Monday, September 8, 2014

Grant's Tomb and John Barleycorn.

After John Barleycorn.

Crown will be November 1, opening day, which sucks. It will be in southern New Hampshire, which is almost as close as it could have been this time since it had to be in the Northern Region. 

I managed to fight twice last week, and Grant’s Tomb on Sunday and on John Barleycorn on Saturday. We had thought Barleycorn was going to be a disaster. Rain was forecast, we didn’t know if any fighters would show: but it turned out to be a great event., especially for fighting!

I managed one Yoga workout and one Kettle Bell workout last week, plus I did pushups every day. I have to kick that up a notch.

I was really trying to work on distance. I wanted to fight mostly at my max range. This was good in all my fights but especially important against Gui.

There were four of us in armor: myself, Sam, Tycho, and Gui. Two lefties, two righties, two knights, two unbelted fighters.

I was in training mode fighting Sam. I warmed up against him with some slow work then we did some situational drills. We did a few straight up fights,  then block and strike drills. Then a few more fights. Sam is getting much better but he is not good for me. I have a tendency to fall into old fun habits against Sam because he is not good enough to beat them, and because he is trying to learn a Bellatrix style and that’s the old habit I like most.  The result is that I get a bit of indecision in whether to fight my current A-Frame style, where I need to work, or to fight the fun fight, which is what he is fighting, and do stuff that I don’t do against the better fighters. Of course I usually go for the fun fight.

Against Tycho I was nice and tight. I got him (he’s a leftie) with a shot where I wrapped to the body and, when he blocked it, I turned it into a thrust. That’s the one blow I really remember.

I fought two passes with Gui.  He had been watching Duke Branos’ fighting video  viewed here:
So he was fighting an A Frame, which he never does. Totally freaked me out and he clobbered me. I mean it was embarrassing.

Our second pass I did much better. I fought him well in both the A Frame and the high guard. When he went into a high guard I stabbed him in the belly behind his shield. When he went into the A frame I threw thrusts at his inside line. It worked a lot better than the first time. I found that, for the first time ever, I was timing his leg shot. He would throw it and I managed to block and throw in half-time a wrap to his head.  I hit him with it three times.

So there had not been a lot of fighters showing up to Barleycorn lately.  Last year I think there were four of us. This year Gui and I had made a big push to get more fighters there. Tormundr made a really cool bar mace as a prize for the tourney, plus Sir Edward’s Unbelted Challenge was also taking place. It turned out people wanted that bar mace. There were eight fighters taking part in Sir Edward’s tourney. Six of those fought in the second tourney, plus five knights: myself, Sir Balin, Duke Conrad, Duke Keneric, and King Brenan. Umm, yeah. Top heavy!  J

The list was a double elimination fight, best two out of three, with a challenge round. In the challenge round I was the last fighter left and was picked by Avran.  He wanted to fight great weapon, so we ended up using His Majesty’s matched Danish axes (no thrust, which saved my bacon in our first fight). The first fight I used it the way I normally fight Great Ax, thumbs opposed and fighting like it’s a pugil stick. This worked well. Second fight I used it like an ax, short grip at the bottom of the haft, longer swings. That was more satisfying, as I used a good technique to win, avoiding Avran’s blow and hitting him on the head from Vom Tag.

My second fight I drew Brenan. In our first fight I started out in an A Frame but switched quickly to a high guard and he showed me right away why I don’t fight that style out here—hit me in the face with that little flick from the A Frame guard that travels right down the top of my shield and into my nasal. My second fight I went into an A Frame and we fought for some time before I killed him with a hook thrust. The third fight I got sneaky. Jade has this this thrust that is like Bruce Lee’s  floating punch. It’s designed to look like it’s not coming. It’s kind of an attitude/no attitude technique. You circle to the right, out of range, relaxed, shield and sword  at your side. You step with your left foot to just outside range, then pass on your right into range, raising your sword from your side but, instead of bringing it up to a guard position, you extend it into a face thrust , turning the knuckles slightly up so that the tip drops a bit as it comes over the shield.  I put it right into his left eye.  It’s the fourth tourney in a row that I’ve beaten Brenan.

Next I fought Duke Keneric. In one of our fights he took my leg and then I put a thrust up the inside of his shield as he hit me, so we double killed. The other two fights he did what he usually does, took my leg (once by switching from a sword foot lead to a shield foot lead, changing the angle and getting a deeper passing step), then killed me with that wicked deep off side that is almost a butterfly shot. They were good long fights and I managed to take him off his game a bit with my thrusts, but in the end he got me.

Next I fought Tycho. I was really proud of my second kill because I changed the angle of that shot. I was throwing a shot that could have been a wrap from slightly to his right but, on the fly, I pulled my elbow in, pushed my shoulder up, and hit him with the true edge in the face.

My last fights were with Balin. Those were awesome. He is one of the top two sword fighters in the kingdom but he hasn't been active for several years. But he was at Pennsic and has been getting back in, and he is still pretty amazing. I think we double killed but I’m not sure. He took my right arm and I took his left at the same time, then we got into a single sword fight until he took my left arm. Our last fight he took my leg then got me with a body/head combo and landed them both. In that last fight I almost got him with a  thrust, but in my single sword fight I had picked up Gui’s sword to guard my right hand and afterward kept hold of it. It’s shorter than my sword by more than an inch, and with that extra length the thrust might have counted. I always feel with Balin like I just need to improve my timing and I can beat him. He creates a lot of slop. His sword blocks are so crisp and he’s got some nice sabre technique, and it’s a really fun fight.   

At some point during dinner my right elbow, inside, started to hurt. I may take it easy this week. I’ll still do my pushups.

To illustrate what I was talking about regarding fighting Sam, Here’s a video of me fighting Arn. Arn is a talented fighter, but new. He doesn’t have the experience to know what to do against a style he’s never seen. I described this fight back on June 10, ( . That stands out to me in this video is my indecision as to what style to fight. You can see me switch back and forth from a high open form to an A Frame. If Arn had thrown shen Iw as in that transition he would have pasted me.

It is 54 days until Crown. Unless I feel really good on Thursday, or end up going to River War in Iron Bog, my next time in armor will be Sunday at Grant's Tomb. 

Monday, August 25, 2014


Back in armor!

 So I haven't written in this blog all summer, and with good reason. After the Riverfest Demo I quit fighting because I was playing Hamlet (Awesome experience! Great production--though I am biased). I didn't fight again until Pennsic. Immediately after Pennsic, I went on a road trip to California, during which I attended CAID crown and delivered a car to a friend. It meant no fighting and really no time to blog (can't type while you are driving).

HOWEVER It is now time to train for Crown. No announcement has been made as to where or what weekend Crown will be held (which is late, it was due 8/15). However by rule it is supposed to be either the last Saturday in October , alternately the first Saturday in November (which would suck, that's opening day of deer season). So going on the premise that it will be on October 25 (as early as it can be) there are 61 days until crown. I started training yesterday.

I ran a mud race in June, and I walked all over Pennsic, and I went on a back-country horseback pack trip (more work than you would think) but all I've actually been doing for workouts in 50 pushups every day. Haven't skipped once.

I fought in all the open heavy combat battles at Pennsic, plus the allied champions battle (as Queen's Champion of CAID). I fought with spear in most of them and got lots of kills. I did pickups and did really well against both the King of An Tir and the King of Atenveldt, but got worked over by a squire from Meridies. All in all a pretty good Pennsic. I lost weight which I promptly gained back driving cross country.

Yesterday was the barbecue and practice out at Count Horic's on Long Island. We knights spent the first half of it teaching. We started out with two group lessons, spear drills and footwork drills. Then we broke into groups and ran pairs of fighters through various drills: I ran the strike/thrust drills: Teric ran block/strike drills, Gui ran more footwork drills, Mordreth ran Man on ground drills, and Horic floated and worked on technique.

Then we held a few melees, including a roman melee.

Then we ran the Beau Geste Tournament. Myself and Sir Jabril were in armor and fighting. We advanced to the Semi finals but withdrew, leaving Tycho and Conrad to fight for the honor of facing Nicolai Wegener in finals. Nicolai beat Tycho 3-2.

I got some good pickups in and some good fights in the tournament. When I was wearing my breast plate I was totally gasping for air, but once I took it off and picked up my shield I had my wind. Because I had given my bauzibands to Torvaldr after Pennsic to be re-sized, I had to borrow vambraces, which really slowed me down.

Counting yesterday, I plan to be in armor 16 times before  crown. That's basically twice a week. I will lift or do some Cross fit training 16 times and have at least ten cardio days. I will fight at Barleycorn, Cloisters, hopefully at Great Western War, and maybe at the Roses tourney, River War, and/or  Fiery Beast.

There are 61 days until crown (we think). My next time in armor will be this Sunday, assuming there is actually a practice anywhere nearby, it being Labor Day Weekend.  

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

On winning CAID Queen's Championship

In 1987, pursuing a career as a television writer that never came to fruition, I moved briefly to the kingdom of CAID. I had been spending time down south fairly regularly. Yaroslav the Persistent had a large household down there, Seitch Persistent, and a couple of years before the Seitch had merged with the tribe, so that members of one were considered members of another. In other words, I had a household, friends, and sword brothers ready and waiting for me when I got there. I didn't live in CAID long. My lady got a great job offer in San Francisco and a writers strike shut down Hollywood. I toughed it out for awhile but left sometime that summer--but not until after I fought in CAID Queen's Champion tourney. It was won by Njal Grimmson, who defeated Freewind Bahadur in the finals. I got knocked out by Njal sometime late in the tourney, I remember it as quarter finals, but it might have been earlier.

I think one of the things CAID does best is the Queen Champions tourney. It has expanded to include rapier and cut and thrust, but back then it was just armored combat. There is only a four month lag between crown and coronation in CAID, and Queen's Champion Tourney is the day after the coronation--the first order of business after that event. This means that in CAID, where they only have two crowns a year, there is a major Kingdom level tournament every four months and the Queen always has her own champion, not one whom she inherited. CAID does have a King's champion too, but that is the runner up from crown. Usually the winner of the tourney is named champion: In fact this past weekend, when Bridgit said she was going to choose her champion from among the combatants, it was so unusual that people said they'd never heard of that before. I've lived in two other kingdoms. In the East a tournament is held in whichever he winner is the King's champion and the queen chooses her champion from the competitors. In the West how the champion is picked varries from queen to queen. Usually he or she is simply appointed without a tourney, but it has been done the other two ways as well. They don't have a King's Champion. 

Ever since I lived in CAID I have had a fondness, a fascination, for that tournament, and I always wanted to fight in it again, and now I have. 

This blog is late, because I didn't write about Grant's Tomb practice last week. I Will cover that briefly. 

The same: push-ups every day, yoga, long walks  and occasional bike rides. I'm training for a mud run in three weeks, so I have to get out and do some running this week for sure. 

the only technique I was specifically working on at practice was my two weapon, which I normally fight sword and short-sword. (The short sword is an anachronism left over from the days in the West before low-profile thrusting tips, when only two weapons, short swords  and glaives, could have thrusting tips and still be considered "knightly," meaning you could not refuse to fight them in the lists. It could be a gladius or a cinqueda or even a Bowie knife as well as a true shortsword. It was my knight's favorite weapon). I took it out against Arn, the champion of Rusted Woodlands, a fairly new freighter who is one of those naturals. He said he didn't think that could be a very good style, but I killed him six or seven times  losing once. I fight that at range and take advantage of my visibility. I use the same offense that I use sword and shield, and rarely attack with the knife following the advice of George Sliver-- but like Silver I do use the short sword to pin my opponent's arm, which worked against Arn and shocked him. When I take someone's leg, I switch the sword to a dagger grip to guard my own leg, and then I will use it for face thrusts. I got him with this as well. 

I fought Arn again with Sword and Shield as well as Lou, Samalle, Ansel, and I think Zack, It was a great practice, with nine fighters, three of whom were knights. I did get Lou with a great technique. He fights sword and great ax, like a maud with an ax head on it. I attacked his ax handle with a down award cut. He is used to people sweeping the handle and then trying to come with a cut to the off side or a snap, but much like I do when I use the Fiore technique against Madus, I let contact with his weapon stop the momentum of mine. Then I just turn it into a body thrust. I made this variation up on the fly, and it worked. 

You don't win a major tourney every day. In fact, although I've won some small tourneys recently, I think the last truly big tourney I won was Crown, and that was 20 years ago. I did not go to CAID planning to win Queen's Championship. I went because my squire, Agrippa, was being crowned King. I expected to hover around, see some old friends, suit up and have some fun. Instead i got to accomplish a goal I've had for 36 years. 

I'm sorry, I wasn't fighting people I know well, so I don't recall names. I also was in kind of a fog for half the day and it all runs together. I can point out a few things, however. 

Agrippa made a speech on which he quoted Sun Tzu about winning with ease. Part of the quote described how the great fighters of old would make themselves invulnerable to loss and then await until their opponents gave them an opportunity to kill them. This is probably where Radnor got his saying "we let our opponents tell us how they would like to be killed." This ended up being my day for the most part. I was using a borrowed sword and shield but my own armor (with the gamboised cuises, because I was flying). The sword was Agrippa's and it was tip heavy, and heavier than I use these days, and the shield was a large center grip oval. I could not use most of my regular offense and defense--the center grip meant I could not do a hook-thrust, the sword was a touch slower on the second shot than I like, but it was a perfect sword for some Bellatrix technique. The big shield was big, and saved my leg once or twice, but it also got me killed in my one loss before the finals. 

My first bout was against an unbelted fighter with a tear drop kite. He was very solid. I was told everything about this guy--he's super aggressive, he lays back, he can't hit hard, he is really tricky, he's a push over, he will give you real trouble. I found him to be very solid. If the blow he landed on my calf is any indication he has no problems with power. I can't remember how I won't the fight. 

I fought a polearm fighter named Renfield. Like Sir Diablu, he holds his pole straight up int he air right in front of him. This got him killed. It meant I could set up closer than I would against most polearm fighters, and I was able to pick up his first blow pretty easily. I only had to take one step to be in range. I stepped in, took his leg,and killed him. 

I fought a lady on the Queen's Guard named Blue. She was tough and had a good defense. She used a pointed triangular kite shield, one with no curves, and it kind of got her killed. I started her out with a rising snap, and then a straight thrust. Neither worked. Then in a flurry I took her leg. expecting me to wrap to her head, she set up in kind of an a frame, which exposed her whole torso. The straight line of her shield made the gap even mor pronounced. The first time I thrust there she covered it but the second time she didn't. 

There are two tall Liams. One is a knight and the other is his man at arms. They are both about six six or seven and built like oak trees. The man at arms is left handed, and he is the one I fought. He was fast and strong but inexperienced. I tried my usual opening against a leftie -- the step through off side attack and it didn't work. Neither did Gui's punch shot. But he was setting up way over to the left side with his shield, and I took his shield arm as a result (because he is so tall. A normal sized fight would gave been Hilton the head) It being CAID, I gave up my shield (which I have stopped doing since I made the switch to fighting like an Easterner). We had a long fight with single swords because I was being cautious. I used the Fiore sword in one hand technique, Radnor's technique in which a faked body shot draws the defense out and then a back hand is aimed at the head, and my usual Rolf inspired technique in which I hold the sword cocked in front of me and use short cuts. That's the best defensive style. I eventually threw a double strike, the first time hitting his sword and the second time passing beneath it to hit him in the body. 

About this time I took my loss. I fought Kuma, a big power lifter who is supposedly the top polearm fighter in the kingdom. That was an intense fight. He tried to draw me out of my defense but I wouldn't let him. I followed his attacks and closed behind them, but could not hit him. His footwork was really good. At one point I could tell I had him a bit frustrated because he asked how I was able to see him with only one eye--that was all I was allowing to peek from behind my shield, and that was defended by my sword. Eventually, however, I had to close. The third or fourth time I did so he struck while I was striking--three quick blows that were so strong, even though I blocked all three of them, they blew right through my shield. The first one had been good but I couldn't fall down fast enough. ThAt is how the center grip got me killed. He was so strong he was able to just brush it aside. 

I fought a fighter I can't name in green and black with a 24" round shield, I thought ah! My specialty, but again none of me stuff was working. I threw a rising snap, nope. I threw Martin the Temperate's leg shot. Nope. But I noticed that he was trying to use the Hauoc technique of leading with the weak side, parrying with the shield in 2 and the sword in 5 (a saber parry) and then cutting. unfortunately for him, he was striking an onside blow out of it, whereas an offside slot shot would be more effective. I was fighting a closed form, as close to an A frame as I could with the center grip, with the shield protecting my left side and the sword my right. As he stepped forward, guarding in that same window parry, I just shot thrust  down the middle and he ran his face right onto my sword. That was how he wanted to be killed. 

Then I was in Semi finals against Germanicus, another pole arm fighter. He was tough as well. He had seen what Kuma had done and tried to circle to my shield side to blind me, but I just adjusted and followed him. Both our fights were long and exhausting, in our first fight I closed behind his attack and eventually took his leg and killed him. In our second fight he tried to close with me and throw some back edge attacks but I was too close to him for that and I hit him in the head. Afterword he said "man! You East Kingdom boys really bring it! I'm glad you don't come to any of our wars!"

In the finals I faced Duke Sven. Another leftie taller than I. That's my bane, tall lefties. In the first fight I managed   to hit him with a off side head shot in the middle of an exchange. In the second he got me with a nice one-two across the face. In our third fight I took his leg and noticed that he was setting up to defend the wrap so I figured "what the hell," and threw Patrick Livathan's behind the back shot, which I'd never tired against a leftie, and he fell over. Cheers. 

I may be forgetting a round in here. Like I said, a blur. 

I had a lot of advantages. There were very few knights in the list and I didn't fight any of them till I faced Sven in the finals. I had never fought any of the people I faced before so they didn't know what to expect.  I was out of kingdom--I had nothing at all to prove and no pressure (unlike at a Crown for which I'd trained for three months). 

In every one of those fights I went in with a plan that did not work, and in every one of the fights I won, I looked at my opponent and, often in the middle of an exchange, I saw how they wanted to be killed and I killed them, just like Sun Tzu and Radnor told me to. 

After the finals I made a speech about how I had lived in CAID and was a a member of the Seitch. Which Duke Sven had belonged to as well--he was one of Jaroslav's squires--and how I learned that shot from a CAID Duke. At court I told of how I had lost to Njal Grimson back in 1988, and so this win was a dream I had never thought would come true. Her majesty and I talked about it and she wanted me to  be her champion. Since I will be at Pennsic and hopefully Great Western War as well, I will serve as her champion there and Duke Sven will act in my stead the rest of the time. 

I must admit, I have been giddy for three days. I am the Queen of CAID's champion. How cool is that? 

There are 34 days until Pennsic. My next time in armor will be at Riverfest this Sunday. Because I'm playing Hamlet this July (like us on FaceBook--Hamlet Unmasked) it will be my last time in armor till Pennsic. 

Wednesday, May 21, 2014


I've fought in 89 Crown Tourneys and I'm still not a Duke.

This one was pretty awesome in a lot of ways. The fighting was beautifully intense, the local group was amazingly welcoming, the drive up and back through the Adirondacks quite pleasant, I had great travelling companions--William McCrimmon and Astrid Olafsdatter, I got to eat a double Teen burger and a root beer float at A&W Canada: it was a fun trip.

I also fought very well. I didn't do what I wanted to do--win--but I did a lot. I probably fought as well in this crown as I have in any since I moved here, even the two wherein I went to quarter finals.

There were three dukes and myself in the list, so each of us got seeded to separate pools. (the dukes were Conrad, Edward, and Omega). I finished first in my pool, undefeated, to make it into the round of sixteen. I then went three more rounds, to the round of twelve, before getting knocked out by Evaldr. My strategy was first, to stay alive--if you are the one alive at the end of the lists you've won. My other strategy was to fight a mostly defensive fight and keep everything simple.

Best to talk about the two fights I lost first. I lost to Evaldr and to Cullyn--two fighters whom I can beat as often as not (at least when Cullyn is fighting sword and shield as he was Saturday, and not polearm). I was a bit disappointed with those losses, but less so when both of them went to semi-finals.

Cullyn was doing what I was trying to do, only he was better at it. He was fighting a completely defensive fight, and mostly throwing one blow--a diagonal off side cut (a roverso fendente). He may have thrown a snap or two and a leg shot, but not at me. In the video, I think he throws one leg shot, and all the rest are off side shots aimed at my head or right shoulder. It was perfect. I probably should have been more aggressive--but being aggressive against him was what got me killed. I also should have attacked his off side. The video below is of Omega vs. Edward, but I can be seen fighting Cullyn in the background. It gets pretty much all of our fight including my death.

My fight with Evaldr had a bit more action in it. Although I didnt feel tired I think I was getting there, because I got sloppy as the fight went on. I also got increasingly frustrated, and trying to be trickier and trickier. At first I'm being very economical. Then I throw a stutter wrap (which almost get him) then I throw a stomp thrust, then (not necessarily in order) a spinning back hand, a thrust of a fake, a thrust off an off side, and a hook thrust. Most of them he voided by moving, primarilly to his right. Catching him going to his right was how I killed him at Birka.

I don't have video of my fight from the round of 16 (at least I haven't found any).

In my pool (of which there is no video because Tally, who took all the video I've seen so far, was fighting), I was fighting very well. I killed three knights, some very good unbelted fighters, and went undefeated. Of course, there are pools and there are pools: William's pool had both the finalists and one of the semi finalists in it. He went 3 and 5 and should probably be pretty satisfied. I would have had real trouble making it out of that pool.

The knights I fought in my pool were Luis, Antonio, and Sir Gareth Grey de Wilton from Tir Mara. 

My fight with Gareth was very satisfying and very old school. He was using a heater fought in a high open form. I saw this and kind of grinned. I took his leg with that Martin the Temperate leg shot (resting sword on shoulder, elbow straight out, wrist curled under, just fold the elbow into the ribs, open the wrist, and let the sword snap into the leg). Then I killed him with Fast Eddie's direction change shot, which has been working a lot for me lately. (Miss an off-side head shot, curl the pinky finger around so the sword does a really quick teardrop return, and hit him in the head). 

My fight with Antonio was long and hard. I eventually took his leg (dont' recall how) and then killed him. I know I planned, if I took a leftie's leg, to use Gui's punching shot to set up my attacks, which worked for me against Tycho recently, but I didn't. I didn't want to close range that tightly against him. 

Against Luis I got him with a body thrust. He fights with a Dane ax as his left hand weapon, going for punches or thrusts to the face, but I crossed him up. He thought I was going to throw a high body thrust that looped in from his left, but--as he stepped forward with his right shot and threw a snap, moving his ax to block what he thought I was doing, I threw a low-line body thrust from below and he ran right onto it. *snicker* 

I don't remember the details of my other fights, really. I double killed with a buckler fighter, who bit on my rising snap but hit me with an off side at the same time. I killed Tally with a shot straight down the middle that I hid behind my shield after I'd taken his leg. Not sure about There was tall lefty I hit with a double tap to the off-side head. All of that is kind of a blur. 

The lists as a whole were frighteningly savage. Watch the videos Tally shot of Semis and finals to see what I mean. 

I left a lot on the field. I know because my shoulders still ache from the effort four days later and my knees were weak on Sunday. I won my pool--undefeated, I killed three knights, I went to the round of 12, and I lost to the two semi finalists, who were having career best days. It was a good Crown and I'm pretty proud of how I did. 

It is 64 days until Pennsic. My next time in armor will be sometime next week. 

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Final Crown Prep

Last night I edged my shield and made a new sword (blade--I still have to put the basket hilt on it). Tomorrow I take the long drive up to Montreal. Time to assess. 

I know I can win this crown. It's a tougher list than the last one, but I am a tougher fighter right now than I was--my defense has improved considerably over the last six months. 

I'm still not settled on how I want my sword balanced with this new style. 

I'm in great shape aerobically--I'm outlasting a lot fo guys--but I don't know if that will be good deep in the list. 

I met few of my training goals. It was odd. My training dropped off at Spring Break when, because I had more time, it should have picked up. Mostly that was poor planing. 

Here were my goals as of February 15: 

I want to be in armor 20 times, which is a lot in 13 weeks in NYC, but not impossible. 
Push-ups every day
25 gym workouts
130 total miles
Fight in Two Beau Gestes, Mudthaw, and at least one other event. 

The actual final tally looks like this: 
Total number of workouts = 130 
16 times total in armor
50 push ups every day
106.77 miles total biking/running/hiking (map my fitness doesn't break it out in their stats)
26 gym workouts
I fought in Mudthaw and two Beau Gests but nothing else. 

That last one bothers me. I really should have been able to be in armor twenty times, stomach flu and spring break not withstanding. Other than that I've been active, I'm in good shape, and I'm fighting well.

It is two days until Crown, which will be my next time in armor. 

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Nutley Practice, May 7, 2014

You really need to keep your equipment up—especially your swords. This is an issue for me, as I’ve been fighting a new style, one that works best with a lighter, hand heavy sword. The sword I’d been using was perfect about 50 layers of tape ago. Last night I fought like ass, in part because the sword would not move the way I needed it to. I did, however, get some new rattan, so that won’t be an issue at crown.

Since the last practice I went to, I’ve done two yoga classes, biked, walked, and done push ups every day. My workouts have not been what I’d planned three months ago. I have not been lifting weights very much, not been to many intense aerobics classes, just push ups and yoga, walking and biking, occasional running and using the Indian clubs. I’ve barely even touched the kettle bells.

All I wanted to work on last night was my A-Frame defense, my straight inside thrust and my off side head shot.

I only fought four opponents last night—Arn, Tycho, Gregor and Stephan. I fought long sets with each of them. My wind was good but my arms did tire a bit.

Against Arn I had more steam than he did at the end of our set. I felt really good about that. I took his leg and killed him. I think he slipped past my defense once, and that was after I’d started attacking more and going on offense.

Against Tycho I was trying a variation of the A frame, in which I cock my shield over, the point toward my off side, and hold my sword to the right and up to guard my head. He broke it down pretty handily. The times I killed him I took his leg. My main thing was a need to see is offense more—I was blinding myself.

I didn’t touch Gregor this time. He still couldn’t take my leg, and remarked on it, but he had my number otherwise. I was being just a bit more aggressive, and he was taking me to town. Our first bout I had planned to go for a stutter wrap, but he knew where I was going before I did, and when I got there his sword was waiting for me. It was perfect timing. He got me moving in a couple of times. He exposed my two biggest flaws. The first is that, when I bring my hands in to close off the center line in the A Frame I leave my sword arm exposed. The second is that when I get in tight I’m flattening my sword out. This was because with that tip heavy sword I needed the rotation to get any speed or power on my shots. But by flattening it out—holding it more or less parallel to the ground—I was taking it out of the equation, because he would just shoot above or below it and get me. I need to hold it at an upward angle like I do in the A frame, just a bit higher when I’m in close.

I didn’t touch Stephan either, but that is rare. He was the only person who was able to take my leg all night, and he got it twice. He said my defense is really improved. He can’t get me with his right cross any more, which is his payoff shot.  He ahs to work hard to open anything up. Making Stephan work is one of my life’s goal.

Afterward, my shoulder felt tense and a bit achy. I stopped after four fights in order not to strain it. I iced it after ward and it felt fine by the time I went to bed. He problem was the sword: I just can’t push a tip heavy sword into those shots from the A Frame defense. It is slow, probably light, and puts way too much work on the shoulder.

Crown is in nine days. This was my last practice till then.

Sunday, April 27, 2014


I love Vermont, upstate New York too. I'd probably hate living here, but every time I visit I think "Yeah, this would be cool." I went to practice in Bennington today, and had a blast. 

Not bad this week: a gym workout, a 13 mile bike ride, yoga, and push-ups every day. 

I was going to work a straight down wrist snap in, like that Saber blow to the middle of the forehead,  imore as an experiment than anything else, because Gui and I were discussing it the other day, and because it seems like a good attack out of the A Frame. I also wanted to work on some low line thrusts. Neither one worked, but they didn't get me killed either. 

There were four of us in armor: myself, Sir Alecander de Hauteville, and his two squires Collin and Dana. I fought a set of passes with each oft hem and then we did a bear pit. Each of us held the field against the other three. We did two rounds of that, rested, and then did two more. It was great exercise. I won my early fights, lost most of my later ones. 

Dana is a bull. He rushes in swinging really hard, goes belly to belly with you, thrusts low line (sometimes in the cup) and tries to muscle you around. He uses a really big strapped kite, and is hard to break down. He got me with a really good face thrust once, took my leg and crushed me once. 

Collin uses a center grip kite with a sword leg forward lead but keeps his sword behind him--a weak high open form, which is one of the hardest to use. His off side head and arm were very exposed. I killed him with two old school techniques--a straight Bellatrix combo--off side head, tear drop return, on side head: and a molinee that flashes the tip in the face and just follows up with a snap (I killed Alexander with that too). 

Alexander has changed his style since we last fought. He uses weak high closed form. He also no longer tries to crush and out thug his opponents. He has developed a very fast, elegant saber style offense. It fits him really well. He is one of those big fighters wight fast hands. My best win against him was when I took his leg then through Fast Eddy's shot that misses the off side head, changes direction really quickly, then becomes an onside snap. His best kill on me was a wicked hard off side rib shot where he faked me out of my socks by striking onside head (I blocked with my sword in tierce) faked the snap (I put up the block in quinte) the he hit me in the off side ribs (and I buckled in pain). :-) 

The drill we did, essentially fight three fights, rest two, fight one, rest two, fight three, was really really good. I needed some work against the Northern Region style, and I just needed the helmet time after a layoff due to Spring Break 

Afterword we went to Madison Brewing Co., a local brew pub. I had a very good burger, and tasted both the IPA and Old 76, very nice. 

My next time on armor should be Wednesday Night at Nutley. It is exactly three weeks till Crown.