One thing I have been guilty of, fairly early on in my love affair with swords, is elitist assholery. It didn’t last long because –logic and reality. We in the troupe call this “Swordfighter-itis” A malady that strikes everyone at one point or another and some people never recover and then aggressively try to force others to embrace this view. I’ve been seeing a variant this summer, not necessarily related to swords-more to renfaires  and my view is

letthemfight (1)

But back to the swords-

But I felt sad for a young man who asked us about swords at a recent show and it was clear to us that he had been hit with the snob stick already and so early. (He was a victim, not a perpetrator) and we gently steered him toward what it was we guessed might be better suited/social.  But I am putting up a set of symptoms so you may try to recognize, avoid, or limit the contagion in your own neighborhood.

Drinking the Kool-Aid-The One True Way:
One of the things we tell people in our group is that we take people from all sorts of backgrounds and try to teach a common “language” that is cooperative. It is based on what OUR sword teacher learned with Society of American Fight Directors and his own historical research. The same is true of our other sword teacher.  Both run active research groups and are always sharing new ideas and thoughts and they even often disagree! Sometimes that means throwing out the old ideas.  We don’t claim to be the end-all and be –all of how it is done but we are confident we do it fairly well and safely. One warning sign is when a group tells you everyone else is WRONG.  It may feel nice to be one of the “best of the best” by beating your opponent-but it is TERRIBLE for doing theater or demonstrations. It’s a quick way to make yourself an unpopular partner.  Thinking you are “all that and a bag of chips” does not make you the best, no matter how many join in your delusion.

Feeling the need to criticize others
Do we side-eye one another in the sword community-absolutely? But you have to back that up with facts. Plenty of people like to pick up swords and use them. Plenty of people buy cars and drive them. Like vehicles-reasons and modes are myriad. Are you the internet forum guy who criticizes Prius owners for not going 4-wheeling in mud flats? You are an idiot. Some study groups are good-natured people with day jobs who are there for mostly social reasons. Some want to bang on one another in armor. Some people just want to show off their weapons and some people want to discuss weapons in literature.  We have one group that I STILL catch them badmouthing my group publicly (just certain members of that group, admittedly .Ironically, these same people haven’t done a show in YEARS.)  My partner, Fenix, reminded me of us being at a number of events where someone bashed our group in our presence because they honestly had no idea who we were or who was in our group or if any of the rumors were true or fake.  I wish I could say I enjoyed their realization, but honestly it probably just fueled their indignation more.  There is a group I recently discussed with my own group and they had to agree that they were not being safe and to be fair, not their goal.  But it may cost them work because others in the community have complaints.   As for us-we stay out of it (see Godzilla film gif above)


When you are douchebag you make our whole community look BAD.
Sure people will be drawn to cults of personality initially but that is not a stable foundation.   This is true of a BUNCH of different groups.  You do not make yourself taller by cutting down others (couldn’t find the quote)  I recently read something on the[name redacted] Forum community on Facebook that made me want to hurl objects. A woman had joined a group and they basically were not supporting her in training.

Fenix has an ancestral family motto “God Gives Good Gifts to Everyone” and if a person can’t use a sword, give them a dagger. If they can’t fight-go with their strengths and see how you can help. I would say that everyone has something to offer but some folks I’ve met challenge that baseline so what can you do? But you should give them a shot and let them discover their own story.

So this was longer than intended but basically, in a state with this many sword groups, you have to share the ecosystem (or in some cases, the EGOsystem) and the sooner you turn your eyes to your own self-development, the better you, and the community will be.

And bonus link