Wednesday, December 16, 2009

My new book is out

My book about the SCA has gone to press and is available fore pre-order from Check it out. There is a whole long chapter on SCA fighting in it.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Uther's Pell Drill

Here's a training video from Uther explaining his pell drill and some slow work drills.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Ealdomere Crown

So the Crown Prince of Ealdomere is nineteen years old (and very well spoken). He's being touted as the first Crown victor to come out of the youth fighting program, which may be technically true, but I wonder what that makes Duke Stephen of Bellatrix.

Here's a good video of Ealdomere finals. They fight a lot: best two of three sets of two out of three.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

More on Crown

Here from You Tube is the first fight of the finals of Eastern Crown.

And here is the second fight:

Monday, November 2, 2009

Cynagua Coronet Finals

So dig this great video of Rolf and Seth in the finals of this weekend's Cynagua coronet (in case you are wondering why Rolf fought in it, it is the 30th anniversary of the first Cynaguan coronet, which he lost in the finals to Strider). I've been getting a lot of mileage out of the body shot to my opponents on their knees when using the kite, but Rolf added a hook. I honestly didn't think a hook would work there, but he did it. check it out.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

What a Crown!

Well, one way to look at Crown is that the guy with the biggest shield won again. I mean, Edward’s shield is really huge. He’s about six-six and his shield literally covers from his eyes to the middle (maybe bottom) of his knee cop. When we got to the semi finals, we had Edward and Griffith with long kites, Lucan with a medium length kite, and Gregor with a relatively small heater (I thought Gregor was actually fighting the best of the four of them, but he didn’t make it past Lucan). In the final Lucan couldn’t come close to landing a stick on him.

Another way to look at it was that these four guys were in a league way above the rest of us mortals, and Edward was amazing. His fight with Griffith was one of the most savage things I’ve seen in a long time. It ranks up there with Uther and Brand, and was maybe even more impressive. They were both so fast and hitting so hard and putting together such great shots that it was awe-inspiring. In the finals, he seemed to be set up perfectly for Lucan. He was relying on a downward shot to the outside shoulder, which should have been meat for Lucan’s passing shot. But Edward threw it, Lucan countered, and Edward blocked it. It didn’t even look that desperate. He was just too fast, too on.

Actually I blame Alethea. On the way to site we were talking about the seven dukes and two counts in the list and I said that the way the draws normally work, somebody surprising would sneak into the upper rounds and possibly make it to finals. But as we were crossing the parking lot she went over to Edward and said “I’m looking forward to seeing you as king.” Before the finals I looked at her and said “if he wins, it’s your fault.” Then Edward came over and kissed her hand and said he’d try to make her prediction some true. And he did. I looked at her and said “you did this.”

It was an interesting list. With six Dukes and two counts it looked like fireworks. Gregor took out Darius. Randal got taken out by Griffith. I don’t know why, but once he got into the losers’ bracket Brian started being weird. He fought Barack, and beat him, using a great sword upside down instead of a shield. Barack thought he was out of range and wasn’t. Against Kenrick Brian did the same and lost. He wasn’t sand-bagging. He was using the greatsword thrusting tip well. But he certainly handicapped himself. There was also a round robin in the losers’ bracket to determine the two semi finalists, between Kenrick, Gregor and Griffith. Oh yeah, if you are paying attention. Edward didn’t lose a fight all day and as far as I know never even lost his leg.

Me, I lost my leg in both the fights I lost. I accomplished my primary and secondary goals. I had five great fights, meaning I won more than I lost, and I killed a knight, Sir Yoseph. I had two great fights with Wilhelm and Kenrick and I almost won both of them, but both of them matrixed on me. I threw the hook thrust on Wilhelm, got his shield, hit him with stiffly with the thrust, but as I did he arched over backward and the thrust died. Then he took my leg (still don’t know how) and then my shield arm. He kept his shield and killed me. My fight with Kenrick was epic. We both dug in hard and were fighting really well. He stepped out from behind my shield to take my leg, but exposed his arm as he did and I took it. Legged with my shield against him with his sword in his off (right) hand, it was tough. I tried everything to get him—even the Russian crawl step to try to thrust him in the face. Then I finally took his leg. I threw a shot at him and he ducked underneath it, crowded me, and back handed me across the head. It was an awesome fight to be part of. Though I do wish I’d have won it.

I’m enjoying the kite. I was fighting well. Getting over a cold, sinus headache, stuffed up, and my back and hips totally shredded, I still fought hard and well. Svava gave me a Lady of the Rose token from my conduct on the field and giving my opponents good fun fights. I had a good day.

But I’ve got to say Edward was in a class by himself. Literally.

Monday, October 19, 2009

BAT Practice and Beau Geste

Great practice yesterday. We had some new fighters from Long Island, we had six people in armor, we had the scriptorium going on. I taught a nice beginning fighter class. On top of all that I won the Beau Geste. Lots of fun.

Except for some warmups with Everett, I only fought my fights in the torunament. I was pretty wiped out from Rock Climbing the day before, so I was beat. Also, that plus a now dead sword made some of my shots weak. But I had a good time.

My goal in all my fights was to concentrate on using my reach but not being wedded to it. I especially wanted to keep range on Bill and Everett. In bill's case I took his leg and then simply juked him and killed him. In everett's case I ended up taking his arm and then killing him. I did the same thing to Dougal. My kill of Oscad was classic: he hit my leg, I blocked and cut to his head with a downward stroke, my best kill shot these days.

The other thing I was working on was patience.

Farrod and Gui taught me Uther's pell drill (new to me) where you throw a series of two blow combinations at the six points of the pell, including double strikes, starting with the leg: so you strike leg/leg, leg/ribs, leg/head, leg/off-side head, leg/off-side ribs, leg/off-side leg, and then you proceed to the next point: ribs/leg, ribs/ribs, ribs/head, etc. Great drill. My beginners class we worked on stance, the snap, the two-step striking/waking drill, and the block/strike drills in five and six.

(reminds me, I should get the terminology right on that pell drill: it's 1/1, 1/4, 1/5, 1/6, 1/3, 1/2, 4/1, 4/4, 4/5, etc)

Sunday, October 11, 2009


BAT practice was great today! I don't know how many fighters we had in armor. Nick is back from Sweden, Sir Angus' squire was here--he's going to Columbia. There was also me, Ervald, Richard Blackmoore, Oscad, Gui, Kasimir, Everet, Vasili--I'm probably leaving somebody out. Ed was here teching sword work.

I didn't fight too many fights. I fought Kaz, Richard, Oscad, Nick and Vasili. I was fighting them all pretty well. I tried to narrow my focus--now that I've been fighting with the kite for awhile, stopexpermienting and concentrate on a couple of thechniques that are working well. I'm mostly fighting sword foot forward in a closed high form, but stepping back on occasion into an open high form. It's working pretty well. My sword is ballanced more for the belatrix style, open high form however, and I might need to make a new one next week. My leg targetting was on today as well.

There are three weeks till crown so I'm stepping up my activity a bit (plus I gained two pounds last week). Yesterday I did pushups and crunches, and climbed a lot of stairs. Today I fought and did a bit of Yoga. Tomorrow I will go to the gym, hit the treadmill and do some light lifting. Or at least that's the plan. Next time in armor will be next Sunday at the Beau Geste. :)

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Things you cannot do with a centergrip kite

I'm told by one of my trainees who went to the knight's school last weekend, and who uses a kite, that his majesty told him to switch to a heater. His majesty tells everyone that. Everybody should use a 24"x36" heater in his majesty's book. That's what he fights, that's what he teaches. Not only that, but he teaches a particular way to use it and is very up front about his opinion that it is the way people should fight. I believe what he said was "you won't go anywhere with that shield." At least that's what my guy got out of it. He said something similar to other kite fighters as well.

Which leads to the question what are those problems? There are lots of great things about the center grip kite, but there are a lot of problems with it as well. Sure, you can hook, punch, and use the boss offensively, and a center grip is the best style against lefties. It has a great leg defense. But what are the drawbacks?

Well, first of all, there is the lack of corners. Of course it is a big deal. I still get killed because there is no back side corner to protect my head. Then there is the fact that the center grip can be moved around a lot more than the strapped shield can. It's only got one point of contact, meaning it is easy to rotate in any direction. Oh, and it is usually a bit narrower. There are some other things. You can't do that rotation defense I like to use against Florentine fighters. For that you need corners and it really has to be strapped. I also can't do those "magic button" presses that Gemini uses so effectively. You need a smaller shield for that, and I find that a corner helps a lot.

But other than that it is a good shield, and the advantages do counter balance that. Now, I will one day go back to a heater, because I've always liked them, but I'm enjoying the kite right now and I think it's a better shield than his majesty gives it credit for.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Voice of America

Check out this really good Pennsic video from Voice of America News.

Monday, September 14, 2009

BAT Practice

I almost didn't get into armor because there were only two other guys planning to fight. Normally I don't get into gear unless there will be four of us.

The other two were Daniel and Gui. Daniel is new so there was a lot of training involved in that, but part of the training was on aggression, so we both got to press a little bit. He is advanced for the amount of time he's been in armor but has a lot of rough edges to work out.

Gui, of course, is a bundle of rough edges. Not in the "he's not polished" way, but in the "bag full of broken glass" way. He is just plain dangerous--one of the toughest fighters I've ever fought. I had never fought him with the center grip before. It completely cut off his favorite tactic, which is to duck behind his shield and relentlessly attack your legs (he's a really strong lefty). I got him with some really good techniques--a shield press and off-side head cut, and then a thrust that came in from behind my flattened shield (it's hard to describe--it felt weird at the time but it worked). He adjusted pretty well an did much better agaisnt me the second set of passes. He said my aggression was great and that he had more trouble with me than ever before, which feels pretty good.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

In writing about fighting

I have noticed something.

When I am speaking, and I say something about my "best" fights, I am usually talking abut fights I enjoyed a lot. These are fights that were intense, where I and my opponent were throwing lots of shots and barely blocking them, which probably went on for awhile, and quite often they are fights which I lost. When I write about fights in this blog and I say "my best fight", it is usually a fight in which I executed a particular technique well. Quite often it didn't last more than one or two blows. Rarely was it intense. My perspective is different when writing about fighting than when talking about fighting, and I find that very interesting.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Two practices

Went to Hawthorne and BAT practice this week. Had a good time at both.

A couple of things stand out. I have lately been working on using Gemeni's 90 degree arm position. Gemeni uses an interesting combination of techniques. His grip is essentially the same as Gendy's, a thumb and fore-finger grip, and he plays on the sword with his fingers in the same way. He holds his forearm at a 90 degree angle to his upper arm, and he uses lots of body mechanics a la Bellatrix. I need to talk to him about direction changes. I am using the thumb/pinky grip but his arm position. So far it is working. My shoulder and body move the sword around to block or to begin a blow and deliver good power. Here is a good example of Gemeni using it:

Note how, whether his sword is behind his head or in front of it blocking, Gemeni tries to keep his arm at a 90 degree angle until he fires the blow.

My very first fight at Hawthorne was my best. i fought Sir Alberecht and I used a classic Bellatrix technique, one that von Dresden uses too, of throwing a snap, moving the right foot directly out to the right, so I am side stepping on a perpendicular to the line of the fight on the return, then throwing the same snap. Worked like a charm.

I had good fights at BAT too, but I was mostly training. My best fight was probably against Timur. I took his leg with a good double thrust fake, then when he was on his knees I used the Gendy version of the butterfly, where you throw a fake offside, step in deep with the right foot, then spin on that foot 180 degrees and drop the sword in a straight line downward across the face.

This was one of the best attended BAT practices we've had in awhile.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

BAT Practice

I didn't. Recovering from work and Pennsic. We had a Beau Geste tournament however, and Fast Eddy came and taught a sword-work clinic, which is always useful.

I'm going to try to get to Hawthorne this week.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Fighting At Pennsic

Ok, fighting at Pennsic:

I was only there for four nights, so I only got to fight four days. Nonetheless it was a blast. I fought nearly the whole time with an aluminum center-grip kite, the one Jarrod had made, except with my stainless boss on it. It’s a bit heavier than most, the boss is too high, and the handle too small, but it was still good to me.

Sunday was the champions battles and, since I wasn’t chosen, I fought some pickups. Not too bad. Lots of fun. Didn’t really do too much.

Monday was the gate and river battles. I fought with Serpentius and we did great. I got into the scrum a lot, especially in the river battles. I killed a few dudes and the center-grip didn’t really get me killed. In the gate battle I fought spear and got some really good kills, including one on a knight where I bound his spear and slip my point down into his face. Then I fought more pickups. I recall two women from Atlantia, and one of Bedford’s squires, named Cristolf, and a guy from CAID who uses a Greek shield. Had a good time with all of them. And I got munched by a count from Atenvldt.

Tuesday was my favorite: the field battles! I had some fun, although in one of the battles four of us with Serpentius got cold-cocked, full force, from behind. That annoyed me. The only battle I didn’t kill anyone in was the first one, which is when Wolfy (in my own unit) accidentally took my arm with the great sword. I was obviously having trouble generating power, because I had to hit guys four or five times to kill them. Probably the new shield overbalancing me. When we fought the friendship battles I got to follow Alden into the fray, and that was great. I got quite a few good kills and the center-grip kite seemed to work ok. Later it was more pickups, but there were mostly Easterners hanging around, and after one or two bouts I split.

I wasn’t going to fight on Wednesday until I heard about the Known World Chivalry Tournament. Not only was this going to be fun, but it was the first big test for the center-grip kite. It was a soccer-style tournament with two pools. Both pools were tough, but mine was a bit odd as well. We had three right handed sword and shield fighters (including myself) four two sword fighters, two lefties and a polearm fighter. I fought Sir Theron, Duke Aaron, Duke Edmund, Sir Ix, and Federach, Oskgar, Doug, Kendrick, and Yoshi. Interestingly, all of the easterners in my pool I had killed in tournaments within the past couple of years. This meant they were ready for me. It especially showed with Kendrick, who knew exactly where I was going and put his sword in my way, one shotting me. Doug just stayed out of my range. It ended up with me down a hip and him. Standing, down an arm. I pretty much couldn’t reach him, at least not fast enough. But I did feel I was just a hair away from killing Federach and Yoshi. Edmund had me totally beat. He took my leg, then, as I tried to strike his leg he stepped into my shot and used his sword to trap mine against his hip. He wasn’t going to hit me but I looked up and said “well?” at which point he tapped me on the shoulder. It was a classic case of not needing to be struck because I had been so totally bested (which is, after all, the actual point). I killed Ix, Theron (with a hook/thrust, still my best friend), Oskgar, and, believe it or not, Duke Aaron, after having lost my shield arm. I just pretended I had a shield and through the patented William the Lucky pass through combo that works on both lefties and righties (he’s a lefty). It is the same shot I through at Kendrick that he had scoped and was ready for. Hit the shield, step off line with your right foot, doing a little “bob” as though you’re going low, then step around and throw an off-side head. I’d thrown it on Aaron earlier in the fight, but he’d backed out and so I didn’t complete it. This time he stepped in and I hit him in the head. My best fight of the day by far. He is a truly great fighter.

Edmund won the tournament without a loss. The other three finalists were Kendrick, Edward Gray, and Jan Janovich (who won his pool without a loss).

Watching both Richard and Tim fight in the other pool was fantastic. They are both so much fun to watch (and to fight).

I take from this a few things. The center-grip kite is fun and may actually work. I still lose my shield arm more than I should, but it opens some things up too. I can throw a great hook thrust with it (better than with the strapped kite). I can also go defensive with it really well. My spear work is still pretty good. I had some truly great spear fights in that gate battle. Aggression is your friend in the field battles: I knew that but it’s good to be reminded. And I still love fighting along side the West. As usual, the broadsword was too long for most of that fighting. I think next year it will be the Tribal war shield and a short heavy thrusting sword, when I’m not using spear.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Beau Geste and Practices

We had another Beau Geste tournament and it was a blast.

This Sunday is the last BAT practice before Pennsic. Tonight is the last Nutley practice before Pennsic. Everybody check their gear!

From now on the Beau Geste will be held the third Sunday of every month.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Beau Geste

I know this announcement is a little late, but this Sunday, 7/12, we will be holding the next installment of our monthly (ok, not as monthly as we'd originally planned) Beau Geste Tournament. Pennsic is coming up, so we want to get out there and practice. Come on out.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Shoulder Woes

I should maybe have taken it easy last night.

I lifted on Tuesday and then last night me, Gui, and Oscad went over to practice in Hawthorne NJ. It's a long way off. It takes twice as long to get there as it does to get to Nutley, or so it seems.

This is a training practice, so it's not so much for me to train myself as it is for me to train others and get dome helmet time. The three of us didn't fight each other (that would have been a waste of a long drive). I did some unarmored instruction and fought four fighters: one of Tanaka's squires (He told me his name. Logan, maybe?), Ubu, Cedric, and then three passes with Tanaka.

Against Tanaka's squire, who uses a large heater and doesn't move ver much, I used the kite. I was able to hit him often, and there wasn't much I could say to him afterward. He has a solid enough defense, but needs to be more active.

Ubu is really good, and a fun fight. He's not one of the top unbelted fighters, but I am impressed with his patience. He lets the fight come to him and then takes advantage. He fights with one of those eye-shaped shields with a center grip. It gives him a wicked window for an onside headshot. I suggested that he think of his shield as the world's biggest round shield but with teh unnecessary parts cut off. In other words, that he should block mostly with the edge in front of his hand. We'll see if he understood.

Cedric and I fought with small center-grip heaters. That was a blast. I did to him what Gemeni did to me in Cali. The small center grip is basically like a bunny-round.

My fights with Tanaka were intense. Afterward I realized my shoulder was hurting, so I quit. Now I'm kinda glad I'm not fighting today and tomorrow. Hopefully I'll be good for Nutley next week.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Western Crown

Well, I suppose I might as well say it: the knights with the biggest shields were in finals. That's not to say they weren't both great fighters: they were, in fact, awesome. But it indicates once again that, contrary to that old saw they like to say in the West, a big shield *does* give you an advantage.

and there's nothing wrong with that.

Titus won Western Crown, fighting Sir Cyrus from Oertha. It was an awesome list. Wide open--no Dukes and only two counts, me and Titus. Cyrus was using a really light (three pounds or so) windrose aluminum heater with a center grip. He's about my height (6'3") and he had it built the distance from his chin to his knee. Titus was using the kite that Lucan had given him, but he'd re-strapped it. The interesting thing was seeing someone using that shield who fights like a Westerner, with a great offense instead of fighting defensively. He was all over the place. In the end he was too much for Cyrus. He beat him twice, finishing the list without a loss.

I went five rounds. I lost to a good unbelted fighter, Owen Fletcher, who hit me with the overhead thrust I like to use, and basically knocked my teeth threw the back of my head. It was awesome. I got knocked out by Cyrus after a long fight in which he took my leg, then hipped me two or three times, and eventually hit me in the head with an overhand offside. My best fight of the day was agaisnt Leon. It was totally old school. I eventually killed him with the hook thrust. My other two fights were against an unbelted fighter named Vlad and one of Uther's guys, Eigil. Eigil was fast, really fast, with a great attack. I eventually took his leg and then, as he was reaching to hit me in the hit, he kind of slid onto my swordtip, under his arm. Vlad, a good lefty, I hit with that lucky combo: hit his shield, step offline to the left with my right foot, step around with my left, hit him in the head.

Sunday, though I probably shouldn't have, I went out and trained people in the kingdom fight practice. It was worth the dead-arm and pain, because I got to fight Gemini. He runs De Gendelus, one of the schools I mentioned in my last post. He gave me a pretty good compliment. When Maythen said something about him schooling me (which he totally was) he said that he'd been watching video tape of me for eight years, and that he copied his molinee from me. This is important, because watching him and fighting him, I now believe that he has some of the best sword work I've ever seen. He is up there in the Torgul, Jade, Lucan category. Awesome! I learned a lot from him. The first thing is that he fights an interesting option attack. He moves his sword when it's int he ready position, and then he starts it forward, tip up, but his body hasn't really moved. His arm forms a perfect right angle, the upper arm parallel to the ground. From that position, much like from the behind the head position, he can go anywhere, but since he's started his attack he's watching for where you block before he commits. It's really nice. And boy! Does he commit! He is very patient, letting the fight come to him and not attacking right away. He also has great offensive shield work. He taught me his technique of attacking the pivot points on a shield, which of course makes sense but I hadn't really thought about it in those terms. He uses a very small wankle and a 30" sword, so even though his shield is small he's all about in fighting. Our third fight was amazing. He took my leg, then waited. The he literally exploded on me. He trough an offside headshot, hit my shield below my arm, so it rotated away from my head, stepped to his right, and threw a hard, fast thrust, in a straight line and parallel to the ground, which hit me right in the throat. Amazing.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Two fighter practices, and a workout.

i haven't written for awhile, but I've had a lot to write. Go figure.


Oscad and I went to Nutley on Wednesday. Had a great time. Fought Vasili, William Vicenti, Heinrich, and... well, at least one other person. i was fighting very well with the strapped kite. I used it as a center-grip against Vasili and, surprising myself, did great.

But the most interesting things is kind of a discussion I was having with Bill (Villiam Vicenti, not Vasili). He has some of the best pure technique of any unbelted fighter out there. It's really a pleasure to watch him fight. He'd been watching Oscad all night, never having seen him before (Oscad had a great set of fights against Gregor). Bill kept saying that he wasn't ready to fight against Oscad, but when the time came he totally turned it on. His shots were crisp and precise and he was beautiful to watch. Afterward we talked technique, and some trouble he was having generating power (unusual for Bill). I told him about the technique stuff I've been working on for awhile. It kind of stemmed from a discussion I'd had with Alfred a few days before.

For a couple years now I've been adding to my technique power generation that begins not from the foot, as i was always taught (and which I still believe to be the most efficient, at least for me) but from the core muscles. This is not the Gendy technique of using the lats and forearms to generate power with a hilt-heavy sword. This is using the core muscles to pull the shoulder forward, like the would if you were driving the hip, only you aren't driving the hip. I got this partially from talking with Radnor and Paul, and partially from watching the fighters whose technique is based on Boxing or punching arts. So far what I'm doing is breathing out slightly and doing a "crunch" with my stomach to pull the sword down and forward from a high guard. My hip barely moves and it actually moves up and back as i tighten my stomach (this is not unlike tightening my diaphragm when singing). Boxers often exhale when they punch, which tightens the core muscles. The scream in martial arts does the same thing. I was doing this but adding almost a whipping action, beginning at the naval and ending with the sword blade. It is slightly related to Lucan's parallel feet technique, which is designed to stretch the core muscles tight so that when they are released they contract and provide power tot he whole body. I've been trying this for awhile now, but this might have been the first time I've ever taught the technique to anybody. It won't replace hip mechanics in my arsenal, but it will add a new wrinkle.

Had a great workout Saturday. I did spin class, did about twenty minutes of abs 9a full range of crunches plus some pilates stuff), and the circuit, two or three sets at each station. i was mostly concentrating on legs,because I'm working on strengthening my knees right now.

I had to leave BAT early today, so I only got to fight Teric, Rav, and Kaz. I did well against all of them, but my fights with Teric were the best and most important. I goofed around with a few things, like trying the Lucan passing technique, and Teric made me pay, but when I just locked down and fought him straight up I won. He said that witht he kite shielld I am fighting taller, which I guess is right. Agaisnt good fast fighters like Teric, even though striving for height is an important part of my style, I'd crouch a bit more with the bunny round. Even if I didn't, I would be thinking low because of my exposed leg. With the kite, even though there's a hole in the leg defense, and even though i crouch a bit at times, I still am able to stand tall through most of the fight. This is allowing me to use my height better against Teric, and it opened him up in lots of ways, both his legs and his head. I took his leg a few times with different shots, and killed him with a wrap as he charged, which I rarely do. it is an interesting revelation.

One of the problems, however, is that I hadn't really planned to learn the strapped kite. I wanted the center grip kite, but I'm getting good with the strapped kite, and may not want to change (I did fight center grip against Rav, till my arm went out. I can't do it seriously till I get a lighter shield).

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Siege of Harlech

Over in PA, which isn't too far from here, some SCA members have built a castle. Lots of SCA members try to do this, a few succeed. I think what they did was start with an existing house and then build a crenellated section (with license from the King), which is what Frenchy did way back in the day. It's not as cool as Castle Kirk imho, but it has cleaner lines. Castle Kirk started out as a single-hall manor house, as is apropriate, and Duke Guy has been expanding on it ever since. These folks in PA were obviously going for the look of a concentric castle like Harlech (hence the name), or more accurately one of the smaller "four square" castles like Bodiam (what I wanted to design back in the days when I still wanted to live in a castle). Bodiam is an example of the type of castle a landed knight might had, like Stokesay or Maxstoke. Of course the best of them, and probably the most beautiful castle in the world, is Hever. That is a good castle from a countyr knight (or for a rich American industrialist).

Anyway, here are a couple of videos from events there:

and this one I really like:

Ron Darter, one of my favorite SCA photographers, has some nice black and whites of an event from last year, showing the front of the castle and the size of the great hall at his site.

It's pretty cool. Me, I'd still rather live in a loft in NYC or San Francisco, but this would make a decent country house!

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Fourth Crusade

The Fourth Crusade vent was awesome. It was an all day resurrection war like we used to Run in the West, a five hour res battle around the theme of the Crusaders' sack of Constantinople. There were lots of rules, probably too many, but a lot of good stuff went into making it work. There were various war points and conditions for victory which, after five hours of fighting (which didn't get started till three, so it was 8PM), ended up with us crusaders one big push into a castle away from winning. We were just getting ready to mount it when time ran out.

The fighting was fun. I think there were actually a lot of calibration issues, but notbody got bent about them. People on both sides thought a lot of shots were being blown off, but for the most part it ended with a discussion and happy fighters.

I had some great fun fighting with a pole ax and with my kite shield. I got a few good kills in, I lead some charges, I was mostly effective. I also took some very hard shots. The last shot I took, from Lucan, was a literally poleaxing. He hit me in the back of my helm with his polearm at full swing as I was running through the line. I was a bit stunned. I started to take myself off the field but then realized that there was only about ten minutes left, so I resurrected, ran back in, and was fighting as the final hold was called, which felt good.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Rusted Woodlands

Last night me, Gui, and Oscad went to practice in Rusted Woodlands. This is mostly a teaching practice, not a lot of bashing, which was pretty good, even if it doesn't serve my primary need right now, which is to fight the big boys. But it was very useful and, as Tanaka Says, there's so little teaching going on in the SCA (a complaint for as long as I've been doing this).

I fought with Tanaka and Alberecht, the other two knights there, and I fought Oscad, Seth (a two sword fighter) and Stirling. I still lost my arm at least once or twice, and my leg more often than I should have (if the main reason I switched to alonger shield was to protect my leg, what's the point? If I want to go to a flatter strapped kite I need to get an aluminum one). I did well against every body I fought. Much of the time we spent working on various ways to conceptuaize distance and movement. Tanaka divides range into 4/3/2/1/0. Four being extreme range, three being long range, 2 being close range, etc. (I think he has too many in his list. I'm happy with three) and was discussing, as was Korwyn on his LJ awhile back, attacking into the transitions. He said of me "Val's problem in the East is that he likes to control the range and kill people on transition, and he likes to fight at four and at three but not as 1." I don't think that's true, but it might be. I need to think on that. As we talked about movement and footwork, I realized that witht he new shield I am not moving anymore. I sometimes try Lucan's passing shot, but that's it.

I spent some time training Oscad. We worked on Sagan's step trigger, on Pauls circle in the box, and on Gyrth's tangent attack, and I showed him most of my passing attacks. That was good for me as well.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Sunday BAT

Beau Geste was Sunday and it was a lot of fun. I fought with my kite and encountered many of the same things I did at Crown. At least I didn't lose my arm. I had some good warmups with Kas and Dougal.

Oscad ran it and he likes to do it double elim, 2 out of three. In the second fight the winner of the first fights starts kneeling, and if there is a third fight the other fighter has to kneel. Because I started out with a tough draw I ended up with some repeats. I had to fight Vasili and Gui twice. My other fight was Dougal. I don't recall fighting any of the others.

My fights with Dougal were fun. I beat him quickly in the first with a simple face thrust from a high guard that he ran right onto. When I started on my knees I killed him with a hook thrust.

My first set of fights with Bill was rougher. I won the first fight with a face thrust. I lost the second fight and won the third, though I can't remember how.

My first fight with Gui was predictably tough. I managed not to lose my leg to his usual attack, even though it is hard to guard against with the kite (harder than with he center grip round for sure). He was hitting light with a light little sword, and probably would have killed me earlier. When he was on his knees I got him in a great spot, a thrust to his belly right inside the back end of his kite. It took me a while to set it up but it was very satisfying. In our third fight he just clobbered me.

I might have had another fight. I cant' remember. I might have had a bye. then I think I fought Bill again. This time I was just all over him. My goal was to be more aggressive and try to overwhelm him, and I pretty much succeeded.

The finals played out pretty much the same as my first set of fights with Gui had. He killed me while we were both standing, I killed him when I was standing. He killed me while I was kneeling. The only difference was the two double kills we had. Since Bill was also fighting left handed, that means that, counting double kills, I had eight tournament fights against left handers yesterday. That will wake you up in a hurry.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Spring Crown

Crown was great. No, I didn’t attain any of my goals: I didn’t win more fights than I lost, I didn’t beat a knight, I didn’t beat a royal peer and I didn’t win. In fact, both my fights I lost to unbelted fighters. But I had had some great fights. I lost to Louis, who sometimes fights me pretty well, and to Horace, who always fights me well. And I always have a lot of fun fighting both of them.

I did accomplish one of my goals. I learned a lot. I was fighting with my brand new kite shield, the same one I used at War Practice. It was only the second time I had used it (I haven’t practiced since then). I really enjoyed myself using it.

I warmed up with Konrad (the eventual winner) and had some great fights. He creamed me once or twice but I killed him once as well. I was fighting mostly a defensive, sword foot forward style, and it worked very well, especially if I stood like Lucan with my forward foot turned in, and cocked the point of the shield over to my left a bit.

My first fight was against Edric. I used my old, favorite, bread and butter shot against him, one I had used to kill Artos, who trains him, many times, including at least once in a crown (I think in the crown I won). I fake a high offside (like a wavy snap) then throw toward the onside leg but turn that into a low molinee at the hip, and then hit him in the head. It works a lot like a wavy rising snap—which I’d used on Edric before—but is more elegant. I used it because I hadn’t in so long, because he’d recently seen my wavy rising snap, and because I knew it used to work on Artos. All his people fight totally old-school, with their swords behind their heads, and rarely sword block, making them susceptible to rising snaps of all kinds. Next time I’ll probably try one of my rising thrusts on him.

My second fight was against a two sword fighter from Panthervale. That one lasted a few more blows. I crossed up my shield against his swords and took his leg, and then I hid my tip behind my foot, and then thrust him in the belly.

My third fight was with Louis de Castillo. If you don’t know him, Lou fights with a broadsword and long ax held kind of like a madu. It was fun. I usually kill him with thrusts, but he was aware of that. I almost got him with a dropping body shot, and if I’d punched my hand out a bit more instead of pulling it down I would have won the fight. After a while he took my leg with one of those slow hard leg shots he throws. This was because with that kite, as long as it is, it’s hard to guard my leg because it doesn’t travel down very far. More on that later. He eventually got me with his punch to the face shot with the ax:

That’s me about to eat his ax head (I think this might be the shot he hit off the side of my helm, but it might as well be the one that killed me).

My fight with Horace was even more fun. I even got to head butt him (but he didn’t’ take it). Darius said I was throwing too much to his shield, and that I needed to fire more side to side and attack his off side more. Horace uses perhaps the biggest kite on the field. It’s as wide as most heaters and long, so I’m not sure that would have worked. When I kill Horace it is usually with a thrust over the top of the shield, either cause he’s out of position or because I’ve hooked it. But he trains with Darius, so he’s got a great thrust defense. Our fight was really great. Lots of in and out, lots of strikes. Eventually he took my shield arm, right below the shoulder, and that was about all she wrote. Like a good Easterner he kept his shield, which made it pretty hard. I made a valiant try of it, but he got me after a few blows.

I then had a few pickups with a lefty I don’t’ know and with Wulfhir.

I had a blast in all my fights. I had much more fun than I had in the last two Eastern crowns I’d fought in, even though I didn’t go near as far. Part of that was learning the new style as I was fighting, and part was just the people I fought.

Three of the four shots that hit me (the kill shot from Horace obviously doesn’t count) hit me because I wasn’t used to that shield. I strap my kite in afairly standard way. It is strapped to balance on the center point. The bottom (inside) bolt on my arm strap and the top (inside) bolt on my palm strap are pretty much right on the center line of the shield. This makes it easy to carry even though it is heavy. My arm never got tired all day, which it does when I use other shield designs. But it also means that it won’t cover my leg very well in spite of its length. I can’t move it any farther down because my arm is already at a steep angle. Contrast this with the Lucan style kite, which is not only longer but strapped with the arm at a flatter angle. The main blocking with that shield it moves back and forth, almost along the line of the arm, parallel to the ground. Check out this picture of my second round fight and you’ll see how small my kite looks:

There’s a lot of leg in there. A leg wrap or a low angle leg shot is really hard to block with that shield, which is how Lou got me. Look at the picture of Lou and Me above and you’ll see the other problem. I normally don’t loose to that punching shot of Lou’s because I have a lot more shield in front of my hand. With the kite there’s next to nothing there. It makes my hooks harder to throw too, which affected my fight with Horace. Also, in this second picture of my fight with Lou, look at how exposed my shield arm shoulder is:

That’s where Horace got me. That is much better covered with my other shields.

So that will take some work. I am actually surprised how small the shield looks in the photographs. It is not the aesthetic I’m looking for of the Norman Knight. The slightly longer shield I used at Mudthaw (which was there and offered to me, but I wanted to stick with the one I had worked to make myself, heavy though it was) looked more right. It’s a work in progress. I still might end up with a Lucan style kite, a center grip, or, since I’m training with Ron, a 24 x 36 inch heater. But I’m having fun with this strapped kite right now.

Saturday, May 9, 2009


Crown is today. I totally broke any kind of training I was doing this week (which admittedly wasn't much). I haven't fought since war practice, the only time I have used my new shield. I haven't made a new sword, which I really need. I ate a lot of suggary fruit last Sunday, I had Pizza and beer (one beer) Wednesday night, wine on Thursday afternoon, a scotch and soda on Thursday night (Kalamazoo is one big party really) and gooey Mexican food last night. I feel fat and bloated and not at all the heroic champion I should be. I also hear the odds on me at 26 to 1. That feels about right right now. On the other hand, look at Mine that Bird. :)

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Mudthaw again

Timur posted a video of my fight with Horace, who is my nephew and at that time was Queen's Champion, on Youtube:

I've watched it a couple of times and here's what I see:

I'm indecisive in how I want to start the fight. I will start with sword foot forward, then step back, then step forward again. Also, my hand drifts out too far to the side when I'm in a sword back position.

Except for the very first pass, I attacked first throughout the fight. I'm not patient and I never have been.

Why I would ever throw a legshot at Horace is beyond me.

The kill itself was in a way a product of the kite. I would not have died to that shot if I'd had the half round or the heater: they both have more shield in front of my hand and more head coverage. But I might have long before lost my leg as well.

He did post two fights that I *won* though! (that's a rarity--most videos of me on Youtube I'm losing in):


Yes, in that second one I kept my shield after I took his arm. Sue me. I'm consciously trying to be more Eastern in my outlook. :-)

In the third video I fought Mitchel. I threw a wavy-rising snap and didn't execute. His shield went where I needed to but my shot came in too low. So I did it again and corrected that and it worked.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

God's Wrap

I had a great tie last Saturday at war practice. Me, Timur, and Everett drove down and fought all day. I took my new shield and tried it out. As I suspected it would, the cheap belt arm strap broke quickly, but I just used the center grip when it did.

Yes, I put the boss way too high, but I knew that going in. I have it both strapped and bossed, and I wanted the boss right below my arm. I strapped it (mostly) like Rolf's, but I think my angle might be a little steeper because as long as it is, I'm having trouble guarding my leg.

However, I did have some great moments with it.

I fought with the alternates in one of the unbleted champions mellees and ended up winning the battle. It got down to me and four others. They were spread out. I quickly killed on then another, then ended up against Heinrich and someone else. They pressed me but I managed to keep isolating one of them by backing away and moving around to always keep one of them in between me and the other. I eventually killed them both.

I had a couple of good moments in the wall battles. At one point Horace, who was in command, said, "Uncle Val, if you want to take a couple of shield men and charge go ahead." I got two guys and waited as the sides were depleted. Then we killed one of the two pikemen on the left of their line (the other was Rusalan) and I yelled "go! go! go! go!" and we charged forward. Bloodguard charged the other breech at about the same time. We wiped out the guys on our side and then met in the middle.

The wall battle was also where I threw God's Wrap. I'd been doing really well bashing on people trying to make breakthroughs. At one point a shorter fighter in a kettal hat charge forward into our line. He was pressing against me like a Jack Russel Terrier, shield out, head down, trying to push me back. I stepped a bit to the right and through the best wrap I've thrown in years. It hit him about a third of the way up my sword right at the point of the helmet in the back above where the brim starts to flair. He collapsed so hard and fast it was like somebody had dropped a rag doll. Afterwards he found me and said "Was that you who hit me? That was the most awesome wrap ever!" Glad to oblige.

I also got isolated at one point with Max while I was using the kite as a centergrip, and manged to take his leg and leave him. Hitting Max anytime is an accomplishment. When I did pickups with Stephan later I didn't hit him, but there were good. He one shotted me, then he got me on his second pass, but on our last fight I changed stances (to a sword foot forward, knuckled down, and we had a great fight. I almost got him with a fact thrust and a body but he was just too slippery. It was a great fight though.

The drive was a lot of fun too. We listened to the Blue Collar Comedy Channel most of the way. It was fitting. We also stopped at Cabela's.

I'm doing ok with the kite so far. I haven't practiced with it enough, and the next time I fight with it is likely to be crown, so I'm not expecting much.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Class structure

SCA classes are notoriously un-structured. I sutddied for a time under Paul but I was not close at hand so did not take regualr classes with him. His (and possibly the Asgard and Grendelus systems) is the most structured learning program in the SCA. Everybody I know who was a product of Paul's program--doing unarmored slow work and pell work for six months to a year, then practice based on drills not combat for another year, has turned out to be a truly good fighter and, at the end of those two years, was fighting at either a Knightly level or very close to it. I've tried at various times to institute such a program, but it never sticks. People want to do what I admittedly did: lace it up and go!

I once heard that every John Wooden practice was exactly the same. They did the same drills in the same order every single day. I don't need quite that much structure, but a little bit is good.

With that in, I copied this from Korwyn's LJ. It is his proposal for a class structure for his Monday night gatherings in Vegas (I used to do 1000 blows at the pell, but not all of them were always full speed, and in the end it gave me bursitis and I had to stop fighting for two months). What do you all think?


In general the way I think I need to conduct this is as follows:
0. Warm up 6 point drill on one of the pells
1. Ask if anyone has a specific thing on their mind, sometimes this turns out to springboard a lecture.
2. Do an unarmored drill, specific to what we are trying to focus on (last night was stepping into blows to suck the power out).
3. Do at least one show me a shot session with the whole group.
4. Split up and do some blows to the heavy pell, or the targeting pell just to get the arms loose.
5. Specific discussion of whatever topic is (Mental fight, range, killing on the ground, blocking with specific shields).
6. Some discussions and creating new drills.

I know that this can be less organic, and more formalized, but I am not sure I need/ want it so.

Next week's unarmored drill is throwing 2 liter bottles (empty ones).

Oh, the variation on the 6 point drill (72 shots) we seem to be trending to is as follows:
Throw the drill from each guard (High Right, High Left, Low Right, Low Left)
When that gets dull, do the same, but in each of the foot positions (Right lead, Left lead, center or horse).
When that gets dull, do the same but you must step between each blow.

So at it's most extreme it is serious cardio, and you throw 864 blows. Then of course there is the left hand...

Monday, April 20, 2009


I just found a coll site with pics of 100 Minutes War, Mudthaw, and Balfar's Challenge. There are a bunch of good ones of me fighting with a kite at Mudthaw. A couple good ones are here and here In some of them, particularly this one, you can see how far out I'm sticking the point of my shield. It's a strapped kite (obviously). I borrowed it from one of my friends in the Priory of St. Collin (Dudess Volt). I am holding it more or less like Rolf taught me back in the day, but at a much more extreme angle. If I use a strapped kite like this I have to pull it in more. This one is strapped more or less like Rolf's. The guys I am fighting are using kits strapped like Lucan (the other Byzantine duke in Gold scales). The arm is at a flatter angle and a bit lower on the shield. The guy in white is one of Lucan's squires, but I don't remember his name. The guy in purple and gold is my nephew Horace, the (then) Queen's Champion. He kicked my ass.

These are some of the more instructive photos I've seen.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

BAT Practice 4/19/09

I got there late and, with my hip hurting, I almost didn't fight. I took it pretty easy. Fought Oscad, Timur, and Everet and called it a day. But it was a really good day nonetheless.

I fought Oscad with Daniel's heater, mostly to get a god idea of what was wrong with it. I decided that we angled the handle too much. But I also thrashed Oscad in the process, ended up killing him with a great downward body thrust when we were both on our knees.

The other thing I did was Paul's offense/defense drill with Timur. This is the one where one guy gets three blows and defends, and the other guy just attacks hard. When it was my turn to defend I felt really good. I was using the center grip, but I was still working on that patience that I so lack. I was doing the same thing with the heater against Oscad, at least at first.

We have a new girl at practice and I got to give one of my favorite Bellatrix-like lines today: I told her that the sport that is most like SCA fighting is golf.

Monday, April 6, 2009


I fought yesterday, but whenever I put my helmet on my weak headache turned into a migraine, so I only fought Gui and Oscad before I got out of armor. I really don't know how I was fighting, because the pain was making me dizzy and nauseas. I think I won a few fights.

I've decided to turn my 37 inch kite into an experiment, I'm fitting it with both a center grip and straps, and I'll play with both to decide what I want to do. I will end up with a 40" aluminum kite, but I don't know if it will be strapped or center grip (I'm leaning toward the latter).

Beau Geste was yesterday too. Info on that can be found here.

Monday, March 30, 2009

BAT Practice

Here is proof that BAT is turning into a really good practice. Neither me nor Gui nor Oscad nor Sir Richard were in armor yesterday, and it was still a really good practice. Regulars Dougal, Timur, and Vasilli were in armor, and Sir Diablu, Louis, Kasimier and Ervald showed up and fought. Good practice.

More on shield sizes

Ok, I'm getting a bit tired of banging on this drum. I find the angst in the West on this issue embarrassing, but that's mostly because I had to work through my own angst over this issue--and my own prejudices--when I moved to the East. But a foreigner at Mudthaw, knowing I was from the West, asked me quite seriously "Is there any stigma attached to large shields in the East?" My answer was, of course, "hell no." He said he'd be embarrassed to be seen with some of the shields being used at Mudthaw. I told him I had felt that way once upon a time, but I got over it (mostly). Since I used a 40" kite for three of my Mudthaw fights (and had a blast doing so, I might add), I really can't say anything, but it was interesting to see that other people besides me notice these things.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Mud Thaw

Mud Thaw was alot of fun. I didn't doo too great, but I did go five rounds and I killed a knight. I got knowcked out by Sterling and by Horace. I fought the whole day with a hurt hand. I got it hit in my warmup with Conrad and I couldn't grip my sword all day.

My first round fight I honestly can't remember. Ummmm. It was only this morning.... Umm.... Oh, right: Joseph von Ulm. I didn't like that fight, not because of anything he did but because I wasn't fighting well. I got him with a saber cut as he took my leg, but I didn't think I was fighting well.

Second round was Sterling. I should have beaten Sterling. I threw a real nice leg shot on him--faked the thrust and then cut the leg--but then I got sloppy and he took my arm. No excuse for it. We had a long fight after that, with me standing with just my left hand and him on his knees sword and shield. I almost got him, and we almost double killed, but he won in the end.

Third round I had Mitchel McBain, my nephew. I through a wavy rising snap and hit him a bit high on the helm. Then I did it again and killed him.

Fourth round I borrowed a 40 inch strapped kite shield. I fought a big tall VDK guy named Sigerfurther. It was a good long fight, and the kite was fun to use. I fought it pretty good. I took his arm and then his leg and then cut his belly.

Fitfth round I had Horace. THat was the most fun I had all day. It was a good long fight. Timur will put a video up on YouTube of it. Ron said I was too impatient.

Piuckups were good too.

Lucan won Kings and Queens. Kelson won the Mudthaw list.

Friday, March 27, 2009


So I didn't write about BAT last Sunday. Mea Culpa. It was a bit odd. We all got into armor late but I had a 6:30 curtain to make, so I just quickly fought each of the guys three or four fights and then split. As is often the case I was the only knight. I fought Avran, Timur, Wolfy and Everet. I was not really in teaching mode. I was mostly just getting helmet time.

Really there is one thing to discuss, my fights with Avran. He is finally getting better with his primary weapon, the greatsword. He's got a long way to go but he is finally showing improvement. I have been teaching him the Belatrix greatsword style, and it's not easy. Paul has basically two wards. A high right side ward with his left foot forward, that looks very samurai, and a right foot forward ward with the sword on his hip and the tip pointed toward his opponent's face. Avran insists that the tip forward style works best agaisnt most people but the high form ward works best against me. He killed me once in five or six fights, and it was from that ward, so I guess that's right. But it might be that I have a good attack for people who present the tip. It's simple but it does work much of the time:

With a left foot lead, shield (I was using the centergrip) high to ward the thrust and the sword low, pass forward on the left and bring the broadsword up to knock the thrusting tip out of the way, maintaining contact between your sword and his as you step under the greatsword. Pass forward on the left and transfer control of the greatsword from our broadsword to the shield. I always try to control a greatsword by putting my shield into the strong of his blade, right above the quillions. Move laterally to the right or mass forward off line on the right and cut with the sword, either a false edge cut to the head or shoulder or a true edge cut to the head or body.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Western Crown

Apparently it was a great crown. The victor was Duke Alden of Wolverton, who beat Duke Connor Weizen in the finals. It has been suggested that Connor's defeat may be the "death blow" to the Bunny Round. I don't think so. I hope not, since I still think it is the most beautiful and, int he hands of Jade or Radnor, the most deadly style. But anything in the hands of Jade or Radnor would be the most deadly style. Yes, Connor's leg was toast, but that's always been the case with bunny round. Radnor won a lot of fights from his knees. Here's the video:

Note how Alden takes a slide step to his left and takes Connor's leg with a forehand blow. It's the same way Sigirfirth takes Rolf's leg in this video:

What I love is that Alden is using what is fast becoming my favorite shield to play around with, the center grip kite. That size, about 24 x 36, is smaller than the big kite he won with last time, and seems to be the new Western standard. Back in the day people used to hassle Rolf for fighting with a kite. Now the kingdom is catching up to him. :)

My next rig is going to be a kite of some kind.

Vlasta (who shot both these videos) has a LOT of March Crown footage up at his YouTube site. Check it out.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

round cut or pear shaped

Last night was Nutley! The stars aligned. Ron called and said he was going and wanted me to show up. James called and said he was going and wanted to give me a ride. We called Oscad (since he had my armor at the warehouse) and he said he's go too. Great trip!

Ok, a bit Keystone Cops. James has a GPS and he still made four wrong turns (by my count), and took us in circles around the entrances to the Lincoln tunnel before we finally go out of New York. It took us more than an hour to do so. The Hudson River is so in the way most of the time. The East River too.

But we got there. I had brought Timur's center grip round with me, since I haven't amde my kite yet. I warmed up with Oscad, then I fought Ron (the main reason I was there) then I fought Bill, who was right handed last night, and then Stephan. After that Ron suggested I use his heater, and I fought Heinrich, the big Landsknecht (is his name Larry?) and Max.

They were all great fights. Ron wanted me to work on deceptive sword work, of which he is a master. I had been trying to be more and more basic in my fights, and I wasn't using the thrusting tip at all much last night.

My fights that stand out were the ones against Stephan and Max. Usually I almost kill Stephan once in a night. Last night I almost killed him twice. In one I threw a snap at his head and his shield was a little slow getting up, but I was at extreme range and just hit him ont eh bottom of the face grill, not very hard and pretty low. In the second one I got him out of position after he threw a leg shot and I moved to my right. I thre a high wrap as he threw his shield up and he barely caught it. That was actually the better of the two moments.

Predictably, when I went from the center grip to the heater my offense suffered but I became really hard to kill. Ron's heater is strapped nicely (better than mine was, I like the angle his hangs at). I had a great defense when using it, and when I locked down and just defended even Max couldn't hit me. But my visibility was down, I wasn't moving as well or as quickly, and I was much more limited in my shot selection, both because I had a different shield in my way and because I wasn't thinking about the same shots. Maybe I wasn't seeing the same openings. My fights with Heinrich and Max were great. I killed max a couple of times, he did the same for me, but he is about twice as fast as I am with really great form, and I was really happy just to get him when I did. Heinrich, because he fights Kelson's style with his sword low guarding his left side, presents some interesting problems but I did ok against him. I think he's the only person I really did a lot of thrusting on.

My wind was great. I've been in the gym two or three times most weeks, and my weight is pretty good (I've gained a few pounds since Lent started). But I found that against the sword and dagger guy my wind went completely away. I am not sure what it is. I didn't feel like I was expending more energy, but all of a sudden I couldn't breath. Then when I went out against Max I eventually got winded but it was nowhere near the same. (I left off fighting Max after he hit me in the body and knocked the wind out of me).

Ron has mostly three shots, a hammer snap, a leg shot, and an off side leg/body depending on how he turns his hand when he throws it. That's all he was using last night, with a few stutters and fakes thrown in. He mostly wins on timing and deception. He has an offside that starts out like a snap and then turns into an offside leg that is really hard for me to pick up. He is wanting me to concentrate on that. This is interesting, because one of the things I did to get better and start winning more fights was to stop relying on fakes and molinees so much. Now I guess I'm going to have to selectively start bring some back in.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

BAT Practice 2/22/09

My shoulder hurts.

Aside from Wolfy pasting my shoulder it was an ok practice. I fought Wolfy, Oscad, Vasilli, Everet, and Timur. I was using Timur's center grip round, which is the same size as my wooden one but a bit lighter. I am certainly doing a bit better than at Birka. I found that using it flat against my arm in a hig form, which had been working last year, wasn't working this year, but suing a sword foot forward guard was, even though I don't have as much offense out of that stance my defense was much better. I fought four fights with Oscad and each of us won two. My best fight In the first fight I won i took his leg fighting from a sword forward lead. Then I stepped in and jammed him with the center grip and hit him in the arm. The second fight I won he took my leg and I somehow managed to fake a leg shot and thrust him in the face. I found that in all those fights I was being much more aggressive, even when on my knees.

The rest of my fights were mostly teaching fights.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Beau Geste and other stuff

Dugal won the Beau Geste tourney yesterday. Vivat!

I showed up but didn't fight, giving my back a bit more rest. However, I'm into a good workout program. One day a week I do upper body, one day a week I do lower body. I do aerobics at least three times a week. I have changed my program too, upping the weight a bit, going to three sets of reps on each exercise. This week I'll go to the gym on Wednesday and Friday (today I have to skip it for a doctors appointment, but all that means is I do my aerobics some other way). My next fighting event is probably Mudthaw.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Birka Recap

Birka results can be found here.

Prova Dura might be the grandest tourney, but Birka is the greatest fighting event in the SCA. It's a three hour bear pit with ten fields that averages right around 1000 fights an hour (last year it was four hours).

My Birka this year wasn't as good as last year. I had fun, but I was, well befuddled. No excuses, but there are lessons learned. In some cases they are things that you already know, like stick to one style and if you are going to switch then don't do it on the day of a tourney. Also, if you are going to switch to a heavier shield, do it a few weeks ahead of time not on the day of the tourney. Fighting with a bad back will slow you down. Big shields have an advantage in an oxhide tourney (a holmgang where you cant step out or you're dead). Center grip rounds are really tough to use against polearms.

Brika also favors brawlers. It took awhile for me to find my inner thug this year.

And I( want' doing well against florentine fighters either.

A number of times I hit my shield with my sword. A bunch of times I didn't know where I was because I had so much lower visibility with the center grip than I did with the bunny round. And my thrusts were missing terrible early on.

I got knocked out of the pit at least three times. Once I pushed my opponent out and went out with him.

I ended up in a five way tie for 30th. There were 152 fighters and 87 places.

I fought 51 fights this year: 27 wins, 21 losses, 3 double kils. That's fewer fights than last year, but the tourney was an hour shorter.

My winning percentage was 52.9, thanks to a run of wins after ten minutes was called.

I did give Arturius one of his seven losses, and I did it with a technique Lucky taught me twenty years ago: snap, pass on the right off line to the left, pass on the left, offside head. I hit him in the shoulder cause he's so freaking tall. I also managed to kill Frodo and Edward of Loch Laven, and I double killed with Vis. I pulled a lot of knights as my first fight out there. I lost to Sir Angus at least three times, maybe four.

At the end of my last run, my shield was so heavy I absolutely couldn't lift it. I rested it on my knees and just sword blocked (I'd lost my legs). I won one fight that way.

For the most part, guys were counting heavy and hitting light. Though I did get some bruises from Doug. And Artos knocked my head into next week.

But Birka is the most fun fighting event, like, ever. You can't get more fighting in anywhere.

Friday, January 23, 2009

BAT Practice

So here it is Friday and I haven't yet written about Sunday's BAT practice.

I took it pretty easy. I had not yet build a new shield. I actually strapped on my bunny round, but remembered that I had promised myself I wasnt' going to use it this year except when I was in the West. This left me with a dilemma. Finally I decided that I wold fight witht he buckler that day. A painful choice, but a fun one.

Especially difficult since my first opponent was Gui. Gui is a force of nature. He hits hard and he fights like he really is fighting for his life. He's a tough street brawler from NYC. And he's left handed. And I'm using a buckler. I was happy he didn't hit me in the ribs.

Actually it was quite interesting. Normally when I fight buckler I either use the high closed form with the sword foot forward that Hauoc uses or a high open form ala Jade. Fighting Gui I just naturally fell into a high closed form like old style Bellatrix, with the sword tight behind my head. It was a good place to work from. I did have some defense from there. I killed him once and took his sword arm once, and both times were when I crowded him and pressed him high and threw high wraps. My ribs were wide open when I did it but I must have surprised him. That sort of thing usually doesn't work on Gui, and he was on.

I've developed a good defense trigger on Oscad. He's got a great off-side leg shot that he likes to use on me but he didn't land it at all, even though I was using the buckler. Every time his hand crfossed in front of his eyes I blocked to the offside. He'll read this and figure out not that if he does that and then swings for my head he'll kill me.

I'm going to start leading drills before every class. Usually I can't get enough people interested in it, but I've got a lot of young fighters who want to drill in addition to just smashing people. I've got a great drill regimen that we'll start employing this week.


Monday, January 12, 2009

More on armor

Egon Brauer just posted to let me know that Alail Horsefriend has a website up: Horsefriend Armory.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Beau Geste

Oscad won this month's Beau Geste tournament. More info here:

Vive le Beau Geste!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

The Slow Season

Well, it is winter. The only thing to report on is that midnight fighting at Western 12th Night took place as usual. Since it followed the jello shot party I'm not sure how wise that was. I was not going back to EPA afterward so I didn't take my armor with me. It was cold and crisp. There were six or seven fighters, three of whom were knights. Naturally, King Jade was winning the most. The nice thing was that, since we had the whole hotel all to ourselves, we could go ahead and fight in the courtyard and the balcony made a good viewing gallery. Plus it was right outside the jello shot party, so you could pop in for a beer or a shot and come back out and watch some more.

Wish I'd had my armor though.