Cheating is Easy

corby's picture

Considering how easy it is to cheat in heavy weapons combat, there are actually a surprisingly low number of cheaters out there. Compare it to speeding, for example:

Because it's easy to get away with, almost everyone speeds, even though the extra few minutes you gain on a given trip mean almost nothing to the person who speeds.

But in heavy fighting, winning any given bout usually means quite a bit to the person who must choose to act honorably or not. Yet the number of chronic cheaters in heavy fighting is much lower than the number of chronic speeders.

Perhaps paradoxically, the ease with which one may cheat in the SCA is part of what increases the drama of it. Because the person who decides the winner is the person who loses (think about that one) each fighter faces a test of character each time we are struck with a good blow. Because losing is optional, every fighter's honor is reasonably easy to see. We as opponents and bystanders get to look into the hearts of our fellows in a way that I don't believe is otherwise possible without actually risking our health, or placing ourselves in life-and-death situations. We get to know our fellows in a way that is real and meaningful and that cannot be discovered in bouts that are refereed or any other field of endeavor where cheating is harder.

All of that said, a single person who is both reasonably talented and a cheater ruins the day for pretty much everyone. But this is the price that we pay to know the real nature of those we associate with.

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I found that the level of tolerence is based on the culture of the local group/household to kingdom and goes a long way to determine the quality of the fight. A broad example:

Atlantia often gets the brunt of 'rhinohiding' abuse. Many times I've heard this while in the East, Atlantian fighters 'cheat' because they don't take blows.

Having learned to heavy fight in Atlantia and returned within the last two years, I seen in Atlantia that what is an acceptable blow is not the same as in the East.

The expectation in Atlantia is you need to follow through on a blow and to land it not only cleanly but convincingly. "Just" clean isn't good enough. Whereas in the East I would get more than my fair share of kills for cleanly landed blows even without much force. Not all fighters do this (certain people come to mind), but it is a fairly common practice amongst Eastern fighters.

It is pronouced enough that I've had to explain it on more than on occasion. Ultimately once explained (or me pounding on my brethen "If you don't like the result, go talk to them, NOT me") the air is cleared.

Just my two cents.

corby's picture

As Richard Swineburn said....

If the world was without any natural evil and suffering we wouldn't have the opportunity, or nearly as much opportunity, to show courage, patience and sympathy.
The Philosophers' Magazine, Winter 1999