Sunday, November 23, 2008

100 Minutes War


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


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


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.