There's a saying, "All Good Things Must Come to An End"...
I've always felt that phrase was trite and sometimes even selfish. In this case, I find myself choking on it because it applies to me.
For over 22 years (since 1991 in the MidRealm), fencing and rapier combat has been woven deeply into the fiber of my being. I've fought at the highest levels in the Society for Creative Anachronism, taught at 5 Known World Academies of the Rapier (and countless events), championed the introduction of new weapons and rules, done demos for thousands and led units in SCA wars with hundreds of my companions. Contrary to some, it was never about recognitions or awards or scarves... Throughout it all, I've fought for the sheer joy of the competition and proving my skills on the field.
For the past few years, I've come out less and less to play. I've still felt the love for the tourney and the challenge of facing opponents, but my body's been telling me otherwise. I've got to finally listen to it. Some of you know that my right hand was badly hurt by a former student over 7 years ago. While I've come back from many injuries on the field, that injury caused significant nerve damage to my sword hand. Every day since then, I've been dealing with constant pain. Some days it's been better, some days worse, but always constant. While pushing through the pain works for a while, that has also caused the nerve to be pinched and occasional loss of feeling or numbness in my right hand. Imagine fighting at speed and suddenly the blade you think is in your grasp is clattering across the ground. Not good.
I'd be lying through my teeth if I said this doesn't scare the Hell out of me. It's been a major reason behind my lack of recent participation. I can't begin to describe how heartbreaking its felt. The last thing I want to do is to face an opponent, a friend or a newcomer to this game and due to a moment of numbness in the fingers, lose control of my blade at tourney speed and hurt them. I don't want to cause an injury potentially as severely as the ones I was dealt. Given that, it's hard to step onto the tourney or melee field with that haunting my thoughts.
So here it is...
As I choke back the tears, I have decided after 22 years of competition to step away from tourney and melee rapier combat in the SCA. I can and will still teach and spar at lower speeds of the training environment. I will also seek to marshal if my home kingdom will ever see fit to grant me a warrant. Perhaps I can also help here and there to recruit more people to play this game and feel the same joy that I've felt from it. While I don't discount the possibility of a doctor figuring out a way to fix my hand, for now and on my terms, I'm going to step away from the rapier field as a competitor.
It's been an honor to fight with so many of you.
Yours in truly humble service,
The Honorable Lord (HL) John James MacCrimmon
Companion of the Argent Rapier of Meridies
Order of the Duelist of Caid
Order of the Crossed Swords of Caid (x2)