Competitive HEMA is a young sport, and we’re going to need to build skills and experience in officiating as well as competing and coaching. Here’s my totally unofficial and borderline uninformed guide to being a better judge.
All too often, my reaction when asked about about any particular tournament match I’ve just fought is something like “decent fencing but judges suck”. It is, I freely admit, sometimes a defense mechanism for my ego when I’ve fenced badly and lost. Yet even when I win, I usually find myself conceding points by pointing out mistakes in judges’ calls - or, in the case of those tournaments where you cannot concede points, perhaps pulling an Ingulf Kohlweiss and leaving my sword in the corner so the opponent can get a catch-up hit to make things fair. I’ve judged at events from local tournaments with a dozen fencers in a field up to SwordFish. I know I’m not the best judge, and I’ve had to self-train more than anything, but I’d like to think I’m far from the worst out there. So, here are my tips. Continue reading