There have been a number of discussions on–line, over beers and in the car about whether or not SCA Tournament Combat is a sport, hobby or a martial art. The answer one gives is often very dependent on what the individual either gets out of their involvement in the group and/or their approach to the activities.
One example of this is a local combatant who sees Tournament Combat as a sport. Because it is a sport for them, they see that if something is allowed under the rules then it is OK. Shortcuts and sneaky plays are not only justifiable they are encouraged within this mindset as it is the win that is primary. On the other side of the scale I also have a trainee who very much sees this as a martial art and thus the way they achieve a victory is the more important thing. They will call back a cut if they were not happy with the technique or thought it was not a good hit. Cheesy moves play no part in this person’s game. I also have someone who is very much the hobbyist. For this person it is all about the look of the thing. Flashy sword moves are to be promoted, regardless of the actual usefulness.
I think many of use exist somewhere between these points and we may indeed shift our perspective over time and dependant on event and activity. What is important here is that we need to understand that what makes sense to one person will not appeal to another and these views are often grounded in how the individual understands what it is we do.
One example of this is the use of the shield to pin the opponent’s weapon and arm. The sporting school would say that using the shield to block is fine in the rules and any pushing back onto the arm (which is not allowed) is unintentional and the opponent should not have allowed themselves to be so pined. The martial artist may suggest that such a move is poor form and that blocking the weapon in such a way prevents the person from being able to fight back thus preventing a truly challenging contest. The hobby people may think that clubbing people is not fun and would not like to be treated that way in return.
This is vastly over simplifying such issues but I find it gives me a useful insight in to peoples outlooks and behaviour.