East Kingdom Curia Feedback Regarding Youth Combat

One of the core elements in Society governance is the periodic updating of each kingdom’s laws by the reigning monarchs, in consultation with the kingdom’s officers and baronage. The East Kingdom’s next Curia meeting will be held on February 1, and as several of the proposed changes would affect the Youth Combat program, I wrote in to voice my perspective.

My correspondence is attached below, along with the proposed changes to current kingdom law.

From: East Kingdom Deputy Earl Marshal Youth Combat
To: Their Royal Majesties, Their Royal Highnesses
Cc: Kingdom Clerk of Laws, Deputy Kingdom Clerk of Laws, First Deputy of Youth Combat, Deputy Youth Clerk
Date: 24 January 2024

To their Majesties, their Highnesses, and the members of the Curia,

I am writing to you regarding the proposed changes to East Kingdom Law on recognition of youth armored combatants.

Following discussion with other youth marshals, and for the reasons set forth below, I would like to share my recommendations on the proposals relevant to our discipline:

• 3.8: Eligibility for the Order of Gawain — SUPPORT
• 3.3: Selection of Youth Champions of Arms — CONCERNS
• 3.3: Scheduling of Youth Champions of Arms — STRONGLY OPPOSED

Eligibility for the Order of Gawain

IX.F.8.a. The Order of Gawain may be awarded by the Crown to honor and recognize those young people, up to and including the age of seventeen, who have distinguished themselves by acts of valor, honor, chivalry, courtesy, and leadership within any youth or all-ages a martial activity, excluding those authorized as an adult participant in rattan or rapier combat.

Thank you for adopting the revised phrasing here. This is a minor change, as the new text is functionally equivalent to the existing criteria, but it does seem a bit clearer, and has my full support.

Selection of Youth Champions of Arms

V.C.3.g. The Crown’s Youth Champions of Arms will be the overall winners of the tournaments for fighters chosen by the presiding Monarchs, in consultation with Their Heirs if the Heirs are present, from among the participants in Division 2 and Division 3.

I believe the youth combat community would generally prefer the champions to be determined by victory in the tournaments.

However, if the Crown feels strongly about selecting the champions themselves, and wishes to spend sufficient time at the youth lists to take the measure of each fighter, our program would welcome that attention, and would accede to their selection of champions.

But this proposal only makes sense if you are confident that every pair of future monarchs is going to be willing to invest the time to observe enough of the day’s contests to develop a meaningful impression of all of the participants. 

I raise this issue because in the past, on those occasions when the royals have visited the youth championship lists, these visits have often been limited to just a few minutes, which does not seem like a sufficient amount of time to make an informed selection. 

A decision based on such a brief observation, during which some fighters might not even be on the field, does not seem like a fair basis for determining a champion. 

Does the Crown want to make that time commitment, for this year and all the years to come? 

Scheduling of Youth Champions of Arms

VIII.A.9.a.iii. Tournaments and competitions to determine the Crown’s Youth Champions of Arms will be held at each Coronation if the Crown requests it. Spring Coronation or Spring Crown Tournament, or between those two events; and at each Fall Coronation or Fall Crown Tournament, or between those two events. Bids to host the Youth Champions of Arms at a Coronation or Crown Tournament will follow the relevant submission deadlines in VIII.A.5. or VIII.A.6. Bids to host the Youth Champions of Arms at another event or a standalone event will follow the submission deadlines in VIII.A.9.a.

V.C.5. […] The Youth Champions of Arms’s terms end when the Monarchs that selected them step down.

This change would represent a significant setback for the Kingdom’s youth combat program and I strongly oppose its adoption.

The biggest challenge we have had in organizing youth championships over the last two years has been the narrow scheduling window between Coronation and Crown Tournament — and restricting the date to only coronations would make this drastically worse. 

Making youth championships optional, and then requiring them to be crammed into the already-crowded schedule of a coronation, seems like a backdoor route to having them get skipped altogether in a majority of reigns. 

This is especially true if you also adopt the above change to determine champions by royal selection — given how busy the royals are during a coronation, where are they going to find an extra hour to observe youth combat so they can make an educated choice of champions?

Other typical aspects of coronations would complicate this even further. Due to the court-centered nature of coronations, they often do not draw many families with young children. Some coronation venues do not have suitable facilities for youth combat. And there are some regions in which it is harder for us to staff a youth championship; for example, we currently only have one fully warranted youth marshal in Tir Mara. 

The establishment of the youth championships four years ago helped to raise the profile of our discipline and sent a message to the young fighters that their efforts were taken seriously. Unfortunately, the interruption of Covid greatly disrupted our program, and we need every bit of help we can get in regaining our momentum — rather than pushing our young fighters further out of the limelight.

I would suggest that instead of narrowing the schedule for the youth championships, we should be moving in the opposite direction, to allow more latitude in scheduling, so that youth championships may be held at any time during each reign. This would give the kingdom the flexibility to run youth championships at other existing Royal Progress events which have an established track record of attracting significant numbers of youth fighters. Doing so would provide encouragement to our youth, support our small but important martial discipline, and strengthen the intergenerational bonds within our community.

Thank you for your time in considering this feedback, and for everything you do for our kingdom.

— Mathghamhain Ua Ruadháin 
— East Kingdom Marshal of Youth Combat

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