Mike Cramer spends a lot of time abusing the ones he loves.
Cramer is a member of the Society for Creative Anachronism, an organization dedicated to recreating pre-17th century European History. For the last 32 years, he has been strapping on his leather and steel armor, picking up a homemade weapon and fighting other SCA members.
By any standards, Cramer is one of the more accomplished SCA fighters. He says he can defeat most people in combat, and he’s been selected for more than 80 “Crown Tournaments,” tournaments that decide who will “rule” the SCA kingdom. They don’t use real blades or fight to the death. Instead, fighting is based solely on honor.
“The purpose of an SCA fight is not to beat someone,” Cramer says. “It’s to strike your opponent to the point where they believe they’ve been beaten.
“So I have to think I’ve been bested, and when I think I’ve been bested, I will acknowledge defeat.”
SCA isn’t a joke, or a role-play. Participants describe the fighting as a martial art, and they have the scars to prove it: broken bones, concussions; Cramer himself has broken a leg in what he calls a twisting injury.
It’s easy to dismiss SCA as a just a “game,” but for the people involved, it means so much more. It means friends; families; lovers; and it means, as Cramer says, “a sense of self-worth.”
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