The King has decreed that the next Crown Tournament will be contested without shields. We are now two weeks out from Crown and it is looking like one of the largest Crown Lists we have ever had. Why is this?
I know that the crown is trying to encourage people to try different weapon forms. We are a very sword and shield oriented kingdom. While this may be one way of encouraging people to try new things I am not convinced it is effective in the long term. Changing what people do is something that often requires a long term approach. In this case it is getting out there and running classes on different weapon forms. It is providing gauntlets so people do not get hurt. It is the quiet voice of encouragement between rounds. This is only my opinion, but I think we will have a number of people take up glaives, two sword, spears and other things for this one event and then go back to what is familiar and supported.
This aside, why are so many people (myself included) entering?
I am sure that some see it as a challenge. It is time to test your ability, stepping away from what you have trained in for years to see if you can do well with the unfamiliar. This is a good challenge to prowess and I am going to admit I have not in any real way trained at all for this.
I also wonder if some of the attraction to this is the equalising effect of the no shield rule. With this one decision many of the top tournament combatants are denied their chosen tools. Many consider this Tournament is wide open. Gone is the challenge of having to overcome those who have put in years of effort and commitment to their art. A little bit of luck and a good spear thrust may get you to quarter finals.
This is a big draw card and I will admit that I see their point. I also wonder if this is such a good thing. Why deliberately handicap some of your best people? How does this advance the combat arts? Is making people leave their shields at home really going to improve what we do?
I am sure the Crown Tournament will be exciting and full of surprises, but is this just the draw card of novelty? The playing to this places notions of decrying the tall poppy? The dumbing down of what should be the pinnacle of our tournaments?
On the other side of this coin is the challenge to be a master of all the arms of the knight. Sword, spear, poll axe and dagger. No matter the situation, the knight becomes the master of the field. While we may focus on a particular weapon form is not the purpose of this training to be yourself the weapon? Maybe I should have practiced more…