academie: RE: academie Dance Guilds

Oxford, David dmo at
Mon Mar 5 16:03:41 PST 2001

I get the impression that those who are willing to publicly offer forth an
opinion on an advancement system in the Academie are generally against it.
Which is fine; I merely wanted a public discussion on the matter, since Rowen
brought it up, rather than simply dismissing it.  Unfortunately, it seems those
I know who are in favor of such a system seem to have been afraid to say so,
because I have spoken to several of them privately.  C'est la vie.

In closing the matter, though, I would like to offer a counter-argument to the
notion that any sort of "ranking" would be inherently divisive and unworkable
without causing everyone to hate everyone else.  Consider the Academie d'Espee,
Atlantia's Rapier Academy.  When I first started doing rapier way back when,
there was no structure to the activity other than authorized/not-authorized.
Academie d'Espee has grown from that, so that there are now Provosts, Free
Scholars, etc.  I'll grant that I've been out of the immediate rapier community
for a bit, but I'd argue that there are very few aspiring rapier fighters who
feel they cannot participate or are second-class citizens because there are
Provosts of the Academie out there.  To the contrary, most I know look up to the
Provosts as examples of what they can achieve, or as a place to look for
guidance.  Most Provosts I know combine the wonderful qualities of skill-at-arms
with a nurturing, educational approach to the up-and-coming duelists.  They
boast not only the ability to whoop up on others, but the ability to teach and
support and advance their craft as a whole.  Rather than being divisive, the
Academie d'Espee is supportive.  And it did not always exist, so the question of
"how do we 'rank' people to start with" is one they obviously answered without
killing each other (or BY killing each other, as the case may be :)

The other point I want to address is the one that there are ALREADY awards out
there (i.e. Pearl and Laurel), so why do we need to do our own?  First off, the
qualifications for a true peerage are pretty high (as they ought to be), such
that I doubt very many of us will EVER reach the level we need to become a
Laurel.  A Pearl is a more reasonable award for many people, but that is a
closed system granted at the whims of individuals with no input or chance to
prove oneself.  If you happen to have made bad with another Pearl, it's unlikely
you'll get one, deserving or not, and there's nothing you can do about it.  With
a challenge advancement system, you as an individual can say "I think I'm ready
for the next level" and can challenge for it publicly.  No political backbiting,
no behind-closed-doors meetings.  Advancement granted or denied with an
explanation for denial if appropriate, along with advice for self-improvement.
This would permit and encourage people to improve themselves and be recognized
for their efforts.  Let's face it, most people like a little recognition for
their efforts.  I personally don't care much, but there are many out there who
are a little less outgoing who can be very bolstered by such recognition.

The argument that the Academie would become "clique-ish" is an non-issue.  In
many ways, it already is.  Who gets asked to do things most of the time?  The
two or three most-well-known members of the Academie, quite naturally.  An
advancement system would allow those who are equally capable but less visible to
become a little more visible.

Basically, those who are already well-known and outgoing would NOT be the ones
who would benefit most from a system like has been proposed.  It's the somewhat
less prominent, more introverted types who could truly benefit from it.
Unfortunately, those are also the types less likely to speak up and say they'd
like something like this.

To that end, I would like to offer that those who WOULD be interested in
participating in a system such as this contact me directly, and maybe we can
work something that would be beneficial to us all.  As Greg said, it needn't be
an actual part of the Academie, but it would be helpful if those within the
Academie not directly interested would lend a supportive acknowledgement to it
as an independent activity.  I'm not willing to do something that will create a
divisive atmosphere, but I am willing to help provide a more formal structure
for those who'd like such, and in so doing will ask for the support of some of
the more prominent Academie members (particularly teachers), but not their
direct participation unless they choose to get involved.


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