Proposed Marshaling Standards For Crown Tournament
by William of Fairhaven, Middle Kingdom Earl Marshal KSCA OP
September 1996 Revision 4
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Intended Audience: This document is designed for use by the Crown of the Middle Kingdom, all members of the Chivalry of the Middle Kingdom (especially those marshaling in Crown Tournament), and all Crown Tournament competitors. It is not a private document and my be distributed to anyone interested in reading it pending approval of the current Crown. This is a lengthy document and although it was not written with the intent of discussing general fighting problems in the Middle Kingdom there is some overlap in that area.
Please direct all comments to:
Myles Blackheath, KSCA
Middle Kingdom Earl Marshal
7601 Weatherly Court
West Chester, OH 45069
Note to all readers: Some of these rules may seem harsh in comparison to how Crown Tournament has been run in the past. However, I think we can all safely acknowledge the fact that there have been some problems which seem to recur frequently in Crown. My premise on creating these marshaling guidelines is based on the idea that ninety-eight times out of a hundred, any problems viewed by the marshals are unintentional and once the fighter has been made aware of an oversight, he/she will wish to correct it instantly. The fighters in this category are not the problem with Crown Tournament. These rules are more specifically designed to allow the marshals to cope with the two in a hundred fighters who, for whatever reason, is having a really bad day and will not or cannot be made to see his/her own problems. These guidelines give the marshals some teeth in dealing with combatants who are having real problems in the list. These measures will certainly not be popular the first few times they are enforced. However, once everyone realizes the rules will be enforced, I feel Crown will grow into the sort of tourney worthy of its name.
Crown Tournament. No other tournament evokes such strong emotion in both fighter and spectators alike. Skill, competition, and pageantry are all foremost in a tournament whose victor will be named as Tanist of our kingdom and who will, in time, sit upon the Dragon Throne as King. This tournament should be the showpiece of each reign wherein honor, chivalry and courtesy are displayed in all actions. However, too often, Crown Tournament has been the field for some of the worst displays seen in any of the lists of our kingdom. And, while we know the competitors to be honorable and chivalrous, too often adrenaline and desire have overridden courtesy and judgment leaving the competitors themselves, the marshals, the Crown, and the tournament in a somewhat less than complimentary light. The problems we (as marshals) have all seen in the lists must be addressed if this fine tournament can ever hope to live up to the ideals that have been set for it.
As marshals, we have undertaken a trust, and often, pressures of a political or personal nature can affect our judgment in a Crown Tournament. We all strive to do our best, but we are often hamstrung by our own wishes not to call the honor of another into question. In some cases, this has been exploited, and fights that should have been stopped have continued to a very unsatisfactory conclusion where one or the other of the competitors is unsatisfied. Furthermore, in some fights, the spectators have shown a great dissatisfaction over what they thought should have been the outcome of a given fight. As marshals, we all know how difficult it is to judge blows thrown by another person. However, by the time we have earned our warrants, and in many cases become members of the chivalry, I believe most of us have a pretty good idea of what blows thrown are good and what blows are not. Years of training, participation in, and observation of hundreds or even thousands of fights have given us a unique knowledge of our sport. This knowledge exceeds that of fighters who are not marshals as it is born not just of participation, but of observation of many fights, forms, techniques, and styles of armour protection. We cannot continue to stand idle in a list where two fighters are bashing each other half to death and neither of them will say that he/she has landed a solid blow when it is obvious that one or both of them are dead. This concept is the basis for the following rules to be used in all Crown Tournaments during my tenure as Earl Marshal and with the consent of the Crown:
Who will be allowed to marshal Crown Tournament?
There is no privilege in marshaling Crown Tournament. All marshals must be acceptable to the Crown and the Earl Marshal. To this end, if you wish to be considered for marshal's duty in Crown Tournament, you must contact me verbally, in writing, or by email not less than two weeks before the tournament. I will let you know if you will be needed. If you offer to marshal, and your offer is accepted, you must show up. THERE WILL BE NO WALK ON MARSHALING IN CROWN TOURNAMENT. PERIOD. Regardless of your status as Royal Peer, Member of the Chivalry, or just All-Around-Swell-Guy, you will not be allowed to walk in and marshal at Crown. Do not show up at Crown assuming you will be allowed to marshal. If you have not spoken with me, you will not be marshaling. As an additional point, no competitor may marshal after he/she has been eliminated.
What is the marshaling structure for Crown List?
Assuming there are two lists, each list will have five marshals. Each list will be run by a Royal Peer (preferably a Duke) who is an experienced marshal up on all current standards and rules. There will be four marshals in the list at all times. The extra marshal is there to give each of the marshals in the list a break when they need it and to step in when one of the marshals must step out due to a conflict of interest. The Earl Marshal will be standing between the lists and watching some fights from either list. If I perceive there is a problem I will step in, but in all other cases, the Royal Peer in charge of the list will be running the show.
[Amendment (September 1997 Revision): Due to the overwhelming and enthusiastic response from the Chivalry, I will be trying to work more marshals into the tournament. I envision a rotation that will allow more marshals to participate in the earlier rounds. This number will then reduce to a smaller and smaller group as we get further and further into the tournament. I will be keeping all interested parties informed as things progress.]
What is a 'conflict of interest' in Crown Tournament?
No marshal may participate in a fight where one of the combatants is his/her squire/apprentice/protégé, member of his/her household, an extremely close personal acquaintance, or someone they have specifically spent time training for competition in Crown Tournament. In addition, no marshal may marshal any fight when he/she has a strong dislike or known personal problem with one of the combatants. Most of the personal problems between fighter are fairly well publicized or at least known to the chivalry. Marshals are on their honor to step out of fights where they may have a personal conflict with a combatant that might cloud their judgment. If a marshal with a known conflict of this type does not step out of the list and any of the other marshalate staff know one exists, that marshal will be asked to leave the list for the duration of the fight. I am not making this rule due to a lack of trust with the marshals. Anytime this sort of conflict of interest occurs, the possible perception of impropriety, favoritism, etc. seems to rear its ugly head. We will cut the head off the serpent before it shows itself by not allowing this situation to occur. There will be enough marshals at all times, so just step out if you have to and take a break. Once the fight is over you can step right back into the list and continue marshaling.
How will armour inspections be conducted?
If possible, the Earl Marshal will work with local marshals to have inspections the night before the tourney. This helps to reduce the things that need to get done day-of and speeds the tournament along. All inspecting marshals will be assigned. Once again, you may not inspect armour or weapons, etc. unless you have spoken with me in advance. The Earl Marshal will be using unique stickers or stamps for the inspection of armour and weapons in Crown. Currently we do not have any way of verifying that a weapon has been inspected prior to its entry into the list other than the honor of the user. We will not impugn the honor of the combatants, but everyone is human, and sometimes someone grabs a sword or mace that wasn't inspected. Ninety-nine times out of a hundred, there's no problem. But if one problem occurs we (the marshals) are as guilty as the fighter using the unapproved weapon for not making sure it was inspected. The stickers or stamps will be issued by the Earl Marshal to approved inspecting marshals. All weapons and armour including shields will be stickered (a sticker on the helmet or gorget will be sufficient for the full armour). Marshals will make sure that all items brought or worn into the list have this sticker before the fight begins. Also, this will help in situations where a fighter needs to borrow a weapon: if it's already been stickered, anyone can use it. All separate components will be stickered, but the suit of armour worn by the combatant shall count as one unit (shields will be stickered separately). The sticker must be visible, but does not need to be on the helmet. Many fighters (myself included) hate having little stickers on their shiny helmets. Make sure the sticker is in a place where it can be seen, so the cursory inspection before fighting is quick, or make sure it is in a place where the marshal can quickly find it once the fighter tells him/her where it is at. Shields can be stickered on the inside, and weapons will be stickered near the hilt for swords and towards the butt end for pole weapons.
How can I get thrown out of the list?
In Crown Tournament, certain rules and procedures will be enforced to the maximum extent of the law. This will make it much easier to get thrown out of the list and forfeit the fight or potentially forfeit your position in the tournament. Most of these rules have only been broken in rare circumstances, but once or twice in a tournament can cast a shadow over the entire proceedings in the eyes of the populace and that must not be allowed to occur. These rules are based on safety, courtesy, and common sense. Anyone who has been accepted as a competitor in Crown Tournament should have no problems obeying them. There are three major ways you can be removed from the list.
1. Entering the list under false pretenses: This covers attempting to use an unapproved weapon or changing your armour after it has been inspected. Breaking any of the rules of this list which a fighter claims he/she is familiar with is grounds for an instant forfeit of the fight and a trip to the Marshal's Quarter Court (to be held immediately following the tournament). I do realize that anyone can make a mistake. If, for some reason, a combatant enters the list with a weapon that has not been inspected, armour that has not been inspected, etc. the first thing the marshal who notices the problem should do is to question the fighter as to why his/her equipment/armour/etc. has not been inspected. If the fighter has a reasonable explanation ("Oops. Sorry. Grabbed the wrong sword. Let me get the right one.) correct the problem and then allow the bout to commence. I strongly encourage all fighters to get all weapons they might conceivably use under any circumstance inspected. This will make things run more smoothly and help to keep breaks in the fighting due to unforeseen weapon changes to a minimum. To help enforce this rule, all fighters will receive a cursory inspection prior to each fight to make sure they have the appropriate stickers. A fighter may not bring a weapon into the list and then ask for a quick inspection to ge the weapon in use for that fight. Inspecting marshals will be available throughout the day at the lists if a new weapon needs to be inspected for some reason. Marshals standing in the lists MAY NOT inspect and stamp a weapon or piece of armour during the tournament. That is the job of the inspecting marshals and they will be around the lists at all times.
2. Unchivalrous or discourteous behavior in the lists: This includes throwing a tantrum in the lists, rude behavior towards the marshals, the Crown or your opponent, and foul or profane language. While these offenses may vary in severity (which will basically determine whether or not you have to go to the Quarter Court), they will cause you to automatically forfeit the fight. We will make allowances for an individual using overly colorful language as a direct result of a low shot, exceptionally hard shot to an unarmoured area, etc. However, the fighter had best recover his composure immediately or he/she will be subject to this rule. Keeping cool and controlled is one of the basic tenets of armoured combat. If a combatant shows a lack of simple self-control, he/she will be asked to leave the list.
3. Failure to accept fair blows: This is the most tenuous of all conditions, but I believe we have the skill and knowledge to call fairly when the situation has gotten out of hand. The marshals will not wait for the striking fighter to say the blow is good. A majority of three of the four marshals in a list is good enough to call a fighter dead. This is not something I want to see happening often, but we have too often run into a situation where one fighter has blistered another repeatedly with hard solid blows, but refuses to say he/she successfully struck his opponent so as not to impugn his/her opponents honor. This has lead to many bad fights that ended with damaged reputations, damaged feelings, and occasionally damaged bodies. This will not be tolerated. A majority of marshals will be good enough to stop a fight. Fair blows are defined in detail later in this document.
How do I settle a grievance?
If you have a grievance with a call by the marshals, you have two options: (1) Appeal the decision through the Marshals Chain of Command; In this case your first line of appeals is to the Earl Marshal; If you do not get satisfaction there you may appeal to the Crown; There is no higher appeal available to you at the tournament than the Crown and their decision shall be final in all matters of appeal, (2) Take your grievance to the Marshal's Court directly following the tournament. Each of the methods has a purpose of resolution. Appealing Marshal's Chain of Command is an immediate attempt to overturn the decision of the marshals in the list. The list will be maintained until the grievance is settled. If the Earl Marshal or the Crown sees fit to overturn the decision of the marshals, the fight can be resumed. There is no higher appeal than the Crown, so if they decide against you the bout in concluded. If your grievance is more procedural or more involved with the methods being used, please bring it before the Marshal's Court following the tournament. The Earl Marshal and his staff are not inflexible, and we would welcome commentary and constructive criticisms of how these new procedures will be implemented. Anyone can come to Marshal's Court, but it is usually attended only by marshals, fighters with grievances, or fighters called to court for the discussion of disciplinary matters. There are no other methods of appeal in Crown Tournament, and I personally recommend keeping a cool head if you plan to use any method of appeal. Poor behavior and righteous indignation are not likely to get you very far if you wish to appeal a decision in the tournament.
Definitions and Procedures:
A fair blow is defined as a blow that appears to hit the target in a crisp and unimpeded manner with what appears to be sufficient force. Each marshal must judge whether or not he/she thinks the blow was landed with sufficient force, but the signs are usually obvious. Some signs of a potentially good blow: the opponent struck yelps or grunts loudly from the force of the blow (the famous words of "Ow! Light!" often indicate some sort of calibration problem), the area struck can be seen to physically move from the force of the blow (this is especially true with helmets), an extremely loud sound accompanies the strike (while this is not always a fair indication, coupled with other observations it can provide valuable information on whether a blow was potentially good or not). As a regular practice in tournament, I usually give anybody one blow unless it is really flagrant. This is both a good and bad practice. For novice fighters who are often still learning, it can often take a second or two for them to figure out what was good or not good. Sometimes a newer fighter will die from a delayed reaction and stopping a fight too quickly takes that away from them. On the other hand, a really good fighter only needs to miss a single blow and he/she will usually win the fight. Too often, this occurs between unbelted and belted fighters in Crown. Now, I'm not accusing anyone of anything. I'm just saying that when a competitor has a good chance of winning, the adrenaline levels tend to rise as he/she gets more and more into the fight. Sometimes, a lower skill fighter gets a lucky shot and it goes uncalled even when the fighter obviously thinks its good and shows it by body position, etc. Too often, marshals will not stop a fight to discuss what is going on even though its pretty obvious something has happened. Problems of this nature tend to escalate as the skill level of the competitors escalates. And, as it seems to me in the past, the marshals seem even more reluctant to stop fights between members of the Chivalry until things have gotten way out of hand. Getting back to the original point, if a blow lands clean and apparently hard, I would like to see the fight stopped so we can find out why the blow wasn't registered.
[Authors Note: When I first put these procedures together, I received quite a bit of negative comment from outside of the Middle Kingdom on how terrible it would be for marshals to 'call' a fight. I heard this referred to as 'determinate' marshalling (I.E., judging of fights). First, this is just not the case. These procedures set up a very specific instance in which the marshals, after reasonable consultation, may call a blow that they feel should be accepted by a fighter. In reading the above information, it should be quite obvious that a number of factors must be present before a marshal can call someone down. This is a twofold safeguard. It provides for situations where a majority of marshals watching the fight agree on what has transpired. Given the individualistic nature of the upper strata of fighters in our kingdom, if any three of them can agree on something like this, I'm inclined to go with it. It also protects the fighters from over zealous marshaling by forcing marshals to confirm situations with each other.
I have seen the "well I'm not in the armour..." defense used to often by marshals while some fighters head is sailing up into the cheap seats and everyone is looking around wondering if the blow was good or not. This situation is ridiculous, but yet it contintues to occur with reasonable frequency. My rationale for allowing marshals to call blows in a limited situations is based on two factors of fighting experience. As a premise, assume all of the marshals in Crown Tournament are the best marshals who could be found in the kingdom. This means their experience as MARSHALS is as high as reasonably possible. We can further assume that these marshals have a reasonable degree of fighting experience (at least 5 years). Ability to judge blows is based on two experience factors in my estimation: bouts participated in, and bouts watched. If the average marshal in a Crown Tournament has been authorized for 5 years and has been a marshal for 4 of those years I calculate the numbers to be something like the following:
Average fighter practices 1 time per week for roughly two hours 50 weeks out of the year
At an average 2 hour practice the fighter participates in roughly 15 sparring bouts each lasting 3 minutes
In each 3 minute sparing bout, the fighter through approximately 30 blows and defends against the same
30 blows per bout x 15 bouts x 50 weeks = 22,500 blows thrown and defended against per year
In five years, from practice alone, this very average and conservative fighter will have thrown and defended against 112,500 blows. Increase this number by 15% (includes tournaments and the occassional extra practice) the number rises to approximately 130,00 blows in a five year career. I would feel safe saying he/she knows something about the cause and effects of sword blows in our sport.
Then you can probably figure this fighter has watched as many or more fights than he/she has participated in espcially since he/she is a marshal. Tack on a couple of tours of duty marshalling at Pennsic and I think we have one average experience fighter/marshal. Now, if this is the average, what about the more common type of marshal who participates in Crown: A Duke or other Royal peer.
One of the Dukes who regularly marshals in our kingdom has been fighting for 19 years. He fights substantially more than the average fighter. I would estimate he practices for two hours, but gets more like 25 bouts and throws more like 40 blows per bout. In addition, he attends at least two tournaments per month and doubles up on practices in the summer. He spends extra time fighitng, fighting, fighting. If he fights 40% more than the average shown above, that would be approximately 31,500 blows per year for 19 years equals approximately 600,000 blows in his career. You could probably use His Grace as expert witness testimony on fighting in most US courts.
If you think these numbers are large, consider the fact that my math is extremely conservative. Given the amount I have seen many Royal peers and members of the chivalry practice (especially when getting ready for crown tournament), I have no problem believing that some royal peers of long standing might have thrown one million sword blows in a twenty year career. If this gentle is not qualified to say something about a sword blow, then we might as well get the marshals out of the list entirely and let the tournament run by attrition. But we're not going to do that. SCA fighting is a sport. It has rules. For those who do not like the rules - go somewhere else. SCA combat is based on courtesy, chivalry, and fairness. If we cannot create a fair environment for all competitors, then our sport and our ideals are a sham. The marshals I choose to work crown tournament have so much combined experience that when they are in agreement I believe the fighter to be in error. Their diverse backgrounds and personalities rule out their 'joining forces' to eliminate unwanted competitors. That only leaves one logical conclusion: They are judging those blows they must judge with all of their experience and insight. And, I believe, that much combined experience is seldom wrong. I'm sure there will be situations where the marshal are in error, but I think they will be few and far between. The important thing is that the rules and procedures are applied equally and fairly to all competitors in all tournament situations. That means you take the .5% wrong with the 99.5% right and live to fight another day. Crown Tournament is not going anywhere. It will be here for years to come. Winning at the expense of honor (even unintentionally) is something we can all do without.]
As a procedure, I envision the list being conducted in as follows:
A fight between Lord Smith and Sir Johnson is about to take place. The fighters have entered the list area and are waiting for the herald to announce the fight. Two of the four marshals in the list use this time to give each fighters a quick check for the appropriate stickers/stamps to make sure their equipment has been inspected. Finding no problems with the equipment, the herald reads the litany and then gives the list over to the marshal in charge of that specific list. The marshal instructs the fighters to guard themselves and the fight begins. As the fight progresses, it becomes obvious that Sir Johnson is fatigued and he fails to call a clear unimpeded blow that seems to land with sufficient force to his leg. From the perspective of at least one of the marshals, there seemed to be no reason Sir Johnson should have failed to call the blow. The marshal viewing the problems calls a hold. The marshals step in and ask Lord Smith if he thought something landed. Lord Smith questions the leg blow that he just threw. The marshals make a quick check for majority. If one exists the head marshal of the list will go to Sir Johnson and question him politely about the miss-called blow. Once the question is put to Sir Johnson one of two things will happen: (1) Sir Johnson will agree with the marshal, (2) He will not agree with the marshals. If Sir Johnson agrees with the marshals the fight may be continued with Sir Johnson dropping to the ground and the marshals continuing the fight. If Sir Johnson does not agree with the marshals judgment, he must offer some reasonable explanation for why he is not taking the blow. In most cases, the marshals (from their various vantages) have more information on what happened with the blow (I.E., Sir Johnson says, "I thought I caught some of the blow on my shield." Marshal A, "It did not appear the blow touched your shield in any way, sir.", Marshal B, "It looked clean from my angle.", Marshal C, "I did not have a clear view of the blow.", Marshal D, "It appeared you did not get your shield there before you were hit."). The fighter whose judgment is being called into question shall be given an opportunity to express what he thought happened, but I do not want it to turn into a long drawn out discussion whereby the fighter being questioned is going on and on in order to overturn the marshals majority when the blow appeared good from their perspective. If the fighter cannot offer a reasonable explanation for why he should not take the blow, the marshal in charge of the list will politely ask him to take the blow. If the fighter refuses, the marshal may ask a second time. If the fighter still refuses, then he/she will be instructed to take the blow or leave the list and forfeit the fight. The fighter may appeal to the Earl Marshal (if the EM was not marshalling the bout). If the Earl Marhal supports the decision of the list marshals (an extremely likely occurrence), the combatant may appeal to the Crown. If the blow in question was not lethal, the fight can continue. If the blow in question was lethal or the fighter forfeits the fight, the fight is over and the victor is announced. If the blow was not lethal (a leg or arm shot), the limb is lost and the fight continues.
I realize this is an idealized situation, and is how things should go in most cases. For this method to occur, the fighter striking the blow must say the blow was good, not good, or unknown. Reality Check. Several problems with the above procedure can and do occur quite frequently.
(1) Lord Smith is concerned about calling the honor of his opponent into question. This is especially true if the fighter whose judgment is being questioned is a member of the Chivalry. Many fighters will suffer the loss of a fight rather than say anything about a member of the chivalry no matter how flagrant the offense. This includes other members of the chivalry. We will not wait for the fighter striking the blow to tell us with absolute certainty he thought the blow was good. Unless he says with absolute certainty the blow is NOT good, then the above procedure will be carried out to its logical conclusion.
(2) Lord Smith will not call the honor of any combatant in to question under any circumstance. This is basically the same as #1. What I do not want to see is the marshal standing around while two fighters say "Up to you." "No its up to you my lord." "Oh no, its up to your honor, good sir." "Nay, you must make that decision as honor dictates," blah blah blah etc. This does not solve the problem and puts it right back in the hands of the fighters from where the problem originated. Do not let the fighters go on and on about the virtues of honor, etc. If there is a majority, make the call.
(3) Due to inexperience, Lord Smith really can't tell what was good or not. In this case, it's up to the marshals to make the right call if all other factors indicate a clear course of action.
I do not want to see long drawn out discussions in the list. If a marshal or marshals have stopped a fight it is because they already perceive there to be a problem. They will talk among themselves and then check with the fighters in order to facilitate a good decision. There is no need for lots of long discussion on what is going on. Keep it simple and stick to the facts of the specific event. A short discussion is always in order if such an event occurs, but no more than a minute or two should be necessary. If the marshals have a clear direction to follow, they should make the call. If they not sure then the fight should immediately be restarted. Any one marshal can call hold for a problem, but only a majority of marshals can call a fighter down. If no majority exists restart the fight as quickly as possible.
I'm fairly sure some members of the Chivalry are feeling insulted at this point. I apologize if the text has offended you, but I stand by what is said. Everyone, Chivalry and non-Chivalry have missed blows in Crown. Anyone who would deny this simple fact is either deceiving themselves or way out of touch with Crown in the last six to seven years. It is very important to me personally that ALL competitors to Crown feel they will be treated fairly. Currently this is not the case. True or not, there is a strong perception in this kingdom that unbelted fighters do not have a fair chance to win Crown. There is definitely the perception that the Chivalry will keep them from winning until such a time as they are ready to allow fighter so and so to succeed. Whether this is true or not (and I don't really think it is), the perception is very strong and must have come from some action or inaction in the past related to Crown Tournament. This perception tarnishes the honor of the Order and Crown, and we must do what we can to clear up such a misunderstanding for the good of the Order, the tournament and the Crown.
Note: I realize that no one wants to interrupt the tempo of a fight. However, a seemingly obvious miscalled blow followed by a huge flurry by both combatants may make it potentially difficult to figure how who did what and when they did it in the timeline of the fight. We as marshals do not want to become judges and determine who wins and loses. It is my opinion that in 98 fights out of 100, as soon as an oversight in blow calling is pointed out to a fighter that fighter will take it immediately and probably apologize for the oversight to his/her opponent and the marshals. These rules are not aimed at that fighters. The other 2 cases in 100 are the problem fights that end unsatisfactorily for all involved. In those 2 cases (statistically speaking), for one reason or another a fighter has a real calibration/adrenaline problem, and rather than being reprimanded and removed from the list, he/she goes on to win a fight by non-acceptance of blows (either consciously or unconsciously). And, in Crown Tournament, this, in essence, rewards a person for failure to police their own calibration more closely. It sets a terrible example for the other fighters and the populace to see, and leaves the marshals looking like fumbling baboons. I am not saying that the populace can judge how a fight should have gone, but the perception of how a fight is carried out is very real to the spectators, and when a fighter is obviously failing to accept fair blows it can cast a shadow over the whole tournament. Although it is not often talked about, the marshals also have a duty to safeguard the honor of the combatants from themselves. That is to say, the marshals should be there to help fighters whose calibration is off for some reason. We can protect these fighters from themselves by pointing out problems and giving them an honorable solution to a fight. Too often, fighters are allowed to damage or even destroy their own reputations because marshals sit back and say, "Just let the fighters work it out." That has been proven as an unsuccessful method of running a crown list. So, we are going to try something new.
I am of the firm opinion that the first time we must enforce the rules on someone (belt or unbelt), it is going to be very unpopular with that individual. No system is perfect, but I think a proactive stance at least as far as Crown Tournament is concerned will go a long way to improving the attitude and overall content of the tournament. I am not looking for scapegoats nor am I trying to settle any scores. I truly believe that we must begin to apply some form of punishment to those fighters that flagrantly disregard the rules of the list. This will send a clear message to all combatants and potential combatants that we are quite serious about the rules of the list, and that we will enforce them. I don't think we will have to enforce them more than once or twice before everyone will get the idea they need to police themselves or they're going to forfeit their fights and end up explaining themselves in marshal's court.
For all of this to work their are two things that need to happen before the next Crown Tournament. The first is that the Chivalry support this change in marshaling methods. This support comes in two forms: supporting it publicly to the Crown, and carrying it out as marshals in Crown Tournament. Second, the fighters need to be made aware of how the marshals standards are going to be applied. They should get a copy of all of the above material and will be expected to read it. This will help get everyone on the same sheet of music and should smooth things over as we move into this new style of marshaling Crown Tournament.
It is my sincerest wish the marshals do not have to call even one fighter down in Crown. Education and understanding are the key to creating and promoting a better Crown Tournament. But, I myself and the marshals I select to man the lists will not hesitate to enforce the rules to the maximum extent possible if a fighter is disregarding them. The only appeal will be the Crown, and as things progress, the Crown will be walking hand-in-hand with the marshalate towards the ultimate goal of improving Crown Tournament.
One last note. I will back the decisions of the marshals in the lists as long as all calls are made within the guidelines of the text above. The Crown will be aware of the procedures we are using, and only marshals up on current standards and practices will be marshaling the tournament. With four marshals in the list to help each other, I do not envision any problems, but I will stand up to the Crown and support the list marshals to the best of my ability in the even the Crown does not agree as to what was done in a particular instance.
I look forward to comments from all active members of the chivalry. I will putting my list of marshals for Crown together in the very near future, so if you are interested in marshaling in Crown, you must contact me. The final draft of these new procedure must be completed not later than 30 days prior to Crown so everything can get mailed out.
Addendum To Crown Tournament Rules
The basis for the marshals calling a fight has many different angles that need to be understood before any sort of active marshaling in Crown Tournament can be done. The process of calling a fighter down must be done with care and there must be a very high degree of surety before such a thing can occur in the list.
Too often when people read these rules they think the marshals will be calling all the fights and acting as judges. This is not the case, and I personally do not want to see this occur. These rules are being put in place to give the marshals the ability to ends fights wherein one or both of the combatants are showing a disregard for the rules. I do not envision this occurring frequently (perhaps one or two fights in the entire tournament), but without the procedures in place, the marshals have to 'wing-it' which generally results in an unsatisfactory conclusion to a bout.
For the marshals to call a fighter on a blow several things must happen. The fighter must be struck with a clean, unimpeded blow that appears to land with sufficient force. At least three of the marshals in the list have to see the blow in order for form a majority. If there is no majority of marshals opinions there is no basis for a discussion and the fight should continue. The fighter striking the blow must agree the blow had the potential to be a good blow. If the fighter striking the blow categorically maintains the blow was not good all other arguments are mute and the fight will continue. Marshals should be careful of two circumstances where a fighter might call a good blow as not good: (1) A personality conflict between the two fighter is causing one of the fighters to continue hitting the other and not calling the blows, (2) A fighter will not call a blow good on another fighter simply for honor's sake. In the first case, it should become readily apparent if one fighter is failing to take fair blows and another is continuously striking the first with hard unimpeded shots. While I have never witnessed such a fight, it at least needs to be mentioned. If the striking fighter states categorically the shot was not good and there is any chance at all that the shot was not good, the marshals will step back out and the fight will continue. In order for the marshals to say anything in a such a case, the blows in question would have to show themselves with such physical force as to be blatantly obvious (I.E., the subject of the blows is knocked off his/her feet from the force of the blows, etc.). This situation is really unlikely due to the fact that the fighter being struck would also have to be ignoring such forceful blows so I don't think this situation will occur with any frequency whatsoever. The second case of a fighter not saying whether his/her blows are good for the sake of honor is much for common. In these cases the important factor is whether or not the fighter throwing the blows categorically states the blows are not good. Comments like, "It's up to my opponent", "I'm not sure", or "I don't care" give the marshals reasonable cause to pursue the issue if there is a majority of opinion. A strong majority of opinion between the marshals and a noncommittal opinion from the striking fighter can, in some cases, be sufficient for the marshals to request the fighter struck to take the blow.
There are a few additional things to look for when deciding how to call a bout:
(1) Is the conversation between the fighter friendly/civil or is it escalating tempers and becoming unfriendly? If the conversation is friendly and the fight is not looking too sloppy, let it continue. It is not my intention to interfere with the normal conversations that can occur in a bout. If things seem pleasant and do not appear to be getting out of hand, let the fight continue.
(2) Do the two fighter know each other well and fight together often? In many cases extreme familiarity between fighters can create what appears to be a sloppy fight. In reality it is more often the case that two fighter who train together frequently tend to call their blows more closely due to the familiar nature of the combat. If this is the case, the marshals may wish to caution the fighters that the fight is looking a little sloppy. Usually this is an easy situation to resolve due to the friendly nature of the competitors.
(3) Are the combatants known to actively dislike each other? While this is often an unknown factor, in some cases a 'feud' between fighters is well known to the marshals. Try to caution the combatants before the fight begins. Sometimes a simple word of advice can help to keep tempers down.
(4) Is one of the fighters known to be inexperienced in Crown Tournament (especially first appearance)? If this is known, the marshals may tell the fighter to relax and take it easy. Crown Tourney can inspire many things including fear and discomfort in new competitors. Often times the newer fighters aren't quite up to speed with what is going on in the lists and a word or two can help to keep them calm. Over-adrenalizing is a common symptom of newness to the Tournament.
Participatory Marshaling Addendum
Results of Crown Tournament - October 1996 - Osis and Caitlyn, Barony of the Flaming Gryphon
Winner: Count Sir Edmund of Hertford
Runner-Up: Count Sir Jafar al-Safa
Total Number of Fighters: 42 (10 Chivalry, 6 Royal Peers)
Marshals In Attendance:
Duke Sir Comar Gyr Mirand, Society Earl Marshal
Duke Sir Dagan du Darregone, OP
Duke Sir Eliahu ben Itzak, OP
Duke Sir Finn Herjolffson, OL
Duke Sir Fuyuzuru Tadashi
Sir Daffyd ap Gwalchmai, OL, Prince of Northshield
Sir Wesley MacLeod
Sir William of Fairhaven, OP Middle Kingdom Earl Marshal
Baron Sir Pieter Van Doren
Baron Master Eric Dweorgaex
Sir Theodoric von Rostock
Sir Ephriam ben Schlomo
Baron Devin Brieghallach, ORC
Baron Arundel the Hawkmaster, ORC
Sir Crispin Butcher
Viscount Sir Myles Blackheath, DEM (MK Drop Dead Earl Marshal)
Ismail al-Qasim (Inspecting Marshal)
Conor mac Lellan (Inspecting Marshal)
Finn Finnagin O'Flynn, ORC (Inspecting Marshal)
Dillon McIntyre, ORC (Inspecting Marshal)
Before the tournament began, a meeting was held for all marshals and issues concerning the upcoming tournament were discussed. The Earl Marshal informed the assembled marshals that Duke Comar and Duke Eliahu would be running the two lists and the EM and DEM would not be stepping into the lists unless there was an obvious problem or they were specifically directed to do so by the Crown. Several items were mentioned in specific:
(1) The 'conflict of interest' was gone over several times. With the large number of marshals, it didn't look like there would be a problem.
(2) The 'abuse of power' problems seen in other kingdoms were specifically mentioned by His Grace, Duke Comar. Everyone was cautioned to be firm, fair and careful.
(3) Various strategies on how to stop fights and how to communicate with the populace were discussed so everyone would have an idea of what to do if the situation came up where a marshal or marshals would have to stop a fight.
At the end of the procession, the King stood up and made three rules for the tournament plainly clear.
(1) No list lawyering or litigation would be tolerated
(2) Any displays of temper or profane language would be cause for immediate removal from the tournament
(3) Any dispute in the list involving the marshals would have to be resolved in one minute or less. If it took longer than a minute it was double forfeit or re-fight immediately. I didn't know his Majesty was going to say that, but if reaffirmed my faith in having preselected the best marshals for the tournament as opposed to taking walk-ons or big guns.
After the King and Queen spoke I said a few words and reiterated the really bad offenses that would get a combatant tossed from the tournament. The fighters seemed to take notice.
While we waited for the list table to finish preparations, I selected five marshals for each list and then set up a roster for each round. I let the various marshals know when they would be marshaling and asked them to stick close to the list when not marshaling. As a side note, Duchess Garlanda had set up a lunch table with sandwiches, drinks and her famous chocolate covered Oreos. This was really nice as it meant the marshals didn't have to go to far to get something to eat or drink. Once the list table was ready and the tournament commenced. I was a bit nervous as we had never done anything like this in our kingdom before. It was especially hard to just sit and watch and leave it up to the list marshals to handle. It was a good thing we had extra marshals as the first few fights had conflicts of interest for two marshals in each list. The designated spare marshal and another free marshal stepped in to run those fights. Things proceeded very smoothly. Marshals transitioned in and out of the list as needed and were able to take breaks and not beat themselves to death standing for hours in the lists. We were pretty poor about communicating things to the Crowd initially, but we got better at it as the tournament progressed. Marshals intervened several times on a few fights, but nothing serious happened. The fighters communicated with each other and the marshals as things happened in the list. This greatly helped the process, and we noticed that some of the unbelted fighters seemed less reluctant to voice opinions during fights with belted fighters. All in all the fighting was exceptionally clean. I would go so far as to say it was the best Crown tourney I'd ever attended. I had to step in on two fights, but they were quickly resolved. Sir Myles stepped in on one while he was watching the lists so I could go to the bathroom. The quarters onward were some of the best clean fighting I've seen in years. The fighters communicated with each other and the marshals, and the marshals relayed information to the crowd of onlookers. The finals between Count Edmund and Count Jafar were very nice too watch. The finalists communicated out loud with each other such that the crowd could hear what was going on. The tournament completed without a hitch in just under five hours. Duke Comar, Prince Daffyd, and Master Eric marshaled the finals with the Earl Marshal.
We held a brief marshals meeting following the investiture of the new Tanists to debrief.
There were a number of things readily apparent from the beginning of the tournament:
(1) The fighters (in general) appeared to be policing their own actions more carefully. A word from the King and Queen plus the Earl Marshal detailing specific offenses and consequences seemed to have some effect on the fighters (I.E., they were more careful)
(2) The populace really liked the marshals informing them of what was going on. It helped the image of the tournament a great deal and kept rumors of what happened to a minimum as the facts were loudly spoken to the assembled viewers. Stock phrases like "Upon further discussion, the combatants agreed that no good blow was landed. The fight continues." worked well. Likewise, points of honor were loudly spoken by the marshals. The populace likes being informed of the goings on in the lists. Its easy to forget that when you're right in the center of things.
(3) Fast decisive action by the marshals instead of the often times wishy-washy/wait and see type of thing helped establish the credibility of the staff. It made the tournament seem more professional.
(4) All marshals wore marshals tabards provided by the Earl Marshal and were not allowed to enter the list unless they were wearing one. This reduced confusion and added to the professional image of the marshallate. Marshals staves were used in all the lists. No polearms, greatswords, etc. Again, this improved the image of the proceedings.
There were, of course, some complaints. Some of the fighters felt the marshaling was over aggressive and that any intervention of the marshals tarnished their honor. This will always be the case. If the marshals can't step in when they see something is a amiss, then they have no business being in the list. Once or twice the marshaling was a bit aggressive, and I talked to the marshals and they toned it down a bit. However, since this was our first outing with the new procedures, I felt like giving the marshals a little more leeway was appropriate. The comments were few, but I noted them. Also, it was noticed by many that the Earl Marshal was not in the lists until the end of the tournament. Prior to the tournament, I explained to anyone who asked that the Earl Marshal had to stay outside of the lists to act as a fair appeal. The chain of complaint goes from the list marshals to the Earl Marshal to the Crown. The Crown had already stated to unconditionally back the decisions of the Earl Marshal and his staff, so it was doubly important to remain out of the lists. I watched every fight closely, but only stepped in on a couple. No one had to be called down, and, as was thought, when any of the fighters were asked about a blow that might have been good, most of them took the shot without even discussing it. This might have been partly due to fear of being called down, but I think with the excellent and well respected staff of marshals I assembled (including the unbelted marshals), the fighters (especially the unbelts) felt they were going to get a fair shake and didn't question the marshals. The Chivalry fought very cleanly and although this is not usually a problem in our kingdom, a number of the spectators commented on the clean fighting especially by the Chivalry. I do not take that to be an omen of some problem with the Chivalry - just a compliment. This tournament was as much about the image of combat as the combat itself. By creating a fair environment with consequences for poor behavior, many of the fighters seemed to fight better and cleaner because they weren't worried about some of the negative things that have happened in past Crown Tournaments. As a staff, we received many, many compliments from diverse groups of people in attendance. While we were a bit stilted at the start with our communications skills, they improved dramatically over the course of just one tournament. The future will be better as we (marshals) get better at this new style of marshaling.
I don't think this was a lucky strike as far as tournaments go. The procedures and changes we put together for Crown had a definitive impact. Involving trustworthy unbelted marshals with known good marshaling skills helped to emphasize that Crown Tournament is not a Chiv-Buddy affair. The support of the Crown in a vocal fashion helped to reassert the power that COULD be brought to bear on those who disregarded the rules of the list. The combatants liked having the separate inspecting marshals: they always knew where to go and who to see for inspection issues. There was always an inspecting marshal right next to the list during the entire tournament and there were several cases where an inspecting marshal was called upon during the course of the tournament. The idea of passing only an entire weapon worked well. If any facet of a weapon failed, the entire weapon was failed for the tournament. This also went for shields and armor and seemd to work very well. We will continue with this type of inspection in future Crown Tournaments.
Looking back on our first Crown Tournament using participatory marshaling, I am extremely pleased with the outcome. I have received many compliments from fighters and onlookers alike as to how smoothly the tournament was run and how clean the fighting was. This was one tournament and its impact is still being noticed over a month after its conclusion. The Principality of Northshield is using the same conventions for the Coronet Tournament in November. I will write up the results of that tournament at a later date. The Principality of Eldormere will be having their Coronet in January and I will be attending. Other kingdoms have shown some interest in the procedures I put together and that indicates that problems occur in places other than the Middle Kingdom. Time will tell as to whether or not we need more or less marshaling, but for the time being it looks like participatory marshaling is here to stay.
Results of Northshield Coronet - November 1996, Windhaven
Although I attended this tournament, at the request of His Highness Conn MacNiell, I refrained from directly participating in the marshalling proceedings. The list was handled by the Principality Marshal - Baron Lewys Blackmore. The marshals were almost entirely unbelted fighters made up of the constables and sherrifs of Northshield who were not fighting. His Highness did not marshal the tournament until the finals.
Participatory marshalling was used for the running of this tournament and it worked very well. As I noted in the Fall Crown Tournament, the populace really likes being informed of what's going on. It helps to keep rumours to a minimum by putting the facts out in the light of day. There were 23-24 fighters competing in the list and their behaviour was exemplary. The tournament ran about three and a half hours and completed without incident.
The concept for participatory marshalling was originally developed in Northshield by Duke Conn MacNiell and Viscount Daffyd ap Gwalchmai and they have been doing it since the second Coronet tourney in Northshield (this being the third). I noted their communications skills when addressing the crown were superior to the skills we displayed in Crown Tournament and the crowd seemed a bit more responsive as it was not entirely new to them.
This style of marshalling seems to work well in our kingdom. The fighters (by and large) like it as does the populace. Too often the sentiments of those who come to watch the grand succession are overlooked. Participatory marshalling helps to draw the populace present into the tournament and give them a sense of participation which is sadly lacking in the general display of tournament activities in the Society as a whole. It is often said that fighting is the major focus of our Society and it is the major draw to get people to notice us. At demos fights are explained in great detail so the viewers get a feel for what is happening. Participatory marshalling is a logical extension of that back into our Society for our own members. The more we get people involved with Crown/Coronet tournaments and the more information they have the better opinions they can form about the proceeding and the participants.
[I will be adding to this area as time goes on and I have more tournament data. -William]
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