Thursday, December 25, 2008

Low Cost Armor Correction

Alail HOrsefriend's email is skmccartney@gmail.com. I have corrected it on the original post as well.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Dalies

One of our local fighters has been asking me for a workout. As I've said in the past, yoga and spin are the things that work best for me. But since I got my personal trainer certification I no longer have an excuse not to post a work out. So I'm starting with this:

Dailies: this is what I do when I'm seirously training. This should take no more than 30 minutes and should be done every day.

Calesthenics:
* Stretching. Most important are hamstrings and lower back, then shoulders, claves, wrists. A couple of sun salutations will take care of most of it and do your core as well, but you can also do gym stretches or dance stretches or runners stretches. Just be sure to take it easy, work out your hams and back, and stop if it hurts.
* Jumping Jacks: start with 25 and build to fifty.
* Crunches: start with 20 and build to on hunrdred.
* Push ups: start with ten and build to twenty five.

Drills:
* Pell Work: I tell all my students to hit he pell 100 times a day. Start with 25 straight snaps. Then build to 100.
* Slow work: shadow fight or kata for five to ten minutes.

Andother good aproach is set a goal. The two good ones are based on the number 100. Count Gemeni, who runs Die Grendelus school, starts everybody out with a program he calls a century, which consists of 100 strikes at the pell for a period of 100 days. Svava recommended the program outlined at http://hundredpushups.com/, where the goal is to train yourself up to doing 100 pushups.

Personally right now I'm re-habbing my shoulder and using dumbells. But Saturday, in addition to rehab, I did spin class and my clean and jerks, building up to 115 pounds. My goal is 135 by Mudthaw.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Low cost armor

I just updated my old article on low-cost armor, so I am pasting it here:


Low Cost Armor With Style
By Sir Valgard Stonecleaver, Jarl
mka Michael A. Cramer

My first suit of armor cost me exactly $20. I was a freshman in high school. It was 1979. I paid $10 for a cheaply made 20ga laurica segmentata and $10 for the matching legs with 16ga knee cops, both of which had been made by Rolf the Relentless. Alfrik, who was later to become my knight, helped me build a set of vambraces out of 16 ga scrap metal. They had back plates because elbow cops at the time were a new and highly advanced technology. Few people had them. My best friend’s dad lived two doors from Alfrik and was a pack rat (Njal, my friend, made his first suit of armor entirely out of stuff he scrounged from his dad’s garage). He had a couple of old freon cans and some round bar stock lying around, and he whipped out a freon can helmet and gave it to me as a present. I will never be able to repay him for that.

Alfrik was great at getting people onto the field for almost no money. We’d pound steel in his living room till his neighbors called the cops about the noise. We made freon can helmets with punch mesh visors (no welding). We made riveted great helms. We made carpet armor. We made scale armor out of aluminum punch outs which were scrap from some form of manufacturing, don’t ask me what. We made coats of plates and sow-bug legs (curved plates riveted to two strips of leather) out of aluminum street signs we bought at a salvage yards for pennies on the pound, and big boxy gauntlets out of steel plates riveted to strips of leather (basket hilts being an even newer technology). Much of it was ugly, but we did our best to hide it beneath surcoats, t-tunics and harem pants (we were mostly trying to be Vikings, after all). Often we succeeded and we looked pretty good. Our greatest moment came when the four or five SCA guys at my high school all learned how to knit mail out of 14½ ga bailing wire. You could get four shirts out of a 100 lb roll. Pretty soon we were all running around sporting mail shirts (made us a hit at punk clubs). We were sharp looking Vikings then.

Nowadays, with armor technology what it has become, we see folks on the field who look like they stepped right out of a book of hours. But you still see a lot of ugly armor on the SCA battle field. The usual excuse is always the same: nice armor is so expensive! Maybe, but that is no excuse to wear a pickle barrel onto the field. Not too long ago the question came up on the chivalry list whether or not you could put together a period looking, knightly kit for under $300. A few knights came up with suggestions but I wanted to delve deeper into the subject, so I did some shopping. I just started poking around the web. Most of the stuff I located through links to the SCA merchants page, which can be accessed under “miscellany” at the SCA corporate web site (please note: nothing in this article constitutes an endorsement of any armorer or product). Since then, prices have gone up and some of the really good suppliers have gone out of business, so I’ve had to update it a bit, but I’ve still managed to keep it to around $320.

Mind you, complete suits of Maxamillian plate were not what I was looking for. That would costs thousands of dollars. Some sewing, leather work and such would be required, but I wanted the metal parts to be items one could purchase. I wanted a kit for a fighter who had no appreciable metal working skills and who lived in a dorm room with no access to a shop. He or she would have to be able to borrow a sewing machine from somewhere, and probably get some help if they’d never sewed a straight seam before. For those who want to get more involved in construction, there’s a whole bunch of patterns on the armour archive (www.armourarchive.org). Browse to your hearts content. You can also try your hand at courboli, which is both period and inexpensive, but it’s a lot of work. Good sources for leather on the web are Tandy at http://www.tandyleatherfactory.com/ or Brettun’s Village at http://www.brettunsvillage.com. Then check out Duke Cariadoc’s article “The Perfect Armor” located at: http://www.daviddfriedman.com/Medieval/miscellany_pdf/Other_Articles_VI_Pfct_Armr.pdf.

The biggest problem is that GAA Armories, which was the best source for visby, lamellar, and coat of plates kits, closed down. They also had a great price on courboli spaulders and bauzbands (Master Torvaldr, at www.skaldic.com, has great prices too, but he doesn’t publish them on the web and you have to contact him via email to request prices).

But all of this is a lot more work then some people want to go through. I want to be able to buy (mostly) off the rack. What I found proves there is no reason to look like you walked out of a junk yard any more.

The two armorers I use most often are both armoring laurels who make affordable mutions grade armor at good prices: Master Alail Horsefriend and Master Cett Donegal. (Among other things, Alail made the helm I wear using Rough from the Hammer parts made by Ronald Wilmot, and then Cett put the bar cage on it: so three armoring laurels worked on my helm, which in the end cost me less than $100).

Cet Donegal owns Rough From The Hammer (http://roughfromthehammer.com). This is the place to go to REALLY keep the prices down. Cet’s stuff comes rough finished and un-strapped—he sells parts to other armorers who finish the products and resell them. Elbow cops from this shop are $10 a pair. Spaulders are $12 a pair. Knees are $17 a pair. He makes very affordable helmets, but only as custom orders.

Alail doesn’t have a web site, but he can be reached at skmccartney@gmail.com. Like Cet, he has some great prices on munition grade armor: a sugarloaf helm for $90 in 14ga mild, splint legs for $100, splint arms for $80 and stainless for only 150% of his base price. Here is a basic suit put together from his old price list:

Great Helm $60
Elbows $20
Knees $22.50
Churburg Breast plate (w/ Kidney Protection) $100
Simple Gorget $30
Pauldrons $35

That totals out to $267.50, and we still need a few pieces. I’m sure his prices have gone up since 2004, but it’s still a good place to go. Some scrap leather to make vambraces and cuisses out of, the basket hilt and shield basket from Ashcraft Baker, and you’ll have a suit of armor most of which came from an armoring laurel within our target price. Not too shabby. Then add a gambeson and a nice surcoat and you will look very knightly. But he doesn’t have a website, so ordering from him is difficult.

A few armorers have beginner’s kits for sale in the right price range. Ashcraft Baker (www.ashcraftbaker.com) has a beginner kit that includes helmet, gorget, basket hilt, shield basket, and articulated elbows and knees for $250--a great price! Add some kidney and lumbar protection and you’re SCA legal. If that’s what you can afford go for it. However, the helmet is a spun top and I’m looking for something a little more period in style. Illusion Armoury (http://www.illusionarmoring.com) has a beginner fighter’s package that even includes rattan and a shield blank, but at $508 it’s out of our price range.

What I discovered is that to complete the project I would have to pick and choose pieces. Some armorers had expensive helms but reasonable legs. One had the best price on bascinets but their gorgets were expensive. I wanted to put together not just SCA armor, but a knightly kit that, if not historically accurate, was at least evocative of a single time period. Below are a few more kits I came up with which fit the bill.

Crusader Kit:
From True Hearth Armory (http://www.truehearth.com)
• Teardrop Helm $80
• Standard gorget $40

From Bokalo’s Armoury (www.bokalosarmoury.com)
• Demi Gauntlet $20

From Rough From The Hammer (http://roughfromthehammer.com)
• Rounded elbow cops, no wings, pair $10
• Rounded knee cops, no wings, pair $17
• Spaulder A $12
• Kidney Plates $10

From Ashcraft Baker (www.ashcraftbaker.com)
• Basket Hilt $15
• Shield Basket $15

That’s $219. Now invest in Period Patterns #101, available from several SCA merchants (try http://www.renstore.com/Itemdesc.asp?ic=MED1101&eq=&Tp=) for $16.95. Make the long, short sleeved crusader gambeson, reinforced with some of the plates from Rough from the Hammer. Make the gamboized cuisses, also included in the pattern, and attach to those the kneecops using leather lacing or cord. Use an inexpensive canvass and cotton batting, and materials for this should be about $40. They are not required under SCA rules, but some kingdoms require vambraces, and they are really a good idea. You will need to make some out of scrap metal or heavy leather, but the elbow cop is the hard part and you bought that.

We are now SCA legal. Total for this project before shipping is $275.95, including the cost of the pattern, which really shouldn’t count towards our total since it will be used several times over. Note: I didn’t include materials for a shield, but my first several shields were free anyway—scrap plywood, discarded garden hose and an old belt for straps.

14th Century Suit #1
One variation is to turn this into a Wisby suit. Do everything as above, except don’t get the helm or the kidney. Instead, you need to get hold of a sheet of 18 gauge steel and a way to cut it (with GAA out of business I could no longer find a metal Visby kit. I hear Alchemy has a plastic one, but I’m trying to avoid plactic in this exercise—however, cutting your own keep the price down. I used to use a jig saw with a hack saw blade). Go to the armor archive wisby coat page and download the patterns (http://www.armourarchive.org/patterns/wisby_cop/). You can also buy Medieval Miscelania pattern #102 (see below), which has a Wisby coat pattern in it. Then add From Boldo’s Armory (http://www.boldo.com/armory/index.html) the “Classic Pembridge” greathelm for $100. This will take you a bit over our budget when all is said and done, but still very affordable and it will look sharp.

Now for the hard one:

14th century suit #2

From Illusion Armory (http://www.illusionarmoring.com/)
• 14 ga. Bascinet (don’t get the 16 ga). $110

From Bokalo’s Armoury (www.bokalosarmoury.com)
• Pinned dog collar gorget $45
• Demi Gauntlet $20

From Rough From The Hammer (http://roughfromthehammer.com)
• Rounded elbow cops, no wings, pair $10
• Rounded knee cops, no wings, pair $17
• Solid Breastplate $45

From Ashcraft Baker (www.ashcraftbaker.com)
• Basket Hilt $10
• Shield Basket $10


That comes to $267. NOW: get both Period Patterns #101 and #102 ($16.95 each). Make the gamboized cuisses from pattern #101 and the jupon (short, long sleeved gambeson) from pattern #102. Materials for the jupon and cuisses, again, are about $40. We are just a bit over $300. Use some sole leather for vambraces. Note that this suit doesn’t have shoulder protection.


Are you seeing a pattern here? The elbows, knees, gorget, hands, kidneys—all your hard points—can be armored fairly inexpensively. Looking good on the field is really all about the helmet and how well you accessorize, meaning good heraldry, a good gambezon, and a good surcoat. A good looking surcoat is a must. It hides a myriad of sins, and a knight on the field wants to proudly display his armoury, both so everyone can see him winning glory and so his enemy will know he’s worth more alive then dead.

Now there’s no excuse for looking like a schlub on the field.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Beau Geste

Today was the first monthly tournament in Brokenbridge. There were six fighters in the round robin. I won, going through clean. It was a fun day. The name of the tournament is the Beau Geste (a grand but meaningless gesture), so I will be known as "le beau geste" for the next month.

My first fight was Timur, whom I beat with a wavy rising snap.

My second fight was Alexandre, who was fighting two sword. We took each others legs at the same time. IO tried a new trick on him. I banged my sword on the ground between his legs and then deflected it up into his belly.

My thrid fight was Luis, who as usual was using sword and great ax. A tough fight. We circled and felt each other out for awhile. He took my leg but didn't range me well enough. As he was backing out from a combo I lunged and extended, stabbing him in the armpit.

My fourth fight was Vasillis, who was fighting lefty. After lots of exchanges, I popped him on the top of the helm with an offside shot.

my last fight was Oscad. It was the last fight of the day and we were both clean. It was a really good fun fight. I took his arm and he yielded, which I asked him not to do but he insisted.

The idea behind this tourney. like the Crapaud in Cynagua and others around the knowne world, is to give fighters practice fighting in tourneys. In the west they have done this for years, sometimes formally as with the Crapaud, sometimes impromputu, like the occasional tournaments Luck used to run at BART practice back in the early 80s. They are really useful, as they give fighters experiences that you can only get in tournaments.

Next month I can't fight and have to run the tournament (I essentially ran this one too).

Sunday, November 23, 2008

100 Minutes War

Oww!

One hundred minutes war! It should be called 100 minutes of Hell!

Actually, I had a great time. Really great fighting. For those who haven’t been. 100 minutes is simply a 100 minute resurrection battle with no terrain or hard points. Every time I’ve been it’s been fought on a flat field, like an athletic field. Last two times they held it at a high school, which was great this year as it was the coldest day so far this season (around 31 with a wind chill of 19), and we got to use the locker room to shower and change. Nice locker room too: it was one of those big suburban high schools with lots of money for stuff like that.

As battles like that always go, this one ended up a long skirmish line that moved back and forth between the resurrection points, but basically stayed in the same place. The teams are chosen in a rather fun way. They hold a speed tourney for the unbelted fighters. The two finalists get to pick teams, the winner going first. They pick by unit not by individual fighter. The teams ended up being basically northern region vs. southern region, and our team was pretty good, with Blood Guard, Von Halstern, Serpentius, ICOD, and Wetlands all being on our side. They had VDK, Loch Leven, and the rest of the Northern Region Army.

A battle like this is all about fun and doing great heroic deeds. You kill, you get killed, you resurrect, you get back in line. Usually you fight the same people over and over, but unlike, say, the woods battle at Pennsic, when the action is spread out and you can’t see what’s going on beyond the trees, this is just two lines of people swinging sticks, nobody is trying to “win”, and there’s lots of opportunity for charges and individual fights because commanders aren’t trying to outthink each other.

I fought they whole war with the five and a half foot polearm. This is probably the worst weapon for a battle like that. If I get in a duel with a knight with a seven-foot pollearm. I’m at a distinct disadvantage. Spears are right out. If I get in a press I have almost no defense. In order to kill a shieldman I practically have to be within his range. Boy! It was fun! I killed a bunch of guys, died about as often. I killed Balfar once and Edward Gray of Loch Leven once, but each of them killed me three or four times. I killed Richard Blackmore and Tamaltach (Isn’t that Tamaltach—I think that’s right) as well. He, by the way, was wearing my armor—flat ring shirt, hidden legs and arms, wrong helmet though: I want the Norman helmet, not the Frisian one.

I got hit in the left upper arm, like twelve times. Ok, maybe not that many. Ten. Ow! It looks like I’ve been doing tricep work for months just on that one side.

Pickups were few but fun. I fought with the sword and buckler at the beginning and it was fun. Federach was doing an number on my right leg. I fought later with Jarrod’s kite again and that was a blast. This time instead of fighting the unbelts and BAT with it I was fighting Richard Blackmoore and Ron. I think I beat Richard six out of seven fights. He said my defense was really good (natch). I fought well against Ron too. Mostly I’m still figuring it out though, so I can’t say what’s working and what isn’t.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Workouts

It is time to talk more about workouts, since it is the “off season.” Worked out Wednesday and today, more or less the same routine.

There are SCA specific workouts, which I'll talk about later in the winter, but right now I’m doing a general one, and it’s not that intense. Because I don’t like fighting with fatigued muscles, and because it takes me a couple of days to recover form an upper body workout, I don’t lift much anymore. In fact, I went two years with nothing but spin class, bike riding, and yoga, and was in great shape (still am).

In general, so long as you just want to tone and not actually build muscle, you should do resistance training two to three times a week and do aerobics three to four times a week. Fighting is mostly an anaerobic activity, but I count it as aerobic for my third session. That means I can go to the gym twice a week, fight, and I’m doing ok. Of course, I live in New York so I walk a lot and climb stairs, plus I ride my bike even when it's cold. That helps a lot.

Right now I’m on my old “getting back into the gym” routine, which means I concentrate on circuit training. Because there is less chance of injury and because they force you to keep your form right, I use machines when starting up after a layoff. They have a big disadvantage--they don't use *all* your muscles or worrk out your core, but they do a good basic job nonetheless. For sets I will either do one set of twenty or two sets of twelve to fifteen, but today I pushed myself and did a set of twenty and a set of fifteen (to fatigue) at each station. Today’s routine was typical:

Warmup: 15 minutes of Yoga

Aerobics: Treadmill (Life Systems), hill profile, level 10, speed 5 mph, 30 minutes.

(all machines on the weight circuit)
Chest Press, 100 lbs, 1 set 20, 1 set 15
Tricep push, 110 lbs, 1 set 20, 1 set 15
Curls, 50lbs, 1 set 20, 1 set 15
Seated rows, 90 lbs, 1 set 20, 1 set 15
Shoulder press, 50 lbs, 1 set 20, 1 set 7(to failure)
Leg extensions, 80 lbs, 1 set 20, 1 set 15
Leg curls, 80 lbs, 1 set 20, 1 set 15

That’s my basic machine workout. It is great for getting back into the swing of things, and if you vary it from time to time (like adding weight, or more sets) you will increase your strength and endurance as you do it. It’s not the best fighting workout, but that can come later. Like I said in an earlier post, my goal this season is to be able to clean and jerk 135 pounds by spring. That will take some bulking up—not much, but a bit.

And tomorrow at 100 minutes, when endurance is key, I will be dog meat.

Monday, November 17, 2008

BAT Practice

Great practice, though I didn't take much advantage of it. I had taken three weeks off after Crown, and I'm feeling my age a bit all of a sudden.

Jarrod, Bill, Gui, Bodun (a squire from Aethelmarc, great two sword fighter), Daniel (a new fighter), myself, Oscad, and Sir Richard Blackmoore. My real goal was to fight Richard, Gui, and Oscad, but I started out with Bodun. Never start with a good two sword fighter.

I didn't actually throw my best stuff against him, but he is really fast and I wanted to get a good idea of his speed and his calibration, since he's from out of kingdom. His calibration was fine. I had to hit him harder in the legs than I did on the head, but he hit *me* harder in the legs than he did on my head. It certainly wasn't out of line. He was really fast and had a very good defense. He even had that right hand deep wrap block going. I got him with an inside body thrust, a face thrust, and a wrap. I took his leg once and thrust to his body. I found very little of my leg attack was working. He covered it really well.

Next I fought Gui and got exactly what I wanted. Gui is the most impressive pure animal fighter I know. Our first fight I just picked him apart. I did a looping leg shot (start low to the left, bring the sword up between us toward his face, then down into his leg). I was surprised it worked. Then I his my thrusting tip behind my shield and I jumped in the air. When I landed his defense tracked down and I thrust him in the face. Then he got Medieval on my ass, which is what I wanted. He turned into an aggressive fighting machine. The first fight he took my leg then pasted me. He hides behind his shield and comes in for low leg attacks a lot. I was blocking them in typical bunny round fashion, with the top of my shield held low. Our second fight I got a wrap on him, which I almost never do. Our third fight he killed me with a straight shot to the face. Our fourth fight I thrust him in the face, which usually isn't open.

I fought a great set with Oscad. Our last fight was our best. I threw the dropping leg wrap on him and he just watched it come in and hit him. He was shocked. Then we really got into it. After a long set of exchanges I hopped to my right and short sticked him in the face. It was great. All told we split even.

My fights with Richard were what I was looking forward to and they didn't disappoint. He is awesome. He thinks he is slow but he isn't. He is fast and he is aggressive and he has some great moves. And he fights a style I really enjoy, with both an active defense and an active offense. He attacks like a Cuisinart. I can't remember who won our first fight. Our second fight I hit him with the shoulder thrust. Our third fight we took each others legs and rock-and-rolled for a long time, then he killed me with a simple straight off-side face pop. He was peeking out from his shield a bit, so I got him at least once with the cut-from-five saber counter. Our last fight, in which we double-killed, was our best. He took my leg and my shield strap broke (for the second time that day), so I was defending with only my palm strap on my bunny round. I hit him with a high wrap (I think) while he hit me with an onside.

This was, as usual, a great practice. More people should come out and play with us.

today my shoulder, which didn't get hit at all, is quite sore. Like I said, I'm feeling my age. I need to start on those rotator cuff exercises again. By Birka it should be fine. (I hope).

Monday, November 10, 2008

Ostgardr Championship

Saturday wa the Ostgardr Championships. I was to marshal the lists and ended up being MOL as well. I judiciously left my armor at home.

We had six unbelted fighters: Roderick (tall fighter with kite shield), Vassilus (Big Bill from Bay Ridge, fighting right handed), Timur of Ostgard (my man at arms), Oscad de Segovia, and Everette. We fought a round robin in the rain which Oscad won, with one loss to Timur. The lists worked out so that we were able to hold the last fight between Oscad and Vassilus, which with a round robin doesn't always happen. The fighting was pretty good over all.

Later Sir Richard Blackmoore showed up and put on armor. Richard and I have been friends for ten years, and he is one of my favorite chivalric philosophers, but even though I've been to practice in his back yard I had never seen him fight because he's often been injured. I was really impressed. He fights a very Ed-influenced style, in that he strikes with a lot of rotation blows (molinees, sabre shots, etc). He said he felt like he was fighting terribly. I'm sure his speed wasn't up to his standards, but it was three times as fast as *I* can hit. And his combinations and shot selection were beautiful. It was pretty awesome. It got me to thinking once again about sword construction as it relates to style. In his style, like Ed's, you need a sword that is hilt heavy so you can throw those really fast molinees, as opposed to the Paul style which needs a tip heavy sword. Ed and Von Dresden (Who is in Ed's line via Horic) both use relatively heavy blades but with heavy hilts to counter balance them. Richard's blade seemed pretty light but he used a similar heavy bar-cage hilt to Stephan's, which I know to be very heavy. It helps build that blinding speed of his.

I noticed he was particularly susceptible to a double strike to the leg.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Yawn!!!

Spin class this morning, plus stretching before and after and some biking as well too and fro. No lifting. I hate lifting before spin, and am often too tired afterward. Monday I'm starting an off-season regimen that will involve lifting, yoga, and treadmill, lifting and spin, running in the park one day a week rain, shine or snow, and more lifting. I'm going to set an off season workout goal: that I be able to clean and jerk 135 pounds by Mudthaw. This isn't an out of reach goal. Last time I tried it I could clean and jerk 115. It's not that much weight. But it is a nice round number, being three times 45, which is the biggest plates in the gym plus the weight of the bar. The clean and jerk is a full body workout that improves core strenght, upper body strength, and explosive speed. With any luck I'll get to do teach a few classes as well over the winter. I've got some aerobics/core workouts I want to try.

As Serpentius Joe would point out: thirteen weeks till Birka.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Calibration

Calibration has been on my mind recently, as you can understand. I don't think I calibrate higher than most of the folks in the southern region. I find when I go to Nutley or fight in Mudthaw that I have to hit at the top of my strength range to be assured of a kill, and on some days I don't have the strength to do it. This is a hard hitting region. I'm constantly landing blows on people that aren't good. I'm happy with this. This is a full contact, hard hitting sport and I like it that way.

But what is calibration really? Our standard is "hard enough to break mail." In my youth this is what I was trained to. We would lay shirts of butted mail over hay bales or pells and hit them with steel weapons and train ourselves saying "this is how hard you have to swing." It's really hard. It's almost impossible to break mail with the light swords we tend to use. Yet this is our standard.

Some places the standard is take any blow you feel. Some places the standard is take any blow you hear land on you, whether you feel it or not. Some places it practically has to dent your helmet to be good.

I agree with the poster who said that Calibration really has nothing to do with honor. Calibration is a completely objective standard that--whether we like it or not--is effected by mood, condition, fatigue, and body chemistry.

The best description (in that it is most humorous) I ever heard of calibration comes from Artos, who told me once that "a good blow is one that, while it doesn't necessarily hurt, should be so hard that you never want to get hit that way again."

In this formulation a blow is one that not only lands but forces you to notice it, stops you cold in your tracks and makes you go "wow." (if not "ouch"). But there is a problem here, I think. One, this leads to a very high standard that a lot of people would object to. Two, I suspect that it leads to a widly varying standard. If you have just finished a technique or are set and someone hits you with a blow you are certainly more likely to notice it than if you are in the middle of an attack. On the other hand, that's probably true no matter what your standard is.

What do you think?

Monday, October 27, 2008

Crown tourney

I was told that my fifth round fight was ugly and that I had ignored a number of deep wraps. I clearly remember the blows, clearly remember that they landed, and clearly remember shaking them off. Whether or not I *should* have shaken them off is always a question you have to ask yourself. Darius came out to do the “elbow adjustment” (where he pretends to fix my elbow cop and whispers in my ear) and told me to take a lighter shot. I said “ok.” My opponent, an unbelted fighter named Marcus, took my shield arm. I fought him single sword and managed to stab him as he hit my other arm. Marcus seemed genuinely happy with the fight, but he could have been towing the party line by saying that. Darius wanted the fight re-fought, so we did. At that moment I was pissed and something switched inside of me. As soon as the lay on was called I jumped him. I was all over him. It was my best fight of the day. It should not have been. I’d have felt better if he’d one-shotted me.

I had two really good fights. Second round I fought Visivald. I’d watched his first round fight and noticed that he was doing something different, holding his polearm with a left hand lead. I though I could take advantage of that, but couldn’t. We stood at range for awhile. Traded a few blows. Finally after an exchange as he was gathering himself I stepped in with a thrust and got him. It’s always good to kill a Duke, and we both had fun.

My other good fight was fourth round against D. Sebastian, a good lefty with a big Lucan style kite shield. That was fun. Neither of us wanted to commit. We stared at each other, moved around, tried to get the advantage, threw at range. I had his main attack scoped out, but eventually I made a mistake and he took my leg. Figuring “this is it” I threw a leg shot, then took a half beat to kind of shrug my shoulder and hit him in the head. He blocked low and I killed him. I was shocked.

My other three fights were kind of pedestrian. I fought Theobald first round, Gabriel’s squire. I took his arm then killed him. I fought Thorsen in third round. I got fixiated on trying my hook thrust technique (probably because it’s the only thing I’ve ever killed him with, and that only once). He killed me on a blow I probably should have been read for, an offside head shot at the end of a pass. In the sixth round, after my ugly fight with Marcus, Barack one-shotted me.

All in all I am not pleased with my crown. I’m not pleased with my honor being questioned—not because I’m offended by the suggestion but because I worry that it might be correct. In the past when people have questioned my calibration my head has always gone south and I’ve lost. This time I got pissed, *then* my head went south and I got one-shotted. Darius says my calibration has gone up in the past few months. That really bothers me. I’ve been fighting really well the past two years, winning fights, doing better in lists, but I’ve got to ask myself: what if the only reason I’ve been fighting better is because I’ve been ignoring people’s blows?

For a brief moment on Saturday I considered dropping out of the SCA. Maybe 78 crowns (might be 77, I’m not sure about 1999) and one win is enough.

This much I can say: I approached this crown differently. I trained for it—not as much as I wanted to, thank to my surgery, but quite a bit. I went on a diet and went in at 210 pounds. Then the morning of crown I broke my diet by eating carbs and actually drinking coffee. I didn’t want to be asleep first round. None of this was good. I wanted to win my fights. I didn’t actually think I had a good shot at winning crown—I’m realistic about that, and I was nowhere near that top level. But my goal was final four and I thought I could get there. That was where I felt I was at Nutley a couple weeks ago. But my focus was all wrong. I was in the classic bad mindset: trying not to lose. If I am too relaxed I always get sloppy. If I am too intense I loose focus. There is a happy medium which is kind of hard to find, but I certainly wasn’t there on Saturday.

So I was not at all happy with my crown, both because of my fight with Marcus (which we continued to talk about and he continued, in a friendly way, to say he was fine with). and because of my performance. Back when I wanted to win but had set my goal at fifth round I’d have felt fine about being knocked out in sixth. Now I don’t. Now I’m frustrated and angry with myself, and that means that I am taking winning a lot more seriously than I was two years ago. I’m training. I going for it. I’m 44 years old and, while I think I’ve got a good shot into my fifties if I stay in this kind of shape, probably not with a bunny round and it will get harder as I go along. But that’s the big catch twenty two in this game, isn’t it: the only way to win is to want to win, but you’re not supposed to want to win.

I want to win. I’m proud of that. I owe it to my lady, my king and my opponenet to want to win. As Ephie Calvin LaRouche famously said “I like winning. It’s…uh…better than losing.” I look on the SCA as a quest. I want to be a Duke. I want to make Gracia a duchess. I want these two things more than anything else. I love to fight, it’s fun, but that desire to win is what keeps me going to practice and to the gym. I’ve never been embarrassed to say that. Some people say “oh, you shouldn’t want it.” Bull. If I don’t make Gracia a duchess I will have failed in my quest. It’s that simple. But I don’t want to be that Duke nobody respects. I had a reputation for not calling blows in my youth. I never thought it was deserved, but I didn’t like it. It stemmed from a fight in the finals of a tourney that I won in which many people thought I’d blown off several shots. TO this day I don’t think that’s true, but I have to admit I could be wrong. We should give our opponents the benefit of the doubt, not us. I’m always willing to say I cold be mistaken. Eventually my rep changed and I got knighted. I have enjoyed a good rep, a very good rep in fact, for the last twenty years, and I’ve worked hard at it. I want it to stay that way.

So crown was odd.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Warrior's Nadam

Went up to Warriors Nadam today. Had a blast. It was my last time in armor before Crown next week. There was an "iron man" tourney going on--kind of a Mongol inspired Ithrodhir. There was archery, equestrian, ax throwing, and heavy fighting. The heavy fighting part was a warlord tourney.

They had 13 fighters, not ideal for a warlord tourney, but they had three knights, so they gave us byes into second round, so that we had to fight a two on one, while the remaining two teams fought it out. The result was that by third round team had me, one had Conrad, one had Sir Geofrey, and one was a four-man team that had Oscad and Bill (Pretty formidable). My favorite part of the day was probably winning my two on one fight. Oscad's team beat the team Sir Geofrey was on and Conrad's team beat mine, then we beat Oscad's team, making Conrad the winner.

I had a good day of pickups. I fought Conrad, Sir Geofrey, his squire, and later Bill and Oscad.

Geofrey and I had some really good buckler fights. Every time I was able to take his leg I killed him. Our last fight after I'd taken his leg I flashed my sheild toward his face, intending to thrust low, and he blocked low quickly. Quick as a flash I did the same, he did the same, and I thrust him to the face. That felt good. He got a couple of good ones on me. When we fought sword and shield in our bye fight in the tourney I won pretty handily.

Conrad I dont' think I touched once in five fights. I may have gotten one wrap on him. They were good hard fights though, and I was working him hard.

Geofrey's squire was a good fight because I got to practice some thrusting techniques, but Darius says I was leading witht he thrust too often (He never leads with the thrust).

My fights with Oscad were special. My goal was to neutralize the effective stuff he's been doing against me lately and, while he won some of our fights, I succeeded and I won more. His strategy the last few weeks had been to pressure my corners with fakes, and if I pressed him back out and get right back in. I turned up my tension muscles about ten points and attacked quick and hard but not at a good place for him. If he started throwing fakes I would throw right int he middle of them. I knew he would most likely molinee at that point, so I was ready for him. When I pressed I didn't close all the way because I knew he'd back out, so I tried to pressure him at medium range, where neither of us really likes to play but where I figured if I was initiating it I'd be more comfortable, and i was right. I'd jump in one or two steps and stop. Often he wouldn't even back out. It confused him. If he did back out and come back in I'd step in to meet him, which confused him as well. I was able to keep him off his game that way. If i closed in tight I knew I'd likely loose my leg, which I did once, but that was my best fight because he crowds more than most eastern fihgters and more than any Western fighter I can think of. But I did a falling leg shot on him. That's where I launched myself back and to the side from my knees and hit him in the leg as i was falling off balance. It worked. Then I hook thust him to win the fight.

Because it had been working in my fights with Oscad, and I'd bee paying with it earlier int he day, I worked on explosiveness against Bill. As soon as he'd do anything I'd jump in hard and fast, but with my defense primed. It worked pretty well.

Ok, Crown in a week. no more fighting. Give my shoulders a rest.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

BAT practice

Was something of a bust. Or rather, it wasn't very good for me.

I started out fighting Oscad. Ok, I know better than to fight the best guy first. It always takes me a few fights to wake up. Sure enough, our first fight he takes me leg and then kills me, easy as pie. Second fight I get agressive, move to my left, and manage to take his leg, but he gets me with a belly thrust from his knees as I'm stepping in. Third fight I land a hook thrust to his arm. fourth fight,.... I'm not sure. Were there four or five fights? Anyway, he's figured out a good way to fight me. He pressures me with a lot of herky-jerky fakes to see what I'll do, looking for an opening, usually a leg (I'm using a half round, go figure). If *I* presuare *him* he backs out and then jumps right back in, always keeping me off guard. My last two fights, four and five, I went back to classic Beatrix style, hitting hard and pressuring him in a slower but steady attack, which throws him off. I get him with a paul-like back hand body shot.

My next fights were with Gil. He got me with a good thrust once, and once in the face. As usual he was fighting with his buckler, but his defense was great. I took his leg and then, for some reason, I turned it on full. I just went in and pressured him hard and fast. All I cared about was agression. I hit him in the leg an then the body and then in the head. Our last fight we took each others legs and I just started beating him like I was after his milk money It worked very well.

My last set of fights, with Bill, were really good. I got him on a cut to the head as I moved right and with an inside thrust. But then I started with a plan. I tapped his shield with an offside shot (remember, he's lefty). He kind of over blocked and I thrust to his chest. Then I did it again and he over blocked again, and I thrust him in the face. Then I did it again, he over blocked again, and I hit him in the body. Then I moved on to other techniques. They were good fights.

But that was it. I was kind of in a mood where I might have been too relaxed, trying to recreate the zone I was in last BAT. Didn't work. That's probably why I dialed up the agression.

I have learned on thing, though: I am not planning my fights out. The closest thing I do to plan is decide what ward I'm going to use. I'm mostly using basic attacks and reacting. That's a good thing.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Nutley!!!

Well, I’ve been saying for weeks that I want to go to Nutley and get my ass kicked!

Nutley last night was great! I fought every knight who was in armor and two good unbelted fighters. I have bruises today to prove it. Let me tell you, if I went to Nutley more often I probably wouldn’t have stuck with the bunny round as long as I have. I got an ass whupping the likes of which I haven't experienced in a long time. Today I am your baby harp seal!

I jumbed right into the pool by fighting Sir Douglas first. He’s a good two sword fighter who hits like a ton of bricks. I normally have good success against him with my thrusts, so I started out concentrating on my edge work. That wasn’t working so good. When I switched to thrusts I got some good kills on him. I did manage to get one belly cut on him though.

Then I fought Heinrich Braur, an unbelted fighter whom I’ve fought in a lot of tournaments. I usually win, but not always. He is Kelson’s squire and fights that style: large heater, right side/left side guard (by this I mean that he guard his right side primarily with his shield and his left side primarily with his sword, kind of the opposite of a bunny round fighters, who will normally guard high with his sword and low with his shield). This is a pretty static fight. He uses quick sword work and counter punches. I killed him most of our fights, starting with a good hook/thrust. This was nice, because the hook thrust had abandoned me for awhile (I think the fighters at BAT had both gotten used to it and are backing away whenever I do anything, so they’re often out of range). I also got him on a great wrap when he closed with me too fast.

I fought Jan Janovich next. Jan, who trained with my squire brother Ronald, fights a lot like I did when I used a heater. 24”x32” heater, lots of lateral movement, hooks, presses, works hard to control range. We did a lot of movement and positioning trying to keep range control, and we both mostly fought right at the edge of our effective range, which always makes for a fun and exciting fight. We were pretty evenly matched. I won two, he won three, which would make him king ;-)

Next I fought Stephan von Dresden. I mean why not. He’s the best fighter in the SCA right now. Every time I fight Stephan I have one goal: just hit him once. He is so fast and moves so well that anything I do seems like a victory. He said our fights were great, but by the end it seemed like it was child’s play for him, like he was toying with me. It got to the point where he’d trigger off any movement I made (which he always had blocked) and just throw a cross shot. Like pounding nails, it was. So fast. He also brings the love better than anybody I fight regularly. He hit me so hard three of four times that I felt like a boxer who’d just been beat up by Larry Holmes. I did kill him once though, also with a hook thrust.

Next I fought Gregor. This was truly a lesson in humility. When I still fought with a heater I thought I’d like to learn Gregor’s style. His heater is strapped like my last one was, with the hand way up in the corner, so it sits pretty low when not engaged. His leg is well covered but he has to bring it up to cover his head. He is so SO fast. And he knows how to beat a bunny round fighter. The first thing I tried (which I’d been wanting to try more against top level guys) was Hauoc’s high closed form with the sword side leg forward. Except that lately I’ve been doing it in more of a crouch than Hauoc. Big mistake. He hit me in the cup. Twice. Ok, we go back to sword foot back. Gregor has a plan for the bunny round and he executes. He pasted my leg right off with a quick pump fake. It HURT! Right above the armor. He worked on my leg for awhile. Once he got me thinking about my leg it was all over. I wasn’t fast enough with my sword block to guard against the rising snap and he just went to town on me. I don’t think I’ve fought him more than once with the bunny round, so I’m used to doing much better against him than I did this time. Ow.

So I finished the trifecta by fighting Duke Kelson. Kelson, like Heinrich, fights a passive blocking, right side/left side fight without a lot of movement. He also took me to town, though I did slightly better than I did against Gregor or Stephen. I was moving out of his leg shots a bit better. I also killed him with a hook thrust. Then we double killed several times, me thrusting to his face and him cutting me. After awhile he started doing some of those Lucan leaning shots, and I got him on a deap lean hit him on the side of the head. Hammer blow. But I had no real answer for his speed.

Next I fought Bill. Bill usually fights me left handed because we usually fight in Brookyn. He switches. He fights lefty in Brooklyn, righty at Nutley. He is good lefty but much better righty. I still killed him a lot.

Last I fought Sir Christian. I was so tired by that time I am not really sure what all I did or what he did. I was fighting mostly on instinct. Fortunately for me he was tired too. We probably traded about even.

It was a great night, but I spent a lot of time on my knees. My left leg is tattooed with bruises. This is the curse of the bunny round fighters. It is normally a good shield from your knees, but Kellson is able to get my ribs quite handily when I’m down there. And I am limping a bit. :)

But it is what I needed. I wish I could get over there once more before crown. The rumor mill on this crown is better than it has been in years. It’s got Andreas, Brion, Gregor, and Lucan all gunning for it. And my primary goal was to reach the final four. Cool! This will be fun!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

More on BAT




Here is me with Gui's old kite. I'm stil using the bunny round, but I've been contemplating the kite for two reasons. One, I want to be more competitive. Two, I want to do a more Norman looking kit (it will be a long time, however, before I can afford a rivited mail hauberk).

Here is a video of me using the kite while fighting Everet. It's fun, but I have huge gaping holes in my head defense (Gui's kite is heavier than most). Funny thing. That kite--I think it's a 38", seems small to me when I look at it, but it looks plenty big in the video.





This was purely for aesthetic purposes--as you can see, I am mostly concerned with the where the light is. :-)

Monday, October 6, 2008

Action shot





Here, from June Crown, is what is probably the best action fighting shot I've ever seen. It is located at www.esmereldaofthelakes.com, one of the best SCA picture sites I've found. Check it out and buy some prints off her.

some thoughts on Western Crown

First of all let me say that Obadiah the Obstreporous is a God! Ob defeated both Jade and Radnor in the same crown tournament. I think I can name everyone who's beaten Radnor in a crown (there are about eight). Fewer than ten people have beaten Jade in a crown. I'm pretty sure Fabian has beaten them both, but not in the same crown. Nobody has ever done what Ob did! Wow! All my life I've wanted to beat Radnor in a tourney, and Jade for a long time as well. I am impressed!

To business:

At western Crown, as I have heard, Titus attained the final round gainst Duke Jade, who is his grand-sire, Titus having been squired to King Uther (so this was all in the family). As the litany was announced, Titus reportedly doffed his helm, embraced Jade, and then spoke. He said that recently a number of people had been suggesting that people who use large shields do so only because they want to win, and that to prove that this wasn't his motivation he was yielding the crown. People were shocked and some were angry. They announced the "huzahs" for Jade and people went away. Jade, naturally, didn't want to win crown by concession, and he and Uther talked Titus into fighitng it out. Jade won, but by that time everyone had left. I just spoke to someone, who was there and who spoke to Jade in between the concession and when he and Titus actually fought the final round, who still did not know that they had actually fought it out.

First of all, having been part of the whole discussion regarding shield sizes, much of it originating on this blog, I'm very understanding or Titus' motivation. I also understand Jade's reaction. I would have tried to talk him out of it too. AOC has suggested that talking Titus out of his gesture was the wrong move, as it cheapens the gesture and elevates victory to a more important status than expressing one's honor through defeat. I'm not sure I agree.

Secondly, it is any one's right to yield a fight at any time for any reason.

Thirdly, Titus was defending his honor. Some people say that Crown finals was not the place to make the statement Titus made. I can see their point. But if you wanted to make a dramatic gesture, there is no better moment than crown finals.

There has been a lot of concession going on this year. Dag conceded Midrealm crown finals. Krysta conceded a tournament fight last week. Konrad conceded Pennsic, for crying out loud. All for different reasons (Konrad's might be the closest to Titus' gesture), but it is curious.

Titus does not seem to be somebody who uses a big kite because he wants to win more fights. He has one of the most perfect period kits I've seen. If you've never seen him fight, Titus wears a very accurate Crusader era kit, for which the big kite is the apropriate shield. He usually wears a lot of mail, which slows him down (I don't know if he was wearing mail on Saturday). He does not style his kit, as some people certainly do, to gain advantage win more fights: people like Radnor, who started the trend of just using a Gambeson for body armor in the West after saying "The best armor for SCA fighting is carpet armor because it protects you without weighing you down,": or Jade, who used to fight in a gambesson as well: or Guy of Castle Kirk, who always wears sneakers when he fights to give him speed and traction; or me, who uses as light a kit as possible (though people seem to think my bunny round is very heavy, which I don't get). So the suggestion that he might be trying to gain an advantage was particularly grating to Titus.

I do think a better gesture would have been to throw the sheild aside and fight with just a broadsword against Jade. It would have said the same thing, if somewhat less dramatically. But I won't gainsay his decision. He's a good knight, and although I would not have done what he did, he made his point.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

BAT practice

BAT practice was fun today. I was kind of tired and worn out. I’d lifted and ran on the treadmill on Friday and gone to spin class on Saturday, so I was pretty stiff and sore. But it was fun. Oscad, Roderick, Everet (I think that’s Rav’s name), Gil, Bill, and I were in armor.

At Bill’s request we started with some stick drills. We did the hanging guard drill and the double strike drill out of the Asgard school, the training system used by Dukes Gaston and balder in Trimaris. After Bellatrix, this is probably the most highly developed training system I’ve come across. Some of their videos are on You Tube:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0623pJjtx6s&feature=related
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jF3fDo60fs4&feature=related

I like them. I’d developed some of the same sword drills back in the 80s, but there’s are much more advanced.

After that I fought Gil. He was using Sword and Buckler, as usual, and presenting his tip, which was new. He really didn’t have an offence against me, and for some reason blows I normally don’t land on Gil, like a right cross, were landing.

Next I fought Oscad, who was using a bastard sword “Christian style” for his defense. He did it mostly to work on his lateral movement, but that movement opened him up to my face thrusts to the outside of his stick. He moved right into them twice. I also killed him with a hook thrust. But the one time he took my leg I was dog meat. He stands right on top of me. I thought using Houghton’s sitting shot would work since he only had a stick for a shield, but he punched all the way over with it as a guard. Deep raps didn’t work either. I was doomed.

Next I fought Bill. That was a good fight. He is tough as a lefty. I managed to kill him with a double strike off side and with a straight counter. My best kill against him was after he took my arm and he kept his shield. I got him with a downward thrust to his belly after a pump fake.

I fought Rav using Jarrod’s kite. What I have discovered about the kite it this: it is so EASY. Jarrod thinks the kite he’s using, which he got from Gui, is heavy. It is kind of, more than I like, but it’s not too bad. I think it’s 38” long. I can go goofy foot, square, or sword foot forward, all in a closed high form, and it is natural as can be. I dn’t have as much offense as usual (natch) but I get to use a lot more patience. I’m not sure it’s as much fun. But then Effie Calvin LaRouche wisely said: “I like winning. It’s, uh….better than loosing.” I found that when I hooked and cut I hit my wrist with the shield. Same problem with a centergrip round. Duh! But it was fun. Gil should have video of it.

Last I fought Jarrod. He was using the kite and I was using the bunny round. I got a great hook thrust on him.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Time to go

One month to Crown (there abouts) That's only a few practices.

Monday was a long bike ride and some slow form work, working mostly on engaging my abs and my hip fighting goofy foot.

Last night was McCaren park practice. Once agian there were four fighters: Me, Jarrod (now Roderick), TImur and Ervald.

Once again I had good patience. Warmed up with Timur then fought him full speed. He was blocking me well and backing out whenever I advanced. I Worked him mostly by taking his leg and then either hooking and cutting to his head or stepping left and hitting him in the body. Timur is considerably shorter than me but he's good at defending against my wrap.

I fought Ervald next. I won all but one of those fights. I finally got my hook thrust placement working again.

My fights with Jarrod were fun. He is much taller than I am. He has switched to a center-boss kite shield and was using it really well to control distance. Had a very hard time reaching him but once I did I hit him.

Then I fought Ervald using Jarrod's center grip kite. That was fun. I got some great shots in. It is a bit heavier then a lot of center-grip kites and a bit short for what it is supposed to be (I think it's 36"). I got a couple of great shots in with it. I managed to use Lucan's passing shot and hit Ervald in the arm. I never land that shot, but with the kit it kind of fell into place. I also managed to get my hook thrust in. I was pretty sure I could, since I can do it with the center grip round, but it was nice. My arm got tired pretty fast though, and I've no idea how I would fare against the dukes. Plas I really do love fighting the bunny round style. As close as it is to crown I doubt I'll be putting on together between now and then, but I think it would work well for next year.

But like Jade said, I switch things up too often. I guess I just get bored. Patience. That's the key.

Monday, September 22, 2008

BAT Practice training

Boy, it’s a good tired.

Yes, I have returned to my fighting blog. While I was out of commission I didn’t work out much. I was hurt a bit more than I though. I recuperated the first week. Got on the treadmill all of once the second week, but I did a lot of walking. Thursday, Friday, and Saturday I rode my bicycle around and got good workouts.

Today, the theme from Rocky echoing in my head, I got up at seven am and went running in the park. It was the first time I’ve run since our rear-end auto accident exactly three years ago today (I know it was exactly three years because we were on our way home from the fall NASCAR race at Dover, and the Dover race is on right now (three of Jack Rouch’s drivers, Biffle, Edwards, and Kenseth, are all racing for the lead with 23 laps to go). Running hurt my back a lot after that, and I started concentrating on spin class, which is as good a workout with lower impact. But I wanted to run. I did my usual run, around the lake and then up to the top of Lookout Hill. I actually took the last set of stairs two at a time. When I get to the top of lookout hill I am always sure that that is it, I am about to die. But so far I haven’t.

Then I came home, worked a bit, and went to BAT practice.

There were only three other fighters there, Louis, Gil, and Bill. That meant two solid unbelted fighters and an OTC (Order of the Tiger’s Combatant). It also meant a right handed fighter, a left handed fighter, and a two weapon fighter.

Fighting Gil I had some kind of epiphany. I found that place in between too relaxed and too pumped up. Usually when I feel that feeling I am all tensed up and jumpy, just on the edge of pushing too hard. Today it was more like I was just very focused. I felt more relaxed than I normally do. I have felt that way before, and usually it is a good thing. I went through closed form, open form, high and low, and goofy foot, and in all of them I was relaxed but very focused.

I won nearly all my fights. I fought Gil, then Louis, then Bill, then we did a meat grinder where we each fought the other three then the next guy fought the other three, so we each got six fights. I was pacing myself and not fighting to fatigue. Gil beat me twice, Bill beat me twice, Louis beat me twice, maybe three times. In the meat grinder, which I approached like a tournament, I only lost my very last fight, to Bill when he was holding the field. That fight is instructive, because I threw a fake that I thought I was throwing small and Gil told me it was very broad. That was fatigue.

I was most proud of my fights against Louis. I always have trouble with him, but today I was winning pretty handily. I had two great fights. In the first I planned a leg shot (I’d been planning it for about a half an hour at that point). I threw a blow at his leg, which he blocked with the ax, I stepped in an threw a dropping wrap to the same leg. It worked really well. In our last fight I was getting a bit tired and trying to figure out what to do. I never kill Louis with off-side body shots (in fact I rarely kill him with the edge at all), but I decided, what the hell, I’ll throw a butterfly on him. I used to never be able to get anybody to count my butterfly. But I threw this one with my wrist locked, something I picked up watching Radnor last year. It worked like a charm.

BAT usually has a lot more fighters than that. I think it was light because of the Queens Farm demo. Next weekend is Fort Tryon, and if I’m in town that is where I’ll be.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

OOps

Well, my training schedule is shot to hell.

First of all McCaren Park. Only three people showed up, Me, Gui, and Ervald, and Ervald wasn't fighting so Gui and I took off. Too bad. it was a nice night. BAT is simply a much better practice.

Secondly, my training schedule just got shot all to hell. I have a gaping hole in my back. I had surgery today to remove a sebaceous cyst from my shoulderblade. It had been there for years but recently started draining and I didn't want it to get infected. So, no fighting for two weeks. No pell work for two weeks. No weight lifting for two weeks. No bicycling for two weeks. No spin class for two weeks. No running for one week. No lifting anything heavier than a beer can till at least Monday. That's four practices out of my schedule shot. At this point there is little chance of reaching my goal of fifteen days of helmet time between labor day and crown. Grrrr.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

BAT Practice training

So I have this habit. When I'm working with a new fighter, I mean brand new, first time in armor new, I like to borrow somebody's big shield and use that. It's not because I want to beat the guy. I don't swing much in that situation. It's mostly becuase I dont trust brand new fighters not to hit me in the knee, and because brand new fighters might not have much control. I did that on Sunday, and I also learned that I have no offense when I'm using a 36" heater, at least not one strapped with the hand way up in the corner.

BAT practice was good this weekend. It was mostly a teaching day for me, which is good and bad. It's good because concentrating on somebody else's fundamentals forces me to concentrate on my own. It's bad because if I start out an evening in training mode, lots of slow work, letting my student dictate the temp much of the time, etc., I am always a hlaf a beat slow the rest of the night.

There were at east ten people in armor at BAT this week: myself, Gui, Jarrod, Avran, Gil, Alexandre, Timur, Bill, Rav, Oscad. I think I'm forgetting a couple.

I started by working with Rav, doing slow work with him, and concentrating on his en garde position and returnign to it. He's got real potential. He has good mechanics and hits with power. Teaching mode. Lots of slow work. Just a few full speed fights.

Then I did slow work with Timur. He's more advanced than Rav, but it was the same thing. Did more full speed fights with him, which were good. He was moving his arm too far forward in his rest position. I was totally unable to get my thrusts going.

Then I fought Gil sword and buckler. Exactly what I needed for a good fun fight. But I found that I was reacting too much to him, not forcing him to react to me. I won most of the fights (though he did cream my ribs in one fight), but not like I should have.

Then I fought Oscad. This was the fight I really needed. He is doing about 30% better from what he was doing before Pennsic. It was pretty awesome. I was not able to control the fight at all. When fighting goofy foot, trying to use the Hauoc technique, he not only refused to make the attacks I wanted him to make but he had developed a really good leg shot for creaming my sword side leg, and it worked two or three times. As usual his defense is deceptively tight. I need to work more on face thrusts against him, as they seem to be more open, and they used to work well. I killed him three times, he killed me three times. Very good fights. Twice I hit myself in the shield arm with the flat of my blade. It still hurts. Ouch.

The I worked with Bill. He was crowding me a bit too much for his own safety. I did a lot of leg, kill trades, which won fights but put me in a lot of pain. Between that and the arm I quit after those fights.

After that I worked with Gui's nephew Josh, his first time in armor. Good aggression, decent power. He's got potential.

I find two things. One, I need to get back to my bread and butter, the hook thrust. I have been doing better and better with edge work, especially fakes, but my thrusts may be suffering.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Subject of Debate

As I predicted it would, the big shield issue has popped up in the West with a backlash against the people who are using them and winning tournaments (some of whom read this blog). Predictably, the most complete comments came from Duke Paul. He gave me permission to reprint them here.


*********************************

Just a couple of comments --

I have never said that small shields, or more specifically round(ish)
shields are better than other shields. My feeling is that using a small
shield (round, square, bunny, etc.) when learning how to fight aids in
producing a superior fighter. I further believe that this fighter will
fight in a more aesthetically-pleasing style than might be obtained from
learning with a larger shield. I think that in-kingdom tournaments -
specifically Crown and Coronet tourneys - are the pinnacle of this
training.

So when I see top fighters switching to larger shields for use in our
crown tourneys, I do not feel that they are being unchivalrous, but rather
that they are abandoning a custom that has produced superior fighters and
a highly-aesthetic fighting style. By recommending such shields to their
students, and by serving as an example to newer fighters, they are
actively opposing something that has defined the Western fighter and, to
my mind, the highest level of the art.

I further believe that given an equal level of skill and prowess, the
fighter with the larger (to a point) shield will win the fight. So, if I
were to move to another kingdom, or attend an event like Pennsic, I would
modify my shield size to move towards the size prevalent in my new
kingdom, or at the event. In such a situation, I see no reason (unless
one has a "Western" chip on his shoulder) for using a shield that requires
me to actively block my legs, when it is not the local custom for my
opponents to do so.

I still believe that it is easier to move to a larger shield than to a
smaller shield. If roughly-equivalent fighters should meet with similar
shields (having become comfortable with the use of that size shield), then
the one trained with a smaller shield will have a more complete style, and
the advantage in the fight.

A small shield is a means to produce superior training, or to demonstrate
prowess. For a long while, Western fighters could use their small shields
successfully against larger shields. However, the world has, to some
extent, caught up with us. Perhaps we should move to larger shields for
inter-kingdom events. However, I think that if we continue the trend
towards larger shields in-kingdom, then we truly will pay the cost of
winning.

Training

I'm panning to go to McCaren Park tonight, but I'm not sure it will be worth it. I don't like to get into armor unless there are at lest three other people in armor, and it sounds like some of the guys are going to skip tonight's practice and go to Nutley instead. As I mentioned earlier, I got another Wednesday Night class, so Nutley is unlikely for me this semester. Not out of the question, since I don't have the late class this semester, just the one ending at 720. If I drive out with Gui I could still make it there once in awhile.

Gui and I have decided that we both want to push ourselves this fall, so we will try to train together.

I have been doing good so far. The show I was in has closed and the semester is about to start. I skipped spin class this Saturday but have been going on long bike rides and doing yoga. My new workout schedule is shaping up pretty well. Monday and Wednesday afternoons I have a long break between classes when I hit the gym (had this last fall and it worked well), Saturday I either figtht or spin. Sundays I will fight either at BAT or else in Jersey. Tuesdays I wil fight at McCaren Park. I'll start working pell work in next week (pell work is the tricky part. Last time I was doing pell work every night, hitting the pell 1,000 times, I messed my shoulder up bad and it took me months to recover).

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

McCaren Park August 19

As usual McCaren Park was small. There was me, Ervald, Timur, and Jarrod, the new guy from Trimaris. They all killed me a few times. However, I really need to fight some knights.

Timur is looking better and better all the time. He is back to using a modified Belatrix style, but he’s doing it with that leather-strapped center grip Mongolian shield, and it’s working well for him. The way that shield shakes and absorbs energy is quite interesting. He killed me a couple of times, mostly with offsides to the head and once to the inner shoulder.

Ervald is getting better, but he is coming out from behind his shield on his onside shots. When we started the bear-pit, he went to sword and dagger with the sword in his left hand. I found that he didn’t have a good attack outside of trying to stab his opponents in the gut around their shields.

Jarrod is taller than me (always a problem) with a big heater (another problem). He was able to get angles on my legs that were weird. Those long arms worked in strange ways. He is also a product of the Asgaard system. He even has the training videos downloaded to his Iphone. That is pretty cool. He is also very into drills. It is good to have a willing student who like to train not just fight. Timur is this way too. After practice they went off to do some of the Asgaard sword drills together.

Me, I was having too good a night. I got killed a few times, but nearly always it was because I was tired, was bored, or was messing around. Messing around often gets me killed. But I was also messing around and killing people to:

I got two (maybe all three) of them with tight wavy-rising snaps, almost just a double pump.

I got every body’s leg with a super hard double strike.

I killed everyone with a stutter-wrap.

I wasn’t killing as much with my thrusts. I got a couple of good hidden thrusts in on opponents on their knees, but I don’t think I got a single hook/thrust in, which is my bread and butter.

At different times I used a butterfly, an upsilon, a cut from five, the foot stomp, and even the fast Eddy/Radnor direction change (on someone who was standing no less) to win fights. I was even using old MacEnruig style figure eights and molinees as misdirection, and they were working. While most of the time I used my classic high open form bunny round, a la Fabian, I also at various time channeled Jade, Artos, Connor, and Radnor, all to good effect.

In other words, I felt like a God. And that is definitely going to get me killed if I go into crown feeling this way.


Also: the best laid plans of mice and men go awry. My third class at BMCC is, once again, a Monday/Wednesday evening class. It gets out at 720, which makes Nutley very unlikely till January. Grrrrrrrr.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Weight Training

Ok, only a bit. There is no BAT practice today. Yesterday I did my Saturday spin class for the first time in months. After spin I lifted. My lifitng is pretty simple:

Military press, 50 lbs, two sets of fifteen
Curls, 50 lbs, two sets of fifteen
Overhed extensions, 40 lbs, one set of fifteen, one set of ten

That was it. I just forgot to do upright rows. I ended up with some pushups.

A word about weight lifting. There are two ways to lift weights. You can isolate muscles or you can do toal body lifts. The best way to isolate is using a weight machine that doesn't allow you to move anything other than the body part/muscle you are working out. You can also do it with free weights, like dumbells or barbells if you, say, sit on a chair and do curls on a bench. But with free weights you have to keep the weight steady, not move it from side to side, so you use more muscles. The other way to lift is by using as little support as possible, so your whole body has to keep you steady.

My regular lift these days is a simple barbell workout. I actually do an old fashioned standing military press with a straight bar. I stand throughout my whole workout. This not only works out my shoulders and my arms but also my core. The core muscles are far and above the most important muscles used in fighting (and fighting is a good core workout). That's why a lot of dukes do Pilates. If you do a standing barbell workout you can't help but exercise your core, and this, more than my arms, is what I'm going for. I am not trying to gain weight or build bulk. All I want to do is tone without losing flexibility.

I didn't do a leg workout because I had done spin so my legs were dead tired. I didn't do abs, which I normally do before spin. I did do a bit of yoga, because the spin instructor always ahs me lead the stretching after spin, so I usually throw in a few yoga poses. But I didn't do a lot.

There are great exercises that isolate the muscles used in fighting, and I'll cover those later. But right for now I'm sticking with my usual spin, abs, and barbell workout, with Yoga most days. This week I work in a bit of pell work.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Georgia on my mind

Is John McCain crazy? Does he want to completely undermine the President? Can he really be shooting craps with foreign policy by meddling in Georgia? He is dictating policy. He is sending his advisors, almost like a shadow cabinet, to Georgia. In other words, he is doing exactly what he accused Barak Obama of: being presumptuous and assuming the mantle of the presidency. But where Barak was only delivering a speech in Berlin (and not, by the way, at the Brandenburg Gate), John McCain is doing it in a war zone, a war zone where Russia is operating. Not presumptious: reckless, dangerous.

Or is he just a genius? Let's face it: the average American doesn't care about citizenship and she doesn't care about meddling. The average American doesn't think it's improper if a presidential candidate starts meddling in foreign policy. I think people want their candidates to insert themselves into the world. I think they like it. And in middle America, where Ronald Regan is still a God, I think John McCain standing up and saying "we are all Georgians" elicits memories of Ronald Regan at the Brandenburg gate and at Reykjavik. This is Russia after all. Mr. McCain will be seen as standing up to Russia, the evil empire (nobody knows or cares about the difference between the Russian Federation and the CCCP). Foreign policy is beyond most Americans. We don't care that much. Nor do we care that McCain's talk foreign policy adviser is in the pay of the Georgians. We don't care about surrogates. We care about tough guys talkking tough to bullies. That's John McCain.

He is being presidential. And it will play well in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, and Colorado. And it could make him president.

And, by the way, do you get the impression watching the real secretary of state, Condi Rice, is jumping up and down inside screaming at her own imaginary Putin "Finally! It's about F#$king time! Seven years I've been waiting for you guys to start shooting at something! What took you so long?"

Maybe Putin wants McCain to win and dialed

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Practice

McCaren Park practice had exactly four fighters: me, Ervald, Timur, and Lou. We mostly fought bear-pits and two and outs all night long, which was actually good practice.

Lou always gives me fits. I fancy myself a swordsman, but I can't get past that weird defense of his. I beat him good a few times, but he's a tough cookie. My body thrusts seem to be the only thing that reliably works on him. Two good ones were a belt level outside thrust I hit him with becuase he was guarding the shoulder level thrust well; and one that started out as a molinee/thust but which, before completing the molinee hit his blocking ax, and so I simply lunged nad thrust and it worked like a charm. Nice change on the fly. I'll have to remember it.

Ervald was a bit tougher than usual but I beat him most of the time. He was trying sword and dagger with the sword in his weak hand and it acutally worked a bit. He killed me witha good body thrust our last fight.

Timur is fighting excellently. I'm sure if he goes to Nutley they will tell him he's doing everything wrong, but what he's doing is he's figured out classic Belatrix style for that leather strapped center grip Mongolian round shiled he fights with. He looks awesome and his power and speed are good. and his leg defense is spot on. I had real toruble taking his leg, which a few weeks ago was a piece of cake. I had a couple of good kills on him, but I was very impressed.

I have a reprieve. I was beginning to think I might have fractured my leg looking at the incrfedible pooling bruise that developed on my right leg from the two low hits I took (one of which knocked me out for the rest of the day, and which damaged both my shin and my calf). Well got xrays today and nothing is broken. So Nutley next week, hopefully.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

11 Weeks till Crown

Joe pointed out that there are eleven weeks until Crown tourney. I've decided to train a little harder for this one. In the past my goals for Crown, whether Western or Eastern, have always been the same: win more fights than I lose (which means five rounds). My secondary goal is to kill a knight. My tertiary goal is to kill Rolf if he's in the list. I met my main two goals at Western Crown (I once again lost to Rolf), and found that I was frustrated, as you've probably read. So it's time for new goals. I may not meet them for awhile, but I've been meeting my 5th round goal consistently for awhile now, and goals are useless if they are met all the time.

So my new goal is to make the final four in crown, hopefully this next one.

To that end I'm going to train more. I will begin by going to McCarren Park practice tonight. I will document my progress here on this blog. My training will include pell work, some resistance training, yoga, aerobics (mostly bicycling and spin class, though I plan to run up Lookout Hill at least once a week) and of course fighting. I will set some training goals regarding weight, reps, miles, etc., but my first goal is to get in armor and fight fifteen times between now and Crown, five of those at Nutley. Since my last back injury and my nagging shoulder problems, I've been sticking to spin and yoga for my workouts, and it's worked well. But I'm feelign a bit stuck and need to shake things up a bit. I might find that running with my back just isn't going to work, or that lifting or pell work, which have damaged my shoulder in the past, might be too much. I don't like to lift during fightign season becuse my arms are usually too tired to fight for days afterward (and I do a light weight/high rep workout, not a high weight bulk building workout). I expect a few setbacks, but I will persevere.

Anyway, I'll let you all know how it goes.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Pennsic Wrap Up

The simple thing to say is that I fought every battle with spear and every pickup with bunny round and a new sword (right length, right balance). I am resisting the two big temptations right now, which are (a) to switch to a kite and (b) to switch back to my center-grip round, both of which would cover my leg a bit better.

In the battles I was mostly using a rattan spear because they are lighter, the tip is smaller, and I could put one together for $25 instead of $50. It was not a good experiment. I used a piece of shaved rattan that wasn't overly wigly but was a bit. By the end of the war it was drooping a bit. I got some good kills with it, but I was almost completely unable to kill anybody in the body with it. It flexed too much. Waste of time. Those days when Cian wasn't fighting and I fought with his fiberglass spear I did much better. Ironically, in both the town battle and the mountain pass battle (same day) I was killed multiple times by an outlands spearman using a rattan spear.

We were badlly outnumbered. So much so that, to prove the point that the battles should be one on the field and not by politicking for six months ahead of time, Konrad conceded the war at opening ceremonies. Lutr tried to talk him out of it but it was no go. Konrad was right: the wwar is too importnat to some people and it is way too political. I'm glad he stuck to his guns. IMHO Lutr didn't handle it as gracefully as he could have. He should have met Konrad on the field Monday morning, evened up the sides and went at it. He didn't For the first day he kept all his allies, and later when he started to send us some troops the Mid still had numbers. We did win a few of the battles anyway, which felt glorious:

The Gates of Rome was a tie. We had the upper gate and we held it most of the day, but at the very end the Midrealm charged, a hold was called, and their momentum carried them forward (we all stopped, they didn't for a sec). We were pushed all the way off the gate and then, two seconds later, it was over. That ended up deciding the battle as a draw. Had we held that gate we would have won.

The Woods: we lost (i heard we won, but apparently not). It was a long res battle with abig push at the end.

Town battle: we lost, but our group held the two gates we were assigned to. They never got into our courtyard to take the point, so we were happy. Great spear duels with a bunch of guys from Calontir and Outlands, and some good charges by CAID.

Mountain Pass: we lost. The took all the points. Since we were lined up against mostly the same buys, it seemed like a continuation of the town battle.

Bridge battle. This was probably our great moment of glory. There were five bridges, three battles of half an hour each. The first battle was a draw. I think our bridge was officially "contested," meaning that neither side controlled enough of it to witn the point. According to Lutr, we killed nearly three times our number, as they were comitting all their reserves to our bridge as the battle went on. The second battle we lined up on the second bridge from the south, facing the tuchux and a few others. They charged, we held, we fought and repulsed their charges. Once again, they sent their reserves onto our bridge. But this time we blew through them, wrapped around, and hit Dark Moon in the rear on the middle bridge. As our bridge crumbled the first bridge began to give way, and Atlantia broke through and headed up the hill. We swept all three bridges and won the battle. Then we lined up and did exactly the same thing again.

We fought five field battles. I had a blast in all five. we won the two that mattered.

We won the belted champions but lost the unbelted champions. Heroics was interesting. We won even though Darius, Lucan, and Andreas all lost (to Ranvaldr, Edmund, and Uther, respectively). Gregor was the only Eastern duke who won his fight, one shoting Morgan Sheridan in one of the most beautiful shots I've ever seen. Our allies and our unbelteds really saved our asses, particularly Ulf, who was awesome.

I was also assisting Manfred in commanding the SRA. That was fun, and I think I did what I was called upon to do. Most of my command duties came in the woods, wherein I was coordinating our left flank and keeping it in line with An Tir. I fought with Serpentius the whole time, and Joseph and Horace were doing great jobs commanding. Just like the rest of my war, my spear fighting got better and better, and I was having more and more fun, each progressive day. By Friday I was having a blast and slaying mightily. The field battles are always my favorites, and we had some great ones this year.

In pickups I did great but I didn't get a lot of work. Had some good fights with Thorsen on Sunday. He said that I was fighting better than he had ever seen me fight. I pointed out that he still beat me. The ony other top level fighter I fought all week was Sir Ian from CAID, who beat me two of three, though I did figure out the counters to his Dirk-like offense pretty quickly. My other fights were against a lot of unbelteds because there weren't that many knights doing pickups, or at least I didn't see them. I did see Flieg, beck and Reinmar out there, but I wanted to fight guys I didn't know like the back of my hand whom I'd been fighting for more than twenty years (in Beck's case since before I authorized). I learned three things worth noting:

1) the way I have my bunny round strapped, just a bit on the low side with a lot of shield above my hand, I can't hold it in my normal closed form position because the corner is too high (I knew that pare) by it is great for a medium-crouch open form a la Paul or early Jade, and I am now fast enough once more to make that work.

2) because I can't hold it in my normal closed from I can't quite take the goofy foot stance that I've been working on, using Hauoc's technique. But it all works out if I move push the shield just a bit to the right, which also covers my right leg a bit more (one of the thigns about the center grip was that it covered my leg fighting goofy foot better than the bunny round).

3) once again, my thrusts are arcing and micing instead of going straight out. This is a bad habit I fall into when I get out of practice even for a week. I struggled with it the whole war.

I killed lots of guys in pickups. Only two of the unbelteds I fought made me sweat, and I still won more than I lost off of them. I felt ok. But I didn't get my ten fights with Darius and I didn't get to really work with any big guns, so I feel unsatisfied.

Great war.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Pennsic Pre Planning

Well, I'm off to Pennsic on Saturday. I have lots of plans and some of them involve fighting. My goals for this Pennsic are:

Fight in all the massed heavy points battles.
Fight pickups every day.
Ten fights with Darius.
Fight in one tourney.
Start getting in shape for crown.

I'll let you all know how it goes (of course, most of you will be there!).

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

SRWC

I’m late getting this posted, again!!

Southern Region War Camp is one of my favorite Eastern Events. I think that’s because it is so much like a Western Crown event: camping, fighting, court, parties. This year it was incredibly small compared to years past, obviously a reflection of gas prices and its proximity to Pennsic under the new calendar (it used to be two weekends from Pennsic).

I understand pre-registration for Pennsic is off 16%, which if it trended that way would mean more than 2,000 fewer people than last year. Ouch!!

SWRC was also HOT! It was almost as hot as Western Crown was, but Western Crown was a crown, where you get a lot more rest, and it was a lot less humid. I was in really bad shape out there. But I fought in all the battles (other than the unbelted fights).

First battle I used sword and heater. Our side had Serpentius, Bloodguard, and a few smaller units. The other side had Von Halstern, ICOD (at nearly full strength) and numbers. We were on the left side. The first battle we angled in to hit Von Halstern along with Bloodguard, ignoring ICOD to our rather quick doom. The second battle we did the same but split a few guys out to keep ICOD off our rear. Didn’t really work. In the first battle I killed Rav and maybe somebody else. In the second battle I traded blows with Oscad but didn’t kill him. I got jumped by ICOD from behind both times. In the third battle we decided to just charge ICOD. This was more fun and much more effective. I ended up crashing into Gregor and falling when somebody rolled into my knees. I got up to my knees and ended up fighting Balin, whom I killed. The battle kind of drifted away from me at that point.

I think we lost all three of those but I’m not sure.

Somewhere in there the heater broke and I switched to my bunny round (which I was using when I fought Balin I’m sure).

Then we went to the bridge fights. I used bunny round for the first one and saw zero action. We were in the rear forming kill pockets that never got tested before time ran out. I might have gotten to throw one blow when they mounted a charge. In the second bridge fight I switched to ax and buckler, hoping to go wade into their spearmen, but also so that if any of our spears died I could take over, which I did. Got a lot of good spear action, and killed or maimed a few guys. But I find that spear is much more tiring than sword and shield, and it sapped a lot of my energy.

Then we had a resurrection wall battle. That was a lot of fun. I used buckler and ax and mostly fought people on breakthroughs. I can tell I was getting tired and cranky, because one guy got into our backfield and I ended up fighting him, and when I finally killed him I kind of turned on my heel and stomped off. It was a good kill, though. Then me and Joe charged into their line, my ax broke, and that was pretty much it for me.

Afterward a bunch of knights sat around in armor to fight pickups with the hungry unbelteds, but hardly anybody came out. I fought a couple of pickups and found that I still know how to fight singles. I killed one Florentine fighter in two nice ways: once with an offside body, a la Jade, and once after he’ legged me with a slot shot down the middle, sitting down like Papa Houghton taught me. I fought one of Darius’ squires and was able to get around his really big shield a couple of times. I killed him with a stutter wrap and with an offside face shot. I think he killed me once. I felt pretty relaxed in those fights. My sword and shield were working together pretty good, but it wasn’t enough to really work on anything.

It should be noted that Oscad was the last fighter our there looking for fights. Apparently he’s been the last fighter on the field for the last five events or so. He’s doing a good job.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Western Crown

As some of you know, I love to go out and fight in West Kingdom Crown. I didn't do quite as well as I have the last two years, but I acquitted myself fairly well. It was fun.

First off: the winner was Duke Uther, who defeated Viscount Brand in what I considered to be a truly awesome finals. It can be viewed at You Tube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vNW19Sc2L40&feature=related and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0y0F1CqDv8g

The third place finisher was Brand's sister Viscountess Bryn. She was awesome, and her fights with Guntehr in quarter finals and with Brand in the semi-finals were epic, and were the highlights of the day -- until the finals, which looked a lot like the Hector vs. Achilles fight from *Troy* with Brad Pitt and Eric Bana, (yes, it was that cool). Brand won the first fight, Uther won the second, then in the third Uther took Brand's leg and then his arm, at which point Brand said "now you're gonna get it!" Uther pounded him.

Apparently, Uther was catching some flak for not giving up his shield when he took Brand's arm in the final fight. A lot of people apparently didn't see it for what it was, a fight among guys who are best friends and fight each other all the time and don't give each other any quarter. I don't know where the flak was coming from, because all I heard was people saying what a great compliment it was to Brand that Uther wouldn't give up his shield. But this is, of course, the West, where there is an orthodox way to fight and way the way that everybody else fights--and while the Best fighters in the SCA were either Paul or Radnor or Jade, who could beat anybody else no matter *what* style they were using and they just happened to use the Western style, it was all ok. But now with so many great fighters fighting other styles and with other conventions of chivalry the Western way has lost some luster. And that's kind of the problem with Uther in some people's minds. He has now very publicly broken three hallowed Western conventions of combat: dropping your shield when taking an opponent's arm, shield size, and crowding your opponent with your shield (ok, Lucky used to do that back in the day, but he was the only one). Uther does not fight like a Western Duke is supposed to fight, and he makes it permissible for that biggest and oldest of lightbulbs to be changed: he makes it ok for other fighters to do the same.

And that's probably ok. I am a true believer in the Western Way, as everybody knows. I think that elegant, offensive style with a 24" shield is the absolute epitome of the SCA fighting art, which is why I pursue it even though I know I'd have a better shot at winning more tourneys if I went to a 2x3 heater or a 40" kite (which one of these days I will do). I will say this: if Uther had still been using his 24" delf (and he uses it so beautifully) I'm not sure he would have beaten Brand. But if Uther ends up dragging the West kicking and screaming into the 21st Century, well, so much the better. Variety is the spice of life. As long as Hauoc and Radnor are around the pure Western style will still flourish. It will just have a lot of competition.

On to my tourney. I one shotted my first opponent with a wavy rising snap and then, after a couple of ranging shots, I killed my second opponent with the same blow. I felt like a God at that point.

I drew Mari Alexander in the next round and we had a great fight. I eventually took her leg by double faking a thrust then hitting her onside leg. I killed her with a hidden thrust to the breast plate.

I drew Sir Vincenzo de Calabria in the fourth round. I took his leg (don't recall how) and then killed him with a hook/thrust to his left shoulder.

Fifth Round, as I knew i would have to eventually, I fought Rolf. After twenty eight years (I fought Rolf my very first day in armor) I still haven't beaten him. It's pretty obvious he is in my head. I fought him better this time than I ever had, and if I'd gotten a bit more body behind my thrusts (I figured out an opening on him) we'd at least have double killed. Back to the drawing board.

By last fight was against Vsc. Eric von Rousebeck. It was a good long fight. I almost had him a couple of times, and my defense was doing great. But then I kind of hit pause. I was doing a three blow combination, I blocked low, and my shield arm just kind of came half way up and paused, and he hit me in the slot. Good for him.

It was kind of frustrating. It was frustrating because I should have beaten Von Rousebeck and I could have beaten Rolf, but I didn't get the deal done on either. It was also frustrating because I felt I had gotten slighted by the people setting up the lists. You see, there were two Dukes and a count--me--in the list. That meant that I should have been the number one seed on one of the fields, not the two seed on a field with a Duke. I've never been a one seed, and I had been looking forward to it. It didn't even occur to me till people started pointing it out that I should ahve had my own field. But when I found out it was King Titus who had seeded the fields, and that he had seeded Brion of Belatrix and Brand over me, I didn't have as much problem with that. It's his list after all. But I've always wanted to be a one seed. Had I been a one seed, I wouldn't have had to fight Rolf in the 5th round like I seemingly always do. Yes Brion went farther, but I've been beating Brion lately--I beat him at Prova and I beat him last June Crown, and if I hadn't had to fight a duke in Round five I'd have gone farther too. Brand, well, that's another matter.

But that is all a bunch of whining. Whining is un-knightly and, after all, all I had to do to negate the whole things was to beat Rolf. And Brion lost to Gunther, who was on fire, in the fourth or fifth round himself. There are no easy routes to the crown.

I suffered a strange little injury early on. I was warming up against a great-sword fighter. After looking at the videos of me fighting Oscad, I noticed I wasn't extending into my leg blocks, so I had been working on that. Well, I extended all the way into an offside leg block against the greatsword and, when he hit the top edge of my shield, the force of the blow hyper-extended my elbow. It didn't bother me much though it might have affected my fight with Von Rousebeck.

But the real thing that affected my fight with Von Rousebeck was the heat. I have heard different reports from 105 degrees to 110 degrees. My armor is cloth and fairly heavy and pretty hot inside. I had to use every trick I know to keep cool--ice-packs under my gambesson, soaking my head-scarf in icewater, drinking drinking drinking. I don't think I peed all day. The only thing I didn't do was keep my helmet in an icechest (neat trick, that). At one point, I think after my fight with Vinnie, I was definitely feeling it: weakness, heart rate, the usual. I manged to cool myself down, but it was awful. I pity Bryn and Gunther, who had an extremely long fight somewhere around quarter finals.

It was a really fantastic tourney, in spite of the heat. Parties were good, fighting was awesome. Best of all, Ben, Kahmille, Titus and Mom were all royalty at the same time! That is why I flew out.

Oh yeah: the West has declared for the Midrealm. No surprise there.