For the last 20 years (!), My wife and I have been hosting an SCA medieval re-creation event on our rural property. Because it takes place on Labor Day weekend, and because we have 95 acres of land, there is time and space for a lot of different things to happen, or for people just to relax.
One of the chief activities is SCA style combat, which uses rattan weapons to make possible a vigorous style of fighting. I don't think that the SCA style can honestly be called an historical one; it evolved from some logical but mistaken assumptions about the effects of weapons and armor. Thanks to intelligent and scholarly martial artists we know a lot more about late medieval combat at the very least.
But SCA combat has its virtues. You can stage a hard-hitting analog of medieval combat with a minimum of serious injuries. Many SCA fighters have never broken a bone, even after many years of competition. And it has a certain aesthetic appeal.
This aesthetic element was brought home to me on the weekend. I was discussing various combat systems that now exist with someone who fences in the "cut and thrust" style, in which real steel swords are used. He and I both agreed that we did not see the point of certain modern jousters and martial artists who have adopted medieval styles, who use something like medieval weaponry and medieval techniques, but scorn dressing up in medieval costume, since what they are doing is in their minds a purely modern thing. The two of us didn't see the point. It may or may not make any sense to fight in a medieval or pseudo–medieval style just for the fun of it, but to do the same thing in 21st century dress and high tech armor just has no meaning for me at all.
And that same day I was lucky enough to see the fruits of medieval aestheticism, SCA style. One of our standard fighting activities involves a small earth and wood fort that we built some years back. One of the challenges of using it is coming up with scenarios that make a certain tactical sense, even though the number of fighters involved is seldom over 20. On Saturday afternoon, some good scenarios were devised and played over and over until everyone was good and tired.
It may be the fact that I am now retired from fighting for good and all, but I found this fighting to be really quite amazing. To my educated eyes, everybody involved looked like they really knew what they were doing. That struck me because with few exceptions, the fighters were what passes for average in our corner of the SCA. There were no famous knights, except one, and he is not nearly as famous as he deserves to be as a master of the pole weapon. There were also a number of quite new fighters, and they picked up on the clues of their more experienced neighbors like there was nothing to it. For me, it was an impressive and moving moment.