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. :)