8 Steps for Intervening in a Bout
Intervening in a bout when the participants have not requested assistance is one of the stickiest situations a marshal can find themselves in. On the one hand, we want the fighters to be the first, best arbiters of the bout. On the other, we are charged with enforcing the Rues of the Lists and Conventions of Combat—to include calibration of blows and cannot in good conscience stand by when there is a concern that the blows are being missed by combatants. What follows is the preferred method for unrequested intervention.
1. Call Hold, preferably as soon as there is a natural break in the action. Wait a second to see if the "break" occurred because one of the combatants is waiting to see if his opponent will register the blow. This may be all it takes to start the dialogue. If not, call the Hold and advance when it is safe to do so.
2. Ask the question in a non-confrontational way and not directed to any combatant in particular. "Gentles, is there anything you need to say?" Pause to see if the dialogue starts.
3. If no one speaks up, address the combatant who threw the blow in question. Ask them if they thought the blow was good. Pantomime the blow while asking, using the recipient as a model. This identifies which blow you mean and it might serve to jog the memory of the recipient. If the combatant who threw the blow indicates that the blow was not good this should pretty much be the end of it. *Only in the most extreme of circumstances should a marshal pursue the matter past this point.* Resume the bout with a brief apology for interrupting the action.
4. If the combatant who threw the blow indicates that they thought the blow was good, direct your question to the recipient. Avoid sounding accusatory but repeat the comments from the combatant who threw the blow. Encourage the combatants to talk to each other.
5. If the receiver indicates that they did not feel the blow was good, do a quick inspection of the armor in the area of impact to see if there is a physical explanation. If you find something, point out the problem and offer to give them a reasonable amount of time to correct it. Ask the recipient if, given what you have found, if they’d like to reconsider accepting the blow.
6. If nothing is found to explain the discrepancies or the recipient is unwilling to accept the blow, the marshals must make a decision. The marshals present in the lists should quickly confer.
7. The senior marshal will then approach the fighters and offer a brief summary of what has happened to that point, ending with the consensus opinion of the marshals. Pause and let the fighters consider some more and try to come to a resolution.
8. If none is forthcoming, the senior marshal must make a quick decision based on their own observations of the blow, the subtleties of interaction between the combatants, and the consensus of the marshals. If the senior marshal feels there is sufficient cause, then they should inform the recipient that the blow is to be counted as good. If not, let the bout continue.
There are several "themes" running through this process that marshals should keep in mind to act as a guide in this situation. First, the marshals should make every effort to let the fighters resolve the bout themselves and encourage the dialogue. Second, the marshals should stay professional, courteous, and impartial. Third, the process should not be lengthy or drawn out. None of these steps takes more than a few seconds.
Last, while the marshals have the authority to arbitrate blows it should be an *absolute* last resort.
Whatever the outcome, the senior marshal should make a brief announcement to the populace explaining the reason for the interruption in manner that is most complimentary to the honor and prowess of both combatants, even if the marshals had to decide the outcome.