Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Crown Tourney #98

I'm getting close to that 100th Crown. 

 To those of you who read this blog a lot, I'm sorry I haven't been writing in it much. At first it was because I was not fighting as much, taking time off to play Lady Bracknell in The Importance of Being Earnest. After that it was because I did not feel like writing about my training. 

I trained for this crown in much the same way I had the last two. My daily routine includes walking between 8,000 and 12,000 steps most days (my fit bit broke. I use my phone to track steps, which under counts), plus 100 strikes on the pell, 50 push ups and 50 squats. Since I added the pell work last august, I have not missed a day. Once again, I added running to my routine as Crown approached. I ran five times a week in the 6 weeks approaching Crown, except the last one. I did not fight nearly as much as I would like (I never do), but I made practices at Nutley, Iron Bog, Midland Vale and Aedult Swim, plus events in Tourney of the Daffodils, Mudthaw, and Balfar's Challenge. I went to semis in Mudthaw and I won Daffodils, so I was doing ok. 

 Crown was in Halifax. Every time I've gone to a crown in Halifax, I've had a good time. It's a fantastic city! I highly recommend it. We stayed at the Hearthstone Inn in Hamilton, which was nice, with a Victorian theme and a good pub. 

 This Crown was great, but I really need to win another of these things. Randal, who's 5 years older than I am, was only one blow away from winning, which is encouraging. I ended up fighting nearly everyone I prepared for: Avaldr, Marcus, Zippy, and Wilhelm. I also fought Mathew McGuyver, Reinhardt, and one other (I cannot remember the name of my second round opponent). There were 22 participants in total. The list was double elimination and rounds were being fought best two out of three. This included the semi-final round, which meant that the fighter out of the winner's list could win fighting only two fights, but the fighter out of the losers list had to win four, and could end up fighting six fights. Yikes! 

I thought the format would be hard on me. Most of my rounds went three fights but my endurance was good enough that I really never felt that tired, and certainly no more so than my opponents. Well, maybe I did against Reinhardt. I lost to Avaldr in the third round, and to Prince Wilhelm in the semi-finals. The format actually helped me out, since I lost my first fight twice while going on to win the round. I was particularly proud of three things. The first was my one win over Avaldr, even though he won the round. He'd beaten me in our first fight, but I killed him with a hook-thrust in the second. Next was my third fight against Reinhardt. He is really good. He fights with a fairly small center grip scutum, and he blocks his legs with a window parry. I killed him with a foot stomp and thrust. I didn't sell it really big. I shrugged my right shoulder, took a half step, stomped my foot and dipped my shoulder, then thrust him in the face. Third was my final fight against Marcus. I had been working on King Brennan's off-side leg shot a lot lately. I threw it at Marcus in our second fight and noticed he picked it up early and cocked the point of his kite over to cover his off-side leg, so in our third fight I faked it by throwing the setup (a cock that resembles a snap to draw the shield up and to the on-side) took a slight step off line to my left, then stepped back to my right and threw a leg wrap. 



All my fights were excellent. I had really hard rounds the further I progressed. I never lost my focus. I did not kill myself by getting lazy or silly or playing with my food. I Went to semi finals and lost two straight to Wilhelm. Those were both great fights, a lot of fun. I had been beating Wilhelm in most of our encounters the past three years, and it was interesting to see what he'd done to respond. First, he's lost about 50 pounds. Second, he seemed much more focused and precise. When I tried the set up for the leg stomp it was obvious he was ready, so I never threw it. He got me with a straight body shot in our first fight. After he'd taken my leg in our second fight, I threw the same thing I'd killed him with at Roses in November, coming up high on my knees and then, as he stepped in, sitting down and throwing a body shot--an old William of Houghton technique. He obviously remembered it, because he this time as he stepped in and I threw the shot, he brought his sword forward in a guard to block mine, then he killed me the way I would have, with a top-edge hook and a snap. 

 If you are on FaceBook, you can see the semi-finals HERE

So here was the funniest thing coming out of crown. At Balfar's Challenge two weeks before I had spent a lot of time watching Zippy and Avaldr, as they were obviously training very hard. They were the last two knights to leave the field from pickups. I left after somebody hit me in the calf and I decided not pushing the injury was smart. I was fighting with my Crusader pot helm because Cet was doing a repair to my conical. My pot helm is heavy, not very comfortable, is super tall, and has lousy visibility, so I only get so much out of using it (mostly aesthetic pride). Avaldr was using a center grip kite, the first time I'd ever seen him use one. It closed off his biggest window, but was obviously a bit easier to move around. At Crown, Avaldr was back to using his regular strapped kite. Afterward I ran into him and Nomi leaving, and they were carrying his center grip kite shield. I said to him "I spent the last two weeks preparing to fight your center grip because I saw you training with it at Balfar's." He said, "Yeah, that's why I was using it. I figured you were doing the same thing with your other helm." I replied, "I wasn't, but thank's for the compliment!" It's really funny to know that we were indeed scouting each other. 

There are 72 days until Pennsic War. My next time in armor will be Sunday at Viking Day in Brooklyn. 

MONETIZATION 
In an effort to monetize this blog, I'm including this link to a riveted mail shirt:


(click here) 

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Aedult Swim III

It's kind of hard for me to write about Aedult Swim this year, because it's all a blur.  I hadn't fought much this year (I'd taken time off to do a play). I was in good physical shape, but not good fighting shape. Did I mention the blizzard we drove through on the way home? (eight wrecks, including a car that spun out right in front of us on 287--I looked up from my phone and there were headlights facing us, not what you want to see on a freeway: but I digress).

WORKOUT
I've picked up my workouts a bit. In addition to the daily push ups, pell work, and squats (still haven't missed a day), I ran three times last week. There are some Indian Clubs and yoga involved as well.

TECHNIQUE
I used absolutely every technique I know, and they all worked.

FIGHTING
Ok: like all knights, I had a target on my back at Aedult Swim. I'd put my helmet on, and before the chin strap was tightened, I had an unbelted fighter challenging me. I didn't get to fight as many chivalry as I wanted to. I wasn't keeping track this year. I fought either 6 or 7. Since I fought at least two unbelted fighters for every one chiv I fought, that would be somewhere between 18 and 21 opponents total, and right around 100 fights. That's spread out over 4 hours (and it's nothing to brag about. My squire Padraig fought more than 40 opponents, and 220 fights).

Like I said: I used every technique I knew. Against one fighter I'd use a the Bellatrix technique. That would work fine. Against one fighter I used an A-Frame defense and a pure Gendy offense (thumb and forefinger grip, minimal body mechanics, different grips for each shot--pink for snaps, ring finger for leg shots, middle finger for off-side shots, index finger for wraps). That worked great the one time I used it, then the next guy I fought it got me nowhere, so I switched to a high guard with more of a classic technique, and it I was slaying mightily. Only one knight totally had my number, a guy named Thorin (or Torin, or... I don't know, there were so many!). He was one of those squirrelly guys, you know, ducked and jumped. He was shorter than me, and crouched down, but then jumped so high he hit me with a scorpion wrap. I tried to throw into the zone he was moving into, but by that time in the day I was really tired.

My fighting muscles were really out of shape. I was strong and had decent wind, but I ached so much afterward!! OMG, I was tired. Good fighting, though. Every SCA fighter should make the trip.

It's 68 days until Crown Tourney. My next time in armor will be this thursday at Hawthorne.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

A New Year, Same Old Quest

The new year has broken! I've not written in this blog since Crown, but I hope to post more often this year. I've only been in armor three times since Crown, it being first hunting season, and then the holidays. I will not fight much in January because I'm rehearsing a play, and don't want to risk injury.

TRAINING
The 1-6 drill is the core of my training. I don't do it every day--although I do do pell work every day--but I do do it at least three times a week. The rest of the time I work on other pell drills. I have not missed a day of push ups since my surgery, or squats since I added them to my workout over the summer. I've also been doing indian club drills a couple of times a week (this dovetails into my pell work--on those days I use the Indian Clubs for my pell drills, and work on two-stick drills).

FIGHTING
I fought at Nutley right before Xmas, but only against three or four opponents. I was mostly their to train my squire Padriag, and he took upmost of my time. But I did get fights in with Arn and Jan as well, and was fighting pretty good. When I train Padraig we have settled into a system. First we warm up using the saber drill (the hanging guard/cut drill, where we alternate quickly, like its a schlager fight). Then we do some slow work. Then we do Sagan's trigger drill. This is where we both come on guard, and I make a move of some kind--take a step, move my shield, shift my weight--and he is supposed to recognize what opening this creates and tap it lightly. The advanced version of this is to throw a combination and have him recognize the opening after two or three blows, incorporating his own blocks). Then we work on one or two specific techniques. Then we do Paul's offense/defense drill. Usually, not always, in that order. At some point we will fight one or two passes. This seems to be working for him. He's got a lot of years into Karate, and he still competes, so drills and Kata he responds well to.

I went up to Middle Town for their holiday tourney. Gui and I took a day and drove up early, had dinner, hung out till practice. Padraig wasn't there, but they were having a silly tourney with santa-hat crest fights and so on. I did not have a shield with me, so I mostly fought sword and buckler. There was no real training involved. Here's me doing some sword and buckler. I'm really slow.



part two:



Here's Hassan kickingmy ass:



Me and Matt:



and, finally the silliness:



You don't practice that much.

I don't know if I will be attending Birka or not. My next time in armor will hopefully be Saturday Night at West Kingdom 12th Night.


Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Crown Tourney #97

So I went to semi-finals in East Kingdom Crown on Saturday. This was the best I've done in the Crown Lists in the East in the nearly 20 years that I've lived here -- and, no, it doesn't seem nearly that long, but right about now, I've been active in the East for as long as I was active in the West.

Speaking of being active in the West a long time ago, here is some video from March Crown Tourney 1990. This was about four months before I was knighted. At the end of the first reel you can see two fights of mine, one with William the Lucky and another with Andrew Shay Forestborn. This video is pretty amazing. In the East and the Midrealm, unbleted fighters have a common bond. They all fight on the unbelted champions team at Pennsic. They train together for months each year, and it's the biggest honor they receive as unbelts. In the West we don't have that. But the West is tourney focussed. What we do have is the three crown tourneys a year that we all fought in. Looking at this video, most of my peeps are there--some knights already, some not: Elrik, Fabian, Ob, Steven,  Douglas, Neal, Theodric, RAT, Cybi, Farin, Keythen, Gareth, DOA, Collin, and more. Jad eis fighting byes. Plus there are Greyhelm and Rolf and Lucky, and there are a few who were never knighted like Ulrick and Malcolm and Seamus.




And part two....



And what stands out? How slow I was, and how fast everybody else was. Especially Jade. I mean, we know that, but wow!

Oh! as for this past crown: I can't remember the name of my first round opponent. I fought Duncan Kerr, Sir Mathias, Sir Thomas, Sir Rory, I lost to Duke Brennan and the other finalist, Sir Matthew D'Arden. I used nearly my whole arsenal. A butterfly to kill Matthias, a hook/thrust to kill Rory, a top-edge hook to kill Thomas. And the kitchen sink against Brennan, but that was futile.  It was also the first crown I've ever fought in wearing my contacts. I don't think that made a difference, but I'm wearing them again in the spring (I rarely wear them at all).

It was a really good day. The two fights that stood out, of course, are the ones I lost. against Brennan I had a great fight, but once he took my leg, while I could make it last a long time, I couldn't kill him. I was able to get the shot I wanted twice, but I was falling over both times so I had no ballance and, ergo, no power. Against Matthew, I set up using Gui's footwork, which I've been practicing against lefties for awhile. It involves setting up with your shield side foot in front of your sword side foot, not in line, so that you are set up to walk a diagonal past your opponent. This kept him at bey for a pass or two, but then he countered it beautifully by stepping into me and passing really close on my shield side as I was doing an incresare step to take his leg. It was kind of a houghton maneuver, that finishde with a grape-vine step, and he ended up basically behind me, and back handed me to the head. It was a great shot. I felt good because I hadn't been stupid, he'd just countered my technique and beat me. Besides, I was giggling I was so happy to have FINALLY made it into semi-finals. I've been in the final six several times, but I had never made the final four, where you get presented to the crown and everything stops for your fights. (I'd been in the finals of King's Champion once--that's the best I had done in the East up till Saturday).

Tina Degenhart live-streamed Crown on her twitch feed, so you can see my two defeats (and one of my victories). It's a four hour stream, and she was on the opposite field from me, but at 3:19 you can see my fight with Brennan. Note how I had fallen dead but he insisted I not take the shot, so we keep going.  At 3:32 is my fight with Rory, which ends iwth a good hook/thrust. At 3:49 is my semi-final bout with Matthew. What I love most about this fight is very subtle--how we were both setting up for a face thrust, saw the other doing it, and backed out. Also look at me when they call us up for final four. I had no idea that I had that huge giggly grin on my face! I'm on cloud nine! :-)

It will be some time before I'm in armor again. I need to heal my shoulder and my heel--which still hurts from Pennsic (I've got an appointment with a specialist coming up). Plus hunting season, holidays, and The Importance of Being Earnest. I don't like to fight when we get into rehearsals, because I don't want to get injured and screw up the show, meanign I will *not* be fighting at Birka. I scheduled this production to be over the week before Aedult Swim, but I'm sure I'll practice before that. Oh! Visit the crowd funding campaign for the play! Send us money!

To be honest, I am STILL grinning about crown.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

After Roses

 So, it’s been along time since I posted on this blog. That’s mostly because I haven’t been fighting as much as I’d like, but also because I’ve been super super busy with the crowdfunding campaign. (www.igg.me/at/importantearnest)

 I’ve only been an armor four times: twice at Iron Bog practice (including today), once at Nutley practice, and once at the tournament of the Roses. And each one I fought approximately 25 fights (a few more today). That’s not very much, but it was about all I was up to between my foot injury, and my shoulder injury, and everything else. Crown is in two weeks, and I have not been training as much as I would’ve liked. Injury does that. However, I fought very well at roses, and I expect to have fun and do well.

 I’ve added a little yoga my daily workouts. My back really needs it. Still doing 50 push-ups, 50 squats, and 100 strikes on the pill every day.  While I’ve cycled bit, I am unable to run at the moment.

I’d like to talk about roses. We fought for Duchess Brenwyn The Fair. It was a blast. It is a great honor to champion as elegant and noble a lady as her. The format was like this: each lady of the rose entered a team of up to five heavy fighters, five rapier fighters, an archer and an artisan. My part was strictly in the heavy fighting. Whne one rose challenged another, fighter on each team would pair with another. The lowest order of precedence on one team challenged across and then it switched to the other team and back-and-forth. This meant  that, as the royal pier on my team, I never got to challenge anybody. Which was kind of awesome. It meant I never knew what I was going to get.  There were a total of 10 teams, and we only had four fighters so once I doubled up and fought two people on one team.  I only lost one round, and that was to Victor, who totally destroyed me.  The only knight I thought was Wilhelm von Ostenbruck who. I beat two to 1. Oh, did I mention that every round was best two out of three?  This was one of the most awesome  tournaments I’ve bought in since, well, since the William Marshall turning at Pennsic actually. I loved it. My day ended like this: Ten matches, 8 wins, one loss, one draw. I matched weapons, but all that meant was one great sword fight (the draw) and one two sword fight. I won most of my bouts 2-0.



Here’s us VS. Ethel Dreda's team. That's my squire Padraig fighting Ionis. At about 3 Minutes you can see Victor kicking my ass. By the way: I cannot heap enough praise on the three unbelted fighters on our team: Padraig, Dirk, and Ronan. They fought honorably and very well!

Videos are by Cat Woody. Here's some more:



Here’s me in my two sword fight. 






Me and Willie. 


There are 13 days until Crown. My next time in armor will be Tiesday Now htt in Ostgardr.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Post Pennsic Post

Here we are on the left flank in the field battle. I'm the guy on the far right of the picture.


It's been a while since I've posted. Only part of that was due to Pennsic. There are many things to write, and a lot of ground to cover, so this post will not be formatted in the normal way. Nor will I organize things chronologically or spatially. It will be a bit free form.

It was a bad idea to camp at the back side of Mt. Aislin, fight in both woods battles, and walk Midnight Madness twice. I don't know how many steps it was because my fitibt wasn't charged. A lot. My feet still hurt.

Keeping with my plan, I fought spear or polearm in every battle. I dragged the shield down for pickups, and used it in the William Marshal tournament, but my edging blew up at one point.

There is so much great fighting at Pennsic it's hard to say what was "best," but fighting in the William Marshal tournament on Tuesday, and in the Crusaders vs. Saracens battle on Thursday, were certainly highlights.

In Gui Avec Chival's take on the William Marshal tournament, we each had to bring something to use to pay ransom. I thought I was really cool and original bringing a jar of smoked salt from Auntie Arwyn's,  but I discivered it was so obvious that four of us had done so. I also bought two penanualrs and a chain. Turned out I didn't need them. The only time I was captured I was rescued. I earned four ransoms in the process. I got a griffon head medallion, a bottle of mead (two actually), a really nice knife, and a pewter mug. Not a bad haul. Bryce also awarded me with an original 11th century buckle for rescuing him at one point. There were two teams. Each team had a banner/resurrection/reentry point. When you struck someone they were "captured," and then you had to walk them back to your banner and record your capture. Before you got off the field, your prisoner could be rescued. There were other rules, but that's the basics. William Marshal tournaments have always been a cool addition (I even mention them in my book--see sidebar).

I was late to the Crusaders battle, but got in at least three field mellees and a resurrection fight. This was up in the castle, and it was a lot of fun. However, for much of the battle, I walked in behind out line and, before I could hit anybody, their side had dissentigrated.

There are two great things about both these battles. Well, the combat is great, which would make three. Among the others, the first thing to note is how collegial these battle are. Stripped of the ego that comes along with tourney fighting or standing up for your kingdom (both noble endeavours), they are just more relaxed! The second thing worth noting is how good everyones kits are. People went out of their way to present good impressions in both events.

Here's some video of the William Marshal tournament:




And here is some video of the Crusader battles. Look at all those great 12th and 13th Century kits.



The first thing I did when I got to Pennsic was head over to By My Hand Designs and get one of their ax heads, so I could rebuild my polearm. I used the same, relatively thick six-foot pole, and turned it into a german halberd. It was a bit heavier and slower, which effected what I could do. I alternated between that and the spear for all the battles. I find that I can't use the elegant pointwork that used to define my polearm style if I'm using the heavier ax. A short polearm, ax, geatsword, etc, is not excellent as a font line weapon, except in a press. That's where it shines, in the scrum. It's best for following up a charge, or meeting one, when the lines begin to break apart. My best time with it was on the last day in the wall breech battle. I got in amongst some spear and, when you do that, you can take them out easilly (which the Swiss, obviously, knew quite well).

We were soundly defeated in the open fields, but did well in all the subsequent battles. I fought spear on the bridge and in the woods, pole in the wall and field battles, and I skipped the alied champions battle.

All my bruises are on my left side.

I believe we swept the rapier battles. That's what won us the war.

I fought pickups with sword and shield, and one set with buckler. I did not get enough. Due to tent failure in the storm, I was unable to make it into Aedult Swim. This was a bummer. I had some great fights on Sunday, the best one being agains Titus. I think I held my own. I got some good fights in late against Veniamin and the King of Lochac. I got him with Radnor's clssic molinee, which felt very good. The best thing was watching King Miles of the West and King Aighleanan of Atenveldt fighting. Both of them are tall (over 6'5") and very fast. Aighleanan was teaching Miles his techniques for controlling distance. The fights with a center grip oval and uses a sword made of shaved rattan, with a trigger and a plastic cup hilt. He's fast. He likes to fight at extreme range and use his length to win fights. He does three things to keep his opponents at range. One is footwork. Another is using the thrusting tip, popping it at his opponent's face to get them to avoid closing. The third is sticking his a-frame defense way out in front, like a common buckler defense. He has a simple philosophy: know what you are best at and do that. He spends a lot of time setting up what look like three blows. Most of his kills are with simple snaps from a high guard, but he works, as he calls it, "a lot of noise to the off side" in order to open that shot up. It was a real master class.

Did I mention hoe much my feet hurt from walking up and down Mt. Aislin?

I used Visivald's technique, thumbs opposed on the polearm (so "quarter staff grip" which is an erroneous description of how to use a quarter staff). This was at the end of the wall breech, when I was doing well. I ended up in single combat against a guy who'd been harassing us all battle.  I got him in the usual way, with short chops as he closed on me. That was satisfying.

My sword and shield fights were all satisfying. I slew mightily. But I didn't get in enough of them.

There are 81 Days until Crown Tourney. I need to retrieve my armor from the trailer, and so I don't know exactly when I will don it next.

Crusaders and Saracens posing. 

Saturday, July 15, 2017

There are a number of glorious things about fighting short pole arm (or long sword). First of all, you don't have to lug around a shield. That makes transport so much easier. Secondly, it's more intimate. Third, it's even more crushing. With my glaive at least, when I hit someone they know it (I've used light thin pole arms where this wasn't true). Finally, there's the learning curve. I had a successful pole arm career, fifteen years or more, wherein I relied on just five trick shots. For a decade I used only one. So this time between Crown and Pennsic, when Im concentrating on polearm and spear, is a lot of fun. 

WORKOUTS
It was a great workout week for me. I biked a couple of days. I ran three miles once. I did ten times rounds on the heavy bag (great workout). 

TECHNIQUE
Right now I'm trying to stay at a medium distance and cutting as they step out from behind their shields. 

FIGHTING
Southern Army Sunday's had some great scenarios. We even played capture the flag. 

A short polearm, like a partisan, is a sergeant's weapon. It's good for keeping your guys in line, and is only useful as a weapon when one side has charged. Stand in the shield wall, or get into the spear duel on a bridge, you'll get gacked . But when the lines crash into one another and units start to break, that's when you rack up the kills. 

This is what I did on Sunday. It was a lot of fun. 

It's two weeks until Pennsic. My next time in armor will be Pennsic.