It is quite natural for many up and coming squires to wonder about what does it take to gain the accolade of knighthood. We do not make this an easy conversation as there is not commonly agreed set of criteria. Too often I have head members of the Chivalry construct a rubric that is ‘just a vibe thing’. While some of this gives you the warm and hippy fuzzies, it is not that helpful for those that aspire to attain this level of accomplishment.
I have talked before about this before and I suppose I am trying to develop my own set of criteria. I believe that it is a good thing to have such a clear and transparent markers. In this way, those that want to be Knights (and I would like to think everyone would want to be at least knightly) have some better signposts to show them the way.
I offer then some things that I am looking for. Remember that these are my criteria alone…8-)
Nobility and appearance
Nobility is a requirement. This nobility should be apparent in both appearance and behaviour. Your armour and equipment must be an example to others. Show that you care and that you will add to the spectacle of the tournament. You must have other accomplishments away from the tournament field. Nobility is something naturally generated as one progresses to a higher level in terms of technique and spirit. Train hard in both physical and mental aspects of tournament combat and face opponents with a belief of winning rather than being possessed by winning.
Attitudes and manners
This is a requirement that applies to everyone, but for a Knight, an irreproachable attitude and manners are required. This goes beyond just ‘do not be a dick’ and becomes an example to all.
Qualifications as an instructor
It is required that a Knight understands tournament combat both in techniques and in theory and is able to pass these on. A knight works to training new people and grow the Society as a whole as well as the combat arts.
In short, this means that one never misses opportunities to attack, use of measure to the advantage demonstrate a good body manoeuvre, does not engage in unnecessary attacks. There should be no unnecessary movement or attacks; it is a result of perfect balance, strikes, techniques and focus. Once you achieve this level of combat, the tournament becomes a thing of beauty in its style of form and movement.
Rational response to an opponent’s attacks and change in technique
The more experienced you become, more rational response to a change is required. Do not be perturbed by opponents, show rational response to attacks or a change in opponents’ attacks. A Knight remains calm against any changes in opponents techniques and respond rationally to it with appropriate counter techniques.
So these are the things I am looking for and indeed they are also the things that I must also continue to work on. While some may see the belt chain and spurs as a reward for your achievements, it is only a marker on the long road of swordsmanship.