Sunday, January 18, 2015

The BoD does a thing, kinda, and I'm gonna talk about it.

So as most everyone who's remotely connected to the SCA rapier community knows, yesterday the Board of Directors voted on whether to institute a peerage for rapier prowess, and it was voted down.

Okay, that was disappointing in the extreme, and more than a little surprising - I'd honestly thought that it had a really good chance of passing. Then things got weird.

Instead of repeating what other people who were present said, I'll just link to the two reports from folks in the audience; this was posted by Eyrny publicly to her Facebook page (there's a full description in the comments), and this was posted by Illadore to the SCA Facebook group.

Yeah, that's a thing. Additionally, individual members of the BoD have publicly posted to their personal Facebook pages, notably Ailgheanan.

After all this I'm left with a whole lot of feelings, most of them conflicted.

The people behind the Additional Peerage committee devoted countless hours, effort, brainpower, thought, and emotion into that work. They deserve our thanks for all this, because regardless of whatever else happens, what they were specifically working for failed. Besides those individuals, so many more people had a whole lot invested in that as well, and seeing the news about the downvote was a huge letdown.

That said... what happens now?

Based on the information from the discussions at the meeting itself, as well as a member of the Board, as well as a perceived tendency to allow decisions like this to be made at a Kingdom level, we can draw some pretty clear conclusions as to their intent. That said, I really wish we could get an official statement from them as to their specific intent. In some ways, I think this was the cheap and easy way out for them - they don't need to actively change anything in Corpora, but just sort of say, "Well, wait, you could really do this all along!" That feels like they're avoiding taking a strong stance for what it seems like they're saying, which is really sending a mixed message. They went out of their way to remove the language noting rapier as an "ancillary activity" in the SCA (good!) and to specify that Crown Tournaments must only be fought with rattan, but they couldn't take the last step and state in plain language what they really want to cause to occur?

Still though, this looks like it could be a possibility for a big step forward. Based on talking to folks in person, and reading a whole lot of social media, it doesn't seem like there's a huge amount of people against this? I'm not trying to imply that it's unopposed, certainly, but I haven't seen or heard any truly vehement opposition. I have though, seen and heard a pretty good amount of folks who are neutral, cautiously for it, or absolutely desirous of rapier being included in the Chivalry.

There are probably going to be lots of discussions in the next few weeks. If - if - any decisions are made to go forward on this, it's going to be hard. There'll need to be a lot of work on each side. Will the Chivalry need to change? Almost by definition. Will the rapier folks need to accept that the Chivalry has decades old traditions to which we'd need to adapt? Assuredly. What I think is most important is that when we have these discussions, to not assume you know what the stance of the person in the other group is before you hear it, and to hear it out, and actually talk about it. Maybe there are irreconcilable differences. Maybe not, I don't know, but if we just fly off into a pile of assumptions, then for sure nothing will be accomplished.

Part of the stated reason this happened was that so many people - from all groups in this debate - said, "Well, in a perfect world, rapier should be part of the Chivalry. That won't happen, so..." Well, now we have the chance to maybe, possibly, actually get a little closer to that perfect world. It'd be a shame, I think, if we didn't honestly try. If it doesn't work, it doesn't work, but we have a chance to see.

So, I guess, we'll see? Interesting times.


  1. I've been encouraged by all the comments from people who have offered support to rapier combatants entering the Chivalry. However, I've also encountered many old prejudices coming back to the surface. I've just seen so many comments ranging from the misinformed (SCA activities should mirror the medieval period, ending with the advent of gunpowder) to the downright absurd (rapier isn't period, or rapier isn't real combat).

    Its the ignorance that surprises me the most. I thought we'd come so far even in the limited time I've been fencing (and I started rapier in 1997, if I recall correctly). And truth is...we have come far. But there are still people ignorant about rapier...from how we fight (I saw some comments about foils), to if it is period (since some people's only real exposure to rapier is maybe a 3 Musketeers movie) , to if its really combat (because heavy fighting is loud, and involves more contact, perhaps). I feel like now, more than ever, my role is to educate more about rapier, to keep it highly visible, to share more, to maintain grace, chivalry, courtesy, and honor, and do good. It can only help, and things can get better.

  2. Totally agree. But also what Lorenzo said - there is definitely pushback. I suspect we are reading the same threads, as I'm seeing the exact same arguments.

    1. Absolutely. And I was genuinely surprised.

    2. There is pushback - I certainly wouldn't mean to imply that there isn't - but not nearly to the degree that I might have thought there would be.

  3. Yea I've seen more "sky is falling" from fencers than major push back from Chiv/heavy listers, though I'm sure there is and will be push back. Any big change like that has a certain base level for it. But I'd love to see rapier be included in the Chiv and think in the long run it'll help bridge the gap of understanding between the two.

    Interesting times, indeed. I'm hoping for the best and look forward to trying to make it work out well. :)