Sir Valtorr visits the EMP


Went to an EMP event (Empire of Medieval Pursuits)....

The whole day was a refreshing step-back in time for me. I was wearing Norse tunics and attending events when the SCA was very new; as a relatively new group, EMP has many of the strengths and weaknesses of a new group.

So far, EMP seems to have avoided many of the pitfalls that new groups have; I once attended the first meeting of a new StarTrek club which spent 90% of the event discussing how to keep unwanted people out. Problems like this plague new groups, but EMP seems to have a positive, hopeful-for-growth attitude. Their styles of fighting are rougher, and has a lot of aspects of SCA combat that were banned around 20YC, some of which were a lot of fun, but only a fighter would say they aren't dangerous.

The good parts were obvious: about half of the members on-site were fighters. I remember when the armored fighters were the largest single group in the SCA, and those were fun times; more people were worried about a strap breaking than who got what law passed and who got what award (and how they got it). Also, I heard a lot of discussion of actual history rather than gossip; that made for a nice change.

EMP is a much younger crowd than the SCA - I felt like a dinosaur among genetically-engineered organisms. Everyone I met was friendly; there was no "we hate the SCA" feelings anywhere, which is better than the rivalry between the SCA and Markland back in the old days, when the SCA was only 10 years old. As expected, some looked askance at my white belt and didn't seem comfortable talking to me, but those people were few, and that happens in the SCA, too. But most were delighted to meet not only an old knight but an author - we had a lot of good conversations.

There was also a lot of bragging about how much drinking happened onsite - while not necessarily a good thing, this also reminded me of my early SCA days (and nights!).

Several asked me about my opinions of their fighting: I don't want to get into the rules, which seem to be slowly ever-changing, but their fighting style is a lot more realistic than SCA combat. Kicking, grappling, elbowing; all of this is legal. I did see a serious risk when a chinstrap broke, but they shouted 'Hold' and stopped the combat in time; several teeth almost got broken. 'Hits' seemed to me to be much more debatable, in the heat of a combat, as to what is a killing blow; where the only hit on your helmet is the thump of rattan, now they have punches and helmets banging together while wrestling; it is harder to tell what you get hit with. I can see (someday) someone trying to write rules which will more-closely determine what is a close-in killing blow during grappling, and this may cause problems in the future, but I saw few problems with it this weekend. The '3-strikes-before-dead' system seems to work well, but like 'invulnerable shields' (an unrealistic issue in SCA and EMP fighting) there are problems inherent in every system. Arms and legs count as 'hits', but they don't drop an arm or go to their knees; not a better or worse system of fighting, just different.

Watching their fighting, I wished that I could armor up and join them. Alas; I recently watched a video of me fighting in the 1980s, and it would break my bones to do those moves now.

However, their style of fighting seems immature, as if it hasn't fully-developed. I predict that an eastern martial arts expert could modify their general fighting styles without changing their rules at all; I think that they will welcome the input.

They have a kind of 'magic'; non-fighters can add requirements/conditions to change the fighting, like 'no shields' or 'poisoned arrows' for one or more teams of combatants. I found that interesting, but I wonder how that would work in every situation. It worked fine this weekend, but I can see a day when too many conditions could control who wins more than skill or tactics. But it does include the non-fighters, and make them a part of the combat, which is a good thing.

The EMP says definitively that they are not a LARP; I found this amusing. I think the SCA is a kind of LARP, but the real rules are politics, and the consuming of any group by politics is a danger that all groups must deal with.

The delight of my day was introducing myself to a pretty young lady, and showing her my books, and hearing her tell me that she had already found and bought the first book online (paperback) and that she had read it ... and liked it. Sadly, she had just moved, and had no idea where the book went, but I hope that she finds it soon!

The best part of the EMP was the revolutionary attitude that seemed to be prized among its members. Back in the old days, during the Vietnam War and its aftermath, the SCA was considered counter-culture, a rebellion against the real-world pro-war political establishments of the 1970s. Now, the SCA is the establishment, and these new many groups seem to be a reflection of the old SCA against the current SCA - Personally, I find this funny.

Karen and I had a great time, and will try to attend future EMP events.

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