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Further Developments on Beginner/Advanced Tournament Formats at IGX

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by Meg Floyd

Below is a very interesting post that Jeff Tsay, organizer of Iron Gate Exhibition, posted today. He addresses several difficult questions the HEMA community has been grappling with in terms of open, advanced, beginners’, and women’s tournaments. Read on below.

ONE-HANDED and TWO-HANDED WEAPON CATEGORIES: switching now to our developing tournament program…

At Fechtschule America this year, I had the pleasure of hearing various spirited opinions on the value of Women’s tournaments this year. On one side, some believe that there is value in giving women more opportunities to get serious practical competitive experience at modern HEMA events — which I agree with. On the other side, some believe that it is actually somewhat hypocritical to be giving women extra opportunities over men, and that women might be better served if gender wasn’t made a factor — which I also agree with. So, my head exploded at FA. BUT, something I came away with was a question: do these positions really needed to be mutually exclusive? Is there really no way to give women experience-appropriate competitive experience without segregating them based on gender? (OK, two questions.)

Segue back to our one-handed and two-handed weapon categories. The following is a summary of the scheduling approach we’ll be using, and while there are a number of reasons for taking this approach, one benefit is that from my perspective it hopefully addresses both sides of the gender equality issue above in a reasonable and respectful manner.

Here’s how both 1-h and 2-h categories will work: ALL competitors will start with the same basic weapon and play through a number of qualifying rounds of Swiss pair bouts. At the end of the Quals, we will tally up points, and based primarily on *performance*, we will then split the competitors into two populations: BASIC and ADVANCED. Advanced competitors will get to compete with a more advanced weapon form; basic competitors will continue with the basic weapon. BOTH populations will then move forward into further elimination bouts (may be Swiss, may be single elim tree), from which we will determine a set of finalists for both BASIC and ADVANCED competitors.

A summary of MAJOR BENEFITS of this approach:
– Unlike most Elim phases where a portion of the population fails to qualify, EVERYONE will move on into Elim bouts: just grouped by performance level.
– Double the number of finalists = double the prizes (including technical excellence awards for both Basic and Advanced)!
– And of course, gender becomes a non-issue: regardless of who you are, if you do well you move into the Advanced group; if you don’t, you still plenty of experience in the Basic group — and have more performance-appropriate chances of winning prizes and being recognized!

One final note: it was NOT an easy decision on the one-handed category what weapon forms to represent (we can’t do them all!), but for this year, we have chosen the following:

– One-handed weapon: nylon arming sword (BASIC); nylon arming sword & buckler (ADVANCED)
– Two-handed weapon: nylon longsword (BASIC); steel longsword (ADVANCED)

The nylon one- and two-handers will be the Purpleheart Type IIIs (with Cold Steel synthetic bucklers); and the steel longswords will be Ensifers.

Sorry for the long post — but this was a complex and important set of decisions covering several challenging areas. Please like this post if you appreciate the efforts, and come to IGX to enjoy the fruits of this labor!

You can read the original post and ensuing comments here.

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