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!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Nutley 1/16/2008

Ah! What a great night! The fun! The bruises!

Once again i took it easy. I only fought five guys: Gavlin, Ben, Bill, Larry, and Christian Knox. I didn't get a shot at Gregor, which is too bad.

Alain had brought me his center grip to use. It's the same size as mine but it's metal. I like it but I don't like the handle much. I figured I wanted something other than the buckler (though I'm good with he buckler and having fun with it). It's 26" which means it's a little small on me to be a Viking style center grip and it doesn't work well with the An Tir style.

I already knew a few things but I learned some others. The center grip gets in the way of some of my best offense. It's lousy (or I'm lousy with it) against polearm fighters. It's mor flexible than even the bunny round. Those things I knew. Here's what I didn't know:

I can still throw the hook thrust with the center grip (I can't throw the hook/slot shot).

The first combo I ever developed on my own without being taught it was onside head/offside head/shield press/pass on right/leg wrap. When I throw it I usually loose my leg. It works much better with the center-grip than with any other shield, and my leg is better protected too.

I learned that instead of a wrap/drawback/thrust it's better to half-heartedly fake the wrap, lay the sword onto he shield, and roll he tip into the face.

I can't defend my leg with the center grip in goofy foot as well as I can with the buckler: r rather, I can't do it with a rotation block like I do with he buckler. This seems counter intuitive and I don't know why. I use the Hauoc technique with the buckler when I'm goofy footed and it works great, but with the center round, which is the same shape as the buckler just three times as big, it doesn't work. I think it's that I have to stand differently. I think I fixed that in my fight with Christian by adopting a lower sword forward stance, but it was weird.

I fought everyone I fought well except Larry (big polearm fighter), whom I killed once out of four fights. I even did well Christian once I'd warmed up against him. At various times my hook thrust, stutter wrap, body thrust, low-line jade like face thrust, molinee leg shot, rising snap, dropping leg wrap, Martin the Temperate leg shot, and passing shot worked against somebody I fought.

But the real reason I was there was because Ben was visiting from the West. He's fighting a high-form heater style and he's doing great with it. He has finaled in the last two coronets with it. And our fights were a lot of fun!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Back on the Horse

So Wednesday night I *finally* got to Nutley. Yay! I didn't do too much. I just fought four people: Henreich, Bill, Kelson, and Gavlin. It was fun. Kelson took ma apart like a surgeon. He said my attacks were very quick. The others I killed much more than they killed me. Considering I was using my buckler that was very cool. My best near shot on Kelson was a face thrust that he went all kung fu on me and trapped between his basket hilt and shield about an inch from his grill. My best kills, as usual, were pary 5/cut 5, and a hook thrust. I was right about where I should be--beating the unbelteds and getting a rough fight from the duke.

I am having the same dilemma I was having last year. I am killing a few more people using hauoc's sword foot forward closed form style but I enjoy it less than fighting the open radnor/belatrix style. Oh well.

Today I had a killer spin workout.


Yes, our party rocked. But that's not why I brought it up here.

You can learn a lot talking to dukes. Three things came up at Western 12th Night that are worth making note of. One has to do with our old war horse topic of shield sizes. I heard this at knight's council, but since it has nothing to do with anything I think I can repeat it. They were talking about a foreign Duke who wanted to visit the west and who had asked if he could use his big shield, to which one of the Western dukes said "Sure, if he wants to give me the advantage." That's the axiom in the West, that big shields make fighters sloppy and less effective, and that big shields are a handicap not an advantage (hence the comment to Ben that his 36" heater would make him a worse fighter). That's because until recently they'd never seen a good fighter with a big shield. An Andreas or a Darius would give them fits.

Two other things. Rolf was talking to Hauoc. They're two dukes I fight a lot. Hauoc took me out of the last two West Crowns I fought in. Hauoc said two things that were really good, neither of which had really occurred to me. The first was that when you duck backward to avoid a shot, as Hauoc used to do, you actually open yourself up more because most people when they do that leave their shield in place and move their bodies back. This takes them away from their shield and opens them up more. Not a lot of people do this on the East Coast, but when someone does it's best to throw a flat offside head shot. The other things Hauoc mentioned was the rule of first fastest (which has to be a saganism). People load up to throw their fastest shot first, and their next shot will be the shot they are cocked up for from their. This is why people normally go right/left. Instinctively we tend to know that and look for an offside to follow an onside shot. Hauoc doesn't worry about anything that might be slower, like a shot that takes time to develop with a fake or a molinee, because those aren't fast and he'll pick that up. Two Junes ago (when he and Rolf were the finalists and they both beat me in the tourney), after our fight Hauoc had said I'd surprised him because he had expected me to use a lot of fakes and I had used a very basic offense with him, as I've been doing lately. It shocked him a bit and I almost got him with a 1-2-body thrust.

So remember about ducking backward and the rule of first fastest. You learn a lot from dukes.