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Highlights of the Academy Symposium, July AS58

Good cousins,

What follows are the highlights of the discussion: some points we agreed on and some we didn’t resolve in one sitting. They’re presented by theme, rather than the order of the discussion, which went back and forth. I owe a great debt of thanks for having not 1 but 2 note takers at the symposium (aka talk while drinking) about what we want from the Ealdormere Academy of Defense: Eyrny and Cristabel.

If you’re interested in more detail please email me, or Eyrny, who sent me her full stream-of-consciousness notes logged on her laptop.

I’m also very grateful for the attendees joining, several of whom helped define the charter in the principality of Ealdormere.


Patrons: Edward, Rylyn, Rozi

Academy members and guests: Magnus, Victoria, Aldwynn, Matthias, Nicola, Joffr, Eyrny, Wilhelm, Jergen, Georg, Alice, Selena.

Praeceptor: Genevieve

“Easy” changes (not very controversial)

The list of weapons & authorizations is out of date.

  • Proposal is to change to “See the current marshal’s handbook for number of weapons.” Currently we have single, parry, two weapon, spear, and cut & thrust.
  • Question: Do we want to require certain weapons forms for certain levels? A: for now, require a number of forms be used for each challenge, but it doesn’t have to be every form one is authorized in.
    So for cadet 1 form, scolar might be 1 or 2, free scholar would be 3. Or more for each option.
    All are encouraged to demonstrate a variety of styles.
  • Q: How to handle Cut & Thrust?
    A: if the wording is 3 or more, cut & thrust isn’t needed
    All agree: it’s an option not a requirement.
  • Person who wants to challenge in should inform the organizer of which weapons forms they want to use.

Everyone agrees to gender neutral language. (The original was written 25 years ago and is mostly gender neutral but some bits slipped through.)

Question about the number of bouts

  • why do we keep increasing the challenge level?
  • Many of us want to advance and face challenges even as we age. It’s not a challenge if it’s easy: a series of challenges to measure ourselves against
  • we may have been more confident in our abilities 25 years ago 🙂
  • the charter was not meant to be set in stone, but reviewed

Announcements in the Tidings

  • Nobody attending wants to announce in the Tidings. The requirement (with a goal to publicize an occasion) becomes a barrier.
  • What has to stay is sufficient notice for the Praeceptor to ensure there’s space at an event to sufficient challengers.
  • How much time is enough? It varies from cadet to Dean. We want people to know it’s happening and make plans to attend: can’t run a prize without people to fight with you
  • if there’s already time and space for a type of prize, especially cadet, then we might need a lot less time or maybe no additional time & space
  • as the prizes escalate the time frames will escalate too – need more notice to find the higher-ranking members
  • set up prizes when they’re asked for, add as many people as fit the day. More time will be required for provost & dean
  • as things get advertised people can contact the Praeceptor and ask to be added. Even on the day they can ask if there’s time and space to be added
  • accommodating folks on short notice is an aspect of inclusivity

Interesting challenging Qs: accessibility and inclusivity

Suggestion: ensure that the charter allows the person in charge to be flexible in what is required so that medical conditions or something such not block someone from participation: weapons forms, conditions of the day (heat-cold), accommodations

  • we’ve previously discussed the number of bouts fought. And the original charter doesn’t say it all has to be done on one day, say for the 50 bouts
  • the prize could be a traveling one, fighting some bouts in different places.
  • suggest an inclusivity statement in the charter. And the Praeceptor should actively reach out and ask if any accomodations are needed
  • Suggestion: have explicit examples of accomodations on the website. (Genevieve would love these examples, please send them to her.)
  • in the area of accomodations, we should be clear about what the defaults are.
  • Q: has the number of bouts been a blocker? 1 known example of someone who couldn’t finish on their given day

Other barriers: the dreaded research

  • …is potentially intimidating, especially as a “paper”
  • the research is specified as a project, not a paper. The impression persists though that you need to write an essay
  • intended focus is to learn something new, and share it with the academy, and by extension the fencers of Ealdormere
  • research doesn’t have to wait til higher ranks, if you *do* enjoy research
  • research you’ve done in the past can also be presented to the academy –

Recommendation: some criteria for the proctor to use to evaluate a project? Cristabel volunteers to develop a set of criteria – a rubric – something that you could complete in high school.

Challenging in at a rank higher than Cadet

Genevieve was asked if people could challenge in at the rank they think they are already: for example, for someone who holds martial awards for fencing, from Ealdormere or another kingdom

  • Suggestion: challenging in at Free Scholar, but not the other ranks
  • Edward: After 25 years in the Academy as a Patron I’m considering challenging in to the Academy. What’s more fun for anyone else? Is it fun to challenge in as a cadet? Consensus: the cadets don’t want to face Edward as a cadet 🙂
  • while awards from the crown recognize prowess, a great part of the academy is recognition from others on the field, rather than from the crown
  • Joffr, playing devil’s advocate: say a one-armed MoD from another kingdom arrives and SUCKS, and they fail. Is that OK? Yes, people agree that failure is OK.
  • the goal of winning 1/3 of bouts remains popular and supported
  • if someone fails in their prize fight, they shouldn’t have to wait another year to fight again.
  • sponsorship – where another member vouches for you and says “you’re ready to challenge in”, may be a way to have someone from out of kingdom challenge into the Academy
  • in past years the academy paraded around the site on the day of a prize
  • not everyone loves the pageantry: “Challenging is enough of a challenge to me, people loudly annoucing me is terrifying.”

How do we manage updates to the Charter?

  • to date, provosts and deans had more say, based on initial charter
  • more than 1 person wants everyone to have a voice, rather than top ranks having more say than newer members. If we’re going to consult one part of the academy why can’t we consult them all?
  • suggestion: say every 5 years we have a discussion and then
  • write into charter that every 3 years we have a moot for the academy and bring up revisions
  • provide a way for people to provide input before the moot/discussion, google forms are good
  • could discuss on an email list at any time: can use email dodo, which we use for the kingdom lists
  • suggestion: set a deadline, and require a response to any questions. Use googleforms or email, both of which are more accessible than FB or other social media
  • should folks be required to express active interest in continuing in the academy every 3 or 5 years in order to have a say in decisions? Maybe an anniversary date (Edward notes it should be September 25, when the charter was signed), to log in and say I AINT’NT DEAD
  • want to know if you’re active and interested. ATST: some folks who don’t currently fence want to stay part of the academy
  • discuss real-world and SCA examples of “staying current” by showing up and taking part (yeomen of the wolf)
  • someone who can’t fight but still wants to help out with teaching and marshaling, they shouldn’t be excluded.
  • simple majorities aren’t great, maybe 2/3 majority for anything we vote on?
  • try for 5 years, see what happens?
  • suggestion: changes to the charter fall under “ancient rights” and don’t need vetting by current crown

Planning for the future

  • Q: is there succession planning?
    Genevieve: no, not really. We’d be leaning on patrons to help things along. We could and probably should add in a need for a deputy.
  • Joffr has committed himself to being the deputy Praeceptor, thus improving the succession planning 🙂

One current project: updating the membership list, which currently has gaps

Q: how do we measure success? (no firm answer offered)

A dedicated Academy event?

  • depends on what we want out of that event. It was the way to collect together sufficient challengers for the first Deans’ challenge