Monday, May 4, 2015

Crow Tourney #91, East Kingdom, Spring, AS 50

Crown tourney #91

I’ve fought in 91 of these, and this was one of the best. It was certainly one of the toughest. It was also very symmetrical: counting a first round bye, I fought six fights, against three unbelted fighters and three knights, I won three and I lost three. The three unbelted fighters I fought were three of our top unbelted fighters. The three knights I fought were all contenders. I killed two of the knights—Sir Sicehlgaita von Halstern and Thomas of Ravenhill, the two fighters who had knocked me out of the last crown in the Southern Region. I also lost to one of the fighters I beat in that crown.

My first round bye was against Sterling De La Rosa. One of my big problems going in was that I had been moving my sword guard up in my A-Frame defense (instead of more of a boxer stance) to give me more offensive options, but that was hanging it out a bit. I’d lost it to Sterling at practice last Sunday.  He hit it again in our bye fight and I called that a loss for me. This was a good thing, as it served to remind me that my arm was vulnerable, and while a couple of my opponents targeted it later, nobody took it. Sterling went to quarter-finals, and knocked Gui out of the round of eight. This was a good warm up fight.

My second fight was against Sichel, who had knocked me out of two of the last four crown lists. We had a good long fight. Both she and Tommy have a great inside thrust, which was tough to guard against, so I was keeping my distance—if you see that thrust coming you can usually back out of it, which is what I did. I took her leg with the Martin the Temperate leg shot. I’ve got about eight or nine techniques specifically to use against people on their knees. The fifth one I tried worked—a top-edge hook.

My next fight was against the new knight Sir Ivan Ivanov (one of two left handed Sir Ivans in the kingdom).  Ivan was having an amazing day. He was running on that “new knight bump” and it was really paying off. He took my leg and then hit me in the ribs after a great fight. He went to semi-finals out of the winner’s bracket before losing to Brennan in two fights. (in the East, normally, a fighter out of the losers bracket must beat a fighter out of the winners bracket twice to advance to finals—in other words, the fighter out of the winner’s bracket come in clean while the fighter out of the losers bracket comes in with a loss).


(one of the most amusing things about fighting in both the East and the West is how lists are normally organized: one kingdom uses a single-bracket double elimination system taken from Judo competitions, the other uses a two bracket double elimination system common in sports like Volleyball. Both kingdoms sometimes combine this with round-robin pool play taken from soccer. Fighters, marshals, and especially lists-ministers in each kingdom HATE the system used by the other kingdom, and describe it in terms that range from “silly” to “dishonorable.” The best wine is from home…..)

My next fight was against Sir Thomas. Thomas has finaled in two of the previous four crowns. He is a tough, tough fight. After a hard long fight I killed him with an on-side but I can’t remember if it was wrap or a snap. I had hit him with one earlier that I had called flat, to it was probably a wrap. This was one of the most intense fights I’ve been in in a long time. It was as tough as any fight in a final round.

My next fight was against Ketil. I had beaten him in a crown not long ago. He’s a good unbelted fighter. I tried to take his leg and he was fighting sword-foot forward. I cupped him, which I was sorry for. But I felt lucky to get out of the fight. This was his second loss.

My last fight was against Dimitri, who had beaten me in Mudthaw. Once again—big, tall, with a long sword and a HUGE  kite shield. This is a really interesting fight. I thought that, until he took my leg, I was fighting really well, basically controlling the fight, my defense was strong, and my combinations were moving him around. Thomas said I looked tired and slow, certainly slower than in my fight with him.  My lady said I looked anxious and desperate, that I was not in control at all, that I was trying to use tricks to finish it. She has a point—I did use a back spin. It didn’t work. But the technique where I lost my leg was the foot-stomp. Thirty years of using that technique I think this is the first time I’ve lost my leg doing it. I might have done it a bit slowly, but he looked at that and just plowed my leg. Once that happened the fight was basically over. He stood at range and sniped at me till he could kill me.

Tally was good enough to post videos of the two fights that I lost. They are great. In both these videos I see things that I am doing well, things I am doing wrong. I see things that make me want to question my calibration, and things that make me think "damn! I should have seen that during the fight! I might have won!! 

The first one starts after Ivan has already taken my leg, so there’s not a lot to see. At 56 seconds and at 1:09 he throws the same combination, both of which I get a basket/sword block on. The second time it is so face I can’t see it. I had to look at it frame-by-frame and at one point the sword just disappears. I don’t know how I got that sword block back there, because on video I can’t see the sword coming at all. He kills me using Radnor’s rule of three. He throws that same combination again, and I get the sword block up there again, but the third time he hits me in my ribs. Break that pattern the third time. Note how he steps a bit to the left each time before closing—he’s not circling, but he’s moving so he can get a better angle past my shield. I did not move with him and I probably should have.



The second video, my fight with Dimitri, shows more of the fight. I like it because I can see my thought process in all of it, and make out what I think is his. I still feel I was in good command of the fight until he takes me leg.  My back spin looks slow but it is well timed. He hits my shield as I do it, so I should be able to get him, but he recovers too quickly.  There’s a good angle on my throwing the foot-stomp, and you can see that he just triggers on it, disappears behind his shield (I had no chance of hitting him) and plows me. He is totally hunting my arm, especially after he takes my leg. The fist shot he throws looks pretty good, and I don’t know why I don’t take it (I hope it was light). The rest I pick up. He also triggers on me when I peek past the leading edge of my shield. He is precise and really on with his targeting. You can see what both of us are doing. He is staying back, sniping, controlling range and not letting me have any opportunity to hit him. I am trying to draw the arm shot again. At least once I almost get him with the snap when he sets up a bit too close, and once I draw the arm shot and I block it, but my counter is too slow and he gets out of the way. It is beat – beat – beat, when it should be beat-beat/BEAT—using Radnor’s dictum that all fights are won in between beats (or on the up-beat). If I time that better and throw the shot as I block instead of after the block, I probably win the fight. Thomas was right—I was tired. All the time he is giving me one and only one possible target—his off side leg. It’s the only thing that’s really in range. This is the Lucan style of fighting goofy foot with a long sword so you are always out of your opponent’s range while still being able to attack. I avoid going for the leg, knowing it’s a fool’s errand, but finally I give in and take the bait, and he thrusts me in the face quite beautifully.  He had very good reactions in this fight, and totally worked for this win.


This was an good list for me. It was great to have my lady there to watch me fight. I had lots of fun. I fought really really well. All of my opponents seemed to have fun fighting me. EVERYONE I fought was a really good fighter—there were no walk-overs. I had a blast.

I was SO tired afterward. I hit that “I just fought in Crown” wall later that night at the cheesecake factory. My shoulders are stiff and my legs are rubber. I slept all day yesterday. All of this means I had a great list!

It is 81 days until the Pennsic war. I will not be in armor this week.


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Thursday, April 30, 2015

Bonus Post! October Crown, 1992!

BONUS POST

With Crown coming up in two days, and me winding down my training, I decided to post on some other things.

TRAINING:
I have done 15,000 steps a day for the last three days. That includes a run I took part in at school. It was supposed to be the BMCC 5K, but there was construction in Hudson Park where the run takes place, so it became the BMCC 3.8 K. I ran it in 22:20, which is a pace of 9:22, better than my usual. I also have done 50 push ups every day, and some yoga and indian clubs.

OLD TIMEY VIDEOS!

So I wanted to put these on YouTube so I cold embed them, but I couldn't' get them to convert properly. Michael Doyle, AKA Eirik Ulfson, has lately been posting some photos and even a couple of videos of the West Kingdom in the late 1980s and early 90s to FaceBook. Among them are these two gems.

This first:

https://www.dropbox.com/s/sne1qdlclxa9p9n/1991-10%20October%20Crown%20Kylson%20vs.%20Valgard.mpg?dl=0

Is one of the most memorable fights I've ever had. This is me versus Vsc, Sir Kylson Skyefire at October Crown in 1991.

One of the things I remember most about this crown was in the line up before the lists. I was standing in the knight's line with Kylson, Radnor, and (I think it was) Michael Hugh Stuarts. At 6'3" I was the shortest one of us four. An unbelted fighter walked up to us, looked at the line, and said "man! You guys are huge! I wouldn't want to fight any of you!" I said to him "Oh, you don't need to worry about us. If I were you I'd worry about him," and I stepped aside to reveal Viscount Sir Edward of South Haven. Edward was fairly short--a full head shorter than any of us. He was also a knight before any of us. He had great big Popeye arms and one of the fastest off-side head shots I'd ever seen.  He sort of looked up at us, his hands folded in front of him, and smiled as if to say "who, me?" Radnor, who hadn't noticed that he was there, looked down to his right and said "What? Oh wow! Yeah!" then he leaned forward and said quietly with a little smile "he'll do stuff to you none of us even remember how to do." The poor unbelted fighter went away very confused.

Kylson was one of the fighters who truly intimidated me. He was huge--I'm 6'3" and he towered over me. He fought with two big heavy swords and I absolutely did NOT want to be hit by him.

Watching this video is mind bending for so many reasons. I remember a lot of things about this fight. I remember that I lost my leg. I remember him asking about the shot that hit me in the hip. I remember dying. I DON'T remember switching to a thrusting ax after we were both legged. I didn't even own a thrusting ax at that time. I hate thrusting axes. I know why I did it: impact weapons are often good against florentine fighters because they get indie their blocks. This is how I won crown a few years later. But against Kylson it was just plain stupid.  I was doing much better with the sword. The hip shot that I took, which he asked me about, looks from this angle like it hit me in the ribs, but in fact he was rolling it up and it hit my hip first. I do not at all remember that head shot that I don't take right at the end. In fact, I don't remember dying in this fight, though I remember that I lost. The head shot from Kylson's left hand hits me on the outside of the head. It looks like it could have been good. It was clean. If it was in the face I definitely should ahve taken it. It might be, I can't tell. We talk about it. It looks like it glanced. Regardless, 23 years later, I am looking at that and saying "should I have taken that?" The blow I die to doesn't look as good, but it definitely hits better, and it stops instead of glancing down.

This second video, however, it the prize.

https://www.dropbox.com/s/qlg0dnd91gg6bpo/1991-10%20October%20Crown%20Finals.mpg?dl=0

This is the final round from that tournament. It is probably the most memorable SCA finals and series of fights hat I have seen in 36 years. It shows two of my favorite fighters--two of the best ever--at the absolute hight of their abilities. Kylson died about ten or eleven years ago. He was one of the best fighters I've ever known who never won crown. He lived up in Alaska and did not make it down to Crown tourneys in California more than three or four times. The first time he came down he ran into Jade in the finals. The second time (this one) he ran into Radnor in the finals. To travel all that way to fight the two best fighters in the kingdom, and arguably the SCA at that time, was probably pretty frustrating. That crown against Jade was the first tourney Kylson had ever fought in that he had not won. That's how good he was.  This fight is one that I think about and describe all the time. I've written about it in this blog. Although the video doesn't show the end (Radnor won) it shows the two biggest moments.

The first is that first fight where Radnor one-shots Kylson. Kylson had this habit of posing with his blades wide going into a fight. You can see it in his fight against me. It was dramatic and intimidating and it gets him killed. We all thought we could take advantage of it, but nobody could until Radnor drew him. He did not count on Radnor's timing or his reach. My memory of this fight has always been that Radnor passed on his right, took a lunging step forward, and hit Kylson in the face, but that's not what the video shows. It shows Radnor closing range, first with a passing step (radnor believes in Musashi's dictum of "attitude without attitude"), and a gathering step, and then throwing a shot as Kylson's swords get wide, right at theier widest point and right at end of Radnor's range, but the kicker is that he leans forward a bit by coming off his back foot as he throws the blow. This is why it lands. Radnor used to talk about transition windows, striking at that moment when a fighter's mine had shuffled off of defense and onto either movement or offense, and this is an example. He catches Kylson at that moment where is mind is on his swords and not Radnor's. It's also an example how perfect Radnor's range perception is. I feel like kow-towing and saying "We're not worthy!"

The second moment is when Kylson beats Radnor in the second fight. Radnor has a great record--he won every tournament he entered for a period of 20 years. He rarely ever lost a fight, so to see him go down was shocking. Jade turned to me and said that was the first time he'd seen it.  I can recall Radnor in that 20 year period losing once to Paul, once to Philip Harlech, once to Thomas the Incomplete, and this time to Kylson.

Watching these two videos is an interesting look at what Western fighting used to be in the 80s and 90s before big shields, sword-forward guards, and low-profile thrusting tips. I liked this style of fighting a lot. It was prettier, more fluid, and more fun in some ways than how we tend to fight now.

BIG TIME ENTREATY! We are producing a production of Arsenic and Old Lace this summer in NYC, and we are crowd funding it on Hatchfund. Please visit our site, watch the video, and donate. It's tax exempt, and you'll be supporting independent theatre in New York City! http://www.hatchfund.org/project/arsenic_and_old_lace

It is two days until Crown Tourney. The next time I will be in armor will be at Crown.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Last practice before crown.

This weekend is East Kingdom Crown Tourney. It is also the Pacquaio vs. Mayweather fight. Pacquio’s announced schedule includes one more sparing match, today (Monday) and then a drive to Las Vegas form LA. He won’t be training right up until Friday or Thursday night. He is going to wind his training down. Boxers do this to recover, to heal any small injuries, and to be rested by the time of the fight.

I haven’t been training for this crown. I took most of the winter off, suffered an injury in January, and have been pretty slow to get back in. I am as rusty as I can recall ever being. I’ve got my timing back, but I’m still making silly mistakes based on rust and lost muscle memory. But I’m still done training. I won’t fight at any of the practices this week. I did get down to Iron Bog yesterday, though. I didn’t think I would be there, but yesterday morning I got a text from Gui asking if I wanted to go down with him. I really needed it.

WORKOUTS
Have been limited to yoga, bike rides, and push ups. This week I will run a 5k on Wednesday and to Indian club work twice, plus pushups. I’m still averaging 10,000 steps a day walking.

TECHNIQUE
This practice was alla bout edge work. I did not throw a single thrust the entire day. Other than that I was working on everything.

FIGHTS
I fought four people. One guy with a Viking name, whom I spent a lot of time working with to warm up; Mord, Gui, and Sterling. That was plenty of fight. Ron was there to coach me against Gui and Sterling, which I needed. I need to repair my regular legs, so I was wearing my gamboised cuisses, which meant a lot of pain a couple of times. 

I approached this practice like a training session. I got together with an unbelted heater fighter who wanted to learn some stuff. I ran him through several warmups and drills. We did several minutes of  slow work, concentrating on form and vision. Then we did the two sabre parry drills (parry 5 and parry 6—the hanging parry and the window parry). After a short rest we did offense/defense drills. In the first one we did a drill where the agent could attack all he wanted, while the patient agent only had one blow—an on-side snap. We fought this for a bit over a minute on each side. After that we did Paul’s offense/defense drill, where the agent has all attacks and the patient agent has three blows, a snap, and off side and a leg shot, and the exercise is over when the patient agent has thrown each of those blows once. This is always a great way to start.

After that I fought Mord. We fought three fights, and I won two out of three. The one he won I threw a blow and stepped forward on the right into his counter. I don’t know if he planed that, reacted to me, or just got lucky. I’ve been dropping my shield on my recoveries, and this was the main thing I was trying to concentrate on. A couple of my wraps lacked power.

Then I fought GUi. I fought him really well. I took his leg twice. He won all three of our fights, but not easily. I hit him twice without power – once a cut to the belly, once on the leg – because I wasn’t powering through the shots. I was defending my leg really well against him, which is tough for me.

After that I fought Sterling. He took my arm because I was hanging it out. I took his leg twice and I killed him twice. The trouble I was having was taking advantage of his ducking and burying my wrap shot. I hit him once with the stutter warp with no effect.

In all of my fights, if I had used my thrusting tip, I would have done better than I did.

Ron confirmed that I was dropping my shield too much, and getting tunnel vision in my fights with Gui. He suggested a fake that forces Sterling to duck and then a hammer blow. He also said that I was ignoring Sterling’s off-side hip and body, which were open, and he was correct. I didn’t think once about throwing there.

This was a great tune-up practice for Crown.


It is five days until Crown Tourney. My next time in armor will be at Crown. 

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Arsenic and Old Lace: WELCOME TO ARSENIC AND OLD LACE (or "The Spirit of Brooklyn"). 
Last year I produced a successful production of Hamlet, and financed it through Hatchfund. Along the way, Hanna Edwards joined as co-producer, and Craig Hutchison came on board as director. Afterward, we were casting around for something else to do, and Hanna had the idea of doing something tangential to Hamlet (we even thought of founding something called "The Hamlet Tangential Theatre Company"). One thing we discussed was doing a 20th Century American comedy, since it was about as far away from Renaissa...

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

A Very Late Nutley Post, regarding 4/1

So it's been two weeks since I was in armor, at Nutley Practice on April Fools Day. I had foolishly thought that I would practice at least twice during spring break. Of course, I was wrong!

WORKOUTS
I have been working out regularly, though. I've don'e pushups every day and since March 29 I've logged 75 miles walking, running, and biking (that includes a 12.3 mile bike ride last Sunday). I've also been using my indian clubs to rehab my shoulder.

TECHNIQUE
So I decided that I was going to carry my epiphany from Mudthaw forward. Since I am using a tip heavy sword at the moment, that is what's drawing me into more of a stand-up Western style. That style gets me beat when I fight the upper echelon fighters here in the southern region, so I've tried to move out of it. I'm working on keeping my right hand up more in my a frame, instead of in a lower, boxer-style guard.

But the bigger thing is that I'm trying to be slightly more aggressive. That was what was winning me a lot of my pickup fights at Mudthaw. I may have carried the defensive boxer fight as far as I can.  I won a lot of fights last year by just waiting people out, but I'm trying to push the issue a bit more now. That caused me some big problems with the top fighters (see below), but won me fights agaisnt every body else.

FIGHTING
Honestly, and I'm sorry, but I only have a clear view of two of my fights that night, against Stephan and against Brennan, and those I remember primarily for my mistakes. The unbelted fighters I fought, I don't remember those fights as clearly. I's been two weeks, so cut me some slack.

I jumped in and fought Stephan right away. My usual take away from a fight with Stephan is that if I can hit him once I've had a major accomplishment.  I was aggressive, I pressed the issue, I got my ass kicked. I realized after the third time that I was making a rookie mistake and dropping my shield on rebounds. That is Stephan's meat--he is a counter-punching fighter who triggers off either hand or shield movement, and he was creaming me. After I adjusted for that I had some good fights, in one of which I took his leg. I thought Ah ha! Now I have a chance. I decided that I would close with him like Horic, Stephan's knight, who I ahd been working with a bit on my close game. I struck an off side, which he blocked, and jumped in. Horic will move in close and go either toes-to-knees with a legged fighter, or move off line to his left just a bit, and launch a series of hard fast attacks, several of them with the back edge but to the front of the helmet (a wrist breaker or torque shot). I didn't get that chance. As soon as my toes landed, Stephan pushed off on his un-struck leg, leaned deeply to his left, and hit me with a rib shot I am still feeling thirteen days later. I also noticed that Stephan, in his A Frame, fights with his sword edge up, not forward, so his wrist is cocked back slightly. I'm starting to try this to see what the advantages are. So far it appears to allow for a little more snap on the onside  head shots. I think it's because it gives it a slightly better angle when it lands.

My fights with Brennan were better, in that I actually won a few of them. But in trying to fight in close with him and be aggressive, I was losing my leg a lot. I was also not getting the kind of short, quick shots I needed to in close like that because of the balance on my sword.  

It is 18 days until Crown Tourney. My next time in armor will be tomorrow night at Nutley.

Monday, March 30, 2015

MUDTHAW AND NUTLEY, March 2015

Ever since I moved to the east kingdom, I've had a big Achilles' heel. Well it existed before, but it wasn't as big an issue. I never dealt well with really big shields. Here, I have to deal with shields that cover people from the bottom of their nose to the middle of their shins sometimes. I've come up with two good things to against them, a high wrap and a hook trust: but those really only work well on fighters who are shorter than me or about my height. Here in the East kingdom I occasionally run into Giants using really long kite shields. At Mud Thaw I got four of them in a row. Guess what? I got my ass kicked.

WORKOUTS
My workouts are picked up. It feels really good. This week I have some very intensive yoga classes, some good gym workouts, plus fighting at Nutley. And of course 50 push-ups every day, and an average of about 10,000 steps.

TECHNIQUE
At Nutley, I was into using a very basic training technique. For my first two sets of fights, I limited myself to only one shot. This was to improve my recognition/reaction and my timing. I've never been a  trigger fighter, and I don't have Wulf Sagan or Fabian here to train me, so I decided to just go for this one thing and see how it went.

FIGHTS
My first set of fights was against Arn, he's a really good fighter, as I've mentioned in the past. We thought seven or eight bouts, and all I threw was a straight headshot. Sometimes it was off the shoulder, sometimes it was from a closed high guard, but all I was throwing was basically a simple snap. With this, I managed to kill him three or four times. The last time was great because it included a top edge hook, a classic Bellatrix move. The whole point of the exercise was to work on timing and taking advantage of openings created when he moved or threw a shot. It's a good training exercise.

Next I Fought Avran, who was using sword and shield right-handed. The first bout I only threw the leg shot, and then when I took his leg I threw the straight on-side headshot until I landed it. The rest of our bouts I only through the headshot. He killed me once. For the last fight I went back to the leg shot, and he killed me again.

Then I fought a set against Aquillla, a really tall guy with a heater. Everything was working well, and I even got him with both a hook thrust and a butterfly. (that's an off-side body shot that starts as a rising snap then changes direction, based on Radnor's axiom that the third fake or direction change usually fakes them out).

I tried to get in fights with Stefan, I tried to get in fights with Gregor, I tried to get fights with Jibril, but their dance cards were full. The night was actually very bad for me, and I knew it at the time, because it was really good for my ego. Not a good thing going into a big tournament on Saturday. I needed to get hit a bit.


MUDTHAW
I never wake up until I've been hit a couple of times. That's why I love the pool format. Mudthaw is a traditional double elim tourney, and that was bad for me. I didn't get any warm up at all. Because we took Ivan off to Vigil, I had just finished getting into armor when they were calling the pairings. I was the first fight on my field. I walked out against an older two-sword fighter named Aethelhawk or Aethelred (something) and he came on guard in a fairly wide, square stance. I took my sword to my hip and, at the lay on, I thrust into his neck. Game over. I was still not even awake yet.

My second fight I drew Touri, a tall, strong fighter from VDK with one of those long peaked Lucan style kites. I seem to fight him every Mudthaw. This time we exchanged a couple of blows, then I used almost the same blow I used in the first round, a thrust from my hip, but it came in an arc instead of a straight line. It is essentially the lazy "flaoting punch" shot that Jade uses, and which I've had success with against Brennan. That ended the fight. Again I hadn't broken a sweat.

If you've been following my blog lately, you will have noted that I've been falling back into what I like to describe as my style, the modified high open form that dominated the SCA before lighter swords with low-profile thrusting tips came along. I've been enjoying that fight, and I've won a few times with it. Nonetheless it's been taking me out of my A-Frame defense, which is what I'd been working on last year and which had given me some success. In my third fight I drew Dimitry from Serpentius. He is a huge fighter with a huge peaked kite and a super-long sword with a thrusting tip. I could feel in that fight that my mind was totally gone. I was indecisive. I was trying too hard to stay alive. I was lazy and he almost took my arm as a result.  I was mostly using the A-Frame, but I wasn't committed to it. In the A Fram I adopt a slight crouch, where as normally I stand up tall. I don't like crouching against a taller fighter because I'm giving up more height to him. He fights shield leg forward, like Lucan or Darius, so I tried a couple of times to get his leg (which had gotten me killed against Cullyn last Crown). I tried a stutter wrap, but it landed wrong. I was mostly just trying to stay alive. My indecisiveness may have cost me that bout. I think there were at least two times when I could have struck him, but I was too tentative. In the end he threw a truly beautiful shot--a high wavy fake with a nice deep on-side body wrap that hit me right on my kidney belt and I fell over. No loss to cry over, as he went very deep in the tournament and killed a couple more chiv. But I felt very frustrated.

Next I fought Bric James. He is another big fighter with a big VDK kite, but he's not quite as tall as the first two. In the video of this fight you can see that I am still indecisive. I threw a helicopter fake head shot that got into his face but without enough power. I tried it again, which is odd because that's two molinee shots in a row, which I have tried to move away from. The second time he was ready for it. Finally, I manged to kill him with a stutter wrap. That was a fight I felt in control of.



(for some reason, videos imbedded into my blog never frame properly, but if you click the link at the top of the fram it will take you to YouTube and you can get a much better view).

Then I fought a fighter named Wee Collin. You can imagine how he is built. It was more or less the same thing, except he was using a huge center-grip kite. In that bout, once again, I am clearly indecisive. I felt I was fighting better, controlling range and tempo, but I was wrong. As you can see in the video, I was not committing to a stance. In the video you can see that I go from the high guard to the a frame and back, but when I go back into the High I DON'T PUT MY SHIELD BACK INTO THE HIGH-GUARD POSITION. I didn't realize that till the third time I watched the video. I thought I'd thrown that last blow from the a-frame, but I didn't. My left side was fighting A Frame but my right side was in a high open form. When I threw that snap (a pretty weak one, actually) I also blocked for an anticipated snap from him, but Collin had a good counter to it--more or less the same one Cullyn used against me at Crown in Canada. Taking advantage of the fact that I set up with my shield covering the left side of my head, he brought his sword straight down the slot and nailed me. This was TERRIBLE technique on my part. If I'd thrown a flatter snap and stayed in the high guard he'd have no blow. I'f I'd thrown the shot from the A frame I'd have likely been covered with my basket hilt. AWFUL!! Go to tape:




My poor performance can be attributed to a lot of things--me still getting used to the A Frame defense, the winter lay-off, meeting a type of guy that always gives me trouble, but mostly it was a head thing. I was trying too much to stay alive. I was indecisive. I was switching defenses. I was throwing pretty weak blows. Afterward, when I went and fought pick ups, I was fighting much better because I wasn't trying to stay alive. I killed somebody with that back-edge torque shot for the first time in my life. I fought Master Carl (long peaked kite but shorter than me) and I killed him with timing shots, a hook thrust, a butterfly, and a stutter wrap--pretty much my whole arsenal.  Really, I had a great time, it was as always a huge, fun list. I did not fight up to my usual standards, and there is no way I will contend in Crown if I fight like this in a month, but I had a bit of an epiphany regarding my fighting. I felt I'd found a good combination of offense and defense, and an aggression I was certainly lacking earlier in the day. I need to work it out at practice this week.

All told, I did not live up to my personal standards.

As a sage once said, half of this game is 50% mental.

And buy duct tape!

It is 34 days until Crown Tourney. My next time in armor will be this Wednesday at Nutley.




Thursday, March 12, 2015

Nutley Practice 3/11/15

CLICK THE LINK TO THE RIGHT, BUY DUCT TAPE!

It's good to get out and to hit and be hit. It's what we do. In the SCA we literally earn our stripes. Last night I earned three good ones on my thighs, one across my forearm, and--the worst/best one--a deep stripe across my left calf that, through my Demi-cuise, gave me a wicked Charlie horse, one that will make walking up that hill to CCNY more annoying than ever.

WORKOUTS
Have been the same. Push ups and walking. This was my third time in armor over the last three weeks and, already, I can feel my wind improving and my sword and shield endurance returning. What is needed is to start lifting the kettle bell and swinging the Indian clubs regularly, since pell work in a New York apartment is difficult. 

TECHNIQUE
I came into practice with a plan: to work on watching the fight--improve my vision. This is something Wulf Sagan Von Ostense talks about, how you have to see a fight clearly before you react to it. The point of it is to observe the openings created when an attach is made, so you can exploit them. The problem with this is that you get hit a lot. That plan went out the window right away. I did, however, concentrate on edge work, and used my thrusts sparingly. 

FIGHTING
I only fought four opponents: Arn, Breeder, Vasilly, and Sir Jan Janovitch. 

Arn is a fast rising unbelted fighter with great speed, and he has developed a strong offense. He is currently using a center grip pavise that is about 12" x 27" (that's a guess). He moves it really well and fills in the gaps created when he moves it with sword blocks, as you do. Because I was working on edge work I made this fight harder than it needed to be. As is usual with long thin shields, it opens a lot of windows for thrusts, especially when he uses a really deep leg block. I only threw four thrusts, but three of them killed him.

Next I fought Breeder, whom I must stop obsessing over. He is one of the five or six guys that, while I can occasionally beat them, I am unable to crack in a tourney where it really counts. The only time I've beaten Breeder is in Birka. However, I started out intending not to try to beat him. I set up and rotated through all of my standard leftie set-ups to see what he would do. I wanted to see his opening technique--his first-fastest shot. I began in the A Frame for two fights, and he killed me with two-shot combinations right away. I was surprised at that, because I was set up in a strong defensive position. He uses a rainbow offside for his second shot, (I need to figure out if it is a back-edge hit, probably, in which case I think it would be the blow Duke Anton from Atlantia used to throw), and that dropped well over the top of my shield, and it was lightning fast. I had similar results setting up in a classic Bellatrix (though I made a mistake with that--the same one I was making against Zack on Sunday), a high guard a-la Phillip Harlech of Exeter, Gui's cross guard style--wherein my shield is pushed all the way over to the left and my off-side head is guarded by a sword placed way over to the right, my boxer stance, and a classic "ox" guard, with the sword held high at a downward angle and the tip threatening his face. I've had the best success against Breeder with the boxer and the ox (at least since I switched to this heater shield: my best success against him in total was using Gui's ward with a center-grip kite shield). This is my old bad habit of not fighting my own style and trying to copy others, but in this case it was more for information sake than trying to win fights. Some of our fights went longer, some were fast. In all of them I was trying to see what he would do. Where he used the same one-two combo he had dusted me with when I was in the A-frame, but he wasn't married to it. The thing he seemed to keep coming back to was a very good on-side head followed by a thrust, relying on the fact that his opponents are usually staying out on him. I closed once and had some success. I did take his leg by stepping wide to throw a short wrap, but he killed me. The only time I killed him was on my knees. He was over blocking a lot, and I hit him with an off-side head has he stepped in for a deep wrap, which I managed to block as I threw my blow. My boxer was not very effective at all the one or two bouts I used it in. He said that, like Rangaldr (who is the main source for that technique) I was squatting to much, and it was causing me to square up. A couple of times, I stepped wide to go for short wraps and he nailed my left leg. It just doesn't work very well with him. I end up to square and he nails me.

Vasilly fights like a bull. He's stocky and incredibly strong, and he uses a short heavy sword. He wants to rush in and cream you, and he hits very hard. I got him with a couple of shots as he was coming in, once a stutter wrap. Backing out, I was able to get him to expose his legs a lot. His defense is tight when he's on his knees, so I ended up getting frustrated with edge work and just using a thrust to either kill him or set him up. Big problem with these fights was he hit me low four times, including once in the calf that, through my demi-cuise, gave me a charlie horse that is killing me right now.

The last person I fought was Jan Janovitc. At some point in my fight with Vasilly, my nice mandrake thrusting tip tore off the end of my sword, so I was forced to fight without one. Jan fights a very western-influenced style, so I kind of fell into old patterns, and I did very well. My sword was too short for a lot of my techniques and I ended up just missing or hitting just with the tip on blows that in the old days would have worked. As always, I was bailing out of my off-side leg shot and pulling it, and I landed a beautiful slot-body shot that he did not feel much of at all: but I was having a lot of fun fighting my own style, high semi-open form with a light sword and only edge work. Jan doesn't have the one shot that really destroys me in that style, because he starts with his sword too far back to throw it (it has to start from in front and preferably from an A frame--which, since so many people around here do use an A-frame, I've had to abandon the way I grew up fighting). I enjoyed fighting a style that I could vary open/closed, long/short, high/low, throw complex combinations, big fakes, and vary my timing with. It was fun with both of us fighting so that most of our blows followed Radnor's axiom of starting from behind the head and decide what to target as your hand gets in front of your head. Probably my best fight of this pass was our last, when I managed to come in close, tie him up, step out and take his leg along the way and, then, after lots of different attempts to break him down (and lots of catching myself thinking about a thrust, stepping out, and having to remember what I used to do without a thrusting tip), kill him the way I killed Radnor in practice back in 94 or so (the time I realized that I could actually beat him with intention and not just luck), by throwing a flurry of blows that finished with a top-edge hook and an on-side head shot.

As an added bonus, here is video shot by Tina Degenhart, not from Nutley but from Sunday in Iron Bog. No sound. My fights with Sir Mord start at 6:07. My fights with Zack start at about 9:06. You can see clearly where he hits me in the cup. I think in that last fight, where I was just trying to be super aggressive, he kills me three times before I can say "good." In these videos I look slow, my targeting is way off, and I wonder why I keep doing this stuff.



It is 51 days until Crown Tourney. My next time in armor will be most likely be at Wantagh practice a week from today. 

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Iron bog fighter practice March 8, 2015

Okay, so two hours each way is a long time to drive just to fight four people. But I had a great time and Iron Bog today, and I got a lot done.  There was a great deal of teaching involved for me today. I taught a couple of guys how to properly throw a snap wrap, I gave a 20 minute lesson on footwork that really primed my own for the rest of the day, and we did a lot of work with Zack on how to throw a J-hook and a tight wrap. Plus, it was just a really nice day!

WORKOUTS
workouts amounted to the same thing for the last two weeks that they have amounted to for most of the last three months. There were a couple of yoga classes, an average of 11,000 steps today walking, and 50 push-ups every day. I do need to start doing more intense workouts.

TECHNIQUE
Doing a 20 minute footwork drill with one of the unbelted fighters prompted me to start thinking about footwork and some combined techniques and that I haven't used in a while. One of these was an off-line passing step to the right. This is accompanied by a brief shield press. The purpose of the press is not just to freeze the shield but also to provide resistance to the other fighter so that he keeps his momentum moving forward. This is a really strong technique.I decided to work on all of my passing shots and my off-line attacks and retreats this practice. It was pretty effective.

I conceive of footwork as an eight pointed star, not where the center of the star is at the center of mass of the fighter, but where the center of the star is under the toe of the fighters lead foot. Every point of the star is a place to step two and a different technique. Are you also use The Oldcastle technique of advancing using increasing steps, and then passing so that you intersect your opponents are going to tack on a tangent. And Bellatrix is circle in the box.look it up. The star conception allows me to move in every direction that I need to move with the set distance for each of my steps. I can pass or shuffle back-and-forth in a straight line right and left on a horizontal line I can increase and decrease on a diagonal line and I can pass forward or back on to the other points of the star. The goal as with all footwork, is threefold: first defense by waiting shots or moving to where you were shield or sword will intercept them; the second opening up angles of attack by moving off line; the third is, as Fiore do Liberia puts it, to gain the place so that you are squared to your opponent and can piss down his leg. Once you're there you have won the fight. I managed to gain the place several times today.

FIGHTING
I only fought four opponents, Gunar, Mord, Zack, and Stirling. Although I lost at least one fight to each of them, I pretty much dominated, controlled all of the fights, and was doing really good work. The toughest of my opponents was easily Zack but I had some advantages that I used.

Gunar normally uses a long center grip tight, but he had switched for his fight with me to a 32 inch heater shield. This is not too short for his body, as he's several inches shorter than myself. However, I was able to use misdirection to hit him. I used to the shield press and passing technique that I described above against him and it worked perfectly, I also usedLucky's passing step, where you throw a snap to the head and, assuming it is blocked, pass with your right foot off-line to the left so you're actually turning your shoulder towards your opponent but your sword is cocked up by your head to defend yourself then you stop around squaring up and throwing an offside headshot it works great against lefties good against righties. I took his leg with Martin the Temprate's Hidden leg shot, and with an upsilon, and with the double strike. I also got him with both Radnor's and Gendy's butterfly techniques.

Sir Mord was fighting really aggressively, but he was too focused on my leg. He did knowledged that and said it was what he was trying to do, but it made hitting him in the head too easy. I did use the slide to the left foot work technique to get over the top of his kite shield once. That was very useful.

Zack thinks I totally had his number, but that's just not true. He hits so hard and is so fast and has such interesting awkward moves, that it's really a chore to fight him. My biggest problem was that I am focusing too much I'm getting ready to fight John the breeder the next time I see him, and Zack and John are two very different fighters. They may both be strong fast lefties, but they fight totally different styles. I did concentrate on using my boxer/A-frame style, but I also went away from it. My worst problem was getting power into my offside head shots after he had taken my leg I think I landed at least three of those and they were clearly not good. His problem was that he was throwing long deep wrap shots, that were very easy to pick up just from his shoulder movements. I also made a total rookie mistake in our last fight I decided to jump in and press him really hard to begin with, then I backed out and was fighting a sore back kind of Western/Belatrix style. Problem was, my feet were in the wrong position to do that against a left-handed fighter and my shield was way off to my left side he took good advantage of this. 

Then I thought Sterling, who has a very frustrating habit of leaning out of the way when I throw my hook thrust shot. We only fought three fights. I killed him with that outside thrust that comes from the hip over the top of his shield -- the very sneaky one that Duke Jade is so good at. He killed me by taking my leg and then hitting me in the head, and then we had a nice long fighting which we both lost our legs and eventually I killed him with an off side head shot. That was my best kill of the day, because I used to really advanced Radnor of Guildemar technique to get it. I changed my interior timing, by changing the pattern of my breathing by holding my breath for a split second and then firing on the exhalation. I hit him in a transition window, just the way it's supposed to work. 

Hopefully there will be some video up soon.

There are 55 days until crown tournament. My next time in armor will hopefully be at Nutley this Wednesday.