Originally published on June 30, 2020.
SCA Fighting is the physical manifestation of the concepts of chivalry and honor, perceived through the filter of children’s logic. I don’t mean that as a diminishment. Children see the purity of things in a way adults don’t, because (many) children lack cynicism.
There was a series of books that I’m trying to remember what they were called. A bunch of kids are living in an old house, and they find… lead figgers? Chess pieces? That come to life, and they tell sort of wacky versions of Ivanhoe and Robin Hood and the Revolutionary War and other stuff all mashed together. Much of it makes no sense, and it’s all wonderful, and that’s what the SCA fighting is. (note: the series is Knights Castle, by Edward Eager.)
The SCA as a not-for-profit corporation might survive if heavy fighting and the Order of Chivalry “went away.” But I think that the SCA as the group of people who get together at a dozen or more events every weekend (before the dark times… before the COVID) and chatter on the phone and social media all the rest of the time would not. Rattan combat is part of the SCA’s DNA in a way that almost nothing else is.
It took me a long time to figure out how to be an armored combatant in the SCA. It’s more than just buckling on plastic or metal bits to your body and dealing with the ache of a heavy helmet, and bruises. At its best, there’s a fellowship to it, a camaraderie that binds people together.
Fellowship and camaraderie exist in other parts of the SCA. Just different fellowship and camaradaerie.
To me, it is the best of the Peerage who embody the fullness of what the SCA has to offer. People like Hiram and Nikolai, Lanea and Ynes, Brennan and William, Hillary and Eleanor, Ragnvaldr and Jaime, Maggie and Elianor, Seto and Sigenandus, Gwyneth and Isolde, among many others who, be they quiet or outspoken, tanks or acrobats, represent the complete package.
Secure in their Franchise, always looking to do better, taking responsibility and accountability for their mistakes, and demonstrating their way to walk the Path, these folks are the Exemplars that, when I bring a new person into the SCA, I point and say “see that person over there? Be like them.”
We talk a lot in the SCA about what’s broken. I’m not going to stop working to address the problems — and problem children — that face the organization, but it’s also important to recognize the good stuff too.