Friday, October 28, 2011

Sacrifice and Inspiration

The SCA, as I point out in my book, is a middle-class activity, and has all the trappings and characteristics of a bourgeois capitalist hobby: it is bound by large numbers of rules, it is concerned with protocol and form, it is extremely hierarchical, and it seeks both permanence and legitimacy (by expanding the society through recruitment, by establishing its own history, and in the continuous push toward authenticity). It is also middle class in the most simplest of ways: people of the middle class make up its members. There are few truly rich people in the SCA. They tend not to need the emotional validation the SCA provides to its members because they get it through real-world as opposed to play-world success. There are poor people in the SCA, but the SCA is a luxury, and simply because of cost the poor have to limit their SCA activities. Although it began among college-students and “Berkeley hippies protesting the 20th century”, the SCA is structurally middle-class. It works best if you have a job that provides leisure time and disposable income, a car, a garage, and a 9-5 weekday job, because fighter practices, dance practices, and events take place on weekends.

I have long been frustrated that I do not train as often as I should or as I did when I was 25. Back then it was nothing for me to fight two practices a week plus an event nearly every weekend. One reason I quit my retail job (losing almost $1,000 in extra income a month), was because I didn’t have time to fight anymore. Living in New York City makes training hard: I don't have a garage or a car, for instance.

As I’ve documented here, I decided to train hard for this crown. I made an effort to be in armor twenty times between Pennsic and Crown tourney. Through Cloisters I had been in armor eleven times, which put me well on my way. But with my elbow hurting as it did I decided to take time off. I have run and done Yoga and rehabbed my elbow, but I have not been fighting (this week I added Indian clubs to my rehab workout, but I haven’t used the kettle bell all this month).

With the time off I decided to get ready for crown in other ways. I have been watching tape. I’ve been visualizing fights, and I’ve been working on gear. Last week I shaped and taped two new broadsword blades. Sunday I stripped my shield and painted it two coats of flat-black. I also took time to do some teaching at BAT and at Nutley.

I was making a bit of time for my other hobby: I went deer hunting on Saturday and planned to go tomorrow. Problem is, there is a snow storm forecast for the area I hunt tomorrow, up to ten inches, maybe even a foot (I’m betting on three inches myself). This means that Sunday is going to be great hunting, and I would have a real chance at bagging either the six or the eight pint bucks I saw last weekend. But Sunday is the last BAT before Crown. I need to put armor on, even if I only fight left-handed. I need to paint my device on my shield (a long and arduous task), and put the basket hilts on my new swords. I made the plan that fighting took precedence over hunting before Crown Tourney, and so I am going to sacrifice probably the best day of bow-hunting this year to go to a fighter practice where I probably won’t even be able to train, just get some helmet time and fight left handed. (Which reminds me: see the orthopedist this week).

Which brings me to inspiration. I am inspired by numerous things. My lady inspires me because I want more than anything else to make her queen. Sissule inspires me by her grace. Alethea inspires me by her joy. Mom Eilis inspires be with her nobility. I am inspired by Omega and Lucan and Andreas and Brion simply through their prowess. I was always inspired by Radnor to be that amazing heroic knight. Rolf and Thorin and Bedford have inspired me by proving that I am, in fact, not too old for this game.

But lately what’s been inspiring me has been the knights on the new Chivalry FaceBook group. There was a discussion of how people trained and how often. I noted that before I stepped it up for crown and then got injured, I would normally try to fight once a week and do aerobics 2-3 times a week, mixing in Yoga and kettle bells, but I would often rely on the simple fact that living in New York provides a good workout. This is true, but it means that I don’t keep a good workout schedule. (today I will go to the gym for the first time this week). The knights who posted are doing some amazing things. They are doing pell work every night. Some are lifting three times a week. Most are fighting 2-3 times a week and running or biking for endurance. One knight said he does yoga four times a week and fights twice a month (which I can totally understand, no matter how many people said he needs to reverse that). I am inspired to knuckle down over the winter and go back to doing a solid off-season workout after crown, concentrating on yoga and aerobics until my elbow heals, and then adding in pell work, Indian clubs and kettle bells in addition to fighting. What my brothers are doing is awesome, and although my fragmented urban life-style makes it hard, I intend to emulate them.

Crown is in 8 days!


Rauokinn said...

Great post. I especially liked the inspiration part. Finding time to train is ahrd especially with a demanding job and no car.

AZ RUNE said...

Keep at it. I have found a foster knight since mine plays no more. I am working at fighting twice a week, pell work 3 days a week and studying fights for 30 minutes each day. Tourney at least once a month. It can be grueling but I have to believe it's worth it to become a knight for prowess required.

STAG said...

It is people like you that restore my faith in my beloved and much maligned SCA. Thank you.