Of advice and Worthy Blows

30 Jan 2014 by gebhard, 1 Comment »

Many moons ago, a knight moved to my Marche from AEthelmearc. He has a very direct way of stating his ideas. I respect directness. Over time, he gave me allot advice that I have held onto to this day. I will share a small part of this advice.

( As a note: I can’t say that this advice originates with Sir Alric.  I’m sure many knights say something similar.  He was the first I heard it from, and so I credit him. )

Once at practice we were sparring, and he hit me in the head. 

He asked “How did I hit you” “and I said, well, I dropped my shield a bit and gave you an opening.”

“When you get hit, it isn’t always because you did something wrong, sometimes it’s because your opponent did something right.” He said.

I know that would seem obvious when you don’t have a helm on. But, this point of view is really a game changer.

Let’s review the internalization of these two viewpoints.

BAM!  …sigh… “I missed that darn leg shot again, it would be great if I could stop that.”

– vs –

BAM! “Awesome shot! I totally thought you were going the other way. Can you show me that again!”

I’m sure you see the difference. The later leads to a better form of competition. A worthy blow is something to be celebrated. All in armor are worthy, and pursuing a worthy goal.


Throughout period, festive jousts often took place in conjunction with marriages, parties, holidays and any other reason you can image. The celebrations included much more than jousting. Knights and their ladies would “dance, and sing and lead joyous life”. While prizes went to the best jousters, there was also prizes for “the lady or damsel who dances best or leads the most joyful life”.

Town criers (the period version of the ad that plays before your video) would boast martial competition, revelry and good fellowship for all.

Festive jousts were meant to be enjoyed by all and a thrill to spectators.  Harming an opponent came with stiff penalties. Weapons were blunted, and equipment was checked for fairness not for safety. Noble ladies were well represented in the galleries. Selecting winners often fell to them.

This does not sound much different from what it we are doing every weekend.

Even countries at war could put aside their differences, at least for a short time, to allow knights from enemy countries come and take part in the festive jousts.

The crier for St. Inglevert addressed foreign enemy knights thus:

We particularly entreat such noble knights or squires as may accept our challenge to believe that we do not make it through presumption, pride or any ill will, but solely with a view of seeing them and having their honor-able company, and making acquaintance with them, which we desire from the bottom of our hearts. (KL 14:57; Johns 1:415-6)

At festive jousts there was friendship even between enemies. (at least for little while).

Enemies could come for honorable combat, at a time when your life could literally be in your opponent’s hands, and would show restraint and celebration in the list. For the enjoyment of the noble ladies and others watching.

There was no shame or ill-will in defeat, in period or now.

If what we re-enact is this type of martial activity, then we should celebrate a blow well struck, rejoice in a clever tactic deployed rather than to discredit your opponent and fault yourself. Give proper credit where it is due.

For all who wear armor and take part in deeds of arms are worthy.


To learn more about period Deed of Arms please refer to “Deed of Arms” a book I’ve enjoyed very much, written by Duke Finnvarr (Steven Muhlberger)

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One Comment

  1. Satrap Ajax says:

    I am taking this piece of advice to practice with me. Possibly the best piece of advice I have ever seen.

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