Wednesday, 17 July 2013

On Why I Fence

The subject of why people do the various things in the SCA that they do comes up now and then, and the particular one lately that I have seen is "why do we fence?" It's an interesting question, and I've been thinking about it, and as best as I can tell, here are my reasons.

The only sports I've ever enjoyed participating in have been martial arts (the question of whether martial arts are sports or not is a complicated one which I won't answer right now). I started in Taekwon-Do, where I spent five years in a non-tourney based school. I was feeling rather dissatisfied with the school's politics when I joined the SCA, and after one fencing lesson, I found myself not bothering to go back to Taekwon-Do training, and haven't since.

I enjoy the confidence building and sense of individual achievement that comes with participating in some form of martial arts. As a physical activity in general, my personal fitness has also improved, along with co-ordination and concentration.

There is some attraction in the grading system present in many martial arts, including the belt ranking hierarchy of Taekwon-Do or the Guild of Defence ranks of fencing, though it wasn't a conscious part of my decision to participate in either activity.

Why fencing, instead of heavy combat? Partially, it's based on my period of interest, which is mainly the 16th century, when the combat of war was becoming pike and musket, and gentlemen with rapiers roamed the taverns and alleys. Partially, it's the lack of armour and increased mobility. After five years bouncing around a Taekwon-Do hall in pyjamas, clanking about in plate wasn't as appealing. Partially, I must admit some influence from swashbuckling movies and the like. I had also previously planned to take up modern fencing (before joining the SCA), but never got around to it.

Initially, I had planned to do both heavy combat and rapier equally. But, when the expense of starting two different combat forms at once loomed over me, and I had to pick between them for which to start first, the deicision basically boiled down to which one I had more fun doing. In the days before the formal beginner's course for heavy combat, I was already approaching full speed fencing combat, and there was... some basic pell work in heavy combat. I chose the one that let me fight sooner.

Eventually, I plan to take up heavy fighting, but gear is expensive, and it's a big time commitment, so energy has been hard to come by.

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