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Grumble, grumble, Order of Defense, grumble
device
jducoeur
So the movement to create a Peerage for fencing has reached the point of a formal proposal, out for comment. Do I send another letter to the Board?

On the one hand, I think there should totally be a path to Peerage for those who have had a major impact through fencing; I think that's true of every activity.

OTOH, I think this is the *worst* way we can possibly deal with that. Rapier *ought* to be recognized through the Chivalry, and I'm still cranky that that doesn't have a snowball's chance in Hades of ever happening -- the armored fighters hold the levers of power, and by and large they won't allow it. Failing that, we ought to reinterpret the Laurel or Pelican to be more accepting, or at the *very* worst, have an Order that is designed to be welcoming of all martial activities. As it is, creating a Fencing-Only Peerage means that we are inevitably going to have to create more and more Peerage Orders in the name of fairness. If we're recognizing Fencing today, we should absolutely have one for Archery, and then, I don't know -- Equestrian? Thrown Weapons? (And God help us when someone points out that excellence in execution and behaviour isn't the sole province of the martial arts.)

From an organizational-design standpoint, it's idiotic and damaging: the rise of Zillions of Specialized Awards is one of the worst blights on the SCA today, and I utterly hate the idea of it spreading to the Peerage. We like to say that our awards aren't just "merit badges", but that is certainly what they're coming to look like, and they get steadily less meaningful as they get sliced-and-diced more finely.

All of which said, we have a cultural problem: we are deeply failing all of the martial communities other than heavy list, and that *does* need to be fixed. IMO, the only thing worse than the current proposal is the status quo, and the proposal on the table may be the only politically feasible way to fix it.

Hence, grumble.

(I hate the name "Order of Defense" as well. Would anyone care to argue that "Order of Chivalry" is a name worth emulating? I've always felt that it was one of the more painfully mundane anachronisms we have. I wish someone would show the imagination and backbone to give this proposed Order a real name...)
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with you SO much on all your points BUT... with things as they are i jsut want this damned thing passed and done and completed. preferably before april.

I hadn't realized this had come up again. I'm sadly out of touch with the SCA these days.

I am so against this idea, but I haven't the time to rant right now. Where's the official info? I may write a letter to the Board, for what it's worth, since I'll probably just piss off any Chiv who read it.

Hmm. Doesn't seem to have been posted to the website yet; it was sent to the Announcements mailing list last night. I suspect it'll show up on www.sca.org soon...

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Saw the proposal through SCAToday. I agree with you that this is the wrong approach, but it seems like there is a strong 'have the cake and eat it too' background here of trying to acknowledge the problem and do something about it without wading into the political mess of broadening the established peerage. The name ('The Order of the Master of Defense') is inane and seems to come across as of lesser worth than the high virtue of chivalry (we're stuck with that name). But it also coins exactly what is happening. The proposal is a defense against suffering the ongoing slings and arrows, er, rather, foils and schlagers leveled.

Oh, and for anyone looking for some backstory to the proposal, see http://eastkingdomgazette.org/2013/09/17/rapier-peerage-proposal-what-is-it/

The name is not the "Order of the Master of Defense." It is, per the proposal, is the "Order of Defence."

Which is a fair bit less of a mouthful.

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First of all, Corpora forbids it - there would have to be a Corpora change that would PERMIT Chivalry to accept rapier (or other) combatants

True, but irrelevant -- *any* solution requires Corpora changes. I suspect the proposal on the table calls for *more* changes than widening the Chivalry would, since the tripartite scheme is assumed fairly broadly. (I was somewhat surprised that the actual proposed changes are as concise as they are.)

The SCA Board is, again, teetering on the precipice of failure. If this were a referendum on their MANAGEMENT of the issue, we'd have a lot more unanimity than we do over the issue.

Honestly, I believe you're incorrect -- indeed, I not only think you're wrong that so many people believe so poorly of the Board over this, *I* don't believe so poorly.

If anything, what we're seeing is the fading echoes of the Crisis. Over the years, that resulted in a new Board consensus that is *far* more cautious than it was in the 90's, much more likely to simply follow public opinion and *vastly* more eager to seek that opinion out. They've gotten to the point where even the most trivial changes to wording in Corpora go out for full public comment periods -- arguably a good thing, but it still startles me sometimes when they send out for comments on a two-word change.

I can ding them for lack of political will to make hard calls that would pay off in the long run; I often wish they had more courage to really lead the Society. But compared to what we were looking at 20 years ago, when the Board and officers bordered on misfeasance at times, they've been quite disciplined and decent. I suspect they're much better respected than you think.

There *is* a lack of courage and foresight, and in the long run that's doing us a lot of damage. I wish that the Board was more than it is. But I recognize how the institution got where it did, and I can't *much* fault the members for not trying hard enough to rock the boat. (Although I do regret the loss of Max von Halstern from the Board -- he seemed to be the one person who was asking hard questions, and I am still horribly curious about exactly what happened to cause him to resign...)

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In no particular order!

- Yeah, in a perfect world the Chivalry would be opened to other combat forms and we would all hold hands and sing. That's really just a nonstarter though, and not letting the perfect be the enemy, etc. Perhaps in a decade when people realize that recognizing other martial arts for excellence in performance of them doesn't cause the sky to melt, the Mod Squad can be rolled into the Chiv, I dunno.

- I legit hear you on the Time Of The Million Billion Peerages.

- I admit to my (understandable, I feel) bias here, but I do think it's the only way to start the fix-it process.

- To be fair, widening the Laurel wouldn't really work for this, given the whole "this is for prowess at sword-tag" thing happening. I know in other Kingdoms, Laurels have been bestowed for excellence in teaching and doing specifically historic technique, but that's not prowess, y'know?

I somewhat disagree on the last point, but that comes down to a philosophical debate about the Laurelate, and the Orders in general.

One of my personal cornerstones about SCA awards is that all of them are given, to one degree or another, for leadership. More specifically, for leading the SCA and its members to be better than we would otherwise be, in some respect. In that light, I don't consider the Chivalry to be given for simple prowess -- I think of it being given more for providing inspiration, expressed *though* that prowess.

The Laurelate is for leadership within an artform: making that art better within the Society. Some folks interpret that quite narrowly, as being all about Research Dammit, but I don't agree, and really *can't* agree, because that isn't why *I* got the freaking award. I got my Laurel for being a great *teacher*, but I was a lousy researcher at the time. (My dance research is still quite weak, although my games research has wound up a bit more substantial.)

So while granted, the definition of the Laurelate *would* have to be widened to a broader interpretation of leadership within an art, I personally wouldn't mind that too much. I've gotten very weary and annoyed at the people who apply such an academic focus to it, and extending it to people who people who lead their art through demonstration of excellence wouldn't be the end of the world. (And I am *very* outspoken in my opinion that martial arts can and totally should be considered "arts".)

Mind, it's not likely to happen: the Laurelate are collectively just as jealous of their territory as the Chivalry, and no more likely to countenance a widening of their remit. So, y'know, grumble...

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Same for Chivalry.

Yep! Which was why I pointed that out, because I think that widening the Laurel to accept people like that is in my mind silly, because that wildly dilutes what the Laurel is about.

I do like the Sports Hero comparison, and I honestly agree with you, but I also think that it just won't happen without a push, and maybe this will end up being the push that starts it. I dunno.

As a Laurel, I would happily see all the people on your list of "don't have a peerage because there is no fencing peerage" inducted into our order rather than start a new one. (Assuming they aren't total dicks, that is.)

I haven't been involved in SCA stuff since college, but I just thought I should say that I'm reading along and find all this stuff fascinating, from a people-watching perspective.

I wonder if the SCA has realized that in HEMA people don't particularly distinguish the rapier-ish world from the non-rapier-ish world? Because, oh, the later sources that teach us tend to include both in an integrated system?

In discussing Laurel candidates, I've often found myself saying "yes, this person is really good at X, but has no apparent interest in historically-informed technique, so (s)he belongs in a different Order." I would say the exact same thing for a combat candidate. I would have no problem welcoming into the Laurel somebody who was really good at a historically-informed combat form.

That said, it would be more difficult to make rattan combat historically-informed than to do the same for fencing or archery, because the hardware is more inaccurate -- sorta like trying to build historically-informed women's clothing on top of a bra, or do historically-informed calligraphy with a ball-point pen.

Tangentially - too many awards is one of the worst blights? That's a strong statement, and I don't get it.

It's a longstanding gripe, and somewhat complex, but the heart of it is that the system is steadily getting harder and harder to *understand*. Plain and simply, the more different awards there are, the less people can keep track of them, and indeed, the less they try. Heck, even I can't remember what all of the East's awards mean any more, and I'm a relatively serious court junkie.

The result is that I've observed a growing trend of people having no clue what any given title means, simply throwing up their hands at the whole thing and ignoring it. Which hurts the Society in a subtle way, because one of the major points of the award system is to say, as a society, "This is what matters to us". It's one of the more concrete ways in which we define ourselves. I observe that to be less and less true over the years, and best I can tell, the single greatest cause is the proliferation of ever-more-specialized awards.

Or putting it more simply: the more finely-defined the awards are, the less each award *means* to the average member, and therefore the less it means to us as a collective.

Personally, I find that sad. I really wish we had the courage and generosity to keep our existing awards wider and more welcoming, rather than putting Do Not Enter signs on them and forcing us to slice-and-dice things so finely. (And I use the word "keep" advisedly -- remember that, once upon a time, the Laurel was for everything except armored combat, and just in my time it has narrowed considerably. The current state is the result of a steady erosion in the definitions of the awards...)

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