Rapier fighters are from Mars, Fencers are from Venus

Okay, this one needs an emphasized disclaimer. While it may appear in The Big Book of Atlantian Rapier, it is solely my own work. The opinions expressed here are mine, mine, mine. Alone. No other person in the Kingdom is responsible, nor was involved in its creation. The use of any names is nothing more than a product of my over-active imagination. So ignore Kynny.

Any relationship to Atlantians, living, dead, undead, inactive — particularly the inactive ones, they’re the most dangerous, as in “poke it with a stick and see if it’s really dead….AAAH! FUCK!” kind of dangerous — is purely co-incidental. Don’t make me come up there and/or turn this car around. You’ve been warned. Get off my lawn.
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There is within the SCA rapier community (sorry, Alan, there just still isn’t a better term) a difference of philosophy as to the purpose of rapier fighting. At its most basic, there is the “sport” camp,

"I am much more poofta than you"
“I am WAY more poofta than you.”

and there is the “combat” camp.
okay it's a dagger, but still...
Big baby; you still have another eye.

Each have their proponents and detractors. However, given that a “sport” fencer almost got Atlantian rapier killed off in its crib, all while getting himself banished, AND that we were saved by a new “combat” mentality among the early leaders of the game, many Atlantians, I included, are solidly in the “combat” camp.

This does not mean we don’t respect the “sport” camp; we don’t, but it isn’t because of that. It’s because fencing isn’t period, isn’t realistic, and generally isn’t fun; at least not as much fun as symbolically killing your friends, family, close associates and bystanders.

different culture, different armor standards, still rapier
Different culture, different armor standards, still rapier.

This difference between the two can be compared to that between the sexes. Much has been made about the differences between men and women, there was even a book or two-thousand written about it. In keeping with my desire to labor as little as possible, I just stole from them.

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Observe this interaction between a rapier fighter we’ll call “Kynny”, and a fencer we’ll call “douchebag”:

Kynny: Rapier fighters get our sense of self from achievement. We tend to be task-oriented, and being self-reliant is very important to us. You put those two together, and you get people who hate to ask for directions , hate to ask for help, pretty much just plain hate. I’ll wander in a store for 15 minutes trying to find something to destroy. For us, asking for another’s opinion is an admission that we’re wussies.
Douchebag: Fencers get our sense of self from relationships. Where rapier fighters are task-oriented, we are relational-oriented. Our connections to other people are the most important thing to us. Instead of going after prizes, we tend to enjoy the connectedness to other people, especially other fencers. For us, both asking about rules and offering to help write rules is a compliment; we’re saying, “Let me build a bridge between us. I value you, and it’ll bind us. Nice outfit.”

Kynny: Rapier fighters usually focus on a goal. We want to get to the bottom line, to the end of something, usually our opponent. And their family.
Douchebag: But fencers tend to enjoy the process. Not that reaching a goal isn’t important, but we like getting there too. That’s why melees are so very different for rapier fighters and fencers; the rapier fighters want to get to their destinations and beat the living shit out of someone, and we sort of treasure the time to talk and look and maybe discuss conventions of the list along the way!

Kynny: Rapier fighters are often more logical and analytical than fencers. Like the Bard said, “the quickest way to a man’s heart is thru his chest”. Well, some Bard said it.
Douchebag: And we tend to be more intuitive than rapier fighters. This isn’t some sort of mystic claim; there was a study at Stanford University that discovered that fencers catch subliminal messages faster and more accurately than rapier fighters. Rapier fighters catch beefs from marshals, who are usually fencers and also heralds.

Kynny: This difference is evident in brain activity. Rapier fighters have some; fencers don’t.
Douchebag: Huh?

Kynny: Rapier fighters are action-oriented. When we feel hostile, our first instinct is to release it physically. And when we’re upset, the way for us to feel better is to actively smite your fucking ass.
Douchebag: Fencers are verbal. They want to discuss every exchange, did you feel that, was it tippy…
Kynny: …blahblahblah until you just want to smack them.

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Compare and Contrast

We (rapier fighters) said – They (fencers) said

We – this is a combat sport
They – No one should get hurt

We – attitude helps you get into the killing mode
They – No one should even THINK about hurting someone

They – This is supposed to be fun
We – I have the best fun when I’m killing you

They – fencing is an art
We – fuck you
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Of course, within the SCA, we don’t want anyone injured. But even sports involve hurts and boo-boo’s. Trying to avoid them at all costs just cheapens what we’re trying to do here.

So just remember: when re-creating a combat form that got turned into a pansy-assed Olympic after thought, go to the original and work backwards until you’re pretty sure nobody will actually die. Then, stop; you are done.

"Hallo. My name is Inigo Montoya. You almost killed my dream. Prepare to yield."
“Hallo. My name is Inigo Montoya. You almost killed my dream. Prepare to yield.”

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