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.

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