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.


Anonymous said...

There is not a fighter out there that hasn’t had to do some soul searching calibration.
Calibration is subjective at best and down right Illegal if you try to calibrate to the rules as written. We are suppose to calibrate as if mail over padding. Yet if we were to actually Strike each other at the force levels required doing debilitating damage thru mail and padding. We would be in violation of are excessive force rules. These rules contradict each other. And leave us no clear standard to define what should and what should not be taken. Throw into the mix kingdom and regional variations, differing armour, the degradable nature of rattan, the variables of movement and power generation. This is the mine field we must navigate each time we attempt to call a shot. Most of the time we get it right sometimes we get it wrong but that is the nature of the game. I think the biggest injustice we ever inflicted on ourselves was the notion that honor and calibration are linked. They are not. Missing a shot is not cheating hell missing 10 shots isn’t cheating. Cheating requires intent. Anyway my point is that you decided that you weren’t going to take those wraps because you felt they weren’t hard enough not because of your desire to win. If you’d have done it out of a desire to win you’d know it and you wouldn’t have put up this post. I have known you for a long time you are a good man and a good knight.
If you think you are taking harder now then in the past then back it down some no biggie
If you are comfortable with how you are taking so be it. It is ok to want to win.

Luis de Castilla said...

OK sir. Staright talk time. Don't sweat it. Seriously. We have fought and fought and fought for years now. No probs right?? We play to win and we do not play tiddlywinks either. Hit or don't hit. That's the way we play. Also I remember a certain line you told me "You're the one in the armor not the spectators". Nuff said end of sermon. :)

Anonymous said...

I'm glad you came over and did pickups, Sir, despite your overall feeling that crown was "odd". Hope to do some more pickups again soon.

Saburou (the Jap in the brown armour).

MAC said...

Thanks, Saburou. Those were fun. :)