alysten: (Default)
[personal profile] alysten

I am posting here because I can put things under a cut. This will allow those of you that do not want to read my letter can skip over it. I've made it public, so anyone can read it.

I know this wont be popular, but Im ok with that.

~Alesone


I am writing to you today with a heavy heart. You see, the
organization I love is broken. We are broken on several different
levels in many different facets. But that is not the focus of this
letter. This is about one facet.

I have been a paid member of this organization for 6.5 years. I bought
my membership the same week I went to my first rapier practice and had
a sword put in my hand. I attended my first combat event 2 weeks
later. I fought all the pick up fights and fell in love with the
blade, the game and the community. I became an authorized fighter 4
weeks later. With in 6 months I had 3 forms and was an MIT. I am still
here, almost 7 years later. Even when I was unable to physically fight
on the list due to injury, I was a rapier fighter of the East. I have
worked hard to help build the community with new members and marshal
bouts when I could not fight. Today, I am a combatant, teacher,
marshal and advocate for this sport.

In addition to rapier, I study period arms and sword techniques. I am
comfortable swinging a long sword, wielding a pike and handling short
sword and buckler. My love of medieval combat has led me to dip my
toes into the rattan community. I was expecting animosity from this
community. I was expecting to be treated a lesser fighter. I was
expecting to have to prove I was worthy to be on the same list as a
rattan fighter. But that was not the case. More than one Knight told
me, fighting is fighting. It doesn't matter what you swing, what you
wield, or what genitalia you have, when the mask/helm goes on,
fighters are fighters. Period.

The more I learn about the rattan community, the more I realize we are
similar. That we face the same problems with recruitment, retention,
keeping fighters motivated, calibration, poor behavior on and off the
list. We are seeing more and more cross over between the activities.
There is a preceived notion that the wedge between the discipline is
shrinking. And in some areas, it is. But we are still having side bar
conversations about how to bring the groups closer together. Because
fighters are fighters.

On Saturday the Board had the opportunity to vote on a historic
measure that would have created a fourth peerage. One specifically
aimed at the Rapier fighting community. Commentary was requested by
the Board on the words of the proposal: yes, these words are good
implement them; no, these words need to be changed; No, these words
should not be implemented. 3 small choices for historic measure. A
fourth peerage, specifically for rapier was the only option that was
presented to the membership at large. The option to make an order that
included all martial activities, minus the Chivalry was not on the
table. The option to have one order for all martial activities to be
rolled into the Chivalry was not on the table. Only a rapier peerage,
with 3 wording choices.

As a result of the vote and subsequent official clarification email,
you have driven a greater wedge between the fighting
groups. We are further apart than we were Friday night.

Here in the East Kingdom, the Rapier community itself is fracturing.
Those that have been around since rapier was nearly banned in every
kingdom are heart broken and are giving up. They expect to always be
seen as lesser fighters. And they no longer have the will to keep
fighting against the stream.  Fighters who are newer and younger are
angry and do not understand the logic of "its always been done this
way." And then there are those of us in the middle. We know enough
about our history to be angry and still naive enough to think we can
change.

For every problem brought before the Board, I am not sure how many
solutions are presented.  I believe we already have an order for
martial prowess and we should use it. Fighters are fighters. I cannot
stress that enough. And for those that say they cannot judge martial
prowess for a form other than rattan, this is a weak argument. I have
an award in A&S for confections. I do not claim to know anything about
weaving or illumination. But I can look at a body of work, talk to my
counterparts and make an intelligent decision base on that. And if I
cannot, I can always abstain. One martial order?  It will take work
and change and compromise. These things are hard. But a peerage should
be hard. Peers are our leaders, our inspiration, the people we want to
be when we "grow up." By creating separate but equal peerages, we are
creating separate, but not equal. We continue the stereotype that some
how rapier, equestrian, archery, and all other martial activities are
simply not good enough. We already have retention issues.  We have
kingdoms that are ready to go rouge and create orders that look and
act like peerages, without patents. We should be bridging the gap and
bringing people closer, not driving bigger wedges between groups.

I do not claim to speak for my brethren. I am a simple fighter with
ideas for change. Change that can bring all the fighting communities
closer together. Fighters are fighters. What we take to the list with
should not make a difference. Faith, charity, justice, sagacity,
prudence, temperance, resolution, truth, liberality, diligence, hope
and valor. These are the values that fighters bring to the list. These
are the values we take with us when the helms/masks come off. If you'd
like a picture of what fighter community would look like if there was
no division, look no further to any Lady of the Rose tournament. I
stand beside my teammates, rattan and rapier. We win or lose as a
team. We take to the list to fight for the glory and honor of our
Rose. In her name, we bring our best game. And we are equal.

This weekend, the Board removed the ancillary language about Rapier
and opened the door for all tournament combat martial activities. To
this end, I am requesting a formal policy interpretation of our laws
about the Order of the Chivalry, and the inclusion of other martial
activities. If we absolutely cannot get past the "this is how we
always do things", then we need to reopen the rapier peerage
discussion.

In service,
Baroness Alesone Gray of Cranlegh
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