As highlighted by the recent threads on sport fencing and kendo, what works best in a competition with particular rules, safety gear and weapon simulators is not always what would work best in a real fight with real weapons. Even down to the way we strike or score points. A cut requires a certain type of movement with a certain portion of the blade to work, and thrusts needs to be extracted before the weapon can be used to defend or attack again. A slight wound to an extremity could seriously hinder a fighter (injured hand or blood in eyes) or it may have no noticeable effect until after the fight (pain hidden by adrenaline for example, or slow bleed).
Sporting systems evolved from combat arts seem, to me, to have boiled down all the complexity of martial arts into a few measurable skills and they tend to test those particular skills in a more or less artificial situation (ie. Removed from more or less of the martial realities). Different sports tend to measure these skills in different measures, dependent on the particular rules and equipment, so that someone who is a top level epeeist might never make a top level kendoka or sport sabruer.
So we come to HEMA. It seems to me that HEMA people by their very definition are keen to avoid some or all of these pitfalls – to try and make our competitions keep as closely to martial realities as is reasonably possible. That’s not to say that our competitions are simulations of duels – they never can be and we accept that they are only measuring certain skills, just like other martial art-derived sports. But I think what is really important to most HEMA people is that we feel our competitions are retaining as many martially important elements as possible, and primarily measuring what we see as the most important martial qualities. It is reasoning like this that has seen the ‘after blow’ rule widely adopted – to cut down on suicidal sniping for points and encourage a good recovery after an attack, also to discourage people stopping when being hit and teaching them to keep fighting even if wounded.
Now, if our ultimate aim is to test as rounded a skill set as possible, then what would people think of running a competition which had more than one type of competition to establish overall scores – a triathlon or pentathlon for example? Just off the cuff, say a longsword competition where there was a one-on-one fencing round with feders, a cutting and thrusting effectiveness round, and multiple-opponent or mis-matched attacker round, where the contestants would be scored cumulatively?
I am sure this would be fun, but do people think it would be worthwhile in a useful way?