My point is that a person's dedication to something shouldn't be contingent upon the personal preference of the "elders" or whomever is keeping the gate.
Elleth wrote:Respectfully owl, I think your story makes rather the opposite point: that by following the pull of those more interested in tourneys than the research and application of the martial art, the original community you loved was overwhelmed and destroyed.
I think you’re both right, and there is much that can be said on the space between.
I too have had intermittent involvement in HEMA circles for the past decade and a half, and have seen it change significantly in that time. Some aspects like the sportification of tournaments are (in my opinion) regrettable, if inevitable, while at the same time the amount and quality of information, training resources, and availability of groups and practitioners has expanded greatly. Rules are one aspect that will radically alter the way any game is played. If rules are established it will necessarily restrict what is or isn’t permitted, but this doesn’t keep people from trying to work around them, particularly given rules go hand in hand with competition.
If we look at the development of any of these activities as evolutionary, then they must be responding to pressures, and those pressures often take a competitive form. In martial arts, there is a distinct progression that follows the further one is removed from real-world (read, actual life-or-death combat) application. As Bob Orlando writes in “Martial Arts America,” “In cyclical fashion, self-defense skills and systems of combat move through phases of evolution and devolution. During periods of violence and brutality, they evolve rapidly upward, gaining in sophistication and effectiveness. During times of relative peace and prosperity, they stagnate and slowly devolve downward.” Thus, he argues, when pressured heavily by actual combat, “Fighting Arts” develop, which in times of peace become systematized and idealized as “Martial Arts.” Without continued pressure and testing in combat, they become something else – in the East, often focusing on spiritual and personal development as a “Martial Way,” while in the West, competition and ranking take preeminence as “Martial Sport.”
One could apply this progression to what we attempt to pursue here also. Actually living, traveling, and hunting/fighting in the wild is where “Rangering” is born, but few if any of us ever have or will be so wholly ensconced in that lifestyle in an absolute way. It could certainly be said that for those living in the “developed” world it certainly isn’t even legally possible to pursue such an existence as we mean to represent! Additionally, given that what we base that representation on is a fiction itself, we already play at a mere shadow of that reality. So our pressuring components may differ from battlefield combat alone, but the further one gets from them, the more varying branches develop which functionally speaking have nothing to do with their origin. Middle-earth reenactment, LARPing, and Cosplay each are a piece that represent some of the same things, but simply having different objectives.
Weirdly, especially with anything involving combat and weapons, people tend to conflate possession of tools of violence or a portrayal of a combative character with actual skill in violence itself. Conversely, we live in the most peaceful period in human existence and (fortunately!) for the most part could never comprehend the reality of unrelenting mayhem. Indeed, I have seen even LARPers and Stage-combat practicioners – who should know better – vehemently believe themselves to be expert swordfighters simply because they pretend to be one. More importantly than what one does, then, is understanding for ones-self what it is and is not, and accepting that.
In terms of the forum, and “gatekeeping,” this too is a constant feature in the debate over “formal” vs. “informal” education or training. There are benefits to laying out an established groundwork with which to orient beginners and keep from repeating past mistakes, but this must be balanced with the understanding that it’s not the only way to do things, or necessarily even the best way. Having a system that everyone must go through generates a shared experience and some view this as a strength, while others as stifling. It can be both, or neither.
Taurinor wrote:Geez, this is complicated :\
It is, which is why it's so great to see it being discussed!