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A Story

Poster: luther@infodata.com (ZMCW1)

        Seventeen years ago, when I was in college, I studied full contact 
     Karate. This particular school had 14 different locations. Every six 
     months a tournament was held that brought together all the schools. 
     Like the SCA, students were expected to call a point for a solid 
     strike. A ref was present to start and stop bouts and "Maintain 
     Safety". We used hand and feet padding, cups and mouth pieces for 
     protection, (shin and forearm guards and head gear optional).
        One of the schools had a head instructor that was also a 
     professional body builder and encouraged weight lifting in his 
     students. This particular school began to take and give blows a little 
     harder in their daily routine. Gaining hardness of body was encouraged 
     and they slowly began to bring blow calibration up in all the schools 
     by example. They were harder, stronger, but not faster or more 
     skillful. They were good fighters, honorable people and didn't even 
     notice the change that was occurring. Part of being a good student was 
     respect for your opponents and good sportsmanship. This never failed, 
     but blow calibration continued to rise. Too many trophies were 
     stacking up in that one schools window.
        In retrospect there were signs of what was happening. Tournaments 
     were being won by the ones who took the hardest blows to get a point. 
     Women stopped competing in the tournaments, being much wiser than men 
     regarding bodily harm. Hard feelings were often voiced (or unvoiced) 
     by competitors who felt they had been cheated. Minor injuries became 
     more and more common. Then finally, one of the fighters, one who 
     required serious blows for him to call a point, received a ruptured 
     spleen during a match. Not knowing, he continued the bout. Later, 
     while sitting on the sidelines, he fell unconscious, was rushed to the 
     hospital and nearly died.
        All tournaments were suspended. Parents demanded to know how this 
     had gotten so out of hand. The Police actually asked a few questions. 
     The Instructors felt disgraced. The school was almost forced to close. 
     A Law suite was threatened, despite protection by signed wavers.
        The following year when competition resumed, "the burden" of 
     scoring was taken from the participants. A system was implemented that 
     used 4 corner judges and a ref. A vote was taken by the judges after 
     every clash and the fighter who received 3 votes got the point. Since 
     those days I have attended other schools that used the same system.
        The tournaments got way better. Participation went way up. Students 
     learned a lot more because in practice they also corner judged. Women 
     returned to the ring and excelled. Hard feelings disappeared. A few 
     students disgraced themselves by showing bad sportsmanship but were 
     soon turned around by peer pressure. In all it worked out very well.
        I don't know how close this story matches what is going on in 
     Atlantia. I would just hate to see what would happen if a severe, life 
     threatening injury were sustained by anyone in the realm, while 
     Hoping we never find out,
     Alaric Luther - luther@infodata.com

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