Why I sword in the SCA

Originally posted 2016 03 23

I use sword as a verb, quite improperly I might add, on a regular basis for when I am discussing my training regiment, or going to a training session to sword fight with my local group, or going to an Society for Creative Anachronism event to sword fight either with rapier combat or cut and thrust combat. It is a bad habit but it is one that is well understood throughout the local groups I play with frequently.

But it does not describe why I do it. And to be fair, until my mother asked me one day where she saw a photo of me exhausted, barely being able to move from the listfield, I had never thought of the why. I fought with swords or sword-simulators because that’s what I enjoyed doing. It was my very favorite thing. However, after I’ve put some thought into it, and following the mentality of Guy Windsor, especially as he put forth in his latest book that I reviewed here, that the sword is a very aspiring thing. So with that in mind, here are the five major reasons why I sword fight:

  1. It has given me a drive to care about fitness. I’m a big guy for my height. I’ve struggled with my weight for as long as I can remember. But I enjoy fencing, and it’s a hobby that I would like to be good at, or at least a lot less mediocre, so I have tried to pour myself into fitness. This has also given me a newer lease on life, because I both setting good examples for my son, and doing what I can to ensure I’ll still be alive when he gets older. Body mass, balance, core strength, and cardio have all become things that I truly care about, because it will help make my fencing more worthwhile.
  2. It fulfills the primal need for violence, but in a controlled environment. In the modern age, people are not supposed to be violent towards each other in day to day activities. Yet, combat arts are very popular across the country, with people actively training in traditional eastern martial arts and in mixed martial arts. There is no greater feeling that engaging in a fight, and then walking away friendlier and bonded closer to the person who you were just fighting.
  3. It’s keeping a tradition alive. Eastern Martial Arts are on the whole alive and well with possibly even millions of practitioners across the globe. Western martial arts went out of style over the years since the invention of the pistol. Sword fighting in the European tradition is helping to reinvigorate and keep the tradition going so that it can be handed down to the next generation after us.
  4. It inspires confidence. Sword fighting can build a lot of confidence. Watching someone struggle to get ‘it’ and then finally understanding ‘it’ is one of the happiest moments when I’m teaching a fencer with less experience than me. I look forwards to training to see that happen with the guys who come to our training. Especially since I’ve stopped making it “meet and beat” for the most part and have attempted to work it as like 65% training and 35% play in the 90 minutes we have.
  5. It’s fun (which is worthwhile to mental health). At the base level, it’s fun for me to pick up my mask and my sword and go out and fight with swords. It’s like I get to have never grown out of pretend, only now pretend takes more training to be good at it. I enjoy the wearing of clothing from the medieval period, while fighting with techniques they use.

These reasons make it worthwhile for me to fight with swords in the Society for Creative Anachronism. Obviously we all have our own reasons for doing things. I would be interested in hearing yours in the comments.

Until Friday,

Daffyd

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