On of the more interesting aspect of our combat form is the idea that the outcome is declared by the defeated.
This idea is neatly articulated in the ‘Laws of Honourable Combat’, these being-
The First Lemma of Honorable Combat being that victory is achieved
only through declaration of the vanquished.
The Second Lemma of Honorable Combat being that the force of a blow
can only be judged by the recipient of same.
The Third Lemma of Honorable Combat being violation of either of the
first two does corrupt the probity of Honorable Combat.
This idea is possibly the most important aspect of our tournaments. It is this that focuses our actions and demands a high level of personal responsibility that is hard to find in any other sport or martial art. We cannot rely on some third party judge; there is no action reply on the day.
We must enter into a bond of trust with all those we face. We must place in our competitors that they walk onto the field with the same honesty as we do. We trust that they will follow the rules and are playing the same game. We trust that they will strike us in appropriate target areas, we trust that they will strike with the blade and we trust that they will strike hard enough that a good attack can be called confidently.
It is also beholden on us to do our utmost to return this same trust, not only to our opponents but also to the Gallery. Our actions must leave no doubt to our honourable intentions. It is sometime more important that we be seen to fight crisply and with honesty. Should I strike my opponent I want it to be without doubt. If they are standing there wondering if a cut was good, then I have not made a successful attack. A good cut or thrust must land so there is no doubt that that it is good.
The same thing also applies to cuts. It is better to refight about if there was any doubt that you did not strike with edge. If you have cut them properly the first time then you can do so again. If you did not manage to cut properly then the victory was never yours in the first place.
Do we use a particular tactic because it is within the rules or because it leads to a great contest of arms? Just because it is permissible does not make it Knightly.
In all of these, your greatest opponent is often yourself. The greatest challenge we face in our tournaments is the defeat of our own ego and desires to win. Yes, victory on the field is what we train for, but it must be tempered by never letting go of the trust that is placed on us every time the lay-on is called.