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.   

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Wantagh, Cinco de Mayo

Wantagh 5/5

There were four people in armor: me, Horic, Caitlyn, and Bob Fox. I fought one set each with Bob and Caitlyn and three sets against Horic. 

I used my lighter sword, which made it harder to strike a good blow, and I did not use the thrust once (and at one point I lost the thrusting tip anyway). I also fought in a high closed form, not the A frame, throughout. It taught me a few things. 

For instance, against Bob, I was trying to time a forehead cut with his blow, blocking as I threw. I hit him several times like that, but as I was throwing I was also backing out slightly, to aid my defense, and this was robbing my blow of power. I adjusted, taking a slight slide step forward as I threw the blow. I killed him. 

Caitlyn was teaching. She was not as sharp as the last time I fought her. I told her to work on her feet--move with purpose, complete the movement, don't square up--advise I should take as well. 

I fought Horic very well but had power issues. Probably two thirds of the blows I struck were no good. That's the super-light stick.  At first I was getting his leg but he adjusted to that.  When I used his technique for fighting someone on their knees he, natch, had a counter--a very wicked off side leg shot at a weird angle.  My goal was primarily to counterpunch with a straight snap. I did get one kill with a stutter wrap. The best thing I did was figure out the hole in his guard, and killhim through it--with three off-side body shots (I landed two more that weren't stout). One was a classic butterfly. 

This practice is exactly what I needed last night. I was upset about mundane tribulations and I got to hit people with a stick. Sometimes, you just need to bash somebody with a stick. 

There are 82 days until Pennsic. I likely won't be in armor till after Kalamazoo. 

Monday, May 2, 2016

Crown Tournament #94, East Kingdom Spring Crown, Quebec

So this crown was not a success fighting wise, but I learned a lot about myself. It reinforced some things that I already knew, and it was a lot of fun.

First the negative: I was way under prepared. Due primarily to injuries I had not fought nearly enough between Birka and Crown. This is part of being 52 instead of 22, and you just have to manage it. Coming into this crown I felt unfinished--that's the only way I can describe it--like Edward Scissor Hands. That seems odd after 37 years of fighting, but I have been trying to put some things together in my style, and I've not quite done so. Alfred says that I'm making incremental changes and I need to start making wholesale changes (he's talking about taking a more zen approach). Maybe, but I really just need to do a few things right.

I tried a lot of other prep to get mentally ready. I worked out with weights and Indian clubs. I repaired all my armor, getting t those things (my shoulders, for instance) that I'd been putting off. I repaired my shield, made a new sword, and put the basket hilt on my old (slightly shorter and lighter) one. The drive up to Quebec flew by. I felt good. None of that helps with a lack of helmet time.

In my first loss (my third fight) my chin strap blew out. We were in pool play and had been admonished not to slow the pools down. I rushed around like a decapitated chicken trying to get it fixed. I couldn't get it riveted so gave that up after three tries and fixed it with p-cord (what Flieg calls "soft rivets").  I lost my first fight back in the pool and was out of sorts the rest of the day.

All day long I was tentative. I was trying not to lose. I had too much fear. I was not aggressive--except in my fight with Ryo (more on that later). I was told that there were two face thrusts that looked good on me in two different fights. Neither had felt like they had any positive force (my definition of that is that, while I'm not rocked by it, it has to push my helmet back into my gorget), and my opponents insisted they were satisfied with them. The one face thrust I did die to, in pool play, was just what I am looking for--stiff enough to bottom my helmet out, not "hard". I did start worrying, however, about whether or not my chin strap repair made thrusts somehow feel different. Regardless, after I was told that, I lost my next two fights and was out of the lists.

Randal and I had a long talk after the lists and he crystallized into words what I was feeling. My plan recently, not just for this list, but for my fighting in general, has been to simplify everything. Don't throw a lot of fakes or molinees, don't go for as much fancy foot work. Use that stuff when an opening presents itself, but concentrate on counter punching with snaps and off-side heads, and working the angles with wraps, off sides, and body shots. React more than you act. In the words of Duke Radnor, "let your opponent tell you how he wants to die." That is NOT what I was doing this crown. In this crown I was fighting like it was practice. I was trying everything. This is also why I lost to Arne at Mudthaw. I had something that I knew was going to work, but decided to try something else then go back to that. As Randy put it, I was cycling through techniques--"ok--that didn't work, lets try this; this almost worked, so come back to it." Randy said he heard me say at one point (and I did) "No, if I do that you'll just take my arm," meaning I was keeping up a running dialogue with myself about what I was doing, instead of just doing it. He saw that, saw a hole in one of my techniques, and simply waited for me to cycle back around to it, then took my leg. I was predictable--and my strength is usually that I am NEVER predictable. I need to do what I had planned to do all along--just stick to a couple of techniques until they work, and only add to them if an opening presents itself.

I was not fighting like myself.

One last thing. Readers of this blog will know that I have been struggling with the advantages and disadvantages of three wards--the High closed form, and the High open form and the A frame.The High Open Form is the classic Bellatrix style. It's how I was trained, and fought for 25 years, and won my crown and coronet. It is allows for the strongest and most creative offense, though slightly slower. The High closed form brings the sword forward to guard the head. It presents the fastest counter punches, but it's susceptible to wraps.  The A frame is a variation on the high closed form, and it's how I've been winning fights lately--it's very defensive. Instead of looking over the top of the shield you look past the front edge of my shield and use my sword to guard my right side--but it has almost no offense, and ti doesn't allow me to do the thing I want to do most right now--a counter punch snap or off-side body, and it's off-side head is just a touch slow. Most of the fights I've lost recently have been because I was either transitioning from one ward to the other, or because I was in the A frame and had drifted out of position, or because I was using the High open form. To be specific, nearly all my losses come on the right-side edge of my shield. I lost to off-side head shots in pool play. Ivan and Brion took my sword arm. So did Arne at Mudthaw. Tiberus knocked me out with a molinee saber cut. Randal took my *right leg with a back hand. I lost one fight to a fast inside thrust. At crown last fall, Simon beat me with thrusts to the inside of my shield (and almost got me with one on Saturday). The crown before that I was beaten by Ivan (leftie, right side of my shield) and Dimitri took my right leg when I did the foot stomp fake. Conclusion: I am squaring up way too much, exposing my right leg, drifting my shield to the left,  and not using my sword for defense as much as I need to be in the A Frame. Part of this is a natural resutl of using an A frame--the left side is cut off completely, but I'm obviously doing it wrong. Really, most of all, it's squaring up--one of the biggest sins in fighting. That cold just be me being sloppy, or it could be compensating for something physical like a bad back. Regardless, I need to work that out. Knowing that, and knowing how I felt mentally, and knowing what I was doing with technique, and that I was fighting like it was practice--all of which I figured out after the lists--actually makes me feel good about this Crown. And so does the fact that the winner--though certainly I'm no Duke Brion (only two or three were ever as good as he is)--is older than I am.

And the good: I beat two knights, Rhys and Simon, one of whom--Simon--was the only person I lost to in the round of sixteen last crown. I lost to Ivan, Brion, and Randal. Those, and my final loss to Tiberius, were all great fights. I was actually fighting very well. I had a lot of fun and I liked the outcome of the lists.

Oh, the site was at an incredible medieval village in Quebec. One of the best sites I've ever seen.

Here is some video from a French news crew showing me against Reynaud in pool play. 

Long live Prince Brion and Princess Anna!

It is 87 days until Pennsic. My next time in armor will probably be this Thursday at Wantagh practice.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Training and teaching

Crown tournament is just over a week away, both my main and a back up transportation options have fallen apart. Thankfully, next week is spring break, and I know I can get up to Canada if I have a week to get there. I am also not at all where I want to be. My ribs have not fully healed from Mudthaw, The inflammation in my wrist has flared up, and I have about 6 pounds heavier than I would like to be. I feel very broken. Worst of all, I have not fought as much as I wanted to at this point. After MudThaw I took two weeks off to rest my ribs, fought in a great practice in Hawthorne, but my rib pain flared up, so I have not fought this week, and unless I fight at daffodils on Sunday, I won't have fought this week. But nothing I do at this point can make me any better. Training for crown has to happen eight weeks out, not one week out.

I did walk 88,000 steps last week and fight, and I've walked 75,000 steps so far this week, and lifted, and done yoga, and some kata with the Indian clubs, so I havenot been a complete slug.

Plus, Monday night was our first outdoor practice of the season. I ran the practice with two new fighters and one experienced fighter. It was a really good practice. 

Nobody was going to get a lot out of just fighting. And, as is well known, I like to train with slow work and drills and out of armor as much as I do fighting. So, that's what we did. 

Start with some fighting, because everybody wants to fight.

Three minutes of slow work for each pairing. Rest.

Several minutes of blocking and striking drills. Tripple taps blocked with the shield, combinations blocking shield side with shield and sword side with sword. 

Specific work on an A-frame Defense. 

More open fighting. 

Work out of armor on things that need to be corrected (in this case hip mechanics and footwork). 

That's how to run a practice. 

It's nine days (barely) to Crown. My next time in armor will be there. 

Friday, April 15, 2016

Hawthorne 4/14

Hawthorne 4/14

OW!!!!! 

That's really all I have to say. I've bee resting since Mudthaw and healing my ribs. Probably should have rested more. 

I did shave down the handle of MYS sword, which helped A LOT! My knuckle still hurt from Mudthaw. However, I'm still having power generation problems with this light stick, to legs but also to off-side face shots. Must drive those home.

My ribs are still injured. It's inhibiting my movement, especially shield work, and it's tiring me out. Didn't think it would still be this bad. 

WORKOUT
I did a good dumbbell and clubs workout last week, but the ribs really hurt, so it's just been push ups and walking. 

TECHNIQUE
Honestly, I just want to work on my defense and saber cuts, but that's easier said than done. 

FIGHTING

Arne: 
He's fighting goofy foot and it's working for him.  Still blocking deep with the leg. He won three and took my arm. I won three. I got him with a classic hook snap, a hook thrust on our knees. And a simple sabre cut when I go position on him. The big thing was, in my a frame, he was taking my arm. Knuckles up! 

Temple
Worked slow on him. Got him all but one time. Everything working. 

Guy Le Strange
Destroyed me! I knew what I was getting, a Bellatrix two-sword style but left handed. He killed me with left handed wraps every time. I did get his leg once. My ribs are really giving me trouble. I may need to stop. 

Sir Tash from Atlantia
He was using an 18" buckler. Great style--weak side forward, sabre cuts, nice fake. I won 5 of 6. My leg shots were on. Got him once with a thrust and the rat with cuts. My best moment was our last fight when I went all Horic on him: took his leg, threw a shot to engage his sword, jumped (actually slid) in and flurried, both front edge and back edge. Got him in the ribs. 

Ryo
He won our first with a thunderous wrap. His right hand thrust is incredible and got me at least twice. I got him at range twice, but I did best when closed hard and started throwing wraps. He can't fight in that well. 

Brenan
He was fighting with Tanaka's center grip. As usual, if I squared he'd take my leg. Great fights! I got him with a hook thrust, wraps, and a butterfly. (!!) best of all I got him with the push button technique. I took his leg, through and off side head that I pulled through instead of rebounding, then with the leading corner of my shield, I punched the lower leading edge of his shield, a point near the end of a diagonal line drawn from the back corner of his shield through the boss. (It works on strapped shields too). Then I thrust on side yo his face. 

It is 15 days until crown. With these ribs, I may not be in armor until then. 


Sunday, April 3, 2016

Mudthaw AS 50

Ok, so I've not posted in this blog for awhile, and I've been fighting a lot. In the two weeks ending yesterday I've been in armor five times, which is pretty good. My bum wrist was feeling better, I wanted to get some helmet time in, and I wanted to prep for Mudthaw, which is a nice test to see where you sit going into Crown in a month.

I'm sitting at the kiddie's table, but more on that later.

I attended the Southern Army Sunday practice and Nutley the week before last, then Midland Vale and Wantagh the nest week, then I fought in Mudthaw. Normally I'd discuss every set of fights I had, but that's too many, so I will just discuss the issues.

WORKOUTS: I did 50 pushups and walked 10,000 steps every day (or, at least, I averaged more than 10,000 steps a day: I'm doing the "walk to Pennsic challenge," wherein we track how long it takes to walk the distance between Crown Prince and Princess Kenrick and Avenlina's to Pennsic. In other words, I'm keeping close track of my steps). My pushups are back to being just a work out, and not impossible, as they were when I came back from my surgery. The first week I also went to the gym one day and lifted weights, did some yoga, and hit the heavy bag. Another day that week I used the dumbells, kettle bells, and Indian clubs I have at home for a very awesome workout.  Last week, since I was fighting so much, I just stuck with that and the walking and the pushups.

TECHNIQUE
See below.

PRACTICES
Ok, at Southern Army Sundays it was mostly about mellee. I did a couple of pick ups, but I was fighting with sword and shield or with spear in mellee. I had fun. I got to call the best move of the day--a column charge in the gate battle.

At Nutley I fought Arn, Duke Gregor, Princess Thora of Atlantia, Gavlin, Temple 404, Luther, and King Brenan. I fought all of them well. I bested all the unbelted fighters and killed each of the Dukes at least twice. At some point the thrusting tip came off my sword, and I left it off, just doing edge work. That was great! I even got two good kills on Brenan with the edge. I usually have to rely on the thrust against him. Here's what I wrote about my fights with Arm in my journal: "The simpler I kept it the easier it was to get him. Hen I went for the inside thrust he voided and hit me in the ribs. Or my arm." 

Remember that.

Midland Vale and Wantagh are basically teaching practices for me. I was the only knight in armor at either place. I relied on very simple stuff against everyone except Hassan at Midland Vale and Auzer at Wantagh. Mostly, I was using straight saber cuts to the head. This requires me being in a high closed guard, not an a-frame, which is my best defense. The thing that seemed to be working in all four practices was the hook/wrap. I'd never rally thrown that before--I'd always thrown a hook/snap or a hook/thrust, but this just kind of jumped into a fight on the fly at AEdult Swim, and I've been winning with it.

MUDTHAW
I went six rounds at Mudthaw. I fought no knights. My first five rounds were very semetrical--I fought two guys from VDK and three from Bloodguard in that time. I planned to keep the fights very simple--just four basic shots---head, leg, off-side head, wrap, a few hooks, no fancy molinees, very few fakes.

Yeah, right. A lack of patience is still my biggest problem.

My first loss was in the first round. I got destroyed, I fought Turig (sp), a giant from VDK. He's clobbered me a few times before. I think I've beaten him once in Mudthaw. He was not going to let me get set. At the lay on he jumped me. He charged, threw an on-side head, an off-side head, and an on-side wrap to the body. I was laughing as I fell to the ground. I did not throw a blow.

In the fights I won I won one with a thrust, one with a hidden shot, one with a great slot (what "d planned for) and one was a pole arm guy I wrapped to the body.

Then I fought Arn. I was cautious, almost tentative. I was not aggressive as I needed to be. I noticed that he was throwing the off-side body a lot as a counter. I tried to set him up by throwing an on-side leg, rotating over to catch the off-side body, and  then throwing the off-side head (or arm) the way Sagan teaches it. The set up worked but the blow didn't land well. It skipped and caught both his head and his shoulder as he was ducking. Then, because he does a window-block to guard his leg, I decided to try something fancier. I used Duke Edric's foot stomp/face thrust.

What do you think happened. Here's a link to the video:


Ionnes killed Doug in an incredible on fight final.

It was a fun day none the less. Even though I lost my first round fight I went to sixth round. While I should have beaten both Turig and Arn, they were both having banner days. Arn went to quarter or semi-finals and lost to Doug (who was able to pull off that left-handed off side face shot that I couldn't connect with). I had some great pick-ups, especially with Ron. But a few questions remain. (1) Should I have put the thrusting tip back on my sword? I had real trouble with people not taking my shots--especially leg shots, and I'm sure that was the balance/weight of the sword and how it had changed with the thrusting tip. On the one hand I won a fight with the thrust. On the other, a thrust lost me a fight. (2) Had I fought too much the previous two weeks? I don't fight the week before crown in fear of over training. I did great in last crown having fought only six times since the previous one. It's possible to over train. (3) My wrist was not as healed as it seemed. I started out with tape wrapping both my hand and my wrist, but found this distracting and restricting. I took it off after my second fight, and taped just my wrist (the way I normally do) after that. But the inflammation in my wrist and elbow did resurface (I'm wearing my wrist brace as I type, since it was typing and mousing that caused the injury in the first place).  Turig's body wrap really effected me. I don't think it broke anything (other than my pride) but my back was spasming the rest of the day. I felt an ache every time I did certain moves, and it made it hard to lift my shield quickly. That was particularly bothersome in my fight with Arm.

It is 26 days until Crown Tournament. I probably will not fight at all this week.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

AEdult Swim Fighter Practice 2-20-16

AEdult  Swim Fighter Practice

Days don’t get much more awesome.

When Tim announced the AEdult Swim fight practice it was supposed to be a nice regional get together. The Aethelmarc fighters, a few Easterners and Atlantians—no big deal. But then Dukes from Ansteora and Artemesia got involved, and it just snowballed. It was one of the best weekends of fighting I’ve ever experienced. There was no war, no prize, nothing but the stick mattered.  It was the Pennsic pickup field with no other distractions. That’s hard to beat.

Until last week I wasn’t sure I’d be able to attend. I had a deadline coming up, but I got my manuscript in early and was able to go. I rode out with Darrek and Cat from Midland Vale, and I rode back with Ulfr from An Tir. Both trips were a joy.

Years ago I used to journal my fights. I’d take a marbled notebook to practice with me and write down what I’d done in each set of bouts. That came to be replaced with this blog, but I don’t always write this blog right away, and I’d write different things. Journaling had been lost. At Birka I dictated a journal into my phone each time I took a break, and for this practice I bought a marbled notebook, and journaled each set once again.  A good thing, too.

The overview is like this: in an old shoe factor in Milton PA, there were 269 authorized fighters, about 220 of whom were heavies. The second day was smaller, but another 20 showed up who weren’t there on Saturday. Some people got there at 8 AM and put armor on, and fighting went till 5:00. I spent seven hours in armor on Saturday and 4.5 or 5 on Sunday. I fought 20 people on Saturday, 10 on Sunday, plus Auzer (who was going for a number and was short so I gave him a bout—I had planned not to fight any Easterners, but he was an exception). I think I fought 7 Dukes, but I was relying on others sometimes to identify them, so I might have been wrong (I thought a couple guys were there who weren’t).  I had pulled out an old, light stick that had been abandoned with the thrusting tip broke off. I gave it a new tip and used it till it was a broom. Here is how my weekend went according to my journal:

1.) I warmed up with an unknown Aethelmarc unbelted with a Scutum. I took his leg a lot. He got me twice (I think). I killed him several times. I feel loose.

2.) Byron, Crown Prince of Aethlemarc:  I fought him really well. He’s fast. Opens with a straight thrust from an A-frame.  Likes a vertical cut as well. Squares up too often and moves his shield WAY too much. Fights I won were with a top-edge hook (once combined with a wavy rising snap).

3.) I fought an unbelted fighter named Guilbert from the Midrealm. He uses the classic Midrealm center grip tear drop. He’s short. He got me with an off-side head once, and a slot once. I killed him with stutter-wraps (double pump fake to freeze them then wrap), and with butterflies (rising snap that turns into an off side body shot), both standing and when he was on his knees. I might be squaring up too much.

4.) Duke Sean, Artemesia.  OMG!!! Sean was one of the main reasons I wanted to come out. I’ve known him since AS 20, when he was about 14 or 15. He’s one of the best fighters I know, and he fights very much like I do, or at least like I used to, with small misdirection fakes and molinees to freeze his opponent. He was top of my dance card, and I paid in pain! Our first three fights he kicked my ass like I was a newbie. I was tense and wound up, and I was biting on what Ron calls “the puppet show,” the way he moves his hand to distract you. It’s something I do myself, and I was waiting for it, and then when he did it I lasered in on it—like he wants me to—and he plowed my leg, then threw one of the slickest off-side body shots EVER. He either turned it down a gear or I got focused, because after our first three fights I won the next three. With us both legged I used a hidden snap (hiding my hand behind the forward corner of my shield and throwing a snap); once when he was legged I used a hook-thrust; then I killed him with a hidden snap while we were both standing.

5.) Duke Lachlin, Ansteora: Opposite of Sean, in that he didn’t force me into anything. His technique is what I use against newbies—from an A-Frame or High Closed guard throw quick snaps or off-side headshots as soon as their sword is engaged. He likes to tap your sword before anything else, like Sebastian van Baden’s old “bug feelers” technique, so he knows where it is and can control it. It was embarrassing! I killed him with a hook/thrust and a hook wrap (the best discovery of the day may have been finding my hook wrap, which I probably haven’t thrown for 20 years or more but was really effective this weekend). He uses a big-ass scutum and I never took his leg. He hits light but clean, and I took what he was throwing. He can plow you when he wants to.

6.) Next I fought Meg, a new fighter from Aethelmarc. She was super enthusiastic and bouncy. She uses a center grip shield and is a sucker for an off-side head. She took my arm and then, for some unknown reason,  I fell into Brian Taragon’s stance, where the sword is held almost verticle in front of the shield. It worked on here very well. Got me tattooed later in the day.

7.)  I fought three fights against an unbelted fighter from Aethelmarc named UlrichI was lousy! Getting tired. Arm got hit hard that last set, and it’s a bit tight. I was lazy and I missed him, torqueing my wrist all to hell.  Probably killed him once out of the three.

8.) Duke Vik from An Tir, now Avacal. He’s a tall big Viking with a scutum. Favors a weak-high-closed from. (sword foot forward, sword forward, high guard). I took his leg and then killed him with a Gendy butterfly (step deep and fake the wrap then, like the butter fly, bring the tip over and around, hitting him in front center body or face). Our second fight he took my leg and killed me. Our third fight we double killed after he took my leg.

9.) Duke Cuan, Atlantia  These were great fights!! He has a very relaxed style with a lot of out-front sword work, like Brian. He was cheating a weak closed stance to increase his range, but I was hitting his leg fairly regularly, usually with a high fake, low cut. What I learned is RELAX!! When I was fighting a targeting game from range, like he was, relaxed and precise, I was winning: when I tried to press him I lost. As with all my fights I was alternating guards: A Frame, High closed form, high open Bellatrix style. High closed form was the best against him.

10.) Lothar, and unbelted from Aethelmarc. I’m getting tired and lazy again. Cuan took a lot out of me. I’m looking too much for those counter punch off-side timing shots like Cuan and Lachlin throw, but my technique is bad. Hand below the edge of my opponent’s shield. Bad. That’s the fatigue.

LUNCH BREAK!

Already my arms are lead…. I’m really tired….. I should have shucked my vambraces for my break, as I did my leg harness… It’s nice outside… warm… my goal is ten more fighters, six of them knights.

11.) Sir Steiner, Ealdomere. I’m tired. I’m sloppy.  He landed a thrust that had no positive force on it because I was throwing my head back. We talked about it. Everything is cool (NOBODY has had calibration problems today with anybody as far as I can tell: it’s great when it’s all for fun! ) He uses a small center grip scutum and ducks a lot. He creamed my arm, the unarmored upper forearm, inside the elbow cop. I killed him once, I think (?). My neck is stiffening up.

12.) Duke Aaron, Ealdomere. I’ve fought him before, beat him once in a tourney at Pennsic He’s a lefty with a small center grip. He beat me good! He’s a counterpuncher, great movement, all over me forcing me to move where he wanted me to go. I could take him when I got his leg.  He hit my wrist and it’s really hurting now.

13.) Signey, unbelted fighter from Atlantia. She is so small there is almost no target. Gets underneath your defense and chews on your legs. She has a great body thrust. I tied myself up a few times trying to find her.  Once I found the off-side head I could hit it. 

14.) Sir Amos—Atlantia (the Monk). I’ve long admired his kit and the way he approaches fighting. I’ve seen him at Pennsic but never crossed swords with him before. They were great fights. He’s got a wicked off-side that took my arm a few times. His cross hilted sword has great balance and impact even with short cuts. I tried to duplicate his off side and couldn’t’. Don’t fight a high open style against him, he will eat up your off side body and head. 

15.) Tearnach (sp) a leftie squire from Aethelmarc. I’m tired and sloppy. My reactions are a beat slow. He is tough but venerable. There’s nothing fancy—an off side head and leg shot. Tempo changes worked well against him—he couldn’t keep up. He comes in too hard and is vulnerable to deep wraps. My arm aches. 

16.) Sir Magnus, Drachenvald. He uses a sword and ax, trying to set up the body thrust and the face punch, both of which he got. The off-side body shot worked when he closed. Using a Bellatrix style worked against him. My last fight I looked like a FOOL! He spun on me and I took his ax-arm. Then I stopped and looked at him. He looked at me, then he back handed me in the face. It was beautiful. Ulfr laughed. 

17.) Duke Ulfr, An Tir. I always like fighting Ulfr. It’s a real challenge. I won our first fight, then he had me probably two wins for every one I got. He spun on me and plowed my arm. Ow. I killed him with a Gendy butter fly as well (good An Tir technique that). I took his arm a couple of times with off side shots. They were great fights. 

18.) Sir Ian from Aethelmarc: He’s tall with a  center grip heater. He’s got a strong first thrust but ties himself up with it. I took his leg twice and killed him both times. I’m so tired I’m reverting to high open form a la Jade or BoB, weight forward. It looks swell. It’s not planned—it’s just where I feel most comfortable when I’m tired. I go back to my roots. 

19.) Sir Wynfriend (sp) from the Midrealm. He uses a small center grip and he’s about my height. Stands with a high A-frame but has a quick rotation leg block.  Worked out of an A-frame for most of our sets. I got him coming forward once, we were probably even overall. 

20.) Bryce. Great way to end the day, a HARD hitting Atlantian! He is so good! Our first fight he threw his bread and butter—step and a vertical off side. I was out of position and it hit me right on my gorget, the lobster tail part over my cervical vertebra, so hard I felt it in my finger tips. I’ve been hit like that before. My entire fighting career my gorget (not my helm or my cup or my gauntlets) has been the piece of armor I most care about. My biggest fear is a broken neck. I’m glad I cared, because that was a shot! I hate to think about taking it without good armor. We probably traded even. I certainly wans’t up on hi. High thrusts worked best—once off a pump fake. I also taught him the hook-thrust. A great way to end my day!!

DAY TWO

A much smaller field, but everybody is also really tired. My arm ached and my wrist, which got hit yesterday, felt a bit inflamed. I threw away the sword I had been using and taped up a stick I’d gotten from William McCrimmon a few months ago. It’s planed and extremely light, and because it was designed for a shorter basket hilt, had a very short blade once I taped it to my Baldur hilt. That’s ok because (a) It gave me a really fast counter-punch snap, a technique I’m trying to build upon and (b) I’m not sure I could have thrown a good snap with anything heavier.

On that straight quick snap, which is also called a molinee snap by some people (it's the saber cut to 5), I had a good conversation with Roger Stockton about the difference between people who learn lots and lots of techniques and those who have just two or three blows. Roger was squired to Duke Andreas die Eisfalke, putting him (like me) in Alfrik’s line. Ice really has two shots—a quick nap and an off-side leg. He reminds me a lot of Duke Christian du Glaive. I come from the Western tradition of learning lots and lots and lots of different techniques, fakes, hooks, timing blows, combinations, etc. None of that served me well when I moved to the east, because the style of fighting we do here is based on a tight defense using a big shield—one that doesn’t get moved around by all those fakes and combinations. Hooks were still ok. My fighting over the last few years has been built on narrowing my techniques (though you couldn’t tell by the way I was fighting this weekend), and trying to fight more like Christian and Andreas. I’ve never beena  counter-puncher, I never worked a lot with Sagan, who was the teacher of that style in the West, so it’s a big transition for me. It is also what I was trying to do on Sunday. 

1.) Sir Pelandreas from Tir Mara: I was avoiding Easterners, but I never see the Canadians so I broke my “no Easterners” rule. He fights with a  medium-sized round shield and a low-closed form (holding his shield low and his sword vertical above it). I killed him with a hook-wrap. Having trouble getting my shots to count with the light stick. A longer sword would open him up to a leg shot. My wrist hurts enough that I’m not sure I can throw a snap. Using Bellatrix style tired me out. Pace yourself.  

2.) Duke Tim: Ow! My bruised leg! Ow! My tender wrist! Tim and I had a great set. I killed him with a stutter wrap and with a hook-thrust. My high-closed form worked best. The whippy stick robbed me of two kills. Best win for me: he legged me and I got him with Houghton’s “sit down!” shot. 

3.) James, unbelted from Atlantia: Tall, experienced, but tired. Hook wrap and stutter wrap killed him. Use hook-wraps more. Work on targeting. On butterfly, drive the shot forward instead of pulling it down. Missed twice on high thrusts because the stick was short. Took his leg with both a double tap and an upsilon (a rising snap that turns into a short leg cut). 

4.) Sir Cunwyn (sp) Aethelmarc. She hits light on some shots but has a good off side. Wraps are useful against her. The upsilon leg shot and Martin the Temperate leg shot (A hidden shot that starts with the elbow straight out and sword on the shoulder, knuckles down) worked against her. Killed her with a Gendy butterfly. 

5.) Count Roger Stockton: I did very well against him. Landed three blows that were light—drive the skinny stick more. Got him with Darius tap-thrust (tap the top of the shield then thrust to the face). He is floating his defense forward as he moves, opening up both the wrap and the off-side head/face shot. Took his leg twice. We were about even. He had a good observation: I’m switching from offense to defense, so when I am defending I lock up and am no threat, and when I’m on offense my defense floats out, creating openings. 

6.) Sir Finn, Aethelmarc: His main attack is an off-side molinee, but he often directs it to an off-side head: tricksy. When I went into a high open Bellatrix form late in our set it worked, otherwise I was tight. Best attack is timing the off-side head to his snap or double tap the off-side head. Got his arm through the scoop in his hoplite shield, a planned technique I was very proud of. 

7.) Oswin from Atlantia: Great lesson in patience and counter-punching. Fights in a high-weak A-frame. Every time he throws a leg he’s open to an on-side snap, and every time he throws an off-side he’s open to an off-side head shot, so the high-closed form worked best. I did that “tank” thing that Duke Christian used to do. Just slowly walk forward in a high closed form an throw a snap whenever he moved. That worked. 

8.) Duke Cygnus from Aethelmarc: Took me apart! Very physical fight. Pretty big scutum but lots of movement. As with Oswin, walking up in high-closed form won the day. He goes wide—big leg shot, deep off-side, deep wrap, pretty square. Better movement backward might break his defense. Took my arm twice. Ulfr has a good observation. He opens appears open, but he moves that scutum through his defensive zones then moves behind it, making him much harder to kill than you think he will be. 

9.) Edward (Nug) from Aethelmarc. Fights in a kettle hat. Big guy. Throws the best bull shit shot I’ve seen in years—a face thrust that runs behind his head, using the brim of his kettle hat as a guide. He’s a sucker for a hook-wrap. 

10.) Sir Ragnar from Atlantia: He won our first bout and our last, I won the rest. His strong hand is his left. Throws a classic head/leg combo very well. Beat me with that our first fight. The second bout I took his leg by jamming his swords, then I wrapped him. Our third bout I got him with a face thrust as he dodged right. Our fourth bout got him with a molinee cut to the face as he took my arm. Our fifth bout I took his leg and thrust to the body. Our sixth bout I got him with a  slot. Our 7th bout I threw a floating thrust, one that comes from the hip and accompanies a circling step. He dodged it and threw a leg/head that I walked right into. Hit me so hard I handed him my lunch money.    

Reading this, it sounds like I lost a lot more than I did, because I’m mostly concentrating on what I did wrong. I beat all the unbelted fighters and most of the knights I faced. I traded even with some of the Dukes and was only really outclassed by Lachlin and maybe Sean. I’m sure I was plus 15 or 20% for the day.

The best things I found were my hook-thrust and my counter-punch molinee/snap (the saber cut). The best thing I practiced was patience. This was a very good practice for that.

Here’ some video that Cat Woody took of me fighting Duke Vik:

video


Over all, the great thing about this was that it really speaks well for the SCA and its future. Seriously: here were almost three hundred fighters, most of the heavies, meeting together just for the love of fighting—no war points, no prizes, no crowns, just stick. It is the kind of thing we need a lot more of: not that that other stuff isn’t fun, but fighting for the love of fighting is what will keep this game going.


It is 66 days until Crown. My next time in armor will be at the Viceroy’s birthday tourney this Sunday.