Monday, February 20, 2017

Aedult Swim 2017

Five hundred fighters converged on Milton Pennsylvania this weekend for Aedult Swim 2. Sir Agro came the farthest, flying in from Australia. Really, what more need be said? 

In a large way, Aedult Swim was a bit of a failure for this year. I did not seek a lot of people out. There were kings there, but I never fought any of them. I think I fought one Duke (maybe more, I fought a few other knights). I missed my shot at Branos. A lot of this was because people were seeking *me* out, which I guess is kind of cool. I kept getting challenged the minute I got on the floor.

I only fought on Saturday because of a minor injury. I had hyper extended my elbow at Birka and not fought since. The second fight it flared up. I was worried I wouldn't get to take advantage of the big smorgasbord of fighters in front of me. But I got it taped up and it didn't bother me again till much later in the day. 

I don't treat Aedult Swim like other practices. I'm not there to work on a specific technique. I'm just there to fight a good variety of fighters and to work on my endurance. I fought the first 13 fighters between 4 and 8 fights each. After that I broke for pizza. I had a new goal: fight more fighters than I'd fought the first day at last year's Aedult Swim. That meant I needed eight more. I was feeling sore and wanted to quit. The elbow was a bit sore again. I wanted to quit--so I fought on. I just put my helmet on and went out to fight two or three fights with eight fighters so I could call it a day. 

The big technical take away, if there was one, was that pell work is helping. In particular with my old-school Bellatrix attacks. I tend to start with that style against fighters who don't use an A Frame, because I don't have to worry about that quick back hand that I can't block with my shield in my normal stance. I was doing REALLY WELL with simple Bellatrix attacks--the off-side head/snap with a tear-drop return, and the snap/off-side body with a tear-drop return. 

1) Sir Kelick, Midrealm
He was *not* a good warm up fight. He was all over me. I was breathing heavily too fast. My wind was restricted. Got him twice with hook wraps, once with a great short stick as I side stepped. He window parries and leaves himself open to a face thrust.  I figured that out right at the end--fake the leg then throw a short thrust at his face. Big hole there. 

2) Herodotus from Aethelmearc
He's a big guy and a hard hitter but he leaves his off side open a lot. Got him with a snap/off-side body, a slot shot, a shoulder shot, and a slot after taking his leg. This is the fight in which I hurt my elbow. 

3) Sir Silverthorne, Midrealm 
Good two sword fighter. Mean off side thrust. Killed me twice with that. I killed him with slot shots to the body and twice with a butterfly. 

4) Teague AEthelmearc
Only fought four fights iwht Teague. I won 3. He rushes forward and stops his shield. Patience wins a slot shot or back hand. 

5) Sir Baldrik, AEthelmearc
He has an incredible off side. It's strong and he times it well. But that's all he's got. He will fall for a rising snap or a double tap to the legs, and that off-side can be timed to take his shoulder once you know it's coming. . 

6) Ozar (kingdom unknown)
He is a very wiry 2 stick fighter. He favors the off-side thrust. Jerky movement. He tries to stay at range and pick at you, so I killed him by rushing forward and jamming his swords. 

INTERLUDE: 
Training with my Man at Arms, Patrick. Ron and I worked with him for a few fights.  

7) James Edgersom, Ealdomere
Tall heater fighter. Was having knee trouble, so we just called out leg shots. He is about my height and my range. I got him with slots. I got a good leg shot on him I'm proud of because I saw the opening, I set up goofy foot, threw the head shot, passed off left, and hit the leg, like Lucan's body shot. It worked really well. 

8) Wulfar, Atlantia
He has an odd problem. His follow through is so strong it carries him past me, opening him up completely. Killed him several times that way. Also got him with the trick that's been working a lot lately--the rule-of-three trick throwing a rising snap after setting up with two double-striker to the leg. 

9)  Olaf, AEthelmearc
He's a two-stick fighter. His tips drift apart when he's unsure where you're going. He has a deep basket hilt block for his leg. I won all our fights by coaxing those tips apart. 

10) Sir Evander Ealdomere
He wears a very nice german kit, with a globose over a waffenrack and a wide-brimmed helmet, with a small heater. He's very wriley.  I won our first fight and our last three, and we traded in between. I beat him with that same rule-of three set up rising snap, a hook wrap, sanp/off-side body, and closed with a butterfly. 

11) Sir Galen Midrealm
Galen is a fomrer squire of Duke Stephen of Beckenham. Beck and I are from the same town, and we authorized on the same day (1st Mists vs. Cynagua War, AS 13). We use a lot of the same techniques. Before I changed to a more Eastern style, I probably fought more like Beck--at least when I was fighting with a heater--than anybody else. We have the same molinee, use some of the same combination of Radnor/Rolf/Bellatrix inspired technique, and a lot of the same fakes. So, naturally, I used my super-secret Beck knowledge on his former squire. I used some old-school Bellatrix technique on him, the off-side/on-side head combo, and it worked. I anticipated his blocks well. Then I started setting him up with some Beck techniques, hoping he'd anticipate where I was going. He did. Best one was our last fight, when I set him up with a Beck style millinee, doubled it, knowing h'ed thing it was a leg shot, stepping off-line to my left and short sticking him in the face. Too much fun. 

12) Duke Cygnus from Aethelmearc. 
Great fights! We'd fought last year, and it had been one of the highlights of my trip. He still uses a fairly wide but short Scutum. Cat got good videos of our fights. Once again, going old school Bellatrix worked best. I was proudest of breaking down the opening he presented when he threw his deep leg shot and hitting him with a cut from a high guard. 

13) Elkhart, Calontir
Wow! He's a great curved heater fighter. Tight small circle offense, super defense. I could not beat him on the inside at all, but on the outside he couldn't beat me. Bellatrix technique was best--I got him three times with a Bellatrix style back hand/snap of a tear-drop.

PIZZA BREAK 

Fighters 14-21 were in fairly rapid succession. My goal became fighting more people than I'd fought last year. So I stayed out till I'd fought at least two fights with eight more people. Meg, Lothar, Sir Tash, Wulfstan's son--can't remember the rest of the names. Now I'm done. That was just fighting through. My sloppiness by now was getting sloppier. The soreness was getting sore-er. It was such a fun tired.

Sunday I did not fight.

There are 75 days until Crown Tourney. My next time in armor will be Sunday in Iron Bog. 

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

BIRKA! 2017

WORKOUTS
Still the same. I'm on day 24 of my century: 100 strikes on the pell daily for 100 days. I'm back up to averaging 10,000 steps a day (last week was just over 70,000). Also, I'm still doing 50 push ups and 50 squats every day.

TECHNIQUE
Stay alive and fight fast.

FIGHTING
You've got to be careful at Birka. It can overwhelm you if you're not careful. It's easy to take it too far, lose track of how tired you are, and pass out from exhaustion.

I don't actually try to win Birka.

If you're unfamiliar, the tournament at A Market Day at Birka is a holmgang inspired "bear pit." There are ten "oxhides" -- 10'x10' squares, numbered, laid out in two rows of 5, the inside edges touching. Each fighter has a number taped to the right side of his or her helmet. One fighter starts on each oxhide and they feed fighters in to the oxhides constantly. If you step one foot off the oxhide you lose your leg. If you step both feet off you are dead. If you win, you stay in. Wounds are retained. If you lose you report to the MOL and give them your number and the number of the person who beat you. If there's a double kill both report to the MOL. The MOL and several assistants sit at a table recording losses and wins on laptops. You get one point for each fight, one point for each win (or two points for a win and one for a loss). Each fighter in a double kill gets one point. Once you have reported to the MOL you can get back in the line to fight again. It cycles through very fast. This goes on for three hours. There are a lot of fighters (124 this year). Total number of fights recorded was 3,091 (17 fights per minute). The people who win Birka (usually Sir Douglas Henry) have very short fights and almost never take a break. This year he fought 177 fights in the three hours. A few people had a higher winning percentage than he did, but didn't have as many fights.

I pop my hat every three times I die, sit down, and drink water.

My goal for Birka was simple: have at least one run of ten fights (which means 9 straight victories). In fact, I had the best Birka I've ever had: 10th place, 85 fights, 68 wins, 14 losses, 3 double kills, for an 80% win rate. I had a run of 15 and another of 13. Only once did I walk in and lose my first fight. Only once did I lose my second fight.

I won maybe 5 of my fights by using the space. I realized that I was starting too close to the edge of the matt, while my opponents were rushing in to take over the center. So I started closer to the center. I managed to hold my ground against three polearm fighters and maneuver them into stepping out (without pushing--no bull rushes allowed). Of course, with 68 fights, I can't remember most of them, but I do remember a few things.

I killed one guy with the same technique I'd killed Bill with at Iron Bog last week: Double strike to the leg, then another, then a leg blow followed by a rising snap. Rule of three.

A-Frame kept me alive but was taking too long. I fought a lot of Bellatrix style because, win or lose, I wanted the fights to go quickly.

I kept seeing the same three polearm fighters from Canada over and over and over again.

A fighter from Trimaris threw a hook/thrust at me. I dodged it, but it was the first time I'd ever seen anybody but me use that technique .

Most of my kills were simple snaps from a hanging guard.

People were ignoring my leg shots.

I killed Pelandreas twice (at least), once with a technique similar to the one I taught at Iron Bog last week. I engaged his sword with mine as I closed, squared up and pressed. Then I side-stepped to my right and threw a snap a la Bellatrix. Duke Kenrick looked at me and said "you're really sharp today."

I killed Donnan twice, because he couldn't back up.

I killed Avaldr.

I lost to Doug once, then killed him.

I killed Willy with a hook/wrap.

I killed Arne.

I am pretty sure I killed Zippy.

I killed Herjolf, a big tall lefty knight from Northshield who was Lars' squire (so in our lineage).

My worst loss was to Cullyn. I was just too tired to do what it would have taken.

Here is the best part: I was the last man standing. As it came down to it, after they'd closed off the line and everybody had fed in, they started to consolidate the fields. I had to beat Arne, then Doug, then another fighter, then I was the last one left. I never in my life thought I would be the last man standing at Birka.

The results are located at http://www.northernarmy.org/results/market-day-at-birka/market-day-at-birka-2017 . Be sure to look at "expanded results by fighter."

It's always a good idea to take a week off after Birka. I'm still sore.

There are 93 days until Crown Tournament. My next time in armor will likely be next Thursday.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Iron Bog and other stuff

It's good to be back in armor. Yesterday was only the second time I've fought since Crown. But it's not like I have been idle. Two weeks ago, in honor of Kido, I began doing the century drill. I haven't done it in years. It's quite simple: you hit the pell 100 times a day for 100 days. If you lose count on any day you start over again from blow #1. If you skip a day you start over from Day #1. It is about discipline as much as it is about form.

There's lots of ways to do pell practice. I have a pell in the back garden, a concrete pillar in the basement, and various items upstairs in the apartment. I've got old swords, sticks, and a flex bar. So far, I've used the flexbar twice, just as an experiment. The rest of the time has been in the basement. Sometimes I do the 1-6 drill (which, when I do it, comes to 78 strikes) plus 22 other strikes. Sometimes I just throw 100 of the same blow in succession. It's important right now because power generation has left me for the moment.

On Saturday, I also took another German Longsword class.

Yesterday was practice in Iron Bog, and we were essentially practicing for Birka. I held a short class on closing range, then we warmed up, then we did a bearpit.

WORKOUTS
Have been great. In addition to my 50 push ups and 50 squats everyday, I have been throwing 100 blows at the pell.

CLASS
There are many ways to close range, but as Firoe and Liechtenaur and Silver and everybody else explain, you always want to move the hand before you move the body or the foot. I refer to this as clearing a path then following it. In SCA combat, we usually have a shield, this means that, in contrast to what Silver teaches, we can step without striking, so long  as we step behind our shield.

I used two exercises to demonstrate this point. The first was a silver-like cut and step (time of the hand, time of the foot) using an exercise Duke Paul teaches. From just outside range, throw a blow at your opponent's shield, and let the momentum of the blow carry you forward into a step. You are advancing behind your sword. Once your sword impacts their shield, step forward with your left foot, so you are now square to them, bringing your shield up to crowd them and fame them. Then step out tot he right, opening up a new angle for you to attack, either with a snap or a wrap to the head.

The second exercise was following the shield. When someone throws an off-side body shot, block it, then follow the block, by first stepping off line with your left foot then passing with your right. Essentially, you move the shield into the block then follow behind it. As you pass on the right, you again square to your opponent, throwing a snap or wrap as you do so. This also has the advantage of demonstrating Old Castles technique of attacking on a tangent.

TECHNIQUE
I was fighting without a thrusting tip, so I was working on edge technique. I was unfocussed otherwise, and it lost me a few fights. I was intending to work mostly on the A Frame, but I found I needed more offense. I was having trouble generating power, and the A-Frame only exacerbates that problem, so I worked in some technique from the sword behind my head, but I was tentative a lot.

FIGHTING
This was a great practice. Brennan, Harold, and William were the other knights there, and I fought each of them at least once going through the bear pit. My wind is such that I will have to be careful at Birka. As expected, I can barely remember most of my fights. A few stand out. Brenan took my leg then pounded me, inspite of my knowing it was his plan. Still having trouble with leg blocks. I had a couple good fights against William, including one where I beat him with a "rule of three" game: fake high, strike low twice, then throw the wavy-rising snap (fake high off side, fake low, strike the on-side head). This worked. I killed someone else with a rising snap too. I beat Harold at least once with a backhand. My best fight was against Donnan. I use paul's technique, were you square up to the pole arm and sort of waddle toward him with short steps. It worked extremely welll, especially considering that Donnan is taller than I am and has a wicked back edge cut. I managed to take his leg then hit him with a body shot.

I also looked lost out there too. I fought a different pole arm fighter and tried to wait for his attack before I rushed in. I peaked over the top of my and he snapped my head back with a face thrust. Terrible technique. Since I didn't have a thrusting tip, my mind was not always where it needed to be, including in that fight. I was thinging that I couldn't use most of my recent attacks against polearms, because U body thrust them a lot. Also, mys usualy ward agaisnt a polearm presents the tip, which you shouldn't do if you don't have one. After my fight with Donnan I was incredibly winded, and struggled through three more opponents. However, some stuff was working great, especially my cuts from a high guard.

There are five days until Birka, which will be my next time in armor.


Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Nutley Practice 12/14/16, and a word about a squire

Prince Kido

My squire Kido was one of the best fighters I've ever had the privilege to know or cross swords with. He came into the SCA an accomplished martial artist, a judoka who also practiced a Chinese spear technique, which made him instantly one of the best polearm fighters in the kingdom. The thing that stood out about him was that he was good--amazingly good--at anything he decided he wanted to be good at. You should have seen him dance. He surfed, which was amazing for a guy his size. He didn't really understand the SCA or the middle ages. He was always amazed by things that most of us take for granted. He was also arrogant, and left a trail of anger and destruction in his wake. He told stories about himself that seemed to be total bullshit, but at least in the fighting arena and the singing arena he could back them up. He had a habit of winning martial arts tournaments and then breaking the trophies he'd won because they were meaningless to him (though he didn't do this in the SCA). All that mattered was beating his opponents. He was a true samurai: the only things he respected were beauty and the sword. Combined with the arrogance of a samurai was the arrogance of a Sicilian. He lived large (we was large) and loved fiercely and apologized to no one. He embarrassed a lot of knights by being instantly as good as many of them, quickly better than most of them, and never apologizing for the effrontery of kicking their asses.

He was also a classically trained operatic tenor.

One of my favorite memories of Kido was not an SCA memory. It was at Northern Ren Faire. We were part of the combat show. Our bit was two shows a day fighting with SCA weapons but, essentially, BOTN rules. Grappling and throws were ok, you lost when you went to ground. Often we'd fall down after three or five stiff head shots, but otherwise it was like steel fighting with rattan weapons. We started our first little melee and somebody tried to grapple with Kido and he shoved him aside. Then he turned to me and said "wait a minute! I can throw people, can't I?" I said yes, and from that moment on he became a whirlwind. He was like a man among boys, wading through the scrum and tossing people aside, using his spear as a lever and sweeping their legs. He won every fight that day. It wasn't even close. And he grinned that huge kami grin of his the whole time.

Kido was also among the kindest and funniest men that I knew. He had no fear about anything. He would laugh hard and always made me laugh with him. He had an odd mix of fat jolly Sicilian and fat jolly Japanese. If there was a literary character whom Kido resembled, a lot of people would say it was Falstaff, but it wasn't (Anghoise was Fallstaff--it's a long story).  Kido was Porthos. He was not the brightest bulb, but was fiercely loyal. He was not as tall as Porthos, but he was incredibly strong ("Porthos, please kill this fellow with a single blow.") He was funny and charming and just good. He was also a peacock. That's Porthos.

Kido died yesterday. His health had been failing him for a long time and he had both diabetes and congestive heart failure. As one of our friends put it that big heart of his was bad. I am sad, of course for the loss of a cherished member of my family, and for one of my best friends: but, as a knight, I'm full of regret. Kido was my biggest failure. He came in fighting with a polearm, and he was great. I taught him sword and shield, and he was great with that too. I should have been able to get him knighted. He had the skill--hell, he had more than enough skill. He won Mists coronet three times (reigned twice--long story). In the mid-nineties, he was better than probably two thirds of the knights in the West.  If I'd ever been able to teach him that humility virtue, and get him to keep his mouth shut for six months. he'd have been knighted long long ago. But I couldn't. If I'd stayed in kingdom I'm sure he would have stayed the path, because at that moment in time he was just, right, almost, right there: but I didn't and he didn't. I will bear that failure forever now.

I'd give almost anything right now to be able to cross swords with him again, or point at somebody and say "Kido, kill that guy," or to watch him do an aerial somersault over a legged opponent and hit him with a back hand (an amazing feat for a guy that big), or to see him do his Buddha imitation, or (damn!) to hear him sing Pagliaci. But I won't see any of those things ever again. And I'll never pass on my belt to him either. He once pointed to me and said "that belt is a legacy. I expect to wear it some day." He never did, and god-dammit he should have.

NUTLEY on 12/14
I hadn't fought since Crown because of injury and the play. Plus my new glasses had been giving me headaches, which is not something you want before you fight. I was going to wait till after I got back from California to get back into armor, but Tim had brought some people out from AEthelmarc, and I had to go out and play.

TECHNIQUE
I had been wanting to work on my vertical technique, my distance game, precision shots, and my attitude without attitude, the Radnor stuff. This was mostly to build off some good work I'd done at Crown. I used the A-Frame a bit as well, but fell into it as a secondary thing. I'm trying to find a happy medium between the high closed guard and the A-Frame, which is somewhere around where Greggor sets up. Technically it's an A-Frame because he's looking past the front edge of his shield and not over it, so the corner of his shield is guarding his on-side head, but his sword is held higher than in a traditional A-Frame, cocked to make it easier to throw an on-side head shot. Working on this exposed both my arm and my leg, and both got taken a couple of times as a result.

However, I started out each set with a classical Bellatrix fight, and I won all but one of those.

I had a plan and I stuck to it, which was to fight only five sets, and to make one of those sets with Tim. I love fighting Tim. Tim also wanted a piece of me because, he said, I totally kicked his ass at AEdult Swim. I looked back over my notes from that set, and it doesn't seem like I did, but he wanted to beat on me badly.

FIGHTING:
ARNNE
I did really well against ArnNe. I started out with a Bellatrix technique and it flustered him. I got him, once again, mostly with high wraps. He did manage to take my arm three times because of how I was trying to adjust my guard. Well, once I went for a stupid leg shot and he got me with that deep off side he loves so much, which I knew would be the result.

TIM
These fights went 50/50. I won t he first one by taking his leg with a triple strike and then working him for awhile, eventually landing a butterfly with a hook. He got me with two rising snaps, one when I was in an A-Frame, which isn't supposed to happen. This was probably due to the fact that in our second fight he tattooed my leg so hard I got a slight limp, and I didn't want to experience that pain level again.(He'd also beaten on my leg at AEdult Swim).

AQUILLA (Argent, a Chief Embattled Sable between Three Eagles Displayed Gules)
He's a member of ICOD and fights like it, but he's a bit sloppy. He's taller than me and didn't really take advantage of his height. I got him with hook wraps and with timing shots, and once with my follow through back hand, a la Rolf or Ron.

FRECERICK (Quarterly Gules and Argent, in 1 and 3 a Bull Statat Guardant Counter-changed: jupon checky Gules and Argent)
He's a squire from AEthelmarc, short, right handed heater, fast and aggressive. Great fight. His window is his off-side face. I killed him there a few times and also with a butterfly. Afterward we spent about 15 minutes working on Brion's off-side leg fake/off-side head shot, which had really faked him out. With his style it should work well for him.

DUKE MALCOLM (busy purple, black, white-don't ask cause I'm not sure)
He and I were doing exactly the same thing, playing a range game and laying back. we did go corps-to-corps a couple of times, but neither of us managed to turn it into a blow. I mostly got him by moving to my left and changing my angle. He said my off-side head is opening up when I commit. He killed me there once, but he said the opening is constant. He freezes my shield with a shoulder dip (probably thanks to the pain from Tim) and as I throw the head is open. I need some film to study that.

In all it was a great night!

It's 41 days until Birka. My next time in armor is probably West Kingdom 12th Night.

CROWN TOURNEY #95


 
Life is good.

Brion and Anna ran a marvelous crown tourney. I made it to the round of 8. I had a good day. No: I had a GREAT day!

The reason I had a great day is because I did much better than I expected to. I fought much better than I did in Canada last spring. I beat two knights. The two guys who beat me had to fight each other in the semi-finals. I nearly beat the first one and double killed with the other. I was in the mix. And I had not trained for this list--the minute I decided to do Harvey I gave up any serious training for Crown. Plus I'd been injured. I was also really relaxed once we got moving. I wasn't as tense. I wasn't trying not to lose.

Brion decided to have a straight double elimination list--no pools--with byes not being fought. There were 43 fighters in the list, which meant (I think) 21 byes (to get down to a list with powers of 2 in both winners and losers' brackets). That format moves very quickly, and the losers bracket will be two rounds longer than the winners. For me, it meant only six fights in total.

Every fighter I fought except Hrafn was using a kite shield, which meant tight defense. In fact, I didn't take anybody's leg except Hrafn, who was fighting two sword.

I'd also beaten all but one of the fighters I saw in a crown before, and that one I was fighting for the first time.


Radnor has an axiom: we let our opponent tell us how he wants to die. This was my day. Fighters told me how to kill them, and I obliged.

I warmed up against Collin, a fighter I really like to fight. I went through a progression of stuff. I fought him bellatrix style in a high open form, in a high closed form, and in an A-Frame. I lost one fight to him. I used a butterfly and a hook-thrust. I felt good. 

I did not get one of those 21 byes. Not only that, bur there were enough knights in the list that I drew one, Sir Kettil, in the first round. That is a very tough fight to start out with. But he literally told me how he wanted to die. Right before the fight I heard him say he was still fighting in a Zoom-Bang, but he was going to go to something else, because it still hurt to get hit in the body. Then we started fighting. I tried a few things, mostly an A-frame but also a bit of the high open form. Then I noticed he was setting up in a high open form--not an A-Frame, with his elbow held high. THen he set up in range. Then I threw a butterfly on him (which is a double fak followed by on off side body, thrown with a locked wrist), and I hit him on that zoom-bang shirt and he went down.

Next round I fought Eduard de Bosco, a fighter in Serpentius whom I did not know. He had a long, wide, peaked kite. I tried a few things on him, then noticed that his A-frame was set up to look over the front corner of his shield. I switched into a high-closed form and tried mostly to time his shot to hit him with a slot shot--something I've been working on a lot lately. After a few tries I got both the timing and the targetting correct. If you are a member of the SCA East Kingdom FaceBook group, you can see that fight at the 10:50 mark of this video: https://www.facebook.com/groups/17551346704/

Next I fought Sir Mathias Grunwald. He and I seem to meet in Crown a lot, and our fights are always long and hard. I noticed that if I pressured him with some old-school attacks designed to move his shield around, gaps would start to open up. I did, and eventually I got him with a slot shot as he moved out of position.

 

My next fight was against Avaldr. He and I have had some real knock-down drag-out fights in past crowns, and this was no exception. When I had been building this sword for Crown, I'd gone out searching for some webbing to use to strengthen my thrusting tips, because I end up tearing a lot of tips off. I couldn't find any. However, I had made my last sword with athletic tape and that tip had not torn off, so I went with that. And, of course, my tip tore off. We noticed it right at the beginning of the fight. Damn! I really wanted to use the hook thrust against Avaldr. It's the best technique to beat that tight defense of his. Oh well--edge work only, which I've been practicing a lot. He was fighting EXTREMELY well, attacking the angles tangentially, like Old Castle used to teach. He was staying at range, picking his spots, and moving in fast. I was doing the same. We both had some near misses until he moved to his right and killed me. It was a long fight.

Moving to the losers bracket, I next fought Rory, whom I fight a lot. He has a tight defense but a predictable offense. He likes to move to his left and throw an off side at me. He opened with a rising snap that I blocked. Then we had a couple more short exchanges. He kept creeping closer to me. When he was close enough I threw a hook/thrust and killed him with it.

My final fight was against Hrafn. I had beaten him the fall before, when he had gone to final round, by crowding him. At one point he ran onto my thrusting tip but it didn't bite. Or maybe it did, and tore off on his mail, which is why it was no good, because later in the fight it was off  again. Well, I'd beaten him without using a thrust in the past. We double killed. I took his leg and he took mine. He thrust me in the belly with his left hand. I died. Another long hard good fight.

Afterward both Visivald and Brion approached me with advice. Vis said that I have better technique when I am moving--which I know, and I'd been trying to move more this tourney. I used to move constantly, but going to the A-frame had made me static. Brion said he thinks I can win a crown if I find a way to shorten my fights. I had too many fights that were too long. I didn't feel tired, but he was probably right. He's Brion, after all.

Like I said, great day. 

There are 80 days until Birka. I'm taking some time off to finish healing. I'm certainly not fighting till after Harvey.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

IRONBOG AND CLOISTERS AND MIDLAND VALE

So, I have to apologize. I've been in armor three times since my last post. 

I fought at the Cloisters demo in September. As you may be aware, demos are the most dangerous thing that we do. Fighting at demos is different. We get over dramatic. Sometimes, we get hit multiple times. I'm not sure how, but I think I kind of ended up with a concussion. I think it was getting hit multiple times by Gui's heavy great sword. Regardless, I had a headache later that night, and then another the next day, and headaches for about three days following, and then intermittently for days after. I also had a bad headache the day the hurricane rolled through, but I get headaches when the weather changes a lot. I've had concussions twice, once from fighting, once from hitting myself in the head doing pell work (don't say you've never done it). Neither was like this. Both those concussions felt worse. This is just eh. I've got an appointment to see a specialist on Wednesday. I'm sure that like all specialists, she will say "nobody should ever do what you are doing."  My new helmet is still awesome, and MUCH more protective than my old one. 

After two weeks off, I fought again at Middle Town. I started feeling a headache on the way up, but that was as soon as we drove into the country, and the fauna changed, and my nose stuffed up (decidedly un-fall like foliage we've got right now). I felt great while fighting but the next day I felt like I had a virus.  

In other words, I'm sure right now that every little thing I'm feeling, up to and including the toe I stubbed the other night heading for the bathroom, is a concussion.  

FIGHTING
So today wanted to get in five sets. I got six, including two with Ron, fighting him being the main reason I went down to practice. I felt great. No headache, and I got hit hard twice. I also fought Bill and Harold. Bill beat me once out of six fights. Harold beat me three out of five, which is odd. I usually do better against him. He and Ron said I was tentative, which was probably me being overly cautious. 

My first set with Ron was terrible. I won only one fight (though that was with a Houghton trick, which against Ron is a real coup. My second set against him was great. I won half our fights, and we were really going at it. I was crisper, moving better, everything. Of course, I always take a while to get warmed up. 

I also discovered that my wrist, which has been a bit achy lately, is truly sore. I know what to do about that--brace, exercises, etc--because this is a flareup of the repetitive stress injury I got last year. It made my second shot very difficult, and I did better with tear drop returns as a result. One classic three blow Bellatrix combination won me Ron's leg.  It also worked on Bill. 

The biggest problem early n was that I was not protecting my leg. I was probably expecting to be covered in my stance, and I clearly wasn't. My defense got much ore active after a few bouts. 

All I can say about Middle Town is that I had some great fights against breeder but he had my leg every time he wanted it. I did well against Arne too. 

There are 20 days until Crown. I hope to be in armor twice more between now and then.  

Monday, September 12, 2016

The Feast of John Barleycorn

Ok, two things: first off, Barleycorn has long been my favorite Eastern event. The very first one I went to was a blast. No, the fighting isn't as good as at other events, but it is a good party and usually a decent feast.

But let me say a few words about Sir Edward's tournament...

And these words could lose me a few friends...

A lot of people HATE sir Edward's tournament. He's been running ti for 22 years now. In Ostgardr, ti's very popular. In the rest of the kingdom it is generally reviled. Hatred for this tournament, which is the centerpiece of the fighting at Barleycorn, has significantly depressed attendance. I've hared complaints from all sides on this: complaints stating "there should be no testing in fighting," and "when I'm gearing up for a tourney I shouldn't have to remember that Vert is green." I've heard people complain "I don't wnat to have to drive three hours to take a test," and "I don't want to drive six hours to be told I can't fight in the tourney." I've had knights tell me "we decided a long time ago that all that stuff was bullshit."

To which I say "bullshit."

Let me explain. Sir Edward Zifran hosts a tourney called the "unbelted challenge," which ahs two parts, a tournament and  a written test. The test has 50 questions, 9 of which have never changed. They include questions on heraldry, chivalry, arts, sciences, EK law, corpora, and medieval history. They are things like "give the heraldic names for the following colors" and "name three Ladies of the Rose." You need more than 60% to pass, and you need to pass to get tournament. You get ten points for every fight you win in the tournament, and ten for winning the tournament itself. The prizes are always the same: coffee crisp chocolate bars, which make a nice light snack. It's not a hard test. Anybody who has been reasonably active in the SCA for more than three years, who reads a book once in awhile, should get at least 61%. The whole thing is Sir Edward's playful way of promoting the idea that knights should be well rounded individuals.  As is well known, by corpora, all peers are supposed to know how to dance, play chess, emblazon arms, compose a poem, etc. And as is also well known, the chivalry often ignores these requirements, only looking at how well each candidate can fight, and whether or not they are a jerk.

And the order suffers for it.

I was talking to Duke Ronald about it recently. We were squire brothers, and the people who trained us--Alfrik our knight, William the Lucky, Andrew of Riga, James Greyhelm, William of Houghton, Meythen Gervaise--were real hard asses about this stuff. Edward, who was knighted int he West, comes from that tradition as well. While I want to see Barleycorn flourish, and I get that lots of people hate the test and don't come for it, my gut reaction to that is "stop your whining."

If you are a serious fighter in this game you should know that stuff by rote. You shouldn't have to remember that Vert is Green. You should know that as well as you know that Duct Tape is usually gray. You should know the difference between a pavanne and a bransle. You should know that you have to be a member of the SCA to fight in crown. Some of the questions are harder, sure: but you should still pass. And if you can't you shouldn't complain about it. You should study: because if you can't pass Edward's test you should not be considered for knighthood.  

This year was a bit different. Attendance was up because of the investiture. More people entered. Everyone who took the test seemed to enjoy it--even the three who didn't pass. There was lots more fighting for them anyway (the second tourney went on till nobody could keep going). The queen took it and approved. It was good to see. 

WORKOUTS
I've been hitting the gym on Thursdays, using my Indian Clubs, dumbells and kettle bell at least one other day, 50 pushups, 50 squats, and 10,000 steps a day. I've also been taking the German Longsword classes at Swordclass NYC. So I'm feeling good. But I need to up my aerobic activity. I still haven't gotten my bike on the road, and I've only run twice (once on the treadmill) since school started.

TECHNIQUE
I was being intentionally lazy. First of all it was hot and I was tired. I had to run the rapier tourney, as I was the outgoing champion. I fenced six bouts then stood around for an hour in the REALLY hot humid weather in my doublet and sweatpants. Second of all, I wanted to work on energy conservation. So it was goofy foot, high form, counter punches with snaps, off sides, straight leg shots and maybe a wrap.

That was a recipe for pain. So I switched to an A Frame.

FIGHTING
I didn't get to do much. By the time I got into gear I wasn't the only one who was overheated and tired. It was a universal affliction. I did get some great bouts against Balfar's foster-squire Victor. He is awesome! He was fighting Florentine and I was feeling his blows. I got him with some thrusts but little else. I fought in the mellees and had a very good time. I fought a few pickups with Conrad from Acre as well.

Mostly I tried not to collapse.

I've passed marker six in the "Let's Walk to Birka Challenge."

It's 54 days until Crown Tourney. Assuming anybody else shows up (not looking good) I'll be in armor tonight at McCarren Park. Otherwise my next time in armor will be at Nutley on Wednesday.