Nearly everyone in the Lower Mainland fencing community fights similarly. In fact most of Tir Righ fights similarly. It’s often refered to as Tir Righ Standard. It’s effective, it’s safe, it’s defended, and it’s worked well for a lot of fighters. This is how we teach new fighters. It’s how we retrain fighters who are doing poorly. This style is ingrained in us. At Investiture the other week Master Guido was commenting to another fighter, one of the very few who fight differently, that as most of the people fight the same here you can use the same techniques to defeat almost all of them. And he’s right. Everyone is used to fighting same style vs. same style. We’re becoming a little stagnate in our style. We found one that generally works for most people, and are sticking to it. And it is a good general style. It melds clasical and period fencing, and allows for variation and experimentation within a construct. But if you face 1/2 of the fencers in Tir Righ you have a general concept of what they are going to do and how they are going to fight.
And it’s so ingrained that when I was trying out something a little different I had someone adjust my entire style about a 1/2 hour before a tournament… I did very poorly in that tournament. Immediately before a tournament is not the time to make sweeping changes. But the bigger issue is that other styles of fencing are not seen as “different” but “wrong”. What really got me thinking was this post: http://classicalfencing.blogspot.com/2011/03/gorilla-tactics.html at a clasical fencing blog I read. It brought up the idea that maybe we need to examine why we do what we do.
Then there’s Oak. When he started fencing instead of doing heavy a few years ago he had a very unique style. And Tir Righ Standard just didn’t work for him. Instead he fights in a very brawly style. It’s aggressive, dominating, and after a few years of working on it, effective. He made it to the quarter finals at Investiture I believe. I wonder how much of that is from people simply not able to handle a different style of fencing. We can’t be the best fencers in the SCA if we all fence the same way, because then we will be beaten by those who fence differently, as we won’t be prepared to face that.
This has combined with my wondering why we don’t use the preferred guard in England, the low ward (see my previous post). I’m sure I’ll be told that it’s wrong or not effective or something similar, but if we don’t try out new things how can we learn? I think this has increased my desire to use the low ward, not just in a few brief practice situations, but give it a good workout. See where its effectiveness is, and where it lacks. In baking I took what people assumed to be a mistake and tried it out, and it worked perfectly. Maybe we make too many assumptions about history, especially those of us who are supposed to be trying to recreate it.