Monday, August 15, 2016

Pennsic 45

Random Thoughts:

This blog will not be in the usual format, because Pennsic is long and there's so much to write about. I will of course leave a lot out. I've already forgotten a lot of important stuff, and I left mu paper journal at home.

Pennsic was too hot to enjoy most of it.

A person who would know told me there were nine heart attacks on the field this year, leading them to close down all martial activities (even target archery and thrown weapons) on Thursday, after cancelling the woods and shortening the alternate resurrection battle from 90 minutes to 30.

I was in armor for five days.

I fought in the Known World Baronial Rapier Champions tourney and killed lots of people but totally wiffed my showcase fight. However, I was the best talker, and extemporized a poem for my introduction. By the time I was ready to get into heavy armor, the pickup field was empty. Too damn hot.

The Pennsic Open field battle is still the greatest spectacle, and most fun battle, in the SCA.

I fought most of the battles with spear, except the open fields, which I fought with a short polearm.

Over the eight days I was there I walked over 140,000 steps/70 miles.


SATURDAY of war week I did not get into armor. I attended opening ceremonies, marching as Ostgardr rapier champion, and basically tried to stay alive.

SUNDAY was the day of champions. I always armor up for the champions battle even when I'm not chosen (I've only been chosen once as an Easterner). It's not so much that I'm the guy hoping to be asked to dance (though I am) as what Duke Lucan once told me: we are all alternates to the Bellted champions team, and we should always be ready to fight in it. I was not needed, however.

What seemed to me to be the Midrealm's cunning plan worked, and we lost the battle for the first time in 17 years. I've always said that the reason we always win that battle is the guys at the top of our team--Lucan, Brion, Andre, Omega, Gregor, Stephan, Balfar, Russlan, Ron, Douglas Henry, Randal, etc, are just too tough a core. We've always got at least five of those guys out there, and two of them are always the last ones left at the end and win the battle for us.

This year they split the belted champions into three teams of seven: fighters who had been knighted more than 12 years, 7-12 years, and 0-6 years. The first team consisted of Brion, Greggor, Balfar, Lucan, Thorsen, Russlan, and Jan Janovitch. That team cleaned up. Our other two teams had one duke a piece on them, and they both lost. I don't know the number of dukes and counts on each of the Midrealm teams, but concentrating our top guys on one team took away our advantage and they won.

We won the unbelted fight.

We also won heroics 6 bouts to 4, in large part because of our allies.

The best fight of the war was Hanse vs. Branos: https://youtu.be/1zaN0OLjYSc

MONDAY
Was billed as the MOAB (Mother of all battles). This involved an portion of the field that was open, a portion that was broken up, and the castle. It was fought in two segments, in the field and then, after a break to reset, in the castle. One side had unlimited resurrections, while the other could resurrect in the break between segments only. There was a siege weapons element as well, as they had to hit a target on the castle three times to breech the walls. The battle was scored on time.  This battle sucked. It would have been better if it had been fought in more segments, like the open part of the field, the broken part, then the castle. Instead, both sides just fell back to defend the outside of the castle, then the inside. The East won with a truly heroic stand by the King's retinue and the unbelted champions in the gate house of the castle, but it did not come off at all like planned. They set up most of that terrain for nothing.

The heat was hardest on my on Monday, when I was fighting in my crusader great helm.




TUESDAY: Bridge
So we had five bridges, and we fought them five times in times ten minute battles, with ten minutes in between. We fought with the Southern Region and had a great assignment--front rank in every battle, meaning we went in, fought, and usually died quickly enough that the heat never became an issue. I got into some good spear duels and killed some guys, and died every time. Because of the beastly heat, I got my conical helm strapped and padded:



Much better.

As I was leaving the field Hanse asked me for some pickups and I borrowed Ron's sword (no thrusting) and shield. I took one of three and they were all great fights. I has down a move that always gets me killed, lifting the bottom of the shield with his own and thrusting.

THURSDAY
This was the killer day. Due to storms the day before, they had canceled the woods battle. The alternate battle was a wall battle with three gaps, the center one with block houses set back 30 feet, and each gap with a flag. As I said, they shortened it from 90 minutes to 30 because of the heat. Spectators were collapsing, as well as fighters. I fought spear, but only got into the fray two or three times. I spent most of the battle on the sidelines during the two long medical holds, sitting in the shade and drinking water. I was on my way out with the short polearm when they called it. I did get in two sets of pickups with it--one against a sword and shiled, and I won a few of those, and one against a 7 foot polearm, and I won all of those. Then they closed the battle field.

FRIDAY
Friday at Pennsic always seems to make it all worthwhile. THey shortened the field battles from five to three, but they were still awesome. I took the short polearm and wore my crusader helmet and surcotte and had a blast.



I killed lots of people--more than any other day. I also saved our bacon twice in the same battle. Amusingly, somebody posted a picture to Facebook of me wearing that same surcotte in 1992. I don't wear it very often.

Our plan was basically the same in all three battles: attack the center and left, while Black Tallon and the Tuchux held in reserve, and then when they tried to attack our right flank those to units would engage and, and one of them would get a flank. Then they would roll up that side. We were the exposed right flank in all three battles, which is the most dangerous place to be.

In one battle I got to use my ensign skills. As we attacked we were getting separated from the unit on our left and falling a bit behind, with Darkyard right in front of us. I took command and started shifting us left, using my sort polearm to guide/push (gently) our shieldmen into place, the way Alfrik taught me. By the time Darkyard charged we had closed that gap and were able to repell them. After that charge, however, we were in trouble. Our left had collapsed, and our center had pushed forward but was bogged down, and we were now in a classic double envelopment. I saw this and used my polearm to  grab some guys who weren't engaged on our line and pull them to our left flank as it collapsed. We engaged and refused for awhile and the battle fragmented, eventually getting turned around so that I was now facing West instead of East and we were surrounded on all sides. We were backing up and keeping out of range of the unit in front of us. I thought we were gonners, but I checked over my shoulder and saw the Tuchux coming up from behind. They had blown right through their left flank and just as our center was about to collapse, had hit their center from behind. The center disintegrated, they were left standing, and they just came straight through to us. SO I stopped walking backwards, started walking forwards with them, and got in three or foru mor kills as we hit that last unit and mopped up. Hence the short polearm in the open field: it's good in a press, good for breakthroughs, and great in command.

The training for Crown Tourney begins the minute the open field battle at Pennsic ends, so I changed helmet and fought pickups after that. I wanted at least five sets of three each. I got six, including two knights. I fought pretty well.

There are (assuming it is on the normal date) 81 Days until Crown Tourney. My next time in armor will be next Monday at McCarren Park.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Three HOT practices.


Three-fer 

So it's been a while since I've written, and I've been to three practices. A lot of that was teaching, most of it was heat acclamation. The war is coming up, and I need to be in shape.

MISDLETOWN

This was a light practice. I drove up with Arnne and Luthor, as they are both getting ready for herroic champions, and wants to get in as many singles as possible. I love it up there with the Middletown guys, and it was a very fun trip. Mostly it was a teaching practice for me, but that's good for me and for the fighters up there.

 I fought just four people, Derrek, Matt, Arne, and Hassan.  It's a long way to go to fight four guys, but it was fun.

The main reason I go up there is to do some training with my man at arms, Derek. That fight was pure teaching mode. He really needs to bring his sword back into position before he throws. He is starting his lies way too far forward--a real rookie habit that he needs to break. He's big and strong so he gets away with it up there, with no Knights to fight. 

Matt I thought mostly goofy foot, trying to build on what I had done Sunday.  He has improved markedly in the few months that I've been going up there. I got with Silver's technique, The one I mentioned in my last post. 

Arne I got three times. That felt great. He relies way too much on that offside body counter, and now I'm picking it up. He likes to zone block with that center grip kite, and when he does so he is susceptible to deep wraps. I even got him without thrust once. 

Hassan, as always, is fast and Squirrley and ducks a lot takes deep steps with a wide stance, and squares up a little too much. He blinds himself a lot, and I took advantage of his slot once with timing and once with a hidden shot. 

The funniest thing was, as we were leaving, seeing dozens of people wandering the streets with their nose buried in their phones searching for Pokémon.

IRONBOG 6/17

This was the mellee practice that wasn't. The team has been announced, it was way too hot, and almost everybody who said they were showing up failed to do so. So it became a very good single combat fighting practice.

I Fought seven people, including Goldstein, VDK Gavin, Bloodguard Joe, Sterling, a poleman named Henry, a two sword fighter in white Japanese kit, and a lady with sword and shield. 

I wasn't working on anything but surviving the heat. 

A few things stand out. 

Goldstein fought me with sword and buckler. He killed me once. I think. Maybe. He has a great rotation leg block. 

Against the two sword fighter, I started out with the straight thrust out of the a frame. The first time he blocked it, but the second time he walked right into it. I played William the Lucky a bit--I hid underneath my shield and pounded his leg, then his body. I think he beat me when I took his arm and we fought single sword. 

The lady fighter (never got her name. Green shield with gold crescents), gave me a good fight. I was in training mode, and she jumped in my shorts. Very determined with great pop to her shots. She just needs to tighten her defense. 

Henry tried to stay out and I rushed him, then he bull rushed me and I wrapped him. 

Against Joe I decided to use the one-shot drill. I only threw straight snaps from a high guard. No fakes even. I won all three of our fights. First one I one-shorted him with a counter--as soon as his hand moved (it was a leg shot) I hit him. Then I double tapped him with a step to my right. Then from the en garde, I threw a very high, broken-wrist snap that went over his sword guard.  

Sterling was the only person who killed me more than once. He figured out all he had to do was aim for the highest part of that tall great helm. I could barely feel the shots, but they were clean so I took them. I did best against him from the a frame but also did well with Bellatrix style. We double killed once, and I won three to his two. I killed him with a butterfly at one point, which felt good. 

It was too hot. 

MCCARREN PARK

so, there are only two fighters in armor, me and Aleel. That's OK, it was a hot night there had been a huge rainstorm and it gave us a chance to work on stuff. He's a relatively new fighter, but he is strong and fast and he works with Stefan, which means he's deadly. When he learns what to block and where, he'll be really good.

All we did was fight several passes – he killed me in the first one. I fought most of them in a frame, and had his offside head and his leg pretty well pegged, while he landed a couple of high on side head shots. Our last fight I went all Bellatrix on him, which was kind of fun. One thing about that style is that it's so aggressive it gets people's defenses out of position, which is how I took his leg. Eventually, I took his arm, and then we paused and took a break.

After that, we did the Bellatrix offense/defense drill. He attacked while I defended, and the fight was over when I have thrown three blows – I got one each of an onside had, and offside had, and an onside leg. Then we repeated that with him defending. The main point is learning to defend, but the secondary point is using a one-shot counter if you see an opening. He took my leg at the end, which is excellent.  After a short breath, we did the same drill with me kneeling and him standing, and then vice versa. 

That was it, a very short night. 

It is 10 days until Pennsic. My next time in armor will probably be Thursday night at Hawthorne.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Southern Region Mellee Practice

So, I'm really done with the big greathelm. I will use it this Pennsic in one or two battles, just for fun, wearing a nice long crusader surcoat, so I'll have something of a Morgan Bible look to me. 


But I've got my new helmet!

Mine! Mine! Mine!!!

WORKOUTS:
Ha!! Did not make it to the gym all week. 70,000 steps this week and last. I completed the "walk to Pennsic" challenge (cover the distance between Eastern CT and Pennsic by Pennsic) a month early. Still making my push-ups 50 every day. 

TECHNIQUE
I ended up using a lot of weak high closed form (goofy foot) to great effect. 

FIGHTING
I did not go for the Mellee. I went to pick up my helmet. I wasn't very thrilled about fighting. My back still hurt. But, when Bill said he was only doing pickups that de used it for me. 

Only fought four guys. I fought two Knights--William McCrimmon and Mord, and two good unbelted fighters--Luther and Tallon. 

My fights with Mord are on video below. As you can see, I was freezing his shield through pumps and body dips. More of note, I fight the first fight in an AFrame, but switch thereafter to goofy foot. I'm particularly fond of that off-side leg shot. 


Bill: fought me much better than at SRWC. He landed that body slot shot that Mord couldn't stick, and almost took my hip with a juke right/left/cut move, which I use on Brenan sometimes. Bill just had the angle wrong. My best shot with him was a stutter wrap. 

LUTHER
I fought Luther much better than I had at McCarren Park last week. Goofy foot worked well against him, and his off-side leg was gettable. I did the Horic thing to him (toes to knees and keep throwing) and got a body shot under his shield as I stepped back out. When I took his leg and closed like that, however, unless I bent over to look down, offering him my head, he completely disappeared. 

Which why I'm done with this helmet. 

TALLON
For some reason, I had his number with a simple Snap/back handed slot shot (reverso fendente for those who like proper terminology). I killed him with it three times, once after taking his leg. This, by the way, is technique straight out of Fiore. 

So I've got this other technique I don't often use so I don't often talk about. It's similar to a technique used by Duke Stephen of Beckenham and count Glenn ap Rhodri, but it actually comes from Steven Hand's interpretations of George Silver. One of Silver's two wards is a high open form, with the feet close together at a 90 degree angle, left toe pointed forward, the arm extended straight up over head, and the sword pointed straight up in the air. He uses it mostly with broadsword by itself, but also buckler and dagger (nice, regular system, Silver). I use it single sword, but also with shield.  I change my too--I place the tip of my thumb at the back of the handle, to push the sword forward, like with modern saber. The cut is almost always a fendente, though you can strike a flat snap as well. There are lots of tricks from that position--elaborate molinees, disappearing behind the shield, etc., -- but silver mostly uses it by passing back on the left and dropping a fendente, usually onto the arm. 

So I used this as an offensive technique against William. Dropped it behind my shield for a hidden snap. It cost me my leg, and I lost that fight. But I used it defensively against Tallon and it was beautiful. He threw a leg shot and I moved off line to my left, blocking the leg and cutting fendente to his head. It was very satisfying. 

Not surprisingly, my back felt much better after fighting. 

It is 29 days until Pennsic. My next time in armor may not be till then, depending on the packing. And padding my helmet. I'm done with the greathelm. 



Saturday, June 18, 2016

War camp + practice.

Yikes! ! I am A week behind on this blog!

On the other hand, not a lot is happening.

I was in armor twice last week, at the southern region war camp, and at McCarren Park practice on Monday night. And I am still using that huge crusader pot helmet. When I realized on Monday is that it makes me extremely top-heavy. I'm having trouble moving, and I am losing my balance. Plus there's the whole vision thing: it's almost impossible for me to see an offside shot in that helmet, let alone leg shots. So I think any victory I have is a pretty good one.

At war camp, fought two of the battle scenarios, the boat Landing Beach battle and the bridge. I was actually having a lot of fun, and while my wind was slightly affected by the helmet, I did pretty well. I also hit a lot of people. It was all shield wall work, and I ended up standing up the charge a few times. 

I did pick ups with Gunther, master Karl, sir William McCrimmin, sir Eric Hundeman -- the brand-new night -- and Duke Edward. Except for Edward, with whom I went one and two, I won more fights that I lost. 

At McCarren Park it was jus me, Ervald, and Seamus. I had my slot shot working, but felt really slow and weak. A new helmet might not help, but it couldn't hurt. 

There are 40 days until Pennsic. My next time in armor will be Minday at McCarren Park. 


Friday, June 10, 2016

Riverfest (plus a practice)

It's important to be able to put on a show. When a well known band from the 1970s--lets say, Orleans--is playing on a stage 40 feet away, you need to up your game. But if you only have a few fighters and no set schedule, what do you do? Oh: it's raining, and a monsoon is coming in. We just did a few passages of arms, one pair at a time, then talked.

WORKOUTS
Made the gym yesterday with a good workout: 20 minutes on the treadmill, 20 minutes weight lifting (dumbbells and kettlebells) and 20 minutes yoga. I've made my steps and pushup goals. I've been doing the "Walk To Pennsic" challenge, which consists of logging 537 miles between March 8 and July 28. I will complete it today, in about 600 more steps.

TECHNIQUE
Ok. The demo was blled as a greatsword class and torunament, but that didn't really happen. Only one student showed up. My greatsword technique is an odd conglomeration of the teaching of Paul of Bellatrix, Elric Scapvarger, Gui Avec Cheval, Gregor von Heisler, Marc d'Arundel, a bit of German long sword and the bastard sword techniques of Rolf the Relentless. These are quite different, obviously. Mostly I either fight in long point, a la mark, or with the sword cocked in front of me a la Rolf and Greggor, or else with the quillions cross wise, often in a horse stance, edges out, a la Gui.

We only got one person to show up for the great-sword clinic, Dirk Krasner, and I did some passes with him, mostly fighting out of long point and working on the techniques of Duke Marc--thrust, hanging guard, pass and cut. I won many of those fights.

Later, for the show, he and I did a passage of arms to three blows with sword and shield, great sword, and arming sword. I won each round 3-1. I tried to do a little half-swording with the arming sword, but that got me killed. I also tried the Fiore sword in one hand technique (which comes off the left hip, point tailing). If I'd committed to the strike, it would have worked. but I followed that up with a classic--strike an on side blow, parry 6 (the window parry) pass on the left and cut to the head.

After the passage I tore all the padding out of my helmet. In doing so I discovered two cracked (but not broken through) welds. Not usable. Whatever was going on, although i didn't develop a concussion, I felt the helmet was not protective enough. Padding wasn't bottoming out, but it had always been a lighter helm than necessary. So I decided not to use it any more, and to make sure I wouldn't use it anymore, I took the padding out. Otherwise I'm like an adict. I what to fight! (!!) Cet is making me a new helm, and I will fight in that when it is done. I do have a backup, unattractive as it may be...

At McCarren Park the next night there were eight  fighters in armor--myself, Gui Auzer, Luthor, Ervald, Sable, and Seamus d'Arundel. That's a good practice. Unfortunately, I was using the great helm I got from Gui a few years ago. I haven't used a closed-face helmet in over a decade, and it wasn't pretty. I was losing sight of everything coming to the off-side.




None shall pass.

I warmed up against Seamus, but we didn't actually fight. I hit him in the shin and we stopped. That was a product of visibility.

I did some teaching with Sable. I was fighting with just a few blows and concentrating on seeing what she was doing. We mostly need to work on her power.

I fought Gui with greatswords, since we hadn't been able to fight on Sunday. I did shockingly well. I killed him with a shoulder cut the first fight, and got him once or twice later, plus several double kills.

Luthor reminded me why I started using the A-Frame. He is so fast he completely beats my closed high guard. I simply couldn't keep up with him. Once I switced to the A frame I think I won all of our fights. Getting past his first attack was all I needed. I took his leg  couple of times and killed him with deep wraps and butterflies.

Auzer also beat me up our first two fights, but, again, once I got a handle on what he was doing I started winning. He was throwing his usual punching off side then jumping in and throwing a deep wrap. I just guarded for the wrap and timed my blow to hit half a beat behind his. Killed him with a deep wrap and with an off-side head shot that way. Then, anticipating his move forward, I killed him with a hidden trust--hiding my thrusting tip behind my shield and then sliding it past his.

Against Ervald I mostly took his leg. He killed me once with a good, aggressive off side attack. I caught him moving his defense up and hit his leg two or three times. I helped it along with an upsilon once. Then I killed him with thrusts and body shots.

Ending where I began, with Seamus, was important. He was also able to beat my high-guard, but I had his leg pretty good. I killed him with butterflies and stutter wraps, with a hook wrap and a hook thrust. He beat me with speed and a really wicked off-side, much like Arne at Mudthaw. Only this time I was not seeing the off-side due to the helmet. Ouch. Bruises. Ow.

All in all I felt odd because of the helmet, but good because of the helmet time. My wrist was bothering me at first, but that got better, not worse, as the evening wore on, as it often does. Thing is, the next day it still felt better. I'd worn the brace on it on Monday and I think that hurt more than it helped. Luthor, Zack, Seamus, and Gui all pasted me at some point, but I felt much safer in this helmet than in my old one. It's much heavier and more protective. I did get a bit of a scratch on the nose, but that's just adjusting the chin strap. Those four are really really good, and they each overwhelmed me at some point.

It's 47 days until Pennsic. My next time in armor will be tomorrow at Southern Region War Camp.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

War of the Roses

OMG IT'S HOT!!

I love War of the Roses. It's a nice, pleasant event. The first good camping event of the year, good fighting, fun tourneys.

This year, Hot.

I had planned to play around, work with my man at arms Patrick, and maybe fight in the Tournament of Roses on Sunday. Plans didn't work out due to a shot I took to the back of the head.

TECHNIQUE
I was using my light sword without a thrusting tip. The big draw on Saturday was the great-weapon's tournament. I really only have two primary techniques with a  great weapon--thumbs aligned and thumbs opposed. I can play the oarsman style, but I don't think it works that often.

WORKOUTS
I've been getting between 70,000 and 85,000 steps every week, and 50 push ups a day. Nothing has changed.

FIGHTING
I only fought in two of the battles because, in one of them, I took a pole arm to the back of the head. That was fun. I was engaged with Mathias and then BAM! I didn't even see who threw the shot. It hurt my neck and might have given me a concussion. I say "might have" because I didn't feel any of the symptoms I felt when I had what my doctor called a "mild concussion" three years ago--no nausea, no dizziness, I had had a slight headache before I fought, but that was probably a combination of the heat and the bus trip up to Albany. I was slightly stunned for a moment, and felt odd. Just odd enough to say "in 95 degree muggy heat I don't want to fight anymore."  I marshaled and hung out the rest of the day. I stayed off site and did not return on Sunday because it was even hotter.

My few sword and shield fights were fun, but nothing to really write about. They were warm up / pick up fights, and I was just getting my joints moving.

I did have lots of good pole arm fun. I fought three authorization bouts, then in the tournament. The auth bouts convinced me that I should fight thumbs aligned, which is what I usually do against other pole arms. My reactions were at least good, which is all you can test in against new fighters. I won my first bout against a great sword fighter. He took my leg with a thrust, then I took his arm and killed him. My second fight was against a shorter fighter who just nailed me with a thrust from below after a brief exchange. It was a great shot.

Nothing else to report, really.

There are 57 days until Pennsic. My next time in armor will be Sunday at Sir Gui's Greatsword Dance Party.  

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Ostgardr Heavy and Rapier Practice Tourney

Small tourneys, what do you do?

I am a big fan of practice tourneys. At BART practice, back in the early 80s, use them to help cure tourney choke. The Argent Angels host of the Crapaud, a monthly tourney. This week's will be the 242nd (and they've never missed a month). In Ostgardr we held a tournament called the Beau Geste tournament. We stopped doing them regularly a while ago, but we still try to hold them now and then. 

If the turn out is small--3-7--you need to find a way to increase the number of fights. 7-12 a round robin is fine, by the time you hit 16 you should run a double elimination.  

I hosted a practice tourney for both heavy and rapier on Sunday at Sword Class NYC, the combination Kendo dojo and HEMA school in Harlem. We had 5 heavy fighters and 3 rapier fighters (two of us were doing double duty). We held a sort of round robin for both lists. Everybody had to fight everybody three times, and we tallied total number of victories.

WORKOUTS
Just 50 push ups and 10,000 steps a day. I've done some odd workouts of squats and Dumbbells I'm designing a new workout program for the summer (4 days a week for a month I will have access to one of the best gyms in the city, plus I will have a 32 mile round trip bicycle commute. I will do one or the other. 

TECHNIQUE
I fought all but one sword and shield fight in a high closed form, with my sword slightly forward of my shield, a la Prince Brian. I used the light sword without a thrusting tip. I need to be wary of exposing my arm in that form.  I was concentrating on fast counter punches and double strikes. 



FIGHTING
As the only knight, I fought but not for the prize. In three of my rounds I used sword and shield and in the fourth I fought single sword. The other fighters were Sable, Ervald, Samale, and Ronan. 

The winner of the rapier prize was Ronan, and of the heavy prize, Ervald.

The prize for each was a jelly donut. 

It is 64 days until Pennsic. My next time in armor will be Saturday at War of the Roses.