Tuesday, January 29, 2008


Birka was last weekend. Sir Douglas placed second to Duke Darius by 100 points for the second year in a row. Darius fought 203 fights.

Let’s face it: Birka is Darius’ game. It is about endurance and quick kills. The more you fight the better you are going to do. You can’t knock yourself out in long fights or take breaks. You just have to keep cycling through. The tournament at Birka is a holmgang/bear pit with ten fields. This year there were 147 fighters. You get one point for every fight you fight in and one more point for every victory. The more you fight the more points you will rack up. Darius never seemed to pop his hat for more than three minutes, and that I saw he didn’t sit down the whole four hours. Other people had different strategies. Some just fought the whole time with no breaks. Some went twice through the line then rested ten minutes. Only Darius seemed to have it down though, because he didn’t take a break *and* he won most of this fights.

My day was great. My goals were to win more then I lost, to kill a knight, to kill a royal peer, and to kill Darius (yes, that would have taken care of the last three in one shot). I accomplished all of my goals save one, that being to kill Darius (I did have two shots at him). I killed five knights, one of whom was a royal peer. I fought 69 fights and won 48 of them (69.7%). I had several runs of five or more victories in a row. I finished tied for 24th which, out of 147, isn’t all that bad. Considering I started late, ended early, and took a few long breaks I did pretty good. I was in the top ten in winning percentage.

I fought mostly with the 26” center grip round shield (a bit small to use with the classic An Tir style), and a broadsword. My own sword disintegrated late in the day and I had to switch to Gracia’s much lighter sword. I also fought with the sword and buckler, and with center grip and ax. That was the most fun, even though I didn’t win those fights.

I haven’t got a clue about most of the people I beat, who they were or how I won the fight. There were too many fights. I just have some general ideas: I still am not completely comfortable with the center grip. There’s a number of times it just doesn’t do what I expect it to. After lots of playing around I finally settled into a slightly squared, slightly crouched, sword foot forward style. This seemed to work well. But there were problems. I got one shotted once when I totally eBut the center grip can still get knocked around too easily and it still gets in my way for inside work. And the only hook I can use is the hook/thrust (which worked several times). The buckler was almost more effective, in that I am used to standing and firing with the buckler, not moving around, and the fields at Birka are too small for that (if you step out you loose your leg). My best kill of the day was sword and buckler against Edward Gray of Loch Leven, who uses a huge shield and usually gives me fits. I got him with the light sword with a fake thrust/butterfly, which I’d never thrown before. Pretty. I probably killed more people with thrusts than anything else, but I had a lot of wraps and one good molinee. As usual, Edward aside, I was having trouble powering up my body shots. Other things I noticed was that I completely tabled the shield when I was being crowded on my knees, that I had no idea what to do with lefties when using that shield, and that the jam/wrap worked great whether my opponent was on his knees or not. It was also better with the ax than I thought it would be. I fought Heinrich with it. I took his leg with a low figure 8, then I jammed him and pounded on him. The infighting of the ax combined with the jamming of his offense worked pretty well. If I’d been able to keep the ax from spinning in my hand I’d have probably beaten him. My next opponent, also with the ax, was a Florentine fighter and I remember thinking “I used to love to take an ax against Florentine, no why was that…?” I thought about it right up until he took my arm and I called myself dead. It’s because a short weapon can get inside somebody who jam blocks or window parries and hit them in the chest or abdomen. I got that shot once but half heartedly, and it didn’t stick.

I got to get my new bunnyround made!

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