Recognition -- either at the peerage level or below -- for cut-and-thrust is perhaps the most divisive topic we can speak of. People hold very strong opinions, some in stark disagreement, and everyone is pretty sure that he or she is absolutely right.
I'll offer my position, not because I think it will sway anyone -- people are very resistant to changing their minds on this -- but because I wanted to outline a possibility.
Cut-and-thrust is a martial art where two combatants (or more, in melee) face off directly against one another. In this fundamental aspect of the activity, it is much more like armored combat than (non-combat) archery or (non-jousting) equestrian.
The Order of the Chivalry is very clear on what makes a Knight, and the requirements demand an oath of fealty. Yet, when a gentle came forth, perfect in his qualities except that he could not swear his fealty to a king and kingdom, an entire new branch of the Chivalry was formed. (This was, by my understanding, 1970, and SCA customs were not the things of iron they have become.)
If there were a place for "Masters of Defense", I think it should be a distinct branch of the Chivalry: alongside knights and masters at arms. I understand that it is rare to find a knight who agrees with me.
Praying for courtesy,
Christian d'Hiver, OL
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