided to fight sword and dagger for the tournament. I have a fairly solid dagger game, but I’ve been mostly practicing single sword at practice. I’ve been making some changes to my guard based on recommendations that Dante made back in January and I hadn’t quite applied them to dagger yet. I made sure to do some warm-up fights with Ibrahim before the tournament to get a feel for it. Ruairc seemed to think it wasn’t fair that I was taking sword and dagger in my warm-up and decided to tease me about it. I faced Tibbie first in the tournament, then a new fencer from Black Diamond named Hector. His form was unmistakably Spanish and so after the fight I had a brief chat with him. He’s apparently been studying Destreza down at Aldemere’s practice. He seems pretty excited about the whole sword-fighting thing, so hopefully he becomes a regular at events. My third pairing was Aedan. I managed to catch his sword on my dagger and landed a shot down the center line to his chest. At that point, I knew I was going to be one of the 4 commanders and I faced Brian in the semi-finals. IIRC he recovered from an attack just inside my measure and I landed a lunge on his helmet. Benjamin was my opponent for the finals. I tend to have difficulty with Ben because on top of being skilled, he’s also pretty darned fast. He likes to use beat attacks and go for the legs though, and if you can catch a moment where his sword is off-line (from the beat or the leg attack recovery) and avoid his dagger, he’s usually pretty squared up with his center-line exposed. I managed to exploit that and won the tournament.

Melees:

The top four fighters from the tournament were in order, myself, Ben, Alessandro, and Brian. Alessandro abdicated his position as a team captain in favor of Letia. As the winner of the tournament, I had the first draft pick. We then took turns picking people until we were out of people. My team included the following: Dante, Aedan, Sir Jos, Ilaria, Ibrahim, Hector, a newcomer named Harvey, a knight whose name I don’t know, and a scholar named Ross.

For most of the day, my team was allied with Brian’s team (yellow), forming team orange (we’re creative with names, aren’t we?). Brian’s team had Connor, Sir Roland, Geoffrey, Alric, Baron Drogo, Her Majesty Lynnette, A woman named Derr?, an armoured fighter named Griffin, and somebody else.

Each team had 10 people. I’m not sure which team everybody on the other side was on specifically, but notably the blue and green teams (team teal?) included Celric, Alessandro, Benjamin, Letia, Caitlyn, Angeline, Bomi, Katsumi, and Simone.

Challenge of Strategy:

The first scenario was the challenge of strategy, or as I called it “Red Rover.” In this scenario, provosts were worth 3 points, free scholars and sea dragons were worth 2 points, and everybody else was worth 1 point. The team in control sent out a number of fighters worth less than or equal to 10 points and then the other team responded with a number of fighters worth less than or equal to that value. This allows for one team to send forward 3 provosts and a scholar for instance while the other team responds with 5 free scholars, for instance. When a person was killed, they were eliminated entirely. Teams could not re-use fighters until they had used everybody.

As the winner of the tournament, I had to go first. We initially sent out a 10 point team using the various armoured fighters and her Majesty. Letia and Ben sent out a whole bunch of scholars who defeated our squad with few casualties :-(.

As the winner of the match, Letia and Ben gained control and sent out a 10 point team made up of a mix of point values and we did the same. Once again, Letia and Ben won.

The third round went similarly with a mixture of point values on both sides. I was part of this round and got killed, but Connor managed to survive, giving us our first win.

Now that we had control again, we re-evaluated the situation. Letia and Ben had used all of their 1 point people early on, which meant that we could force them to fight outnumbered. We did that for several rounds, sending a provost and two scholars, for instance, when they could only match our point value with a provost and a free scholar. This resulted in us winning a series of matches until Letia and Ben completed the first cycle through their team. This gave them back all of their scholars, so we sent out Brian, Derr, Ibrahim, Drogo, and Harvey? for a total of 8 points. That match was pretty close. Letia and Ben’s team had the numerical advantage. The initial split was Ibrahim, Drogo, and Derr to the left and Harvey and Brian to the right. Team Teal sent 2 fighters after Brian and Harvey (Draco and Bomi?) and 4 fighters after our other 3. Drogo and Ibrahim did a good job of giving ground and staying alive while Brian tried to knock out some of the fighters he was facing to relieve the rest of the line. At some point Harvey got legged and Bomi (I think) shifted to his right and stabbed Derr. This left Brian in a 1v1 and Ibrahim and Drogo in a 5v2. The two of them managed to stay alive while Brian killed his guy. Fortunately three of the 5 hesitated in going forward, making it a 2v2 fight with 3 people simply strung out to the right. Brian on this and hit them on their left flank. In this confusion, Ibrahim, Drogo, and Brian managed to kill all 5 of the remaining Teal team fighters. It was a fairly exciting match to watch. The Orange team success mostly hinged on the Teal team’s hesitancy, but it also relied on Drogo and Ibrahim playing precisely their part in occupying a much greater number of fencers for as long as it took until their teammates could bail them out.

At the end of that match, Teal team was out of fighters and so the victory went to Orange.

Woods Battle:

The woods battle was a fairly typical “Domination” style battle. There were 3 flags running across the middle of the field along a road. The uphill side used a shed as their rez point and had a fairly clear (but slightly longer I think) path to all three flags and should have had fairly easy control of the road itself. The downhill side had a clear path to the middle and “bottom” flag, but not a terribly clear path to the “top” flag. Furthermore it was difficult to reinforce between the middle and bottom flags for that side, as there was substantial brush between them. Roughly speaking, the uphill side had the advantage, but we fought two 30-min woods battles and switched sides in between, so that should have worked itself out.

We started on the uphill side. We initially observed that whoever controlled the middle flag would be able to control the top flag fairly easily as well and chose to focus on those two flags. Brian was to command the bulk of our forces at that flag. We sent Connor to command the bottom flag with Aedan, Dante, and Sir Roland. The thought was that they would be relatively self-sufficient and be able to serve as a nasty skirmish unit. I took command of a small reserve unit made up of people who I thought could survive being sent hither and yon throughout the battle. I took Ibrahim, Ilaria, and Ross. Roughly speaking, my role was to regulate the allocation of forces between the middle and bottom in response to changes in our opponents’ disposition.

In the first battle, I positioned myself on the road. This placement allowed me to see both the middle and bottom flags easily, ward off any “junglers” who tried to come through the bushes between the flags, and also to lend a hand at either flag if need be. It was apparent early on that we needed more help at the top flag so I sent Ross. We ended up contesting the bottom flag with our goon squad, but didn’t quite have control so I sent Ilaria and Ibrahim there initially. After a little while, we needed more help at the middle so I sent Ibrahim there for a stint before sending him back to the bottom for the rest of the battle. For the most part, we had locked down control of all 3 flags. The bottom flag was taken by Teal occasionally, but infrequently. The deciding factor seemed to be Benjamin. We were in control except for when Benjamin popped up. He’d be enough to tip the balance and take the flag for Teal. I spent a bit of time in the middle of that battle simply countering Benjamin’s attempts to run around the left flank of our middle flag unit. After a while I got tired of it, so I hunted down Ilaria and placed her on that flank. That seemed to mostly put a stop to Benjamin turning that flank and causing the loss of the middle flag. As we neared the end of the fight, the Teal team significantly reduced their efforts for the bottom flag and put everybody in the middle. I countered this by moving Roland up to the middle and joining the fight myself. The last 3 minutes involved some pretty tense fighting, but we managed to push them out of the flag area at the very end and secured a 6-0 victory in the first half of the woods.

We were on the downhill side for the second woods battle. We started in roughly the same way, focusing our efforts on the middle and top flags while sending our goon squad to contest the bottom flag. I had far less ability to move between the middle and top, but it became rather apparent that we were in fairly uncontested control of the middle throughout the fight. I think this was because the Teal team devoted more resources to the top flag and the bottom flag (since they had an easier path this time) which split their attention. Meanwhile the goon squad wasn’t faring as well at the bottom. I initially sent Ibrahim to reinforce them, but ultimately ended up spending much of the battle there myself. We ended up winning the second woods battle too, but I’m not certain of how the points ended up.

Merchant Escort Battle:

After a break for lunch, we reconvened on the field for the merchant escort battle. In this scenario, one team had an unarmed merchant. Their goal was to get the merchant past a certain line. The other team was defending. Each team took a turn on offense and defense with the winner being the team that got their merchant past the line fastest or the team that killed the merchant fastest.

We were the first team on offense. I went looking for the fastest person on our team and it turns out that Hector used to play cornerback in high school and is a professional dancer, so we made him our merchant. Our plan was simple. We formed a line across the field, put some of our heavier hitters on our left and advanced quickly at lay-on. I was in command of the left while Brian commanded the right as a “decoy” merchant. My goal on the left was to push forward using our heavy hitters such that we could create an opening for Hector to run through. When we reached engagement, I called the order to step and simply repeated it. Each time the defending team stepped backwards as our line advanced and so we simply walked them backwards across the line. Our merchant crossed the line at 45 seconds.

The second go-round had us on the defense. We lined up and ensured that our team knew that we needed to take as much territory as possible at lay on and to avoid giving ground. When the Teal team advanced, they created a swarm in the middle of the field. This allowed our flanks to slightly encircle them. I took the opportunity to walk behind their advancing swarm. I spotted their merchant, killed a few scholars who were behind him, and stabbed him in the chest, ending the battle. I heard someone say that we won in 25 seconds. It was hard to tell because we had a “hold” at initial contact due to Dante stabbing Celric in the solar plexus which resulted in Celric screaming and collapsing on the ground.

Grand Melees:

The next two battles were grand melees of a sort. In the first one, it was a 4-way battle between the color teams (red v yellow v blue v green). We agreed to continue our alliance with Brian until blue and green were dead, but that didn’t end up working out for us. I think green won the battle.

The second time around was also red v yellow v blue v green, but was to be fought to the last man with their team receiving the point. Red team got pinched in a corner between green and yellow and we were killed off rather early. There was some treachery between blue and green and ultimately Connor was the last man standing, giving the victory to yellow. This made Yellow team the victor for the day when combined with their allied victories in the woods, merchant battle, and challenge of strategy.

Cut and Thrust Tournament:

The last activity of the day was a cut and thrust tournament. It was good to see some C&T activities at an event. It was a best of 3 double elim tournamenet. While I have worked through a little bit of Bolognese and a little bit of Fiore longsword more recently (and even brought my two-hander), by the end of the day I felt far more confident in my ability to fight C&T using Capo Ferro.

I faced an armored fighter named Griffin in the first pairing. He was using a broadsword and heater shield. I took my rapier and dagger. I won the first pass with a riverso to his head and the second using a thrust to his visor over his shield.

My second pairing was Giacomo. I won the first pass by stabbing him in the gut with my dagger. Giacomo won the next two passes with a cut to my right ankle and calf respectively. I fought most of the C&T tournament using a refused guard with my dagger high and forward to catch cuts coming in from my left. I have been having some difficulty keeping my weight on my back leg using this guard since making some slight adjustments that Dante suggested back in January.

My final pairing was against Benjamin (who went on to win the tournament). I can’t quite remember what happened during those fights specifically, but that might be because I fought Benjamin a lot on Saturday (and Sunday).

Sunday Practice at Loriella Park:

Since we were already in the area, we stuck around for Dante’s practice on Sunday. Bomi, Benjamin, and Dante were there and we got quite a bit of sparring in over the 3 and a half hours we were there.

35 comments to Night on the Town

  • Tibbie Croser

    Thanks for the write-up. I hope Ruairc adds his comments, as he was marshaling all day and so had a different perspective. I was on Letia’s team (green) for the battles before lunch (then served as an RMiT for the rest of the day). This was my first time under her command, and she was a good commander in terms of giving clear, simple directions and making herself heard (not everyone can do those).

    The fact that the C&T tournament had 12 entrants will help to encourage C&T at events. Of course, it’s harder to fit in activities when only part of the fighter pool is authorized for them, and those who are authorized still want to participate in melees and heavy rapier tournaments. Having the C&T tourney opposite pickups was probably the best way to schedule it, but it was still a challenge to fit in the tourney before court.

    Is there any chance of offering more C&T classes at events? That would allow fighters who aren’t authorized in C&T and who don’t have C&T marshals at their practices to learn C&T, since, as far as I know, only fighters authorized in C&T can do C&T pickups at events.

    • Ruairc

      I’d love to see more C&T, but the form faces several challenges:

      – It generally costs more than heavy rapier or heavy
      – Our procedures for authorization are simultaneously obstructionist and insufficient
      – Becoming a marshal is difficult owing to the lack of C&T at events
      – The “culture” of C&T is still somewhat nebulous, and Atlantia suffers for having too much heavy/armored influence in a touch-calibration game
      – There is no C&T melee

      C&T classes appear fairly regularly at Universities. Formal fighting classes are rare at any event.

      • Gawin

        I agree with Ruairc’s list. I think that that the fourth item on that list, that our calibration for C&T is currently high and our kingdom has an attitude that it should be is killing interest in people who don’t want to get smacked around.

        I’ve fought C&T with the Calontiri and really felt comfortable fighting in minimum armor with soft padded elbows. I wouldn’t do that in Atlantia.

        The big thing that I think Ruairc missed in his list is that becoming a marshal isn’t just difficult due to the lack of C&T at events, but also because there’s a 1 year waiting period after becoming a marshal in another discipline before you can *start* the MiT process for C&T. That essentially makes it about 3-4 years after a fighter’s initial authorization before they can become a C&T marshal and have C&T at their practices. Neither Ruairc nor myself, for instance, can even start becoming a C&T marshal right now according to the rules. I think we’d see more C&T marshals and more C&T authorized fighters if we got rid of this part of the rules.

        Of course, I also think it’s a little much to require a class and 3 MiT’ed events to become a C&T marshal (if you’re already a HR marshal), considering that C&T adds about 5 sentences to the HR rules. (armor standard (elbows, rigid back of head (with padding)), percussive blows now legal, target area (legs = kill), legal blades (flex requirement halved), no melee allowed). I mean to say, that the only part of those rules which involves judgement is the calibration of cuts, but since they are, according to the rules, to be delivered at the same calibration as a thrust in HR, then really that should be something you already have mostly figured out from being a HR marshal and/or an authorized C&T fighter.

        • Ruairc

          We need to have a conversation about these issues, but nobody really seems to want to have that conversation.

          A C&T Roundtable would be a nice thing for Summer Uni, but I can hardly organize an event supporting a form in which I’m not even authorized.

          • Tibbie Croser

            So, according to the Summer University catalog (June 2014), several of you taught a track of C&T classes, including calibration. How did they go? What worked, what didn’t? How was class attendance? How was feedback? Will you repeat any of the classes at future Universities or other events? I know I’d be interested.

            Regarding the “C&T armor on a budget” class, was that about just the armor required by the rules (back of the head, elbows, knees) or also about optional armor (e.g., padded doublets)?

      • Dante di Pietro

        Plus I hear that C&T is really hard to authorize in. 😛

        • Ruairc

          It ought to be harder, actually.

          • Gawin

            In the context of how we fight in the SCA, the authorization really doesn’t need to be harder. As I said before, it adds on very few rules. What we need to be far clearer about as a community is, “What is an appropriate calibration?” It isn’t that people are simply passing an authorization by hitting softly and then ramping up later, it’s the fact that hitting harder isn’t discouraged.

            I take that back, hitting harder is *ENCOURAGED* I was told DURING MY C&T AUTHORIZATION that I needed to hit harder.

          • Ruairc

            We also need marshals willing to yank cards. At least we’re laying the framework for this now with Giacomo’s insistence on reporting.

            The “C&T culture war” comes down to armor:

            – In heavy, nobody is expected to fight in minimum armor. The onus of avoiding injury is on the receiver of the blow to armor up.
            – In rapier, it’s the opposite. Everyone fights in minimum armor by default. The onus is on the giver of the blow to remain controlled.

            These are nice and straightforward, which is appealing. If someone’s getting hit harder than they want, we know exactly where to look and what to do.

            C&T has inherited the rapier standard (in theory). If we’re going with that model, we need to restrict C&T to individuals with unwavering control and very high skill. Among our hobbyist population. I see maybe five or ten fighters in all of Atlantia.

            The only other option I see is taking a “middle road”, which complicates our handling of “I got hit too hard”, but it seems to be what C&T needs. “These are the armor minimums, but a padded jack/gambeson and some knee cops come highly recommended.”

            Our (minimum acceptable) calibration doesn’t need to be higher (you should never hear anyone calling “light”). And fighters absolutely must be responsible for the force of their own blows. But we need to acknowledge that blows most definitely WILL land harder in C&T (unless we restrict the game to high-level HMA practitioners) without encouraging that higher calibration as the norm.

            So, yeah. The minimum acceptable force doesn’t change (it’s still positive pressure). The maximum acceptable force should be higher (and armor should account for it), but rare and discouraged.

            SCAdians do not generally do well with such subtleties. Oy.

          • Gawin

            C&T has inherited the heavy rapier standard ACCORDING TO THE RULES, not simply in theory.

            My experience with Calontir’s nascent C&T program suggest that it really isn’t a question of skill or ability to control force but rather a desire to. The Calontir Steel fighters are, in general, of far lower skill at fighting with steel weapons than the vast majority of Atlantia’s authorized C&T fighters, since that program is rather new and our C&T fighters are, for the most part, provosts. If it were simply a question of skill, I’d expect that the Calontiri who have been doing this for far less time (both because their program became official in July and because they are C&T default and so everybody is fighting C&T whereas we have a 1 year waiting period)and who have far less regular practice than many of the Atlantian C&T fighters to be hitting harder and have more accidental hard hits, but they don’t seem to.

            There is, however, a pretty big difference in attitude. The Calontiri seem to have the approach that the blow standard is actually the same as HR (like the rules state) and that blows should land with approximately the same amount of force. They acknowledge that accidents happen, but the expectation is that blows will be as light as possible and shouldn’t exceed the HR calibration standard.

            We seem to instead have the approach that we should expect the typical C&T blow to be harder than the typical HR blow while acknowledging that sometimes accidents happen and blows end up being even harder. We don’t expect blows to be as light as possible (some won’t take a cut delivered at HR-level force), we expect an average amount of force that is higher, and so we get that. This also means that when accidents happen, that the force is even higher. At the same time, we have high-profile members of the chivalry who seem to have an approach to C&T that is at best dismissive of the HR rules aspect of it and we don’t have any apparent direction coming from the C&T leadership or our marshallate to address this concern.

            The difference may seem subtle, but it’s huge and it’s what’s keeping C&T from being adopted by many experienced HR fighters in this kingdom. We’d see the same thing happen to HR if every blow was delivered with the same force as a stop-thrust or scannatura. Keeping calibration under control doesn’t require some mystical or insurmountable level of skill, it simply requires a desire not to break your friends. Probabilistically speaking, if we’re hitting hard on average, then the outlier hard blows will be harder than if the average blow force that was expected were lower.

          • Ruairc

            The unfortunate realities of dealing with amateurs …

            Yes, I suppose you’re right. So we’re back to marshals yanking cards. Probably a few knights’ cards, sooner or later. Of course, this necessarily happens after the fact; since the “fact” in question is very possibly an injury, it seems a poor way to address the issue. So what’s a proactive approach? Giacomo talks about “active marshals” (not to be confused with “active marshaling”), but I don’t see any of that on the C&T side.

            The “years of muscle-memory” card gets played pretty often, but I think that’s bullshit, especially since there’s no C&T melee. We need someone to tell the problematic heavy fighters, point-blank, “no, it’s not ‘years of muscle memory.’ It’s the fact that you wanna hit someone as hard as you can, and you’re putting that desire above their safety. Tell me, sir knight, is this Atlantian chivalry?”

            Hmn. I need to become a C&T marshal.

          • Gawin

            Examples and expectations are set BEFORE an incident happens and the response to that incident adjusts those expectations for the future.

            We’ve started from an attitude where hard blows are permitted and not really frowned upon, years of “muscle memory” is accepted as an excuse, and when we have incidents, we don’t do anything apparent about them.

          • Tibbie Croser

            A few thoughts. (1) I suspect Dante and Wistric are finding this conversation amusing. (2) Atlantian marshaling culture prioritizes good judgment and personal responsibility above written rules. If a C&T fighter is hitting above the heavy rapier “standard” but is not being deliberately unsafe, is not causing injuries, and is not breaking swords and masks, then he doesn’t need to be counseled by a marshal, let alone have his card pulled. (3) Furthermore, we can’t judge C&T calibration by the heavy rapier “standard” because heavy rapier calibration is so variable in our kingdom. Some of the C&T fighters are already at the high end of calibration in normal rapier. So, by their invididual HR standards of calibration, their C&T calibration might not be excessively high.

          • Ruairc

            (1) We are Free Scholars. We are always watched and constantly judged.

            (2) No. This is what Giacomo means by “active marshals” – if marshals observe a potential problem (a fighter hitting too hard) it is incumbent upon them to address it proactively. If the problem is minor, they should counsel the fighter and do what they can to help him avoid future transgressions. If the problem is flagrant or repeated, they should expel him from the field or take his card.

            (3) We have a minimum for rapier, and there isn’t much debate over what constitutes “positive pressure in line with the blade”. This standard applies equally to C&T – we just apply the same minimums to percussive cuts. “Lightest possible blow” stands. These terms DO NOT vary from fighter to fighter. We have a standard for “too hard” as well – any blow which causes a fighter to retire from the field.

            Between these two is the nebulous grey area of “hard enough to be no fun, but not hard enough to seriously injure anyone”. That WILL vary from fighter to fighter, and because of that, it’s not an acceptable standard.

          • Gawin

            Yes Tibbie, Atlantian culture does prioritize good judgement and personal responsibility above written rules.

            What we’re saying is that such an attitude is precisely the reason that C&T isn’t taking off.

          • Ruairc

            I direct all readers to Giacomo’s 8-23-12 post on this very topic: .

            To my knowledge, his opinion has not changed on these matters.

          • Gawin

            I think the context of that posting actually serves as a good demonstration of what I’m talking about.

            Simply put, we have fencers who are relatively skilled at HR who are uncomfortable playing C&T in large part because they essentially can’t trust that their opponent will be playing by the rules as written, namely that blow force will be the same as HR (with regard to the typical blow, not the accidents). Certainly accidents happen. Excessive blows happen sometimes in HR too and they can result in injury just as easily there. But, when we create an atmosphere where it is completely acceptable and typical to violate that blow force standard, then we can expect excessive blows to be more common if only because the difference between a correct blow and excessive one has been reduced.

            Now, to point out how the context of Giacomo’s letter is relevant here, take a look at when that was written. There has been minimal if any discussion of blow calibration for C&T carried out publicly in this kingdom since that letter was written two years ago. There hasn’t really been much of an effort to reach out to C&T fighters who aren’t part of a core of people to discuss this issue and there definitely hasn’t been a public discussion of this issue to the broader rapier community. Giacomo’s letter linked here by Ruairc followed a fairly egregious and high profile calibration incident at Pennsic, and since that time, there hasn’t really been apparent or visible action to correct these problems. This is not to say that nothing has been done, but it simply hasn’t been done in such a way as to 1) Make clear to the community what is and is not acceptable. 2) Ensure rapier fighters that if they take to the C&T list that they can rely on their opponent following the rules or 3) Clarify the cultural distinction between armored fighting where you are responsible for your own safety via armor and rapier where you are responsible for your opponent’s safety.

            This leaves us with people who aren’t interested in C&T because they don’t want to be bludgeoned hard, when the reality is that cuts are, in many ways, more simply controlled (especially two-handers)and safer than thrusts.

          • Tibbie Croser

            Ruairc, in regard to item 2, I partially agree with you. You’re correct that marshals should be proactive in regard to safety issues. You’re correct that we have a clear standard for “excessive” force. My question is whether a fighter can be hitting “too hard” without being “excessive,” and if so, how do we determine that? If two fighters in a bout are comfortable with the level of force they’re both using, how does the marshal judge whether that force is above the standard?

            Calibration is a difficult issue for me personally. I’m one of the tiniest fighters in the kingdom, I have less muscle mass on my torso and arms than male fighters, I bruise easily, and I’m more sensitive to pain than many fighters, especially those who do rattan fighting. A blow that feels “normal” to the average Atlantian fencer might feel stiff to me, but then again, I might have stepped into the blow or it may have landed on a sensitive area. As a fighter at my practice, I’ve gently advised new fencers how and when to tweak their calibration downward, but I’m reluctant to complain about calibration to fencers who outrank me.

          • Gawin

            Tibbie, I think you’ve highlighted why I think it’s actually easier to control force using a cut in a fight.

            Both thrusts and cuts depend on appropriate technique in order to control the force, but as you mentioned, the force of a thrust is also highly dependent on measure whereas the force of a cut is rather independent of the measure.

            This is for two reasons. First of all, if I’m trying to hit you with X amount of force with the foible of my blade and you step forward, I simply hit you with X amount of force using the mezzo instead. Additionally, due to the mechanics of cutting, I’d actually be hitting you with less force with the mezzo than if I had hit you with the foible 1) because you’re moving to a shorter portion of the lever arm and therefore the portion of the blade is moving more slowly than the end and 2) because a cut (just like a punch) has its maximal force at the intended point of contact. If you step into either, you actually get hit with less force.

            So, as a fighter, I have full control over the force I put behind a cut whereas I do not have full control over the force of my thrusts. This would lead me to suspect that there would be a greater number of truly accidental hard blows with thrusts than there would be for cuts. Put another way, “accidental” hard shots delivered using a cut are due to negligence (one fighter was simply unskilled or didn’t care) whereas “accidental” hard shots with a thrust can be either negligence (same reasons) or a true accident (recipient stepped forward unexpectedly). You’ll note that this does suggest that Ruairc’s argument that we should simply require a greater level of skill to authorize C&T would work to reduce hard hits. My opinion on the matter is that it actually isn’t very hard to control the technique aspect of blow force, we simply haven’t built a community where the knowledge of how to do that is widely available, where the desire to keep force down is prevalent, and the expectation that fighters will do this simply isn’t there.

            For your edification Tibbie, and perhaps it will help you to train your local fighters. The appropriate technique for delivering a thrust without hitting excessively hard boils down to the difference between extending your arm and throwing a punch. Many fighters extend their sword using their shoulder like they are throwing a punch. This is bad and is how people get hit really hard. The extension is a far more relaxed action. I can show you at Defending the Gate if you like. The other thing is that fighters need to extend their arm before picking up their feet when lunging. These two features are pretty much responsible for every non-measure hard hit I’ve seen or experienced.

            As far as cuts go, controlling force with a two-hander is really easy. The position of the back hand is an absolute stop on the blade, so you can completely control the depth that a cut takes by simply putting your left hand where it needs to be (assuming you’re a righty).

            With a single-handed sword in the cut, keeping force down just requires that only one joint (shoulder, elbow, or wrist) be in motion at any given time.

          • Dante di Pietro

            Three things:

            1) Heavy rapier is a Thing Everyone Does because there was an effort on the part of the marshals and the WS to make it so. That was ten years ago.

            2) Widespread availability of gorgets made heavy rapier possible.

            3) Heavy rapier has melee.

            And some more things that are less connected:

            1) The BS sport stuff people do in HR is not the same as the BS sport stuff people do in C&T.

            2) I fight in SCA minimum armor for C&T, with a rapier and dagger, and I don’t feel unsafe doing so.

            3) My practice has 7 or 8 C&T fighters. I have had exactly one unusually hard percussive strike in 4 years here.

            4) 2 and 3 are pretty closely related.

            5) Some of the stuff you’re unhappy with you could actually do something about, like authorize successfully and become a C&T marshal. More tournaments = more participation.

            6) IMO, C&T’s biggest problem is that it hasn’t been sold well at all.

          • Gawin

            The fencers with whom I have discussed getting a C&T authorization have almost exclusively expressed to me that their disinterest is related to their impression of blow calibration. It may very well be a matter of perception, but perception is a huge deal when you’re trying to get a new game to take off, which is what this whole portion of the thread has been about. I have never heard anyone mention one of your “three things” as the reason that they aren’t planning on getting a C&T authorization.

            As far as your list of 6 things:
            1) I’m not sure what you mean. I mean, yes, but how are you intending this to be relevant to the discussion?
            2) You can, as a highly skilled fighter, expect to be able to avoid being touched by C&T’s problem children. You could also just be insane :-D.
            3) The problem isn’t that most people are hitting super hard, the problem is that some people hit harder than they should and there doesn’t seem to be any correction taking place. It leads to an impression of C&T that is bad and leads people to avoid it.
            4) With regards to martial sports activities, it is typical that you build trust with your friends who you train with regularly whereas one of the big reasons many SCA safety rules need to exist is that we get together with hundreds of strangers and do our martial sport activity without being able to guarantee any standardized level of training. You feel comfortable fighting with them at least in part because you know that they’re not trying to break you. The same can’t be said of random people you face in the list. That’s why we have written rules. It currently seems like the C&T in this kingdom has a sense of fudging the rules when it comes to blow calibration. Which undermines the precise reason that we can get together with relative strangers and play with swords, that is, because we trust that everybody is following the rules.
            5) I am authorized C&T, but I cannot, at this time, become a C&T marshal. I have been trying to convince authorized HR fighters to get their C&T authorization precisely for this reason, but Ruairc’s been the only one I’ve (maybe) convinced. See my first sentence of this post regarding what the rest of them say.
            6) You’re right, I don’t think that’s being contested here. These posts are trying to address *why* it isn’t selling. Again, it seems like many people have an impression of C&T as having too high a calibration such that they don’t want to play. Even if we fix the calibration issues immediately, that perception will continue unless we make it public, obvious, and ongoing.

            As far as your fifth point goes, I cannot at this time, become a C&T marshal.

          • Tibbie Croser

            I think the context of Dante’s Three Things is that about a decade ago, Atlantian fencing went from epees as standard weapons to rapiers as standard weapons, thanks to the push by the marshallate and the availability of gorgets, which were not required for epee fighting. Cut and Thrust was introduced a couple of years later (I think), but it has never been as widely adopted as heavy rapier. In contrast to Heavy Rapier, Cut and Thrust does not have widespread promotion by the marshallate, inexpensive and widely available armor,* and the opportunity for melee fighting.

            *Commercial back-of-the-head protection and fencing helms are much more widely available and affordable than they were a few years ago, but they’re still an extra expense on top of standard rapier armor.

          • Dante di Pietro

            Tibbie is correct.

            With a concerted effort by the marshals and Academie, cheap and easy head protection, melee rules, and rules that made it clear that a percussive cut should land no more firmly than the beginning of a HR draw cut, C&T would replace heavy rapier enthusiastically and rapidly.

          • Tibbie Croser

            Regarding blow force in C&T, here is part of the “Cut and Thrust FAQ” from the Atlantian Rapier Marshal webpage:

            “•What are some of the important differences between rapier fighting and C&T?

            The most obvious difference is the expected level of impact in C&T is broader than that of traditional rapier. While the thrusts and draw cuts should be of the same calibration as rapier fighting, the percussive cut lands at a somewhat higher level, and fighters should be aware of that. This does not excuse the fighter delivering the blow from exercising the required control, but all participants must acknowledge that they will be struck with a harder blow than they would normally receive in traditional rapier. This also brings up another difference between C&T and rapier. Traditionally in rapier fighting, armor has remained at the minimum level. Many participants in C&T have chosen to wear armor above the minimum requirements. This is entirely acceptable, and fighters should wear whatever makes them comfortable. However, the fighter must take the time to learn to call blows in the additional armor.”

            Note that the above text, which is several years old, mentions that percussive cuts are of higher calibration than heavy rapier draw cuts, not the same. Has this standard been officially superseded?

            Draw cuts are a problematic standard anyway, because many of us HR-only folks tend to do them lightly (whereas Master Chris once left a weal on my leg through my thin pants when I asked him to show me a proper draw cut).

            Of the things that Dante mentions in order to substitute C&T for heavy rapier, melee rules are the one thing that’s out of our control as a kingdom; melee rules for C&T would have to come from the Society level.

          • Terasu

            I just realized that there was actual messages beyond the thread opener. I usually stay away from Forums for many reasons, unless I am looking for information.

            My feelings on the Cut and Thrust Tournament we’re not good. I saw caliber being thrown that belonged on the heavy field. Now, I am not a Marshal in C&T, but hell, I should be with the amount of experience I have. No fighter said one word about calibration that day, not to me and not to a Marshal that was near by and I know I saw some shots that made me wince. The Giacomo/Gavin fight had some shots that I was sure drew blood. From Giacomo of course, Gavin was fine.

            At one point Dante mentioned to me that I should teach a Cut and Thrust Calibration Class at University. I have been staying away from that because I am not a Marshal and I am still new to the rapier field. I am starting to change my mind though after what I saw at Night on the Town. There are a lot of techniques that allow me to throw shots at very high speed and not injure someone due to techniques. I have only been teaching those at our practice so far, but maybe this needs to be a open class. I am just worried that the people who need the class will think they are fine and void it.

            BTW, I ran Night on the Town’s C&T tournament with marshals nearby, even though I am not a C&T marshal myself. Everything was fine and they new about it.

          • Gawin

            I can’t tell if that was sarcasm, Terasu, as I landed precisely zero cuts on Giacomo during our bouts.

            Unless you were meaning that the cuts were being delivered by Giacomo. His blows were actually pretty gentle. In the second and third passes he hit me directly in the ankle and knee respectively, which are usually pretty tender targets in general and it really wasn’t a problem.

            Our first pass was probably pretty horrifying looking though. I ended up getting wedged with my dagger in his belly and my elbow and armpit stuck on his shield. I was pretty confused why he didn’t call good on that one and was a bit more confused when he lifted me into the air. Apparently something weird happened with his chainmaille that pulled it out away from his body, but basically when he lifted his shield, he took me up with it. I think my mind kinda went blank for a moment while I was suspended there and he started throwing blows to my left leg. They looked really impressively big, with a wind-up from the shoulder, but they weren’t really landing with any pressure on my leg. I think that actually added to my perplexed state. It felt like he was simply tapping my butt with the flat of his blade. I think he was striking either my blade or the edge of his shield, and that was bleeding off a lot of the force. Honestly that pass was probably my weirdest experience on the field, but Giacomo wasn’t hitting me hard, it felt like he was barely touching me, really.

          • Terasu

            No sarcasm there. Even though you may not have landed a shot, I could still tell that you were in control and the shots you threw were not excessive. I saw the dagger hit and then it moved away so fast from Giacomo’s chest that he may not have felt it. I never noticed the shield lift, but the blows he threw to your leg, he wasn’t turning his wrist to hit with the edge. I started calling out that they were flat so he would stop throwing the same shot because I think he thought they were good. The shin shot, to your right leg, actually looked painful. That was the one I thought drew blood. I normally wear soccer shin guards because of that exact target area. I guess the match looked more chaotic and messy, which made it look dangerous. I mentioned on another thread that fighters who use aggression to compensate for their lack of speed and technique, make messy fights and usually jack up the caliber after a couple of blows. They just lose control and that’s how people get hurt.

          • Gawin

            Ah, your original statement could either be read that you thought I was drawing blood on Giacomo or that he was the one that looked like he was hitting hard. I mostly was intending on thrusts that tournament, with cuts being second-intention actions.

            From my perspective, the dagger was actually stuck into him and I was kinda levered onto his shield when he lifted me up between my dagger point and my elbow between his shield and chest.

            As far as the ankle shot, it landed directly on the bone, actually. It stung a bit, but it wasn’t particularly hard, just the wrong spot.

          • Ruairc

            Terasu, you have a wealth of martial experience not available to most in the SCA. I have said before that I think this gives you a perspective and knowledge base far broader than your SCA-specific rank and awards might indicate. I understand your hesitancy and respect your desire to master an art before teaching it, but frankly I think you’re sufficiently advanced to give it a shot.

            You know things other people don’t; you don’t need to know everything before teaching them. It’s the same way at my weekly practice: my understanding of Italian fencing falls far short of mastery, but some people want to learn, so I give them the best I’ve got.

            Frankly I think we need to bring a more martial attitude to our game. As a discipline and a culture, rapier is still evolving; be part of the positive change.

  • Ruairc

    From a marshal’s perspective:

    For the Challenge of Strategy, Teal’s Scholar-heavy initial fight was a bit of a gambit. I wonder how things might have gone if Connor hadn’t won that fight (which, by the way, he won purely on cunning – see below). If Teal had continued to call the shots, they would have been able to run through their fighters much more quickly and get their Scholars back with minimal losses, and the outcome could have been very different.

    Gawin’s memory is a little different from mine – I seem to recall there being more fights after the one he describes in detail. But that was most definitely the turning point. If Teal’s line had pressed and won the fight, the game might have been much closer. The fighters facing Brian and co. made some poor decisions – by retreating from the legged guy, they opened their line’s flanks to Brian after he had freed himself.

    The commanders were yelling orders from the sidelines. This was entertaining. It also gave Connor the opportunity to loudly contradict his opponents’ orders, throwing their line into confusion. This is the reason he won – they did not press at the critical moment, and he picked them off.

    All in all I liked this game – it was something new and interesting. I hope to see it again.

    As to the Woods Battle, the dominant strategy for a “Domination” style game is to always be in control of two objectives, dynamically switching to where the enemy is weak. Gawin seemed to think that the stump-side had a shorter line from rez to the middle flag, and he might well have been right, but the shed-side terrain (Orange’s to start) permitted free movement and “floaters”, while the stump-side didn’t, so the outcome was not surprising. Teal was too tired by the halfway point to mount an effective comeback.

    Other than better managing their gas, I’m not sure what Teal could have done differently. While I’m a big fan of sending units through the “jungle”, the open terrain would have allowed Orange to respond.

    I was a bit surprised by how little commanding was done by the commanders – they seemed much more eager to get into the fray – but I don’t imagine it would have changed much. The game format is pretty straightforward.

    Two individuals stood out:

    This Draco fellow reminded me a bit of me in my early melee days – run around the flank of the enemy, make a lot of noise, and die without having accomplished much. It’s not a terrible idea – he was trying to give his line an opportunity by distracting their opponents – but his line was never really in a position to capitalize. A few pointers for going behind enemy lines:

    1. Coordinate with your line. Let them know what you’re planning if at all possible. Being loud creates chaos; chaos, unplanned-for, affects both your team and theirs, so it’s not necessarily helpful.
    2. Try to stick close to your line. Generally, the farther away you are, the less helpful you’ll be. Near the line you can DFB or flank or draw the attention of multiple engaged fighters – sometimes a whole unit; far away, you’ll just draw off a reinforcement or two.
    3. Bring a friend. It’s hard to watch your six behind enemy lines, and two can survive much longer than one.
    4. Staying stealthy lets you pick the best moment. I usually try to walk for as long as possible and keep a low profile.

    Secondly, poor Ibrahim was everybody’s reserve. More than once he was given conflicting orders on where to go. He acquitted himself well, I think, given the chaos.

    I napped for the other two battles and have no input there.

    • Ruairc

      And one more thing: When you die, don’t get in the way.

      Don’t get in the way of your line.
      Don’t get in the way of the opponent’s line.
      And don’t get in the way of the guy running your line.

      If you need, drop to a knee and take a moment to assess your surroundings. More than once during the woods battle, a single fighter interrupted an opponent by dying poorly, and his line survived 10 seconds longer than it should have.

      DFBs were surprisingly clean in the woods, and typically bad on the field. Go figure.

      • Gawin

        This so hard on Saturday. I tried to run lines 4-5 times and was typically stopped by one of the dead people stepping forward into my path.

    • Gawin

      In the challenge of strategy, that was the last battle. Since Letia and Ben had been killed, they didn’t have anybody to shout from the sidelines. They also didn’t appoint anybody. After I was killed I was told I couldn’t shout from the sidelines, so we appointed Connor to do the shouting.

    • Alric

      Ruairc,
      I hadn’t considered the toll on available energy fighting from the stump and up hill run to the fighting for the first 1/2. That would definitely account for our ability on the second 1/2 to hold to the opposite road edge most of the time. I wonder how different the outcome would have been if we had set up on different sides at the start.
      Personally I am glad I’ve been busting my backside at the gym, I was doing much better through the day because of it.

      • Ruairc

        Terrain is difficult to evaluate. As a marshal, a fighter, and a commander, I have had to make conscious effort to include it in my calculations. Especially in rez melees, small differences add up, and can be telling.

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