When I received my first sword as a gift, I loved it but I am cursed with a singularly practical nature-I needed to be able to use it. I never regarded it as a toy although if someone wants to call it that for fun, I’m not going to judge them. I feel the way about swords that I was raised to feel about guns-don’t take/leave it out if you aren’t planning to use it, never point it at someone, and don’t start anything because then you can’t take it back.
I did a chart of getting involved with swords (Here it is!) and I’m still tweaking it.
But here are my pet peeves.
Fantasy-Hey are you a pirate, samurai, chevalier or barbarian? Awesome! I am so glad you decided to complete your outfit with a sword. It looks great in the sheath and thank you for sliding it carefully out so we can all admire it. Please be aware of where it is when you are *not* showing it to me. For instance if your rapier is sticking out of your belt and pointed straight back, say, toddler eye-poking height or beer-spilling height, or just plain annoying your fellow patrons at the crowded faire height. Or over your shoulder to complete a perfect Plank Gag with an edge! And let’s not forget, you aren’t actually a pirate, samurai, chevalier or barbarian and bringing me into it without my compliance will not make me, my troupe, other patrons and your intended romantic audience very happy with you at all. Play along, sure, but if you whip out that weapon or waste my time being rude and belligerent I will do a fantasy re-creation for you-Make like a tree and leaf, then report you.
No, I will not duel you, we will not duel you, they will not duel you. I’m a big fat, sucking coward, yep. If you do this in the parking lot and surprise me while I am getting something from the car I will not use my performance swords. You will get to meet my actual personality, my friend Mr. Denty and I will report you.
I am the Law (no you aren’t) Folks think it’s a great story to intimidate people at a faire with swords, I have some very mixed feelings on it. If someone is in immediate need I fully see the reason for being menacing (And a friend has a story that makes me gasp every time I hear it) But that can open you up to so much liability and even the sword masters in European manuals have a section titled “Don’t fight the crazy guy.” We were asked to “chase off some people harassing the festival” and my partner said
“No, that is not our job.”
Turns out, it was a group of patrons who came to the faire, demanded their money back, warned off others and protested the faire-on public sidewalks. When the police arrived, these rebels were well within their rights (And it WAS a crappy faire) We don’t get to just take swords to people we don’t agree with or like. And who know what this could have led to such as…
An incident that happened in front of us where someone took a sword to an annoying teenage kid on an ATV. That was pretty bad but the rationalizations, the excuses and defense of it has never ceased to stun and horrify us. ‘Not your job’ doesn’t even begin to cover it. And if I have to explain why this is bad I want you to go to a psychologist immediately, get yourself tested for sociopathy and do some serious self work. I have no idea what it is about refaires that engenders something like Jerusalem Syndrome but check yourself, people.
Finally, I don’t want to read about you on the news. Turns out we did know that guy who pulled out a sword and was waving it around a politician’s fundraising office. Why? Because people who love swords and other offbeat things tend to wander in and out of one another’s social circles. Life is hard enough for those who perform at renfaires without the yahoos whipping around a blade. (As one sword scholar likes to point out, “We are yahoos with swords and books!”) But if you are out there with your internet “Claymore, ” Please, please be smart about it. It’s an art, please treat it with reverence and respect, the blade, you and the people around you.