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.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

BAT Practice

BAT practice was today but I was taking it easy. There were five fighters in armor, but I only fought Alain and Oscad. I am fighting in Western Crown the Saturday, and I don't like to fight a lot the week before a crown.

Slow work with Alain was good. I worked on agessiona nd completing my leg blocks. I won three of four fights agaisnt Oscad, which is tough to do. I'm feeling ok, but a little heavy (I've put on about five pounds since last crown).