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Thread: Religious clothing and fencing competitions

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    Senior Member jBirch's Avatar
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    Religious clothing and fencing competitions

    Hey All,

    From a sidebar on the skirts thread in the armoury:

    What are the rules around competitions for specific religious items of clothing? Ie// the turban, the kirpan (from the sikh religions), dishdashas, skirts, dafur and any other items I missed. Are those who adhere to religious dress-codes banned from competition if they can not modify those codes to adhere to FIE requirements?
    If it's stupid, but it works, it's not stupid.

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    Senior Member cowpaste's Avatar
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    I don't see why anyone should be allowed to compete at FIE competitions without following FIE safety precautions. I seriously can't believe people are willing to sacrifice safety for religion, but then again, religion is often a test of dedication and sacrifice. Seriously though, it gets ridiculous sometimes. I've seen photo IDs from the Middle East where women completely cover their heads except for a thin slit for the eyes. This is just utterly retarded. Anyway, I highly doubt the FIE would make any exceptions for anyone. That would make it unfair to the vast majority of people just to please a (crazy) few.
    "That's hot." - Paris Hilton

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    I've seen Sikhs who participate in sports take off thier turbans and keep only the inner lining to keep thier hair in place. I've not seen a sikh fencing. I've seen muslim women fence with the veils and headress on, so I don't think there's much of an issue regarding Sikhs and muslim women. As for the kirpan, my sikh friends don't carry an actual full size blade instead they have a kirpan pendent which they wear on normal days and only during their religious festivals do they take out their ceremonial dagger.
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    Needs to get Outside Inquartata's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cowpaste
    I've seen photo IDs from the Middle East where women completely cover their heads except for a thin slit for the eyes. This is just utterly retarded.
    Depends on your viewpoint. Is it more "retarded", for example, than American teenagers wearing pants 8 sizes too large for them, that they are constantly having to haul up? Orthodox Jews with the ringlets and hats? Punks with safety pins through every possible fleshy protuberance? And what's up with neckties? Those are utterly otiose and silly any more, no?

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    Senior Member Schiavona's Avatar
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    I think the point was trying to make, at least I hope, was that a photo id with what amounts to a hood over the person's head is silly and useless. (my driver's licence photo)
    John Matus
    Anchorage Fencing Club

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    Senior Member Philistine's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Schiavona
    I think the point was trying to make, at least I hope, was that a photo id with what amounts to a hood over the person's head is silly and useless. (my driver's licence photo)
    Kind of depends what the point of it is, though. E.g. drivers licenses are to show that the person driving has passed a test, or otherwise been licensed by the state. Identification is only secondary. For many years, many states did not use picture ID's for some or all drivers licenses, usually listing hair color, eye color, height and weight as identifying charachteristics.

    Not sure is some still do that or not.

    --Philistine

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    Senior Member cowpaste's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Inquartata
    Depends on your viewpoint. Is it more "retarded", for example, than American teenagers wearing pants 8 sizes too large for them, that they are constantly having to haul up? Orthodox Jews with the ringlets and hats? Punks with safety pins through every possible fleshy protuberance? And what's up with neckties? Those are utterly otiose and silly any more, no?
    None of those things listed are retarded. What's retarded is a photo ID that doesn't ID.
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    Senior Member lochinvar's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Philistine
    Kind of depends what the point of it is, though. E.g. drivers licenses are to show that the person driving has passed a test, or otherwise been licensed by the state. Identification is only secondary. For many years, many states did not use picture ID's for some or all drivers licenses, usually listing hair color, eye color, height and weight as identifying charachteristics.

    Not sure is some still do that or not.

    --Philistine
    'Course, if the person was covered up you wouldn't be able to tell their hair color, eye color, etc.

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    Senior Member kalivor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cowpaste
    None of those things listed are retarded. What's retarded is a photo ID that doesn't ID.
    What do you call someone who's incapable of buying pants that fit, then?

    And what's the point of a necktie? To make you look presentable? According to their beliefs, that's what these people are doing: Making themselves look presentable for their license photo. And technically speaking, all it is is a little card saying they're allowed to drive a car ... the uses that *other* groups have for it are inconsequential to this: They passed a test. All it's supposed to identify them as is a licesned driver ...

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    Senior Member kalivor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lochinvar
    'Course, if the person was covered up you wouldn't be able to tell their hair color, eye color, etc.
    Nor would you be able to identify them from a photograph of their head.

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    Senior Member D'Artag-NOT's Avatar
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    Getting back to the topic--

    --the rules governing fencing attire are for safety purposes, so they really shouldn't be circumvented. Each fencer must take the responsibility to follow the rules, but I would imagine that a lot of religious clothing requirements would not preclude wearing regulation fencing attire:
    • Temple garments worn by Mormons--no conflict as they're worn under regular clothing anyway.
    • I'd imagine that modesty requirements for Muslim women could be met simply by covering the hair, possibly with a tightly-fastened scarf that would fit under the mask. Regular fencing attire covers everything else except the face and the non-weapon hand. It's my understanding that it's considered modest for women in most Muslim traditions to leave the face and hands uncovered. (Those from more restrictive traditions are probably not fencing anyway.)
    • Sikh turbans--can these be modified to fit under the mask and still meet the religious requirements? I'm not familiar enough with the tradition to know. Also, Sikh men are required to be bearded. Any USFA regulations about facial hair?
    • Yarmulkes. Two bobby pins and you're good to go under the mask, as a yarmulke is a close-fitting skullcap.

    And just as an aside, isn't it disrespectful to dismiss other people's religious and cultural practices as "retarded"? (Besides being disrespectful of people who really are mentally disabled?)
    "Never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never . . . never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense." Churchill, 1941

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    Senior Member jBirch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by D'Artag-NOT
    [*]Sikh turbans--can these be modified to fit under the mask and still meet the religious requirements? I'm not familiar enough with the tradition to know. Also, Sikh men are required to be bearded. Any USFA regulations about facial hair?
    The only problem is that a turban can not be worn under any other sort of headress. So you couldn't put it under a mask. Maybe a special "turban-mask" would do the trick? 'Course that may be why there are no sikh's playing any sport that requires a helmet. The skirts thread pointed out another issue and that is religions that demand no distinction between the upper and lower body. How would you deal with that issue?

    The more I think about it, the more I think that fencing regulations do require you to modify your religious beliefs if you want to play. If you're not prepared to relax your religious beliefs, then you are barred from playing.

    Interesting. Any issues with that?
    If it's stupid, but it works, it's not stupid.

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    Senior Member kalivor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jBirch
    The only problem is that a turban can not be worn under any other sort of headress. So you couldn't put it under a mask. Maybe a special "turban-mask" would do the trick? 'Course that may be why there are no sikh's playing any sport that requires a helmet. The skirts thread pointed out another issue and that is religions that demand no distinction between the upper and lower body. How would you deal with that issue?

    The more I think about it, the more I think that fencing regulations do require you to modify your religious beliefs if you want to play. If you're not prepared to relax your religious beliefs, then you are barred from playing.

    Interesting. Any issues with that?
    Well, even if the rules didn't forbid it -- say you CAN wear something that makes the division between your top and bottom halfs indistinguishible -- you'd have great difficulty doing it and being a top level fencer.

    Let's face it -- there's a reason why tennis players wear shorts (or short skirts), as do basketball players, soccer players and all other summer sport players. The ability to move is paramount, and this is helped by the athlete wearing as little as possible while still maintaining support, protection and decency. When they do wear things that are longer, they're stuff like those full-body swimsuits or full-body skin tight uniforms you see in most winter sports.

    Simply put, the freedom of motion provided by bare (or near to bare) skin is invaluable. You'll be less successful if you're hampered by clothes that hang off you.

    Because of this, it seems unlikely that this would ever become an FIE-level issue. The moderates who are willing to dress according to FIE regulations have a notable advantage, simply through what they'd be wearing. Any skirt of greater-than-knee length (when in en garde and lunging) would cause major movement problems ...

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    Posting Hound Purple Fencer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kalivor
    Simply put, the freedom of motion provided by bare (or near to bare) skin is invaluable. You'll be less successful if you're hampered by clothes that hang off you.

    Because of this, it seems unlikely that this would ever become an FIE-level issue. The moderates who are willing to dress according to FIE regulations have a notable advantage, simply through what they'd be wearing. Any skirt of greater-than-knee length (when in en garde and lunging) would cause major movement problems ...
    Which is one reason I was a little bummed when the one Muslim guy stopped taking lessons...in addition to the sheer potential I saw in him, I was very interested to see if we could come to some sort of uniform accomodation.

    For all I know, he may be fencing elsewhere, tho.
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    Senior Member D'Artag-NOT's Avatar
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    Would a unitard meet the requirements? Or is it just that the legs aren't supposed to show at all?
    "Never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never . . . never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense." Churchill, 1941

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    Gav
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    This thread is pretty retarded. I don't see the point in it. I'll be monitoring this thread. If it moves any closer to prejuidicial statements then it will be closed and/or removed.

    PS. I don't think that this is a particularly Fencing related thread - off to the Watercooler with it.
    Last edited by Gav; 07-30-2004 at 04:16 AM.
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    Senior Member jBirch's Avatar
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    Well, didn't I get slapped! *grin* Sorry Gav, didn't realise that this was such a sensitive topic on board.

    D'Art, great points. I think the Muslim requirement that Purple encountered is that there be no visible distinction between upper body and lower body so a unitard would most certainly NOT satisfy that. I wonder if just an extension of the light denim/nylon fabric in the jacket/breeches could be extended from the bottom of the lame to form a skirt/kilt? Make it light enough and loose enough and movement is not a problem. It would be a definite disadvantage in epee (more target area) but it would work for rec fencers wanting to compete in the other two without issue. I know that early female fencers, fencing foil, were required to wear a skirt so there has to be some precedent, though it may be impossible with the safety requirements now.

    For the Sikh community the only really problematic thing is the turban. I wonder if we could take a regulation mask and cut the top off it so that it becomes ok? Calgary has a rather large Sikh community and a couple of them have told me that they'd love to fence, but have to wear their turban. It would be great for our membership if we could figure out how to get some of their members out to fence.

    Near as I can see there are only two religious requirements that FIE guidelines preclude: the turban and the dishdasha. I understand the safety issues that the FIE is trying to mitigate, but is there someway that a uniform can be provided, or allowance made, that satisfies *both* requirements? Anybody else have any experience addressing this issue?
    If it's stupid, but it works, it's not stupid.

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    Gav
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    Hi J Birch.

    It's not so much that it's sensitive as potentiallly insensitive. Things could [easily]stray in the wrong direction [like a couple of threads that I've removed in the past] and I think that some of the other posts border on that. Personally I think this is a daft thread.
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    Senior Member jBirch's Avatar
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    Gav,

    Fair enough.

    Rest,

    Kindly refrain from getting me kicked off the board or my rep pushed so low as to be submerged. *grin* I get great glee from that little green dot and cringe at the evil red ones.

    Thanks.
    If it's stupid, but it works, it's not stupid.

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    Senior Member D'Artag-NOT's Avatar
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    In Defense of This Thread

    I'd like to defend the intent of this thread. jBirch is concerned with helping people who are genuinely interested in fencing, but who also have a major priority that might interfere with fencing. What's wrong with that?

    As the proud starter of the "Fencing on the Sabbath" thread, I can relate. Most of us have other priorities in our lives that we must balance with our fencing. Maybe those are other time obligations, such as the odious necessity of earning a living. Fencing is not cheap, so the expenses of fencing must be balanced with other financial concerns. Some of the younger posters to these boards have trouble convincing their parents of the value of fencing.

    In this case, the priority to be balanced is religious observation. That's a major deal in many people's lives, and I don't think there's anything "daft" about starting a thread to address it. (Some of the responses to any thread dealing with religion can get pretty off-kilter, but that's the posters--not the thread.)

    So you go, jBirch! Possibly your friends can get involved in SCA or something else, where they can engage in swordplay while maintaining their personal integrity.
    "Never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never . . . never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense." Churchill, 1941

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