WHAT'S THE POINT OF "POINTS OF HONOUR"?
There's a controversy slowly coming to light amongst SCA fighters, concerning
the giving and taking of points of honour. In Ealdormere in particular, this practice
is prevalent among our fighters, and people are now starting to ask "why". Only a
handful of fighters even seem to realize that there are those fighters who consider
points of honour from some of their opponents to be an insult, albeit one that may not
To clarify the terminology, a point of honour is given when one fighter loses
a limb during a fight, and his opponent either grants him the ability to change weapons
(in the case of a lost arm while wielding a great sword, for instance), or takes away
the use of his own corresponding limb, thus putting the fighters back on supposedly
The problem occurs, however, when the two fighters are not of equal ability.
When the fighter giving the point of honour is acknowledged to be better than the one
who has lost the limb, many people interpret that as the victor's way of saying, "Well,
it has been a good fight so far, I wish to keep the odds equal that we may continue to
fight and have fun." Yet when the fighter giving the point of honour is an equal, or
lesser fighter than the one who has lost the limb, many don't realize that this can be
taken as a grave insult, as the lesser fighter saying, "Well, I obviously don't have
any need of an advantage, so I will take my own limb and show you how good I can be."
Granted, this is a grey area at best, and is causing a few fighters to have to
carefully look over each of their opponents prior to battle, deciding whether or not
they would accept points of honour from them.
At this point, one must go back to the basics of how fighters in Ealdormere are
trained. At least here in Bryniau, it is common practice for fighters to give points
of honour during practices. Those who are training see this all the time, and the
current belief is that most fighters simply do not stop to think about the reasons for
which they give points of honour. It is simply what has always been done, or what they
have seen everyone else do. It seems that no one actually has a valid reason, other
than "It's the honourable thing to do." Given the obvious fact that "HONOUR" is a
matter of personal interpretation, does it not seem plausible therefore, that what you
see as honourable, another fighter may not? It is up to not only the marshallate and
their deputies to inform fighters how to use their weaponry, but also how to use their
judgement. Perhaps if fighters who are training are taught that there is more than one
school of thought on the topic of points of honour, they will learn to think of just
what it is they may be saying to an opponent when they automatically drop to their
knee(s), or drop their shield arm, or extra sword, etc. I, for one, would not accept
points of honour from someone who has been fighting for only a year or so, and have
stopped fights before to ask my opponent to withdraw the point of honour given. Yet
I do acknowledge such points from my betters, both Sir David and Sir Bealdgar being
prime examples of such fighters.
I am not asking that points of honour not be given during fights. However,
during such things as Coronet tourneys, where you are fighting for the right of making
your consort Prince or Princess of Ealdormere, doesn't giving points of honour defeat
your purpose? It is not dishonourable to have an advantage over your opponent,
especially if you created that advantage by honourably taking their limb in the first
place. You owe it to both yourself and your consort, in such a circumstance, to do
your very best, which you obviously can't do if you willingly remove a limb.
The next time you are engaged in either tourney or practice fighting, please
consider the actual reasons why you give a point of honour. The reasons may change
from fight to fight; there is no reason why they shouldn't. The important thing is
that you HAVE a REASON. And please consider how that reason may effect your opponent.
Insulting your opponent - unintentionally or otherwise - still defeats the purpose and
intent of honourable combat.