Tournament fun

"I wish I could say something classy and inspirational, but that just wouldn't be our style. Pain heals. Chicks dig scars. Glory lasts forever." Shane Falco, The Replacements.

So, for my sins, I volunteered to organise our Clubs annual tournament. For the first time, in my experience, we actually have spent the better part of three months preparing for this tournament. Which is why it has been a little quiet on here lately. It's been an interesting learning experience and I'll try and summarise some thoughts here:

1. Format

After experimenting with various formats we decided that we liked a customised ruleset based on the Fechtshule New York rules. This is with:
  • The bout halts after a single exchange
  • Hits to the core score more than a hit to the extremities
  • Each fighter has three lives
  • Line judges call hits
I wasn't initially a big fan of this ruleset but I've come around and will admit that the results are pretty good. The single exchange encourages people to fight more like they are worried about receiving an injury while the fact that each fighter has three lives means that they get at least three fights, often with three different people. Line judges calling the hits means that the polite fighters aren't getting unfairly eliminated and also means people have to focus on delivering more significant blows that are clearly visible to the judges. In short, we've found that relying on judges penalises snipers, as the whole "hit fast and withdraw" approach is hard to judge. Having three lives also means that when there are judging mistakes you still have more fights on the way to make up for it. Finally, this format is fast. You can plough through people really quickly.

2. Judge and Marshall Training

Every year we're like "we should do training for Judges and Marshalls" and every year we pretty much just give people a couple of goes at it. This year we have been doing weekly in-house tournaments for the last couple of months with most people taking a turn. This has worked both ways with fighters giving judges feedback and then the same fighters have a turn at judging and understanding better the issues. It makes a massive difference.

It has also allowed us to work through the nuance of the ruleset. We're fortunate to have some real pedants in our Club and that has been an asset in testing the ruleset, what exactly do we mean by a certain rule. Of course, the flip side has been understanding and developing arguments to ensure that we are not trying to legislate everything.

3. Response to tournament

I'm always up for tournaments and competitions in general. I don't care so much about winning, far more factors than simple skill are involved in winning a tournament, but I do care about being a "serious contender." By this, I mean that when people look at the draw they see my name and go "oh shit" or the like. This is my bar, if people are like "ok, that's not a problem" then I have more work to do.

However, clearly many people find tournaments really challenging and I can understand. I think if you've got serious investment in the idea of being "good" at something then the possibility of going out in the first round of a tournament must be really upsetting. On this basis, I always expect to see some negative reactions ranging from a distinct lack of enthusiasm, to excuse finding to not attend, to outright hostility to the very concept. This is just to be expected. To a certain extent we've taken steps to try and mitigate issues here. By providing quite a few sections, this allows people more chances to shine and the opportunity to raise to the top in a least one section.


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