Why is it that smallsword is so often overlooked in the world of Western Martial Arts? I see events advertised where weapons from Ancient to Renaissance are featured and I ask “What about smallsword.” There is little doubt that smallsword is something of a redheaded stepchild compared to Longsword, or even Rapier for that matter. But currently there seems to be a lot of press about Longsword. We see articles in major newspapers, stories on local and national TV about longsword. Tournaments draw international competition and even are streamed live on the internet. Is smallsword as a martial art so uninteresting or inferior that it garners none of this attention? Of course not But I think that I know why and what is to blame: Medieval Times.
Medieval Times is a popular dinner theater mega-franchise in the US where you can get for a moderate price, “Dinner and a Tournament”. Patrons get assigned to factions represented by champions -- knights -- who they are supposed to support and cheer on. There is a bit of back story and a bit of a plot but mainly it is an eat-with-your fingers -drink -from -a- goblet- don’t -pinch -the -serving -wench and marvel- at -the stage -combat -theatrics experience. What is there not to like?
What we smallsword folks need is our own version. It will go like this. Name ,“The Best of Times”. Setting, just pre-Revolutionary France. Visitors get a nice French meal on real plates with decent flatware. There will be wine of course. As the meal goes on there is a bit of entertainment. Let’s say a little intrigue, some clandestine romance, and the like. Think “Murder Mystery” kind of stuff. There will be live Baroque and Classical music, singing, theatrical dancing, perhaps a bit of country dance that the audience can join in too. The actors will all be properly witty, the “Hero” engagingly so, the “Villain” annoyingly. (This should not be too expensive considering how many underemployed but very talented musicians, actors and dancers there are out there. And a massive venue is not necessary. This could be done very nicely at a local dinner theater level. )
As is so common there will be an argument between male principals concerning the affection of a young woman, or alternately an insult given or honor challenged which will require satisfaction. There is a sort of free-play or improvised aspect to the whole scenario in order to keep things fresh. The spectators get to see all that the Code duello requires, in a properly dramatic and condensed fashion. The seconds deliver the challenge; both parties prepare and consider the gravity and consequences of fight or flight. Finally we get to see the duel. Hence our catch phrase “Dinner and a Duel”
Is there any doubt that enrollment in smallsword classes will skyrocket?
Franchises will be available. Contact the Author.