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E Stafford




PostPosted: Tue 13 Oct, 2009 7:34 pm    Post subject: SCA         Reply with quote

After reading some of the posts here within the past couple of weeks, I feel that I have to break silence and say some things. In the interests of full disclosure, I am not a member of the above mentioned organization. There are things I don't know, and that's fine.

I have read, or interpreted reading, reenactors as being somewhat..less than "true" Western Martial Artists. We can't, or in my case, won't do the full range of techniques, or practice in this way. I would dare say that such a stance is erronous, for the following reasons.

First, we're not academics, or as a whole interested in recreating the martial arts. We're in this for fun. Now, there are some, myself included, who are very interested in the historical martial arts aspect. There are two of us who are trying to teach ourselves Thibault, and I haven't seen a more complicated martial art than Spanish Circle, which isn't saying much. However, we have jobs, lives, and friends to keep up with, in addition to other activities within the Shire. And that's fine. There is, however, a more pressing matter.

There is a second reason that we don't do the full range of techniques, and that is safety. I watched Reclaiming the Blade, and have reviewed the fighting tapes several times. (I would LOVE to get my hands on those fight book pictures.) I cannot conceive of a way to do a throw, with a sword in hand, safely. The main part I'm worried about is the quillons. We all know the quillons were used as weapons, or at least auxiliary striking objects. In the midst of a throw, where are those? How do I avoid them? These questions become much more pertinent when you are fighting, for example, a child (SCAdians can do rapier fighting at 14 or 16, I forget which). I have been in a martial arts class where a sparring partner disregarded my safety, and I don't care to know how close my arm was to being broken. I know, personally, another who was stabbed by a broken epee blade in a mundane fencing tournament. If I do not have 110% control of a technique, I will not attempt a given technique. with anyone.

The third reason is the influx we have. My fencing master just started with a new group the other day. I've been doing it, off and on, for three years. They've been doing it for two months, maybe. The secondary teacher has been doing it for 10+. We don't have black belts who train together, blue belts who train together, and so forth. In my area, we just don't have the size. One of the younger fighters has to deal with school, and we haven't seen her for months. Is that bad? No. Is it good? Depends on what you believe. But, my master has to teach all of us, and so we stay on the basics. Nothing fancy. And disarms, trips, and throws take more than a certain level of skill to execute safely.

So, this entire reenactor vs WMA thing is really a straw man argument. It's apples vs. papayas. We're not in the same league that the regular fighting groups are. Is that bad? Not Necessarily. Is it good? Depends on what you believe. Do we do the best we can? Yes. Is it up to everyone else's? Again, that's for everyone else to determine. I've now said my piece.
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Gavin Kisebach




Location: Lacey, Wa US
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PostPosted: Tue 13 Oct, 2009 9:09 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hello E,

I fully plan to re-read your post a couple of times but before the discussion begins I feel compelled to note that this is a contentious subject that has come up many, many times in this forum and elsewhere.

From what I have seen thus far the biggest cause of friction is the fact that everyone comes to the table with their own goals; some are stated aloud, and some are not. Watch for these misunderstandings as the discussion proceeds, because this debate may get derailed for entirely avoidable reasons.

I would also note that SCA "combat" has a lot of subdivisions, so I have to ask whether you are talking about "Light" rapier fighting or "Heavy" rattan fighting, and further whether you mean single combat or mass melee.

And I should also note that most SCAdians describe SCA martial activities as "sport combat" or a "martial sport". because it's certainly not reenacting - I've been fighting for six or seven years now and have never once re-enacted a historical battle.

There are only two kinds of scholars; those who love ideas and those who hate them. ~ Emile Chartier
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E Stafford




PostPosted: Wed 14 Oct, 2009 12:57 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'm mostly a rapier fighter, although I wouldn't mind picking up cut and thrust, assuming I can armor for it, and find the rules for the Utah area. (Can't even armor for light, at the moment). I don't play much with the heavies. The realistic fighting stuff might be able to be done with heavies, but...it would depend. a lot.
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Andrew Maxwell




Location: New Zealand
Joined: 03 May 2009

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PostPosted: Wed 14 Oct, 2009 6:45 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi E,

I am very definitely at the WMA end of the spectrum; however, that does not mean I agree with those who automatically denigrate members of the SCA. I can understand the occasional frustrations of those who feel WMA is misrepresented, but that is not the fault of the SCA (individual members of the SCA may be at fault at times, but that is nothing to do with the SCA as a whole).

Saying that membership of the SCA makes you less of a martial artist is, IMHO, like saying I am less of a martial artist because I also occasionally play snooker. SCA combat is, at least as far as those SCA members who I've talked to, a very different beast from the reconstruction of medieval martial arts. And I know people who do both- they aren't mutually exclusive Wink

You are right as far as the safety issue- there are a lot of techniques you couldn't perform safely outside of the dojo/training hall environment (grappling with weapons is one example, as you mentioned). Does this mean that SCA combat is different from actual medieval combat? Of course. Does it invalidate it as a hobby? Of course not.

TBH, it bugs me a bit that a few people in the WMA community who are very intolerant of others make the rest of us seem narrow-minded and petty. I guess you get people like that in any group, though. Basically, I'd just like to put it out there that the majority of us WMA practitioners don't see any reason why our chosen hobby should interfere with anyone else's.

cheers
Andy
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F. Carl Holz




Location: someplace out on the water (and probably not able to access my PM)
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PostPosted: Wed 14 Oct, 2009 8:14 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

a while back there was a discusion on the results of a SCAdian and a WMartist got together and tested out their abilities against each other; the point being that the WMArtist didn't think that the SCAdian could use what he knew from the SCA in any other setting.
the results were rather clear. after a series of test cuts using a real sword performed by the SCAdian, and several rounds of sparring (think they used wasters) with grappling allowed both sides agreed that the martial sports found in the SCA could be used very effectively in other areas with some small adjustments.

I myself plan on (eventually) putting together a SCA legal kit so i can play in the SCA as well as train in WMA. True, there are some things that i wont be able to do, i like to think it will add a new way of training. that and it just looks like fun!
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Michael Eging




Location: Ashburn, VA
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PostPosted: Wed 14 Oct, 2009 8:19 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Just a couple of thoughts specific to your comments. I am not going to take on the broader issue as others are of comparing WMA and SCA.

1. Finding a good, consistent leader is a major plus. I had the opportunity to work out with the Northern Jersey Study group of ARMA for years and having a consistently available, and knowledgeable instructor was helpful as we began going down various technique paths. HOWEVER, do not think you can't do a lot on your own. You can set up a pell. You can develop comfort with guards and cuts, you can practice footwork, etc. All this makes the time you do spend in organized study more productive, in my opinion.

2. Period texts are available and please get your hands on them. Many of the WMA sites you will find many persons who participate on this site have links to original documents. The ARMA site has a ton of information and materials. In our study group in Jersey, we would often take responsibility for studying something, reviewing videos, texts, interpretations, etc. then bring that effort back to the study group. Then we learn together from someone's effort.

3. My son started studying WMA at 14 years old. By the time he was 17, he could participate in sparring, grappling, etc. and really take it to more experienced members of the study group. Working out with steel takes a bit of experience and I would never recommend it for someone starting out. But there are padded weapons (again, see the ARMA site and others for leads) that make sparring, grappling, etc. much safer. Talk with other WMA people to get tips, etc. But some of my best understanding of the original material has come from use in a melee type environment. Padded gear, protective weapons, etc. make this possible.

Just a couple of thoughts as you consider what you will do. If you have the interest, please pursue it.

Cool

M. Eging
Hamilton, VA
www.silverhornechoes.com
Member of the HEMA Alliance
http://hemaalliance.com/
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Bill Grandy
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PostPosted: Wed 14 Oct, 2009 9:43 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Andrew Maxwell wrote:
TBH, it bugs me a bit that a few people in the WMA community who are very intolerant of others make the rest of us seem narrow-minded and petty. I guess you get people like that in any group, though. Basically, I'd just like to put it out there that the majority of us WMA practitioners don't see any reason why our chosen hobby should interfere with anyone else's.


Amen to that.

Virginia Academy of Fencing Historical Swordsmanship
--German Longsword & Italian Rapier in the DC Area--


"A despondent heart will always be defeated regardless of skill."
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Jean-Carle Hudon




Location: Montreal,Canada
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PostPosted: Wed 14 Oct, 2009 10:18 am    Post subject: tolerance, fun and...         Reply with quote

The probability that anyone will use swordplay, armored or unarmored, in this lifetime is nil.That is not the point of any of this.
The SCA sets up an imaginary playing field, according to its own best efforts, which allows people to use swordlike mediums to playfight, and does so with a level of vigor that makes their system fun to those who wish to engage in a martial like experience, without getting hurt, at least not on purpose, though accidents can and do happen. The rules they espouse show that their medium is not to be confused with recreating ancient techniques of mortal combat.
The study of ancient texts is an altogether different activity. The effort is directed not at having fun and playing in tournaments to become king, duke , don or whatever. The effort is directed at understanding the techniques espoused by ancient masters through the limited materials they have left us. This requires the reproduction of the movements through practice and training, which is similar to any other sport, be it through the use of hockey stick & skates, or tennis racquet & footwork, and so on...
If either of these activities are fun for you, why not ?
If you feel the need to denigrate one at the expense of the other, ask yourself why you bother to do so.
I have enjoyed both on occasion, and had negative experiences with both, on occasion. The negative experiences are usually a function of some of the personalities involved, not the essence of the game or the sport itself. Read Chad's post on why he hesitates to become involved with HEMA groups, and you will notice that many of the comments touch upon this type of difficulty. It's a people problem, not a systems problem.

Bon coeur et bon bras
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Anders Nilsson




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PostPosted: Wed 14 Oct, 2009 10:37 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hello everyone.

My basic thoughtīs is that as long as itīs fun and you enjoy what you do, itīs a good thing.

There are something in the SCA/WMA/Reenactment world that sometimes bugs me.

Itīs when people claim to do know thing that they clearly donīt know things about. But thatīs a person problem, not a group problem.

As a teacher I get quite mad when a SCA fighter in a armour made from taped together hockey parts, wielding a rattan club is claming the heīs historical accurate and is doing historical fighting.

If he was doing it for his own enjoyment, I wouldnīt mind, but when itīs in public, I think itīs wrong. The same goes for reenactment/WMA groups that claim to do the same.

If you do things in public displays/workshops/education etc, you should know what you are talking about.

And as I said, this is not a problem related to certain groups.

Anders "Nelle" Nilsson, Instructor Angermanna Mnhfs
To train martial arts without fighting is like slalom without snow.
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Chris Arrington





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PostPosted: Wed 14 Oct, 2009 10:42 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

One thing that certain "unkind" members of the WMA community should realize, is that outside of major urban areas, most people do not have access to the very limited number of WMA groups. If you want to play, you have the SCA and... well thats about it. And in many places, even the SCA is limited in numbers and opportunities.

And to say that it has to be historical to be a martial "art", instead of "sport", is also disengenious. There are a limited range of ways that the human body can wield weapons. So to think that a SCA member couldn't really fight if needed, because his technique is different than what is found in a 14th Century fightbook, is like saying that a modern MMA fighter can't fight because he doesn't slavishly adhere to the certain style of a particular ancient kung-fu master. *shrugs* Modern MMA fighter... Ancient Kung Fu Master... Both would kick my hind end in a real fight Happy

Personally, I applaud both and think they each have their places. Not that I think that any of us are seriously going to be fighting to the death in armor, wielding swords, anythime soon. But the victor would be determined by many factors other than the points commonly used to deride the other community.
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Steven H




Location: Boston
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PostPosted: Wed 14 Oct, 2009 11:33 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Andrew Maxwell wrote:

Saying that membership of the SCA makes you less of a martial artist is, IMHO, like saying I am less of a martial artist because I also occasionally play snooker.


I really like that way of putting it. Mind if I steal it?

Cheers,
Steven

P.S. Remember that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery Big Grin

Kunstbruder - Boston area Historical Combat Study
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Andrew Maxwell




Location: New Zealand
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PostPosted: Wed 14 Oct, 2009 12:08 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Steven H wrote:
Andrew Maxwell wrote:

Saying that membership of the SCA makes you less of a martial artist is, IMHO, like saying I am less of a martial artist because I also occasionally play snooker.


I really like that way of putting it. Mind if I steal it?

Cheers,
Steven

P.S. Remember that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery Big Grin


It's yours Happy

Andy
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Randall Pleasant




Location: Flower Mound, Texas
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PostPosted: Wed 14 Oct, 2009 1:36 pm    Post subject: Re: SCA         Reply with quote

E Stafford

Just because an active involves fighting does not make it a martial art. WMA is about personal defense, that is why the historical masters called it the Science of Defense rather than the science of offense. Gang bangers are very good at killing each other but they totally suck at protecting themselves. Note that you don't see the military or law-enforcement asking them to teach them how to do a gansta shot. The SCA is very good at what it does, I sometimes like to what them beat the crap out of each other. But note that you also don't see the military or law-enforcement asking th SCA to teach them how to do a wrap shot. The SCA fight hard and have lots of fun, but it is what it is and it is not a martial art.

I suggest reading the following:

The Challenge of Defining a Martial Art
http://www.thearma.org/essays/Defining-A-Martial-Art.html

How to tell if your Fencing is a Martial Art or a Combat Sport
http://www.thearma.org/essays/MartialArtorCombatSport.htm


Ran Pleasant
ARMA DFW
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Gavin Kisebach




Location: Lacey, Wa US
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PostPosted: Wed 14 Oct, 2009 6:37 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I would invite anyone who is has never seen SCA heavy fighting to check out VitaPorten, a European SCA website and a repository for specific "heavy" techniques.

http://www.vitaporten.se/

Quote:
Gang bangers are very good at killing each other but they totally suck at protecting themselves.


Ran I have to ask you to your source for this, I don't think it's provable or particularly relevant.

The SCA is a western martial art (I will not say martial science, though perhaps only I care about the distinction).

1 it is western; it doesn't get much more western than California, the origin of the SCA. The weapons systems simulated are those that were very prevalent in Europe in the middle ages - sword and shield, spears, bows, axes, and so on.

2 It is most definitely martial in nature; it's not an abstract sport like soccer of baseball, it is directly and obviously martial.

3 It is an art in the same sense that Tae Kwon Do is an art; not always the most street practical, but not to totally divorced from practical application. As Chris noted, there are a limited range of ways that the human body can wield weapons. You might argue the relative efficacy of SCA technique vs ARMA/WMA et al, but that's not the same as totally disregarding the skill set.

4 It is NOT historical; not taken from historical sources (for the most part; this may change if HWMA practitioners were to mingle more freely across the great divide).

So by my definition it's a WMA, but not a HWMA. Of course with any huge, open organization, results may vary from town to town or group to group. Ask a thousand people and they will dive you a thousand descriptions of SCA fighting.

There are only two kinds of scholars; those who love ideas and those who hate them. ~ Emile Chartier
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P. Cha




PostPosted: Wed 14 Oct, 2009 6:45 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Randall, as a member of the SCA, I find your analogy of SCA combat to gang bangers quite offensive.

Also of course law enforcement and military wonīt ask how to do a wrap shot...just like they wonīt ask ARMA how you do half swording. That has nothing to do with the validity of either studies. Also if you think SCA combat is all about offense, then you really donīt know enough to comment on what we do. And finally, even in HEMA, sword and shield is pretty highly extrapolated and not far off from what SCA does. I do lean more for SCA as a sport vs art as it is more safety interested then application interested...however it is a useful tool to add to WMA sparring(having full follow through changes things somewhat which is something many WMA groups donīt wanna admit about their sparring). Also the variety of weapon match up is interesting and not something you see much on WMA.
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Patrick Kelly




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PostPosted: Wed 14 Oct, 2009 7:31 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

E. Stafford,

I understand your desire to defend your chosen activity, I really do. However, before one creates a thread like this, or opens ones mouth, puts pen to paper, blogs on the Facebook (or whatever that stuff is), etc., one should take a few seconds to remember an old adage...................................

Am I part of the problem or part of the solution?

You've started an argument (and that's what this is quickly turning into) that has been hashed over again and again, has no discernable conclusion and will undoubtedly require some kind of moderator involvement because some people just can't stop from making a donkey cavity out of themselves.

Now I'm not telling you not to voice your feelings, that's strictly up to you. However, when this thread reaches its inevitable conclusion please read through it and ask yourself if creating it was of any benefit.

I think you can already guess what the answer will be.
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Gavin Kisebach




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PostPosted: Wed 14 Oct, 2009 8:21 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jean-Carle I just read your post and suppose I re-hashed what you had already said rather well. That's what I get for skimming threads.

I may have asked this in previous threads, but I don't recall ever getting a clear response. My primary interest in the SCA is the dynamic of group combat; is there any equivalent in HWMA or WMA, or even EMA? Do any of these groups fight en masse with intent? I must exclude re-enactment groups that "fight" with a pre-determined outcome.


[Edit]: if not, has anyone in the HWMA community ever expressed interest in mass melee? It's a very different animal Big Grin

There are only two kinds of scholars; those who love ideas and those who hate them. ~ Emile Chartier
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Jean-Carle Hudon




Location: Montreal,Canada
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PostPosted: Wed 14 Oct, 2009 8:28 pm    Post subject: fun!! ??         Reply with quote

Patrick,
E. Staffford did mention that he was into the SCA for the fun of it, so whether he considers it martial fun, or quasi-martial fun, or imitation martial fun, or post-modern martial fun, is quite immaterial...and so we are back to Monty Python once again: did he come here for an argument or to be insulted??? Any which way one responds will lead to an absurd result, and the most absurd result is inevitably put forward by those who wish to make absolute categories of right and wrong, true martial art vs sport vs game,etc...one man's tiddly winks is another man's game of strategy, or so it appears. Randall Pleasant referred us to two articles where some individual tries to create guidelines whereby we can judge what is martial art, and what is not. It is a fine attempt, somewhat akin to attempting to hold water in one's cupped hands... it just doesn't work, but the fun is in trying, until such time as one begins to truly believe that he has the Truth( with a capital T) in hand... That is when the arguments begin.
I do agree with you that these discussions lead to dead ends, that they are inevitable, and some donkey cavities have already appeared, but as E. Stafford allowed that he was only in it for the fun of it, I think he deserves some slack as we were all new to all this once upon a time. In reading our collective responses Mr Stafford will soon realize that there are different schools of thought out there, some less tolerant than others, and will choose to tailor his cloth accordingly.
Who knows? Maybe he did come here for an argument...or maybe the other option Monty Python mentionned...

Bon coeur et bon bras
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P. Cha




PostPosted: Wed 14 Oct, 2009 8:45 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Gavin Kisebach wrote:
Jean-Carle I just read your post and suppose I re-hashed what you had already said rather well. That's what I get for skimming threads.

I may have asked this in previous threads, but I don't recall ever getting a clear response. My primary interest in the SCA is the dynamic of group combat; is there any equivalent in HWMA or WMA, or even EMA? Do any of these groups fight en masse with intent? I must exclude re-enactment groups that "fight" with a pre-determined outcome.


[Edit]: if not, has anyone in the HWMA community ever expressed interest in mass melee? It's a very different animal Big Grin


You know, this is something I havenīt seen much in HEMA...and I donīt see how one could pull this off safely without rules of safety that the SCA has. I mean you canīt stop a blow after it hits if you donīt want the second guy to skewer you and if you do follow through, blunt training swords becomes WAY to dangerous without some hefty armor that all involved need to wear. And grapple in mass melee with swords that has pokey hilts in hand while in full armor seems like a fairly horrible idea as well. Well you could always do what some of use do...learn HEMA and do SCA and then extrapolate what you will out of both experiences.
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Jean-Carle Hudon




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PostPosted: Wed 14 Oct, 2009 8:46 pm    Post subject: group combat         Reply with quote

Gavin,
I just read your post. No, I don't know of any other activity close to the kick of a field or woods battle at Pennsic, though to keep in line with the other discussions I would never attempt to argue that these situations reproduce anything near to the real thing. They are quite simply violent, and fun....and allow our imaginations to go a step further in wondering how it might have been for real. One can line up all day in revolutionary war garb, with black powder muskets, and hear all the noise and drums, but none of that can mimic the pure terror of facing a disciplined charge of regular troops with fixed bayonets, but participating in a reenactment is still fun, and does allow for a certain insight into how our ancestors may have felt... so rattan wielding adversaries can never measure up to anything medieval warriors had to face... but nevertheless, there is an adrenaline surge as the lines come together and the shots start to fly.
I was once drawn into a Larp battle with many participants, and a form of field battle, and I must admit that even though many of the costumes looked way better than your average SCA fare, the lightness of the impact of latex weapons took a lot away from the feeling of being involved in something potentially painfull....
I do hope to get back to Pennsic for a couple of battle before I'm done playing around, but I also hope that I never get confused enough to think that the games I enjoy somehow define or describe reality.

Bon coeur et bon bras
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