Monthly Archives: December 2015

Crapaud #1 and Fighting Titles

saluteUh oh, Santiago is on about titles again. (See: Your title doesn’t mean Jack Part 1, Part 2).

Relax. It’s not that bad. Not at all.

First I want to talk about Crapaud. If you aren’t from The West Kingdom then here is a quick description. Crapaud is a once a month tourney that has been running for a long time now. Last night was actually #237, but for me it was #1 as it was the first time I had fought in it. It’s geared towards being run in a tourney format when there are enough fighters on hand, and it’s meant to build a fellowship between fighters that goes a bit beyond the usual. It’s attractive in the sense that there is no real “prize” at the end other than the honor of having won. No job responsibility and every month there is a chance that there will be a new “Crapaud” (the previous winner is still fighting so can ‘defend’ the title).

Also, there is an acknowledgement that comes not from winning but just from being recognized for being in possession of qualities that make you stand out; honorable on the field, some behavior that catches the eye, some gesture of chivalry, things of this nature. And so someone is given that acknowledgement in the form of the title of “le fleur” – the flower of chivalry.

So, all the pomp and circumstance of a full on Crown or Coronet tourney without the responsibility of ruling. A great training ground for fighters, an opportunity to challenge a number of high level fighters, and receive training and feedback from them.

On to procedure. In a regular tourney you line up all the “belts” on one side and all the “unbelts” on the other. At Crapaud the “belts” line up on one side and the “unbelts” line up on the other but they set a precedence by arranging them first by the rank as a members of the Order of the Ash Leaf (and award based on fighting), then by squiring date, and finally by years fighting.

The procedure for ‘balancing the lines’ is to simply skim the top of the unbelts side for as many fighters as necessary and bring them over. Last night it was necessary to take the top three.

I didn’t know any of this last night when I entered the list. The only thing I knew was to line up by years fighting, and although I’ve been fighting for a long time as a rapier fighter, I’ve only got just under two years as a heavy fighter (and really less than half a dozen tournies under my belt). So based on that I put myself towards the end of the line. Seemed perfectly reasonable to me and I was perfectly happy there.

But here’s where things get complicated and this is where we get in to the whole idea about ‘fighting titles.’ The concept of ‘fighting titles’ bothers me on a certain level, but makes perfect sense on another.

You see, I have an Ash Leaf. Technically at Crapaud last night I should have been at the very head of the line as I outranked the person who was there, and as such I would have been immediately crossed over. But as my Ash Leaf was given to me as a rapier fighter I can certainly understand that where I was in line was probably much more correct.

I absolutely agree and support the idea that ‘fighting is fighting’ in the sense that fighters should treat each other as equals regardless of the forms of fighting they engage in. The heavy and rapier communities have been to separated from each other for to long and that has caused gaps in the way they treat each other. Even as I was gearing up to fight last night one person gave me a bit of an obnoxious comment (entirely unaware of how they sounded) that came from their attitude that one form of fighting is ‘superior’ to another.

But by the same token I am not going to insist that my years of experience as a rapier fighter make me ‘worthy’ of being at the head of that line either. Of course I defer to these fighters because they have the experience in these forms of fighting. If they came to me to learn to fight rapier then I would expect them to defer to me because I have the experience over them in that arena. It’s just practical that way.

However, there is a title issue on the field that I do have some problems with and it’s this – just because I pick up a sword (rattan or rapier), I haven’t stopped being a Baron, or a Laurel, or a Pelican. Having titles doesn’t come with a lot of benefits, mostly just responsibilities. But one of the few benefits is that I have a right to be called by the appropriate term – IF I CHOOSE.

On the rapier field I am a GuildMaster, a somewhat fading title these days but is treated as roughly equal to a Whitescarf but focused on the teaching of rapier more than the prowess of it. (And of course now with the Master of Defense peerage that changes things again as well.)

Most of the time on the heavy fighting field I really don’t care. I get that there is a certain inherent ‘ranking’ on the fighting field and that many of our awards are ‘fighting’ awards. As a person who holds an Ash Leaf my “heavy fighting title” is Lord. I haven’t been called that for 16 years.

The danger here is in letting a certain ‘minimization’ mess with your head while you’re fighting. Fighters talk about ‘the head game’ as a very important part of the fight, which is totally understandable. The amount of work I’ve done to earn my titles is not something I want to have dismissed. Understanding that it isn’t being dismissed simply because it isn’t being used in a specific context is key to that idea.

Nevertheless we do invest so much of our identities in what we have achieved in the SCA that sometimes we can be sensitive to the way things are done even when done so unintentionally. And more to the point, determining where in the line I might fit due to a ranking system that doesn’t treat our respective fighting styles equally is a confusing paradox.

For the moment I intend to return to Crapaud. I had a good time and I liked being in a situation where I could experience the tourney format without being concerned for the potential end responsibilities (even someone like my could have a good day and win). There is a lot to be learned here.

And just to round out everything, I want to say that fighting Sir Myric and Enoch Baily was great. I felt like my fights were good. I learned things. I watched the rest of the fights that evening and I think there was a lot of wonderful things to see and learn from that as well. (And as I am currently on The Mists Guard with a challenge to fight as many new people as I can I get to add Myric and Enoch to my list!)

But I’m going to have to come to a decision about where in that lineup I really deserve to be. I’m proud of my Ash Leaf. I was one of the very first people to get it for rapier. But I don’t know how I feel about putting myself in a position where I could be crossed over merely on precedence when there are far more experienced fighters than I.

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The Self Esteem Battle

So, I haven’t written in a while. There is a reason for that. Haven’t had an ounce of time. I started a new job which entails a fairly long commute (but it’s a good job and I like what I’m doing so you take the good with the bad), and of course the holiday season has been upon us. Like a plague.

However I haven’t forgotten you people out here who read me and I’ve been thinking about what to write lately.

So I recently got back in touch with a friend of mine from many years ago. A wonderful lady who had a strong impact on me growing up. And apparently I had a pretty significant impact on her as well, so fair is fair.

We were talking not to long ago and she mentioned that she felt she had self esteem issues. Hmmm. Well, honestly in today’s society that is not to uncommon a problem. We are continuously inundated with messages about our relative value, attractiveness, intelligence, etc etc etc. Our news media spends more time focusing on the so called “beautiful people” than it does on the real issues of our day. Everywhere we look we are shown how someone else is more popular, more successful, more whatever, and so we mostly have a constant state of inferiority going.

Except for me.

Okay, so that is utter BS of course, but there are times when I am genuinely surprised by how often I am told by other people that I always seem to “have my shit together” as it were.

“You’re so smart.” “You’re so aware.” “You’re always in control of yourself.”

Uh, no.

Okay, I’m a pretty smart guy. But I know tons of people who are just as smart or smarter than I am. I also know a ton of people who are dumb as rocks.

I’m aware because I’m always watching out for the next thing that is going to come along and bite me in the ass. I’m in control of myself because I’m absolutely terrified of looking and being scared. I’m even more terrified of losing control of myself because I know the terrible things in my head and how much I could hurt someone with them if I wasn’t careful.

And I’m scared. All the damn time. Why? What if I’m not good enough? What if I’m not successful, happy, ‘beautiful’, smart enough?

Ever since I can remember I have always been one of those people that has gravitated to the lost soul. Many of my friendships over the years started out as being the person who other people just opened up to, or being the person who saw a lost soul and actually took the time to ask “what’s wrong?”

I really don’t mind being this person. I like to help people. I like to listen to people. It makes me think that in my own small way I am helping to make the world a little better. (At one time I seriously considered going in to psychology and becoming a therapist.)

You know when you have one of those moments where the absolute perfect phrase comes out of your mouth, and it hits you so hard that just roll it around in your head for days? I had that happen. And the thing is, it’s not particularly profound on the surface. It may not even be particularly profound in it’s first few layers. But still I found it interesting enough to want to explore it.

Here it is: Self Esteem is not about who you are, it’s about who you want to be.

This is what got me thinking; I am not satisfied with me right now. I like who I want to be. That’s why I am always working on being a better me. The better me who is my goal is a moving target. Every time I make today’s me better, tomorrows me gets a boost. Tomorrows me raises the bar just a little bit.

It’s about the journey, not the destination.

However most people (myself included) tend to be stuck on who they are right at the moment. It’s a bit of a trap. When we take a blow to our self esteem, it’s a blow to who we are right now, not the person we are trying to be. The person we are right now isn’t good enough, whatever that means. But it’s the shield of who we want to be in the future that can be used to protect us, to support ourselves through the current onslaught.

You have to be able to recognize what is really happening. Is it really an attack on us or just someone else lashing out at us from their own insecurities. If it’s just someone lashing out then that’s their issue and we can shrug it off. If it’s a real issue for us then we need to understand the nature of it.

If it’s a real issue we have to understand that who we are today isn’t a finished product. Who we are today is simply the next step in our evolution. If we take responsibility for ourselves, for our evolution then who we are tomorrow won’t be the same person who took a hit to their self esteem today.

Confession time; I’ve taken a lot of hits to my self esteem recently. This time of year is hard on me for a lot of different reasons. And yes, my life is getting better. Finding a good job is a thing that goes a long way towards helping with that. Spending the coming year on several things for myself that I know make me happy will go a long way towards that as well.

I’ve already begun making plans. Not “resolutions”. Making plans.

Because who I am today is not who I want to be. Who I am tomorrow is going to be better because I am going to make it that way.

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