Thoughts on running authorizations   16 comments

(In which Wistric opens up a whole bag of philosophy, opinion, and tradition, tapping into primal desires to “not be skewered like a pig”, begging for vehement discussion.  Will you enable?  Remember: “Probably grossly erroneous” is part of our editorial policy)

As an RMiC I like to keep to a schedule as much as possible (the only tolerable violation of the schedule is when their Majesties are planning to make a friend a WS, and even then it’s only tolerable, not welcome).  A well-scheduled event crams as much fighting as possible into it, and I’ve only gotten “better” about it as time goes on (six tourneys and two melees at an event?  Ohhhh yeah, this is happening).  The biggest delay I run into is getting authorizations done before the fighting starts, especially when an event is well-attended.  And as the RMiC this is one of those few areas I don’t have all that much control over.

I make all the effort I can think of to announce when authorizations start and end, including all communications outlets I have access to, and requesting marshals and group leaders pass that information on to their fencers AND contact me to let me know people will be authorizing.  Then it’s up to the fighters to arrive on time.  If they do (say, up to twenty minutes before cutoff), I accommodate them.  If not, they get to wait unless two marshals and an usher are willing to skip the fighting and go off to the side.

When the authorizee does show up, I hand them off to two experienced marshals while I attend to the other needs (arranging inspections and making sure people get signed in).  From there, it’s out of my hands.  I have seen authorizations take twenty minutes from start to finish.  I’ve seen JUST THE QUESTIONS take an hour.  As you might guess, I prefer the twenty minute version.  I also prefer marshals who notice when the RMiC is staring at them in wide-eyed disbelief.

I believe a fighter’s safety can be accurately (p < 0.05) judged within twenty minutes.  It starts with the questions.  The fighter needs to know:

  • Armor standards.  Knowing the specific terms is preferable and earns a gold star from me, but demonstrating an understanding of what the standards actually are is sufficient.
  • Target area.  Knowing what happens when you get hit where.  Kind of a good thing to know in my mind.
  • Valid blows.  What constitutes a good shot?  Also a good thing to know.
  • Know what hold means.
  • Engagement in melee.  When can you and can’t you deliver a shot?  (This one serves two purposes: Making sure they know not to throw shots from outside the 180, and warning them that they can be hit by a fighter who they don’t know is there)
  • DFB.  Don’t point stalk, don’t jack them in the kidneys, the usual.
  • The front 120 rule when their opponent is legged (which apparently is only an Atlantian thing.  I will make many kingdoms regret that oversight).
  • Blade grasping

That’s it off the top of my head.  If they have problems with these, they get a copy of the rules and come back to try again later if there’s time.  The first two should take less than five minutes, total, the rest should take less than five, total (Confirmed by a scientific survey [N=1] yesterday!).

Then comes the fight.  We CAN do the “three part auth fight” but I don’t think it’s necessary to establish the fighter is safe and can call shots.  Here are some skills I expect of the usher:

  1. Bait or trigger a lunge from their opponent and receive the blow.
  2. Trigger an attack and retreat out of measure.  Repeat.  On the third, don’t retreat and receive the resultant blow.  This is where I receive stout blows, but I tend to be understanding of them and discuss how to address the situation – it’s not an automatic fail.  But super hard shots?  Yeah, those are going to be a problem.
  3. Close safely to close measure, receive the draw cut or thrust delivered.
  4. Close unsafely to close measure, preferably wrestling over the authorizee’s blade and in as many ways as possible discombobulating them.  Once in a practice auth, my opponent seized my arm and tried to throw me.  That’s about the only failure I’ve seen at this point.
  5. Distract opponent and deliver a draw or thrust to the arm.
  6. Distract opponent and deliver a draw or thrust to the leg.

Most of all, the usher is not there to prove a damn thing about his or herself.  That’s a useless usher.

It can be done in six passes.  They don’t go in this order all the time, though I usually start by letting the opponent attack so they get to thinking about attacking and are less likely to notice the limb blows I land.  At a minute per pass, you’ve got four passes to spare to re-check one of these before you even reach ten minutes.

If you have an hour set aside for authorizations, a pair of marshals and an usher can knock out three authorizations (two is tolerable).

This is not an argument to rush through authorizations, but to focus on the important things: those questions that represent a solid understanding of the rules that keep us all safe, and those actions which are most likely to result in paperwork for the marshal.  If an authorization is taking much more than thirty minutes, there’s clearly something wrong, either with the authorizee, or the process the marshals are following.  If it’s the marshals, well, they’re wasting not just their time, but potentially the time of everybody at the event.  They are negatively affecting all of the rapier fighters.  And that?  That shit is intolerable.


Posted August 20, 2015 by Wistric in Musings

16 responses to Thoughts on running authorizations

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