Women's Only HEMA Tournaments

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Re: Women's Only HEMA Tournaments

Postby Glyn » 03 Sep 2015 18:19

Herbert wrote:And what are these problems? Maybe it would be a good thing to first agree on the problems we have.

OK, let's turn this one on it's head.

I'm a 6'2"/188cm 14st 2lb/198lb/90kg 44 year old man. I get little physical activity (always worked in office jobs and never been to a gym in my life) and train rarely at the moment. I've done a few years in rapier, dabbled in smallsword, six months or so in longsword, about a year in backsword, but that's spread over about ten years so isn't that impressive really. I can bluff my way in most weapons now (it's either cut or thrust at the end of the day) but I'm far from particularly skilled in anything. In a previous life I got to 2nd kyu in Wado Ryu (second brown in karate).

I've taken part in the occasional competition, but not many. What drove that, and what makes me decide to compete - or even just participate in workshops - at an event?

Most of the time I need to travel and stay over. Easy travel (by public transport) and reasonable accommodation close to an event don't often coincide. I won't share a room or do camping. Doing this on a budget is probably the biggest restriction for me.

I need to know I have all the kit. Both offensive and defensive. I've got a fair collection of stuff now that enables me to do most of the more common things, but that's been built up over the years and cost a reasonable amount of money. Some of it isn't easily available, some of the times it wasn't obvious what I needed. I still don't reckon I have enough kit to compete safely with longsword. I borrowed a lot of things in the early days and owe a debt to a lot of people - some of whom didn't even know me or even speak the same language as me - as a result. The lack of kit was a big issue early on as I didn't expect people to be willing to help out in such a way, and it's not something I could have relied on if I was competing. Even finding a bag to hold my kit while travelling was an issue. Feeling confident in my kit was a big step towards feeling confident in participating at events.

I want to know I have the required level of skill not to injure anyone else or get injured myself. It's difficult to judge this when you don't know who you're facing. Different clubs teach close measure very differently and suddenly realising that the other person may expect to continue to grapple to the floor when you don't is disconcerting if not dangerous. There's a big self-confidence issue here because it's as much about impressions of near misses than true near misses or injuries, but it's also related to the way the event organisers and the other competitors comport themselves - what the rules say and what happens can be quite different. I've also seen people use kit that I felt could be dangerous - with more experience I'm now more confident about speaking up about that, but I wouldn't have done so in the past.

I also want to know that I'm not going to be walked over. I don't expect to win, but I want to know I'm going to get something out of a match. Sometimes I set myself up to get one hit on my opponent (regardless of how many times they hit me). If I know they're good, that might be enough to keep me interested. It's depressing to face someone much better than you and know you're effectively just target practice for them.

I really don't want to make a fool of myself. That usually means reading the rules repeatedly and not entering a competition that I've not been a spectator to previously. The more competitions you see the easier it gets. I have slight hearing problems which makes following what's going on a bit more difficult, yet the typical competition environment doesn't make it easy to question what's happening. I'd hate to compete in an event that wasn't run in my own language. I like to know who the other competitors are likely to be as well - nobody wants to be in last place so I like to know the other people aren't all the "elite" and I'm going to look awful by comparison.

The scoring generally doesn't bother me as all systems are artificial and, at the end of the day, I know I'm not going to win and that takes a lot of the pressure off. If I was closer to winning I suspect I'd pay a lot more attention to the way the scoring works. Different clubs teach scoring in different ways. Some expect people to declare hits, others teach that it is the role of the judges to call a good hit. This doesn't bother me either way, but it might if I was better.

Despite my size, I'm still put off my the physical prowess of some of the other people. Yes, they're almost always men. This is directly related to things I've seen happen in competitions in the past (including rapier) that were utterly historically correct and yet were very off putting. No one got injured (that I know of), but the level of physical force used went beyond my own preference. Other times I've fenced extremely physically strong opponents and not felt intimidated at all as I felt confident that their style of fencing would not involved significant displays of strength or physical contact. I should note that the same applied when I did karate - an opponent that used a lot of physical strength was very off putting, especially when I was less skilled, even if it was an effective technique and justifiable in that way.

I do like to fence a variety of people. Different styles, different physical characteristics, different equipment. That's actually the main draw for me in entering a competition.

The first competition I entered against strangers was on home turf, the next was in a foreign country, but with a number of people I knew present and an extremely welcoming environment. After that it was a while before I entered anything again, but by then I had built up enough knowledge, skill and kit that I no longer felt intimidated by the inevitable unknowns.

I'm not sure where this rather neurotic essay is going, but perhaps it will help someone else understand what goes through the mind of at least one person when deciding to participate.

Herbert wrote:Somehow I daresay that the foremost problems are not single-sex tournaments.

We have to be careful with the phrasing here. Single-sex tournaments are not a problem but a solution. The question is do they solve the root cause of a problem or are they a workaround for a problem that will continue to be present? Whether it's the foremost issue is not really relevant unless we know that there's something more important to fix and that we can't fix both at the same time.

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Re: Women's Only HEMA Tournaments

Postby Glyn » 03 Sep 2015 18:40

MEversbergII wrote:Perhaps we should look to Olympic fencing, and read into why they do things as they do. It has a long history, so there's potentially a lot of useful stuff on this very subject.

Firstly, I agree completely that we shouldn't reinvent the wheel and that sport fencing, and other similar activities, can teach us a lot. We don't need to do thing the same way, but knowing they have a rule for something shows us a problem that exists in their field and one possible solution. We may well not have encountered the problem - or may have encountered it and not realised it - but learning from other peoples problems is far less painful than waiting for it to bite us and then fixing it later.

I'm not very familiar with sport fencing, but I understand it has a strongly regulated structure. This has many benefits to the competitor in knowing what to expect in an event and also in knowing what behaviour is acceptable and not acceptable. On the downside is this predictability allows a certain amount of gaming of the system, and the variety in HEMA can help to squash that a little. I sometime feel we would benefit from having a universal framework for competitions together with three or so scoring systems, with the scoring system to be used drawn from a hat before each bout. Probably utterly impractical and would drive the judges insane, though.

One thing I feel we are missing is an easy introduction to competing for less experienced (or possibly less able) people such that they can compete with less expense, risk and pressure than at the major events. I think these events probably do actually happen, but either not often enough or aren't given enough prominence in the community.

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Re: Women's Only HEMA Tournaments

Postby Mink » 03 Sep 2015 19:18

Guys, it is more than a bit ridiculous to even bother discuss this if you're not interested in tournaments, or think they are bad. Of course if there were no tournaments that problem would not appear. It's beside the point.

The only people here whose opinion or experience is worth considering are women who actively participate in tournaments, or people who regularly organize tournaments. I count myself among the people who cannot possibly contribute something useful, by the way. Aside from this reminder :)

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Re: Women's Only HEMA Tournaments

Postby Herbert » 03 Sep 2015 19:38

Glyn wrote:[…] I'm not sure where this rather neurotic essay is going, but perhaps it will help someone else understand what goes through the mind of at least one person when deciding to participate.

Thanks for the elaborate insight but I still struggle to see the problems here that need addressing on a HEMA level.

Mink wrote:The only people here whose opinion or experience is worth considering are women who actively participate in tournaments, or people who regularly organize tournaments.

So only people who are directly involved or are in a certain situation can have an opinion on said situation? While this sounds logical and often is a valid viewpoint it is not always a good way in its exclusiveness. If one is not in the position it is natural that we are missing information and experience. Still silencing everyone who is not in a given situation/position is not necessarily a step that promotes evolution of a system.
(Just think of so many instances: I'm not starving – can't I have an opinion on hunger in the world? I am not finance minister - can't I have an opinion on the way our government spends money? I'm not a cyclist - can't I have an opinion on their safety?)

I certainly agree that so far we are lacking the viewpoints of women.

All I did was just point out some flaws in the argumentation of the linked article.
It all went down from there.

At the moment we are getting dragged aside by opinions and world views.
I suggest we either get back on topic or leave it just there.
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Re: Women's Only HEMA Tournaments

Postby Mink » 03 Sep 2015 20:13

Herbert wrote:So only people who are directly involved or are in a certain situation can have an opinion on said situation? While this sounds logical and often is a valid viewpoint it is not always a good way in its exclusiveness. If one is not in the position it is natural that we are missing information and experience. Still silencing everyone who is not in a given situation/position is not necessarily a step that promotes evolution of a system.
(Just think of so many instances: I'm not starving – can't I have an opinion on hunger in the world? I am not finance minister - can't I have an opinion on the way our government spends money? I'm not a cyclist - can't I have an opinion on their safety?)


I might have been too restrictive, but you need to agree with some premise of the questions, though, otherwise it's pointless. Imagine a group of religious people debating some theological question. If as an atheist I pop by and start lecturing them that their problem should not exist because God does not exist anyway, they would most certainly ignore me, and they would be right. I'm not answering the question according to their premises. Goes the same way the other way around, of course.

Here the premise that tournaments are a good thing to have seems to be rather important, and is apparently not accepted by some vocal participants in this discussion.

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Re: Women's Only HEMA Tournaments

Postby Herbert » 03 Sep 2015 20:19

Mink wrote:Here the premise that tournaments are a good thing to have seems to be rather important, and is apparently not accepted by some vocal participants in this discussion.

Well the discussion is not wether to have tournaments or not, is it?
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Re: Women's Only HEMA Tournaments

Postby Glyn » 03 Sep 2015 20:23

Herbert wrote:Thanks for the elaborate insight but I still struggle to see the problems here that need addressing on a HEMA level.

Maybe by a therapist then?

Seriously, I would like it very much if other people described why they did or didn't compete. More importantly, it would be good if the instructors reading this went and talked to their students and asked them why they did or didn't enter competitions as I suspect most of them do not read this forum. If their students have competed, then ask them what their experiences were - will they compete again? Did they feel safe? Well informed? What did or didn't they enjoy about it? How would they do things differently if they ran the event? If you are a competition organiser yourself do you do a follow up with the competitors afterwards?

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Re: Women's Only HEMA Tournaments

Postby Mink » 03 Sep 2015 20:27

Herbert wrote:Well the discussion is not wether to have tournaments or not, is it?

No but if like Cosmoline above you don't think tournaments are a good thing, then you'll obviously not be able to productively discuss a sub-topic of tournaments with people who think that they are good. In particular the different emphasis on physical attributes will dramatically alter the conclusions.

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Re: Women's Only HEMA Tournaments

Postby Herbert » 03 Sep 2015 20:29

Glyn wrote:Seriously, I would like it very much if other people described why they did or didn't compete.

The people of Ars Gladii don't compete because
a) it's sport not HEMA
b) because they don't need the ego-trip
c) because they don't see the point

We talk a lot about this in our group and they are all against it, often for different reasons.
The feeling that it is unfair was never mentioned. The reasons given were all neutral regarding gender.
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Re: Women's Only HEMA Tournaments

Postby Herbert » 03 Sep 2015 20:33

Mink wrote:
Herbert wrote:Well the discussion is not wether to have tournaments or not, is it?

No but if like Cosmoline above you don't think tournaments are a good thing, then you'll obviously not be able to productively discuss a sub-topic of tournaments with people who think that they are good. In particular the different emphasis on physical attributes will dramatically alter the conclusions.

Sorry you lost me on this one.

I can't discuss this because I don't like tournaments?
After all this is a discussion about unfairness and wether a gender separated subsection should exist.
And I can't discuss this because I am against tournaments?
Seriously?

Ok…so far I have tried to bring arguments. I quoted a Fechtbuch, I tried to discuss this on a neutral basis.
Obviously this is hardly possible. We are really not getting anywhere.

I wish you lots of fun discussing this with the people you think fit to discuss it with. Maybe this is another way to gain consensus: eliminate all people with a differing opinion. Might work - did so in the past.

Have fun!
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Re: Women's Only HEMA Tournaments

Postby Glyn » 03 Sep 2015 20:41

Herbert wrote:The people of Ars Gladii don't compete because
a) it's sport not HEMA
b) because they don't need the ego-trip
c) because they don't see the point

That's very interesting, thanks.

You've managed to phrase it with three negatives, but it's actually quite positive - it's an active choice not to bother with something they feel is unnecessary rather than an imposed choice because they feel excluded or unable to take part.

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Re: Women's Only HEMA Tournaments

Postby Glyn » 03 Sep 2015 20:48

Mink wrote:... sub-topic of tournaments ...

For me this is a key part of the question though. Is this about dividing what we have in to two parts, or should we be reworking the whole into something new?

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Re: Women's Only HEMA Tournaments

Postby Mink » 03 Sep 2015 21:47

Right, so I'm going to discuss one of your points Herbert.
Herbert wrote:2. The stronger fighter has an advantage.
The whole argument circles around the assumed fact that the stronger men have the advantage. This is just BS in this context. Let's see what the HS 3227 a says:
HS 3227a / 22v wrote:Because when it is strong against strong, the stronger one will always win. That is why Liechtenauer’s swordsmanship is a true art that the weaker wins more easily by use of his art than the stronger by using his strength. Otherwise what use would the art be?


So this says that skill can overcome strength. It does not preclude the fact that strength is an advantage, in particular, between two fighters of similar skill. Tournaments tend to pair people that are closer and closer in skill.

Glyn wrote:Is this about dividing what we have in to two parts, or should we be reworking the whole into something new?

Given what can be seen in other arts, I doubt you could rework the whole and still have people call it tournament. It seems to me that the original blog post was mostly about dividing or not.

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Re: Women's Only HEMA Tournaments

Postby Cosmoline » 03 Sep 2015 23:12

No but if like Cosmoline above you don't think tournaments are a good thing, then you'll obviously not be able to productively discuss a sub-topic of tournaments with people who think that they are good. In particular the different emphasis on physical attributes will dramatically alter the conclusions.


Tournaments in general can be great and it's important to include the challenge and proving ground. But I suspect tournaments as a SPORTING event are another matter. And the concerns over women's only branches in Title IX fashion or weight classes or age groups etc etc are an outgrowth of SPORTING tournaments. Not just as a practical matter but as an actual legal matter. If this becomes a collegiate sport there may be binding obligations to create a women's version of it. And what was once fully integrated historical swordplay becomes a segregated sport from ESPN Ocho. Saying I can't have that opinion because I don't favor competitive tournaments for their own sake is a convenient way of avoiding this problem. But if HEMA truly becomes a recognized *sport*, with the funding and control that entails, it's a virtual certainty that divisions and classes will emerge. Lawsuits will force the issue if nothing else does.

The alternative, to my mind, is to keep tournaments but ensure they never become a sport. The goal should always be to reflect back on the sources and on actual, lethal historical swordfighting. And in doing that, the wonderful and fully integrated exploration can continue with women leading the way in many areas from German wrestling to French smallsword.

There's more lost than just integration in the pursuit of competition and uniformity. By making HEMA about winning medals, most of those interested will never be able to participate meaningfully. As it is now I would and do welcome swordplay with any sane or semi-sane person who has the use of one or more arms. In our groups we've got old men, young guys, women, kids, and others. Some of us are banged up. Last night I was sparring on my ripped up labrum with a compadre who has a badly broken foot. So I'd limp on my left and he'd limp on his right, but we managed some pretty good sequences. All that is lost in competitive sport. In a proper sport the old, infirm, and otherwise physically inadequate are shunted off or excluded altogether. There's a great example of this thinking in a controversial thread from a few years back on the HEMA forum, lecturing people that the image of HEMA needed to be improved by wearing more black, losing weight and making sure the lame geeks aren't admitted.
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Re: Women's Only HEMA Tournaments

Postby Mink » 04 Sep 2015 05:13

Then do tell us how you keep tournaments without them being a sport.

Tournaments end with winners. That's the whole point. People are in there to win. That's what makes them a "challenge and proving ground". Participants will wring every last bit of art and physique to win the day, and physical attributes are an advantage. All the rest flows from here, medals, categories, etc. None of it precludes sparring with a variety of people. Most sport classes (at least in France) include competitors and hobbyists, with different expectations and levels of performance. Hobbyists are sometimes what keep sport federations afloat, I gather.

I'm not fond of competitions myself, I find it hard to find the motivation in them to up my game and end up behaving mostly in the same way as in normal sparring. But I recognize that them being a sport is what pushes many people to strive for the better. Perfecting that sport is no loss for me, as long as reasonable rules and equipment are at play (and they mostly are).

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Re: Women's Only HEMA Tournaments

Postby Cosmoline » 04 Sep 2015 18:14

Here's my idea, FWIW. You have tournaments, but you don't place any stress on winning or losing. So you don't have an official body with official rules about points scoring. You keep it informal, or you don't use judges at all. Each viewer is free to watch the match and decide for him or herself who is fighting better. So the are no official points, no roster of champions and any trophies are taken with the required grain o' salt. More importantly you don't hold HEMA out as a sport with rules or ask for funding of HEMA as a sport with rules. That way the pressure to make it "fair" never really comes into play. I can spar with Axel Pettersson and get destroyed, but because this isn't a competition I haven't so much lost as learned some interesting new things about getting hit with longswords.

I think the problem here is that we have a modern outlook that seems to require official rules, uniform scoring and a level playing field. Not to say judicial duels didn't have rules, but modern sportive rules are fundamentally different. Our appeal isn't to God, but to the United States District Court :lol: And if you've taken federal $$ you must abide by their idea of what is fair. Losing, in the process, the whole point of historical swordplay. Obviously Europe has different laws, but there are similarities. And international sports seem to inevitably spawn governing bodies, rules, contracts and all the pressure to keep everything fair in the modern sense. So I'd never go up against Axel even if he was willing to. If I were allowed in at all it would be in the lame old man league.
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Re: Women's Only HEMA Tournaments

Postby Mink » 04 Sep 2015 20:05

This is already happening at every event, even when there are actual tournaments. People get together and spar without any official recording of victory and most often without judges. I don't do longsword, but I'm pretty sure Axel Petterson spars with people who do not have anywhere near his skill at events and classes.

It is the fact that there are winners and losers that make people fight more "serious" in tournaments, for lack of a better term. This is what makes it interesting.

And of course there are always rules, even when they are implicit. Tournaments are not particularly bad in this regard. If anything making the rules explicit seems a positive, as it spurs many discussion about what we are trying to encourage or discourage.

To sum up your idea has been in place since the beginning of HEMA, it is still alive and kicking, and women and men participate together as far as I've seen. Tournaments have appeared to add something else to the mix, and from what you say it appears that you do not see the value of that something.

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Re: Women's Only HEMA Tournaments

Postby Cosmoline » 04 Sep 2015 22:33

I said *OFFICIAL* rules. Which at this point are rather ad hoc but seem to be becoming more complex and formalized through the pressures of standardization, insurance and in some cases overt government oversight. Once you start listing out ever-lengthening rules, and creating bodies to make these rules uniform, then you start to have what would be considered an official sport. From there, subcategories and divisions of competitors will be inevitable. And what was historic exploration will become a sport. The recent PN tournament, which was the subject of controversy over the transgendered competitor, has a list of rules regarding its tournament:

http://www.pnwhemag.com/tournaments/

You can see the layers of rules that turn a historical exploration into a sport on full display. The contrast between these claims is of note:

Please Note: All of these tournaments are considered to simulate ‘blossfechten’


vs.

No exposed skin.

Appropriate Head protection: Encouraged – Masks with back of the head protection.

Acceptable head protection – Steel helm, with perforated plate, or ‘That guys products’ style masks.

Trachea protection, that protects the throat from a direct thrust.

Heavy padded HEMA jackets (ie SPES), or Padded Gambeson

Hard elbow protection, that covers the 3 points of the elbow.

Hard Knee protection that covers the knee.

Ensifer / AF gauntlets

Groin protection is essential for male fighters.

Breast protection is essential for female fighters.

Shin and forearm protection are not essential but strongly recommended.


So what is supposed to be blossfetchen has become a new kind of modern armored sport fighting. They also have points awarded based on hit locations and other factors, again as a sport would. It's obvious a lot of people want to make longsword in particular a modern sport. But in so doing, they're going to have to accept the red tape, gamesmanship and Balkanization that goes along with modern sports. Divisions for females are par for that course. But only the beginning. Drug testing, weight categories, and ever more restrictive equipment rules will follow.

As far as people being free to fence with each other, in this case the would-be competitor was told she could NOT participate as a woman. So who makes that decision and who gives them authority? It always comes down to some self-appointed cabal of guys who like to decide things for other people. Miniature Sepp Blatters :)

Or you forget about trying to figure out who "won" a match and let the adult individuals decide how much gear they need or want. Maybe leave the mandatory padding rules for those under 18.

It is the fact that there are winners and losers that make people fight more "serious" in tournaments, for lack of a better term. This is what makes it interesting.


Seriously, do you really think people need an official ruling of winners and losers to make something as inherently cool as historical swordplay interesting? Isn't the history interesting? Is it interesting to realize you may be the first person in six or seven hundred years to recreate a lost sequence of a long-dead master? Why do we need this obsessive point tallying?
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Re: Women's Only HEMA Tournaments

Postby Mink » 04 Sep 2015 23:34

Cosmoline wrote:So what is supposed to be blossfetchen has become a new kind of modern armored sport fighting.

Note that the protections do not function as armour because they do not protect you from loosing points/matches. They protect your actual well-being but not your simulated health :)

As far as people being free to fence with each other, in this case the would-be competitor was told she could NOT participate as a woman.

To the tournament, but I haven't heard that she'd been forbidden to fence anyone she damn well please outside the tournament. Again I'm pointing out that what you want to see already happens outside tournaments. I don't really follow the drama around that particular event, and it's quite possible it's been badly dealt with in more ways than I've heard.

Seriously, do you really think people need an official ruling of winners and losers to make something as inherently cool as historical swordplay interesting? Isn't the history interesting? Is it interesting to realize you may be the first person in six or seven hundred years to recreate a lost sequence of a long-dead master? Why do we need this obsessive point tallying?


I used to think like you. Then I've seen, first hand, the difference it makes to some people (perhaps even the majority) when they fence for fun and when they fence for win. Having someone in front of you that is determined to prevent you from achieving whatever it is you want to do is certainly a learning experience, and many people do not do that in normal sparring, or not to the same degree.

I'm saying tournaments are interesting in their own right here, not that all the other aspects you list are not, of course. And unless you agree with that premise, you're not going to see the point in women tournaments.

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Re: Women's Only HEMA Tournaments

Postby Glyn » 05 Sep 2015 09:12

One problem with areas set aside for unstructured free-play is that they tend to be used by people who've already made a social connection. Often I see these spaces being used by people wearing the same group t-shirt (or who obviously know each other well) fighting each other, often for extended periods. This isn't a problem, but at the same time there may be number of outsiders circulating like teenagers at a dance looking for a partner but who aren't included.

Non-competitive - or, at least, non-scored - matches are important, but many people will feel unable to participate if there isn't some sort of loose structure placed around it to ensure that people (who may not even speak the same language) can find an appropriate engagement of some sort with people they don't know. This is particularly important for people turning up for their first event who may not be particularly confident about protocol and could easily end up going home without fighting anyone new - and possibly never coming back.

It's important to remember that events and groups tend to be run by people with some sort of drive. They may enjoy doing it or they may hate it but force themselves to do it anyway. Many ordinary members will lack the drive to make connections with other people without some sort of push. This can be seen by going to a workshop at an open event where many people will naturally pair up with people from their own home group. One answer is that this is their decision and we should let them flounder on their own. Personally I believe we should encourage participation more universally and help people gain the confidence to go and ask a complete stranger to try hit them with a lump of metal.

So, what would I like to see? I'd like there to be curated free-play. You arrive at the free-play area and talk to the organiser. They check a few basics, such as that you are actually registered at the event and have filled out a medical questionnaire, they also check your kit at a basic level, such as that the blade isn't notched like a saw. They then write your name down (in case anything really bad happens to you) and give you a bit of card with a number on it and shuffle a matching card into a stack. Every few minutes they shuffle the stack and call out two numbers, and the matching people get to fence each other for a couple of minutes. A second organiser observes the match, but does not keep score - their role is purely to stop the fencers if the bout strays out of bounds, someone walks into the area, or if things get too uncontrolled. When someone has had enough, they hand their card back in and walk off. No winners, no losers, but you've fought a few people you might never have done before and felt that you have had a safe environment to do so. If appropriate there can be different sessions through the day - different weapons, different contact levels, self declared experience levels, maybe even single sex, and so on.

This doesn't exclude providing an area for people to work things out on their own, but provides an introduction service for people looking to meet someone completely new to try to kill.

In terms of protection, I agree that adults should be able to make their own decision, but this is a shared decision by a group not an individual one. In particular, an organiser may be held responsible for things that they were aware of happening (or should have been aware of), even if they did not encourage them. The people responsible for the location may also be unwilling to provide a location twice if they feel unsafe activities are taking place. In many jurisdictions it is not possible for someone to give up all their rights, and you may still be held responsible for an accident even if the victim consented to the activity (especially if they regret it afterwards).

At an open event where there are people with a mixed experience of using protection or not and varied levels of ability it's particularly difficult. A novice may feel compelled to fit in by not using protection and yet try and perform to a level beyond their current skill, endangering both themselves and others. It is very important that two people fighting without protection are able to make an informed decision about the risk they are taking and the risk they are presenting to their partner. This is very difficult when you have not met your partner before and are proceeding directly to full-speed actions.

We should not get into the habit of fencing as if we are armoured (unless that is what we are practising, of course), but that doesn't exclude the possibility of being protected. At the end of the day, none of us are fighting until the true end of the fight is reached - at least, not more than once.

Glyn.
Glyn
Corporal
 
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