Thursday, December 23, 2010

Friday, December 17, 2010

seasons beatings

I actually fought at season's beatings last Sunday. I only fought two opponents, Louis and Alexander. Alexander has been fighting almost as long as I have but has just recently taken up sword and shield. I was showing him some basics. The tricky tricks were working well. Louis did jot give me as much trouble as he usually does. We spent most of the time dealing with variations of the off side body shot, because I killed him twice with one, once when he was trying to throw one. I used jade's simple shot from behind my head while he was trying to throes the Lucan variation. There are four basic techniques for throwing an off side body: Lucan's passing shot, the Gendy method (which starts in front of your head), the Radnor method (which either starts behind your head or passed to the right of your head), and the downward off side where the hand stays below the tip of the sword. Radnor normally uses his technique in his patented Butterfly shot, where a rising snap turns into an off side body, and its hard to differentiate from the Gendy shot in that case (it has to do with the path of the hand and torque of the hips). Jade simply throws it from an engarde position or as a counter punch to a snap. Lucan draws the snap or throws a low molinee and then passes offline to his left, under the blow, and strikes at the body (it is Lucky's two step without the first step because he starts goofy foot). The downward strike is used by itself or with a figure eight combo. Lou was trying to throw the Lucan shot when I hit him with the straight Jade shot. Then I did it again later. This turns out to be good again Lou because he triggers his defense off elbow movement and like a lot of two weapon fighters moves into a window parry defense, leaving his right side open. So I hit it. This is how Jade killed Alfred of Carlysle in crown finals back in the early 90s.

Sunday, November 7, 2010


Here are some of the best SCA pictures I've seen recently. Some of them are really dynamic. They include this one of me, which is one of my favoirites:

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Nutley 10/13/2010

Well, I might have taken a step backward.

I needed to go to Nutley to pick up my new sword from Bill. And I wnated a bit more helmet time before Crown. But trying to work out the nuances of the new sword led me to be sloppy. I was all over the place.

I warmed up with and fought with McCrimmon, I fought that cool Acre knight with teh 14th Century rig, I fought Szeitchel, I fought Lucan's squire (Cullen?) with the polearm, and I fought Big Bill.

My new sword has a very small basket hilts (Bill was very specifically controlling the weight). I tried it with my usual demi, with a street hockey glove, and with my demi over the street hockey glove. They all changed the grip in various ways. The basket was really too small for just the demi--my fingers were getting knocked around. The demi plus the glove filled it, which made some shots easier but most harder. I prefer to hold the sword in my bare fingers.

So I was doing all sorts of weird stuff--very weird for the last practice before Crown. I was using the leg forward style I have been concentrating on, but also using a Western style, and a shield forward style. I was squaring up. I fought in that lean forward hunch over stance Uther uses. I tried all sorts of things.

I did get some great kills that I wouldn't have gotten with my other sword. a couple of times I just beat Szeitchel with speed shots, molinees high to the top of the head. I also got her the a hook thrust.

Big Bill was really throwing me off. He was wild and strong and aggressive, which is the best way to fight me because it doesn't allow me to setup and throws my defense wide, which throws it off. In those fights where I reverted to basics--maintaining distance, sword foot forward, tight defense and counter punch--the stuff I am trying to train myself into, I was fine and I killed him. But most of the time I was trying old school stuff or fancier movement, and I was leaving myself open.

I got at least three people, maybe four, with my current money shot, the low leg block counter punch. Worked well. I was not doing well with wraps, and I had trouble generating enough power sometimes. But what I really needed--patience--seeemd to be lacking. Plus I didn't' get to fight any dukes, which is the main reason I like to go to Nutley.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Helmet Time

Any time int he helmet is good time. At Nutley i get to fight (and get beat about the ribs by) the heavy guns. Sunday was cloisters, which is always enjoyable.

The NY Medieval Faire is put on by the city in Fort Tryon Park. As with every event in NYC it is huge. A million people or so show up. It is laid out on the road through Ft. Tyron leading up to the Cloisters Museum, which is the best Medieval museum in the US. The SCA does a demo on the south law along with other re-creation or re-enactment groups like the Adrian Empire.

This year it was poorly attended by fighters--we're on a downswing in Ostgardr right now. It was only me, Viceroy Alexander, and Avran. I still had a lot of fun.

In the first show i challenged Alexander to a passage of arms. We fought three bouts each with sword and shield, two weapon, and great weapon. We played it like a true medieval combat a plaisance. We even had musicians playing a processional as we entered (thanks, John and Rufina!). The crowd liked it to.

Second show we just traded off fighting each other. i did get a couple more two weapon bouts in.

Good prep for crown? Well, I got to fight a competent fighter nine fights, and then do a meat grinder. Good for the wind. Alexander's main weapon forms--two weapon and great weapon--are things I am tyring to practice every week right now in case I make it to finals. I learned a couple of nice tricks. No, demo fighting is not like regular fighting. I throw fewer leg shots. I try to be a bit flashy and make some noise. But helmet time is always good, and I had a lot of fun.

I also made it to the gym on Saturday and had a good workout--spin plus weights. Feeling good about my conditioning at the moment.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Nutley 9/29

I feel pretty good about Nutley.

I warmed up with Oscad. Slow work is kind of like watching poker on TV. It's really easy to know what to do when you can see the other guy's cards. When we went full speed for one fight he chewed me up and spit me out.

I fought Gregor and my fights were great. We felt each other out for a long time I was happy with my defense. working on what he said I saved the thrust. And then I saved it some more. Eventually he took my leg. He through a blow, I blocked it, hooked his shield and stabbed him in the throat. He said something like "excellent!" I was happy. I killed him twice more, both times by slipping into a gap in his defense. and hitting him onside as he was doing something. Once it was when I flashed my shield at him, paused and cut.

I fought Christian. That was also fun. i did really well. Was able to pick his attacks up pretty far back, which helped. I found that when he threw a snap he was dropping his shield, and I used that to my advantage a few times. I also moved right when i threw a snap, and so my sword was defending my head where his was not.

I also fought Doug. I fought with short sword and arming sword to his two arming swords. Naturally, he mostly ate my lunch, but i got a couple of good kills on him--one in particular by using my crossed arm technique. What I realized was that, corps to corps, I was not using my shortsword to pin his arm, which was the whole point of bringing it. My mind wasn't directing my hand to do what it was supposed to be doing. So my mind wasn't right. Got to work on that.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Nutley training

No, I'm not training as much as I want to be. A wise philosopher once said "this game is 50% inspirationa nd 50% perspiration." Our ladies provide us with ample inspiration. Howver, another wise philosopher once said "women weaken legs!"

What really weakens is getting the snot beat out of you though.

After last weeks Nutley practice I did not go and work out on thursday. I was too bruised and tired to do so. Today I am typing instead of in the gym. I will try to work out after my 3PM class today. I'm not near so beat up as last week--I didn't fight Doug and I didn't have a great sword fight with Gregor.

I did get in one good workout this weekend. I was in Atlantic City but our time share had a good workout room. I did three sets on the Universal Gym and twenty minutes running barefoot on the treadmill.

Speaking of running barefoot I picked up a pair of five fingers on Monday, on the theory that having spent money on them I will want to use them and run at least once a week.

But back to practice. I only fought four guys: Bill Vicente, Gregor, Heinrich, and Jan Janovich.

My fights with Bill were good warm ups. I killed him most of the time using a variety of mostly cuts. I don't really remembeer details.

Gregor is using a new shield. It is lighter and larger than his old one. He's gone to semi-finals with his old shield in the last two crowns. You do the math. With his new shield his leg is harder to take and he doesn't react to fakes much (one of my best fighting moments was when I killed Gregor with a wavy-rising snap). The only good thing I can say about my fights with Gregor is that my offense was good enough to make him cautious and my defense was good enough to make him work. I tried a lot of stuff--hook/thrusts, back hands, the thrust fake followed by a leg shot. wraps, everything really. The only time I laid stick on him was in our last fight, when I went low with a double strike as he was moving and managed to take his leg. My plan was to cut to his offside, step in, hook and thrust. I cut to his offside, and he killed me. Drawing the sword back for the thrust leaves too much of my head opena nd I didn't compensate with the shield. He just took me with a straight fast (very fast) snap. Afterward he said I was leading with my thrust and telegraphing it. I told him it was candy I have trouble avoiding. I had mostly been doing it to set up the fake thrust/leg shot. He advised me if I was going to lead witha thrust to come from below with it--a shot I have a lot of success with but am avoiding right now because Darius pointed out how easy it is to loose my arm doing that.

Heinrich fights a lot like his knight Kelson and gives me fits some times. He was not following through on his shots so they weren't as hard as I am used to feeling from him. He had two shots on my that should have been kills but died. He was winnning msot of our early fights and I won our later fights after I tightened up. I killed him with the foot stomp/thrust (grin). and with some lateral movement to my left. I also got him with Hauoc's counter punch off the leg block.

Jan is a really tough fight for me becuase we have the same style--but altely I've been fighting a northern region style with the kite. He wasn't expecting that. I also borrowed Bill's sword. It is lighter than mine, better balanced, allows me to do a few Gendy techniques while still punching my cross shots, and is much faster. It also doesn't ahve a thrusting tip, and I decided that fighting without one ould be good practice after what Gregor said. It worked. I fought well. Jan played into my game by circling and sniping at range, and he left himself open to a lot of stuff. I was throwing two and three blows combos that were fast and precise. I took his leg a couple of times. I hoked and cut. I even got him once with the foot stomp. (BIG GRIN).

Unfortunately, no fighting for me at Coronation this weekend. I have to go to my uncles' funeral in West Virginia. My next time in aromr will be next Nutley.

If I am going to get into Crown Contender shape again I will have to start fighting twice a week at least. That means that I need to be able to recover faster. That means I will need to wear more armor, expecially on my shoulders. Time to get to work.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Workouts and all

I didn't think I'd get a workout while in Atlantic City, but the time share we stayed in (31st floor, great view) had a gym and I got a good session in. Ran barefoot ont eh treadmill for 20 minutes and then lifted on the Universal Gym. Plus I went swimming in the ocean.

Will probably not make the gym tonight. Do get to go to Nutley though. One problem with going to Nutley is that fighting in the deep end of the pool, even when I'm doing well, I still end up with two or three good bruises and am exhausted, and it's hard to get back into the gym for a couple of days. But the fighting is so good!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Nutley 9/15/2010

Practice last night. First of all we waited for an hour for Robert to show up at BAT so we could get in and get our armor. Then he didn't even come with us to Nutley. Then we were stuck in traffic in New Jersey. It took us an hour to get from the Medowlands to Nutley. We didn't get there till 9:20. Kelson, Jabril, Stephan and Chrsitian were all getting out of armor. I really wanted to fight those guys.

Thankfully Douglas and a few other guys stayed in armor to fight with us. I also got some great sword fights with Gregor, just in case.

Doug kicked my ass. Fighting him cold is never a good idea. By the last few passes I was doing fine.

I tried ltos of techniques agaisnt Gregor--Belatrix style, some Liechteneur technique, Gui's back edge techniques, some of the stuff I developed. What i discvered was that the best technique to use agaisnt Gregor is the Gregor technique. He fights with his sword high in front of his face and cuts down in arcs right and left. I did manage to take his leg with Gui's back edge technique. I think i killed him twice and he killed me eight or ten times.

Against Erick, who fights shourtswordin a dagger grip and broadsword, I always have trouble. I played witha few things to see what worked. Chasing after his leg actually worked, as did thrust on the center line.

Agaisnt Bill, whow as very tired, and against Seichal, I just tried to hunker downa dn fight a closed fight--mostly at range, closed defense, alternating thrusts and cuts--and it worked pretty good.

But I need to fight Stephan.

Videos of the fights at BAT Sunday are on facebook. i'll see if I can post them here.

Monday, September 13, 2010

BAT Correction

My second fight with Bill i did not take his leg. i was setting him up with the thrust and then as I followed it up he adopted a hanging guard, so i turned my shot into a flat-wrap. I was happy with this because I changed what I had been doing on the fly.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Training and BAT Practice 9/11/2010

At last! I get to fight!!!

Really, I've barely fought at all since May. Most of my fighting was in the West, at Crown and at West/An Tir war. Hardly fought at all since Pennsic.

However, September marks a kick into gear of my training for Crown. I've been working out three days a week--sometimes at the gym, sometimes just calesthenics, sometimes doing yoga and working with my indian clubs, sometimes just by riding my bike to work in Manhattan. For instance: last saturday was a lot of dancing at my cousin's wedding (counts), Calesthenics on Monday, Indian clubs and yoga on Tuesday, (skipped Nutley due to Hrosh Hoshona), kettle bell workout and eliptical on Friday.

And today I fought at BAT.

Now that the holidays are mostly over, I can fall into a normal schedule: fight Sunday, gym Monday, est tuesday, fight Wednesday, Gym either Thursday evening or Friday morning, some form of long aerobics (run, bike ride, class or fighting at an event) on Saturday. My hope is still to be in armor ten (now nine) times before Crown. That will include coronation and one or two other events.

Speaking of BAT, I got to run it and I ran it like a class. It was great. There were four of us--two OTC's (Gui and William McCrimmon), Oscad the King'd Champion, and me a knight. That's tallent. We warmed up and then we each fought each other. We'd stop after each fight and discuss it, point up what we saw, look for any flaws and discuss them, etc. This got people into the mode of analyzing fights while watching them, thinking about what their opponents were doing, and talking about it.

My own fights were good. I lost once to Gui and once to Oscad. Gui I lost to because I tried to execute the William the Lucky passing shot (much like the Lucan shot, but with a snap to set it up and targetting the head instead of the ribs). I hit him, but light, and he hit me in the ribs. Normally I wouldn't use that kind of technique against Gui, but I wanted to test it. I am actually happy that the technique worked even if my own form was off. He ahd ducked a bit out of my power range.

In my losing fight with Oscad we had taken each others legs and I just kind of got frustrated and started flailing, and he got inside my attack and killed me with a cross shot.

My victories were really good. I took Bill's leg and then thrust him to the face. Then the second time I fought him I took his leg and set up the thrust but, when he had that covered, I changed it up and cut, moving left. My win against oscad I took his leg and got him with a quick face thrust. My kill against Gui he went for his deep leg attack (turtling behind his shield and going for the leg) which with the center grip is easy to cover. I timed his attack and killed him with a wrap.

Then I did some training. With our new guy I taught him to salute, to walk, and to walk through the wards, then I taught him the pell drill (the first three lessons in the book I'm working on). Bill I ran thorough the basic DeGrendels techniques (three ranges and the three wards, 90 degree angle of the arm, and magic button press points).

Thursday, August 26, 2010


Damn! No Nutley next weekend either! Grrrr!

Good workout today again, kettle bell workout, push ups, sit ups, and 20 min on the elliptical.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Pennsic and other follies

So fighting wise here is what my Pennsic looked like:

I spent two hours in the woods and didn't swing a blow. (I want to thank the midrealm for basically handing us that one).

I was not called up for the champions battles on Wednesday so I didn't fight

I had some good spear work on the brdige but I can't honestly say I am sure I kiled anybody.

I had two sets of pickup fights.

The only really good fighting I got in was in the open field battles when I was following Rolf around. I was using the short polearm and I killed a lot of people with it. That was fun.

Truthfully, my head and heart were not in it. I got progressively worse at Pennsic mentally. Nothing really bad happened, I just wasn't into it.

Though I do want to say once again what a fantastic Queen Margurite is.

As for the other folly, that would be crown. There are currently sixty days until Crown tournament. I have kicked training up a gear: I've worked out four times since I got back from Pennsic. Tomorrow I will hit the gym at school for a kettle bell workout after class, and probably some aerobics. Friday I will run in the morning and use Indian clubs. Saturday will be a recovery day. Sunday is fight day but we'll have company from out of town so I might not get to practice. However, I will make Nutley next week. One of my goals is to be in armor ten times over the next eight weeks. Shouldn't be too hard considering there is a tournament at Coronation.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

BAT practice

So I got into armor at BAT today, first time I've actually practiced in about two months. Oscad, Gui and I were the only fighters there, and it was very hot. I was out of practice, Gui even more so, and Oscad was really burnt out having fought in the heat at SRWC the day before.

Whine whine whine!

Actually it was fun and a really good practice. Oscad is so on his game and good right now that he is a really tough fight, and Gui is always a challenge.

My first two fights with Oscad I was warming up. I didn't even swing a blow the first fight. I dont' recall who won the second. Then we got into it and I was fighting pretty well. the best thing I did to him was the second time I took his leg. I have this thrust I sometimes use where I lock my arm in what is basically an engarde position, either high or in the A-frame guard, move the tip forward and then lean in to complete the thrust. It is kind of hard to describe, but the important thing about it is that I don't move my arm once the point is locked on. I'ts basically a short lunge with my arm bent, but It's more of a roll forward than a lunge. So I through this at Oscad and he blocked it, but his whole helm disappeared behind the corner of his shield and I said "ah-ha!" I did the same thing and took his leg. I use a thrust/leg shot all the time, but normally when someone does that they are changing the direction of travel of their hand. In this case my arm is still locked in an engarde postion as the thrust travels forward, so the cut comes faster and harder.

Against Gui I had some good moments. He was using old school Belatrix offense starting behind his head, so I used an old school belatrix attack and hit him with a wavy rising snap. I got in right behind his shield. As usual I did best against him when I focused my offense forward and attacked out of time. I am mostly trying to be patient and defend right now, attacking when an opening appears. Against Gui that is a recipe for disaster, and he ate my lunch.

A good, if hot, day.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

West An Tir War 2010

I wasn't going to come to West/An Tir this year, but my dad died right after I got home from my car trip and I went back to Cali (I've now been here for a couple of weeks). As I was working on the memorial and getting his estate in order I was getting really depressed, so my sister insisted that I get up to the war.

This was the 20th anniversary of my knighting, so it was a big deal. It was also, by coincidence, being held in the town where I was born, Gold Beach, Oregon. As such I issued a challenge on Saturday morning to all comers throughout the day: I would fight twenty one single combats-- twenty for my years as a knight, and one for my dad.

I don't remember all of them specifically. I do know that the only person who totally owned me was the King of CAID, a mutant originally from An Tir who is just awesome on the field.

Graf Barak von Langenthal, who had lost his father a couple of years earlier, asked that he fight the challenge in honor of my dad. He's a really good leftie who's been around sine An Tir was a principality. I took his leg and then hid my sword behind my foot, and killed him with a belly thrust. I was really honored by his gesture.

I killed Geofry Scott with, of all things, a double pump wrap.

I won my first fight by patterning the guy, stepping off line to the right, and hitting him with a straight snap.

I killed several people with a hook/thrust.

I even killed one gut with Radnor's version of the butterfly, and another (who was on his knees) with Fast Eddie's version.

I probably won one or two more than I lost.

I was also fighting really well in the war. I certainly killed more people than I normally do when using sword and shield. I was using my bunny round the whole day, but I was in a lot of presses where my legs weren't really in danger anyway. The best thing was the pulse charge we were doing against the castle gate. I lead a couple of those and got pretty deep before dying, and killed guys too.

I also fought in the challenge the Bellatrixes were holding for Duchess Carol's memorial. Carol was someone I really liked, especially when she was living in Sacramento and I was hanging out with Steve. I fought all four of them and lost to the two dukes. Against steve we just traded shots, moving around, till he beat with a straight snap.

Paul was fighting florentine and I tried the A-Frame defense, even though it's not what I usually use against him and my shield was really too short. Big mistake. After one or two passes he faked with his left hand and threw a rising snap. Yes, that's right, Paul killed me with a rising snap.

Brion I killed on our first pass with a hook/thrust.

Christopher, Stephen's son, I killed with a wavy-rising snap. Paul said he appreciated the irony in that.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Western Crown June 2010

I haven't posted on this yet because I had a death in the family and, as soon as I got home to New York had to get on a plane and fly right back to California. But I've got some down time.

Western Crown was a lot of fun for me. About half way across Nevada I decided that I was indeed going to fight and that I was going to do so using a glaive. This is NOT because I didn't want to win. On the contrary, I wanted to win. Yes, I would have done better if I had fought with my center grip kite and sword, but I didn't have it there. With the bunny round I probably would have won at least one of the fights I lost, and I fight most of the guys who were deep pretty evenly. Except Titus, who was *so* much the class of the field as the only duke fighting. But I hadn't been fighting with the bunny round back home, I'd been using my kite for the past year and a half, so I wasn't feeling too confident with it. And my shoulder had been hurting since I'd left Brooklyn, which prompted me to wonder if I wanted to fight sword and shield. Glaive solved all those problems. I didn't know how well I'd do with it--I don't use it often, but when I do I win some of my fights. I figured I'd do at least as well as I did sword and shield (turns out no, I wouldn't). It would be easier on mys shoulder and it would be a lot of fun.

My usual benchmark in Crown is how I did in my first one: make it to the fifth round and kill a knight. I did that. I've got maybe four techniques that I use with a glaive and during the day all of them worked at some point. Mostly I try to use Visivald's opposed thumb techniaue (nobody out West does that).

I warmed up with a couple of guys I didn't know. The first one I killed both with Vis' thrust/block/short chop (stand with a right hand lead, thumbs opposed, holding the glaive in the middle, let your opponent close with you, thrusting as he does to draw his shield up. Block whatever comes in and counter with short chops to the head. Simple and effective. I also killed someone by using a left hand lead and taking his leg on the step. This is a trigger shot I learned from John of Skye, and it is so effective that it should be illegal.

During the warm up mellee I killed Loy by thrusting at his face, passing offline to the left, and cutting his ribs with the back-edge. I lost my arm in the process. More on that later.

First round I fought Titus' man at arms, Edmund. I killed him quickly using Vis' technique.

Second round I fought a florentine fighter named Drogo. I feinted a thrust to his face, hit him in the leg, then dropped the head to ward his lunging shots as he went down. I didn't want to stand out and poke at him, so I choked up a bit and after a few cuts timed him right and hit him in the head.

Third fight I fought one of Uther's guys, Bjornhaven. He was using a center grip round. I tried Vis' technique and he had that blocked. I tried moving him around with thrusts, and even some of Balfar's choping style. He just pressed and crowded me, which I wanted, but I couldn't get around the center grip. He took my leg then killed me.

Third fight I fought Sir Connall. He used his glaive and we had a nice couple of passes. He went weak side on me, which threw me off. But he stuck his arm way out and I cut him on the forearm as he swung at my head. Then he went to his broadsword, in his strong hand. I was weary but I killed him with a cut to the head.

Fifth round I fought Loy. Last time I fought Loy sword and shield I was winning, and I'd killed him that morning with the glaive, but he was ready for that technique and had it covered. I tried a couple other things on him but he took my leg and then killed me good. He was the third place finisher, so he was doing really well.

I did do a bit of sword and shield fighting in Roses. I won all four of the passes I fought (they were all two out of three), including one with the first guy I lost to in the lists.

There were 54 fighters in the lists. Titus fought Sigifrith in the finals. Titus won without having taking a loss all day.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

In Cali now.

If you've been following my trip on facebook, you will know that I just drove from Brooklyn to Sacramento CA. The trip took me a week, but that was because I had some extra stops built in. I stayed an extra day and night in STL. and stayed with my mom last night in Fallon NV. Most of the driving days were LONG. First day was to Morgantown WV to visit relatives. Second day was to STL with a stop at Indy to visit my old sword brother Tor Tracier of the Grey Wastes. Third day was in STL being a tourist and hanging with a friend. Fourth day I drove from STL to Goodland Kansas. The next day I drove to Fillmore Utah, on I 15. Next day I drove to Fallon. So really, Fallon was the fourth day of driving, and since I got there at 3:00 I could have easily mad SFO by ten PM.

The point of the trip was to deliver a car to my friend Drew. I will also go to Western Crown (haven't decided if I am going to ask permission to fight yet).

Driving for fourteen hours a day is very sedentary, but I did manage to get some exercise in: walking around STL, a hike outside of Glenwood Springs CO; there are two par courses near my mom's house, and I went and ran the shorter oone (next time I will probably just do them both). Feeling good about that. But I havn't really fought since Eastern Crown, so we'll see how the sword moves on Saturday.

Par courses are one of my favorite ways to work out. They combine strength and conditioning in a boot-camp sort of way, but you can vary the intensity. I used to run the one in Lakeside Park in SFO all the time. There used to e one in prospect park, but there are only two stations left. grr. I always go away from them feeling like I've accomplished something.

Fallon has a huge military-style obstacle course at their town sports center (no big surprise when you remember that it's where Top Gun is located), and I'd love to run that one.

Thursday, June 10, 2010


I'm feeling old, tired, and fat.

I haven't been in armor since Crown. Between Kalamazoo and finals May was a wash. I started working out again in June, and that's going well. In the past week I've been to the gym twice, I've run around the lake and up lookout hill, I've taken a spin class, I've done yoga and even an indian clubs workout (and I'm about to do both those again). But I miss the armor. I miss fighting.

My next time in armor will be at Western Crown. I'm driving cross country to deliver a friends car (I leave tomorrow) and I'll go to Crown. I am likely to break one of my primary rules: I may show up to crown and not fight in the list. At this point I am not sure I want to take that on. It's the first time I've ever felt like this.

So I might fight in the list (assuming the King lets me) or I might just fight in Roses. I will likely decide that day.

So in the meantime I am working on writing a fechtbuch. More on that later.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Spring Crown in Canada

Crown was excellent fun but it represented a step back for me. At the last crown and at Mudthaw I had fought hard and well, I’d killed some knights, and I’d been taken out by two of the contenders in the later rounds (sixth round both times, I think, maybe seventh). I lost to Wilhelm and Kenerick in Crown, Gregor and Griffyth at Mudthaw. This time I simply met my old benchmark: I killed a knight and I made it to the fifth round, winning more fights than I lost. Now fifth round in a 33 man crown is still kind of deep, and in an Eastern crown where nearly everybody is out to prove their metal (few people fight in Eastern crown just for fun) that is an accomplishment. I didn’t beat myself mentally, I just got beat. I did do one stupid thing that cost me a fight, but it wasn’t something I’ll kick myself over. I certainly was able to reach deep into my bag of tricks and pull something out when needed. I was healthy. My wind was good. My muscle endurance was good (workouts paying off). On the other hand, the list of things that were wrong would make a great list of excuses: my timing was off. I couldn’t throw a fast enough combo. Nobody was taking my blows (meaning it was definitely my technique). The mud, which saved me in one fight, prohibited my usual footwork. I fell on my ass several times. I drew the hardest possible fight in the first round. Allergies. I had to pee. Whine whine whine.

And something other than age (I say that only because I wasn’t suffering from it at Mudthaw a few weeks ago) was just slowing me down.

First round I got challenged by Daemon von Drachenklau. I always have fun hard fights with Daemon, and I usually lose. The only time I’ve beaten him in a list, to my recollection, was in the Kings Championship that I finaled in. We had a very long hard fight. He was in control part of the time but I wrenched it back from him at other times. It was really great. Only trouble was, I executed three techniques just the way I wanted to and couldn’t seal the deal. The first two were power and the second targeting. I threw a hook/thrust early in the fight and landed it on his camail in the throat, upper chest area, right where I was aiming for (I find it’s too easy to miss the face on that thrust). But he didn’t take it. He was the second person to shrug off a hook thrust from me that day, so I was obviously not driving it home hard enough. Later in the fight he threw the leg shot I wanted him to throw and I did the block/downward cut Hauoc uses to such good effect—my other finishing move these days—and he didn’t take that. Throughout the day I was not sticking that shot. It was very frustrating. The third technique I threw was when I was legged and he stepped in as I double faked him but I didn’t get the right angle on my shot and, even though he was wide open, I hit the top of his shield. Then he clubbed me like a baby harp seal. All those three problems were with me and my technique (not him—he was great).

My second round fight was against a leftie. I stepped in as he threw a wrap, closing the distance and robbing him of the proper arc for the shot. I took his leg in the process. Then I just waited for him to strike at my shield and thrust him in the body as a counter punch when he did.

My third round fight was against a roman guy with a big oval shield (or was it—I might have rounds three and four mixed up). I hit him once or twice with that same downward slot shot to no avail. He was using a red sword and I was somehow picking it up real early. (His attacks were also not coming in flat, which had a lot to do with it). For the life of me I can’t recall how I killed him.

I fought Sir Collin of Loch Leaven and it was fantastic. I am told that it looked beautiful from the crowd. He was using polearm and for the most part he had control of the fight. I slipped and fell on my ass three times as I charged him. At one point he had me dead to rights and threw a butt spike thrust at my chest. I felt it, I saw it, It had some impact but it felt more like he put his gauntlet in my chest and shoved than hitting me cleanly (he was choked all the way up on the butt spike). I fell flat on my ass. I realized later that the reason it was not a good shot was because my feet were going out from under me and my falling on my ass had robbed the blow of its impact. He totally should have killed me with that shot, and on a dry field it probably would have been good. So even though I won the fight I only did so by sheer luck, which occurred when he was pressing me toward the ropes, I was slipping and sliding and trying to maintain my balance, and in desperation I threw a William the Lucky spinning backhand. He obligingly did not take my head off. The crowd cheered.

Yes, it felt good to reach that far back and pull up something to win a fight with when pretty much I was toast.

My final fight was against a fighter named Marcus Blackeart. He was a really fast fighter with a big coffin lid shield. Nonetheless I felt in total control of the fight. At one point his sword exploded and he had to switch to a new one. I hit him three times with the downward slot shot to no avail. Eventually he took my arm, which like an idiot I had left out there for him to take for some stupid reason (I would love to see a video just of that part of the fight). So there I was left handed. I had a lot of fun at that moment. I probably should have belly bumped him and wrapped his head. It was about my only chance. My thrusting tip broke off, but I hadn’t planned to use it anyway. At one point he hit me cleanly in the leg and I dropped to my knees out of habit, but it was so light I stood back up again. I figured it was the fact that he knew I was hunting his arm and was pulling out coupled with the fact that he was using a lighter sword than he was used to. Randal told me later that his sword had wrapped itself up in my belt tip (Yes! I was actually saved from a shot by my white belt!!). Eventually he took my other arm and I bled to death valiantly.

I acquitted myself well. I didn’t do as well as I have recently, but I was able to draw on experience to counter whatever I wasn’t doing well. Randal said my fighting looked great, that I was on and that I looked really improved. Oscad, who fights me more often, said I looked off and out of synch. So there you have it.

As for the rest of the tourney, it was great. The final four was the one most people had predicted: Gregor, Wilhelm, Kenerick, and Griffith. Griffith and Kenerick advanced to the finals, which were three of five with greatsword, two weapon, hammer, polearm and finally sword and shield. They never made it that far. Griffith won the fight in four straight. Alethea pointed out that if the last crown could be viewed as the guy with the biggest shield winning, this one also played on equipment. Griffith was wearing athletic shoes while Kenerick was wearing period turned shoes. He might have had on hob nails, but regardless, he was obviously slipping and sliding more than his opponent (this also played into my fight with Sir Collin. I had on smooth soled Bohemond boots, he had on cleats, I slipped and fell on my ass four times). So this crown was won by the guy with the most traction.

On the way home I stopped off at Artos and Gwyn’s and had my swing worked on (she’s my form coach, he’s my swing doctor). After some testing they determined that I had a vector problem. I was pulling too far through my shots and robbing them of power. Gwyn decided that this was because I was pulling my left shoulder too far out (something we do in slow work but are supposed to tighten up at full speed). I think this might be because it’s better on my back. The downward slot was similar. I was aiming to the wrong point in both cases. On my snaps my follow through was too strong, as though I were aiming out to my left instead of just to the outside of my opponent’s helm. On the downward strokes it was as though I was aiming at my foot instead of at his hip. Both should be reparable with some pell work.

Great crown. I think I did myself and my lady proud. I certainly had fun.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Duke Henrik on Armor

A common complaint about the use of plastic and aluminum is that it does not accurately replicate the weight of armor in period. This complaint has become especially loud with regards to alluminum shields, which have become common and are much heavier than the shields used in the early days of the SCA (my knight used a shield that weight eighteen pounds, and I have used one that weighed more than 20 pounds). Aluminum, because it allows you to use a large shield without significantly greater weight, is seen as "cheating."

In a conversation on the Western Chivalry List Duke Henrik of Havn wrote the following. Henrik is the first first crowned king of the SCA and the person credited with having worn the first "real" suit of armor in SCA fighting (a mail haubrek and a norman helm with a nasal that he had fitted out with a catcher's mask). He is also a serious reenactor, who takes part on occasion in the Battle of Hastings reenactments in England:


Now to clarify what I was trying to say about the weight of armor. Over the years I have learned that period armor was usually not as heavy as many immagine it to have been. As Alfred commented, early SCA armor was heavy. This often was due to over engineering and/or limited access to materials to make it from. My first mail hauberk ( made of wire I got free, from coat hangers - about 13 gage steel wound on a half inch diameter mandril) weighed 40 pounds. Others used 14 gage bailing wire wound onto 3/8 inch mandrils. Modern 18 gage, 9mm Indian or Pakistani mail replicates early period round wire mail much more accurately and is rivited to boot. The later period flat ring mail is also well represented by Indian and Pakistani rivited mail replicas, now available. I have a section of Turkish mail of the 14th century that is nearly a duplicate of the modern replicas, both in ring size and thickness. Wet=ight si also duplicateed. Such mail hauberks weigh in the 20 to 25 pound rang e, giving the same coverage.

Old freon tank helms weighed much more than some modern period duplicates, and were much larger and ungainly, making defending blows harder. some people wore little or no limb armor since mandates were less or non existant, depending on time and place. Period plate made of light gage spring tempered steel is now availabe to those who can afford the extra cost, but protect and weigh about the same as plastic body armor. Cuirboile and rawhide armors are also lightweight, when properly fashioned and they too offer as much protection as plastic at similar or even less weight.

My point here was simply that the difference between the weight of a period material armor and a modern plastic or titanium or aluminum armor is negligable, if done well. To chastize someone for using one over the other because of the weight advantage that was formerly presumed to exist, can now generally be shown to be based on misinfirmation of what period armors weighed compared to modern replicas using well engineered period materials.

In other words, if thin gage hardened spring steel armor of equivalent strength and protection to 14 gage mild steel can be made, and it weighs the same or less than Aluminum, Titanium or Plastic armor of identical size and protection, then why are the latter armors not just as acceptable to wear and fight in? Equally, if hardened leather or rawhide armors or those made of other forms of period materials , can be nmade to weigh much less than 14 gage mild steel, but still offer the same protection as 14 gage mild steel armor, why can't Aluminum , Titanium or Plastic armors that weigh AND PROTECT the same, not be just as acceptable?

Although I don't care for the asthetics of using modern materials that are significantly removed from period materials, I have to admit using them is no less an advantage than using the well engineered period armors. And as such, no stigma should attach to anyone doing so.

It may have been that the belief that people using aluminum ( titanium, plastic, etc.) shields or armor were in effect cheating, by not having to carry the weight of the steel standard. But now we know that standard was set at a time where access to a more period one was not inexpensively available to the great majority of fighters. Equally unknown then, was the lack of information about the properties of the other materials available and used in period, that we now have access to. Coupled with a desire to not only be overly cautious regarding individual safety, but also concerned about making changes to rules that have maintained that safety for decades, change to the requirements are unlikely to occurr any time soon, at the Corporate level.

So to address the White Elephant of "Cheating by using modern plastic or light weight metals for armor and shields" is really not the issue of great magnitude we used to think it was. Really it's a misunderstanding of just how light weight armor and shields sometimes really were. The simple example I gave was that a period Viking Round shield made of 8 mm thick linden wood and 28 inches in diameter, could weigh as little as 4 pounds or so ( I have a 13 mm thick by 28 inch diameter plywood disc that weighs 3 and 3/4 pounds, add a 5 and 1/2 inch diamerer hemispherical, 14 gage steel boss at 16 ounces and the shield made from these articles would excede the strength of the linden and yet weigh only 4 and 3/4 pounds) and yet offer the same protection as a 4 pound aluminum shield of the same diameter. The only effective difference between the two is the greater longevity the alluminum 's strength would provide. To say using one over the other is cheating, is rediculous, because it weighs the same as period materials.

I have linden wood boards to make an 8 mm thick shield 32 inches in diameter and they weigh about 6 pounds. Add the boss and the total is 7 pounds. The most recent find of a Viking shield was in Denmark in September 2008. Reports of analysis on it show it was 6 to 8mm thick and 32 inches in diameter. Likely, when assembled with it's boss, it weighed around 7 to 8 pounds, when new.

We usually select materials to make shields and armor last longer while being beaten uppon , Tourney after Tourney. They are mandated to offer extra protection, for safety reasons, not because period ones did. The Coppergate helmet was made of much thinner iron than 14 gage. I'd estimate it was closer to 18 to 20 gage. It is very small, offering very little clearance between the head and the metal. Hardly room for a thin leather liner, much less 1/2 inch closed cell foam. It's total weight is likely arround 5 pounds.

It is well known that in period, metals were valued much higher than today. Protective equipment was engineered, not to last through many Tornament seasons (consisting of being pounded upon in both practice and competition - as we use it today) but to last only long enough to preserve the wearer, much as today's plastic automobile bumpers are designed to absorb a single collision (or attack). If we permitted armor of that nature to be used, instead of the 14 gage standard , it would doubtless weigh no more that modern materials weigh - which do provide the equivalent protection and longivity of the heavier standards.

So, to sum up. Holding plastic and light weight metals or materials as forms of cheating, is an errer we should finally dispense with. There is no cheating where advantage is gained in this fashion, unless it is specifically legislated against.

The only remaining issue is, who can afford one material over another and is spending large sums to gain access that others can't afford, another issue we wish to address?


Thursday, April 22, 2010

I made it to Nutley

...and it was awesome. It was, in fact, so awesome I couldn't actually partake of all the awesomeness. I only got to fight half the knights there. Counting myself there were eight knights in armor including two dukes: me, Gregor, Kelson, Stephan, Max, Wilhelm, Douglas, and Manfred. There were probably more knights than unbelts.

I started the night in the deep end fighting Douglas. He is on fire right now, having won both Mudthaw and Birka. We traded about even. When I beat him it was with a planned attack that worked, and when he beat me it was often because I planned an attack that didn't work. I got him with a couple of good thrusts, including the foot-stomp thrust. He plowed me once in the ribs.

My second set of fights was against an unbelted fighter named Mike. I think he killed me twice and I killed him several times. I don't think he knew who I was, which was good. i wasn't wearing a white belt (I don't usually do so at practice) and he was jumping in my face as though he wanted to show the new guy that Nutley is a tough place--in a nice and chivalrous way, of course. And he seemed annoyed that I was beating him as much as I was at first. I got him with the hook/thrust twice.

My third set of fights was against Stephen. No, I didn't lay stick on him once. I almost got him with a thrust, close enough that he commented on it later, but that was as close as i got. However, my defense was very tight. I had a lot of patience, and it paid off. But I was also getting tired, and against Stephen I lose patience and attack simply because I want to try *something*, so that I was able to be as careful and as patient as i was was an accomplishment.

A brief digression. When I practice i usually go into my first one or two fights as though I'm in a tournament. I concentrate on defense, I use a careful and simple offense, i try to be patient, and I try to counter punch. After that I start experimenting. I work on new shots or combinations, I try different attacks and defenses, different footwork, and I pull out old stuff that I haven't used in awhile. I noticed last night that after my first two fights of any set, which I mostly won, I was easing from the tight, slightly crouched closed form with my sword leg forward--a variation on the techniques used by the VDKs--into the way I enjoy fighting most, a western high form with the sword back and standing up straight like Radnor (strive for height, as Musashi says).

Against Stephen there was none of that. I was in my tightest defense the whole time. He clobbered me (once really hard, *g*) but it took him awhile to do it, and I worked his defense hard the whole time. He said that my biggest problem was that sometimes I would stop moving and lean back, blocking high with my sword and shield together, and that when i did that he was able to kill me with a high snap. I thought my biggest problem was that i was holding my breath.

After that I fought.... I think it was Lucan's squire Cullen. He's a polearm fighter. I started out with the tip forward fencing style and killed him with a saber cut. then I moved in slowly and controlled his pole by jamming my boss above his hand and killed him with wraps. I changed things up a lot--open form, closed form, high guard, low guard, sword leg forward, shield leg forward, etc. A lot of the time we just stared at each other and tried to wait the other out. The time he got me best was when i tried to just charge his right shoulder and ran right into his cross shot attack. Look. Pretty pretty stars.

Then I fought Max. I always love fighting Max. Max is a lot of fun. I'm taller than him, he's faster than me. I tried something different at first. After my first bout with him i switched to closed form but with my shield foot forward. I have less offense out of that but tighter defense. It kept me alive for a time. I managed to kill him with thrusts a couple of times and with a wrap/snap combo a couple of times, but that was it. He probably was beating me three to one, though most of those were after I switched to the Western high form. Afterward he said what people often say, that my attacks develop slowly. I've been trying to avoid that, and it bothered me. It was then that i realized that with the exception of fighting Stephen I had been transitioning into high form during my sets all night. Hmmmm.

Finally, after a long rest, i fought Heinrich Brauer. What i didn't realize was that he would be using a buckler. As it happened I had brought mine, not because I intended to use it but because when I stick it in the bottom of my duffel bag it forms a nice stable surface for packing and makes it easier to strap to my little collapsible dolly. So I ran and got it. Yay! I used the Hauoc high closed form technique, the I:33 technique, and (mostly) old school Bellatrix. Oh, I had a blast. He killed me with a thrust and I think a body shot, but i killed him with old-school combos, a wavy/rising snap, hidden snaps (wow! remember hidden snaps?), dropping wraps and I think even a figure 8 attack. My foot work was really on.

But man, I was slow! I mean, I know I've put on a few pounds since Crown, but all year endurance has been my big thing. Max was right about my attacks being slow, especially out of the open high form. When using Hauoc's closed form, I couldn't even throw the downward molinee that is the bread and butter of that style fast enough to kill with it. All my blows were a half a beat behind. I was feeling pretty terrible, then Oscad reminded me that I was tired when the night started. I had done my kettle bell work out the day before, I gotten up at six am that morning, and I'd worked all day on my feet at the store. I was exhausted! No wonder I was doing odd things. I was distracted, I was slow, I was falling back on old habits (mostly old good habits). That's ok. I like practicing tired. It's good practice for long fights and late rounds. With that in mind it was a really good practice.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Ah, it's BAT again

My workouts this week were, well, not so good. I did dance at the wedding, and I did work out hard on Friday (20 minutes on the eliptical, 20 minutes yoga, 20 minutes on the kettle bells). Plus I've been on my feet A LOT. But between weddings, allergies, sickens (which could have been allergies combined with exhaustion) I was not as diligent as I would have liked.

But I did fight at BAT today.

Today was the Beau Geste, so I didn't get to do too much fighting (I was running the tournament). But I did get to go a few rounds with Johnathan, Oscad, and Jabril.

Johnathan kept me on my toes because he has such a fast hard counter punch. I won most of our fights, but I had to be super careful doing it.

Jabril and I had a really really long fight in which he eventually killed me. I wasn't using a thrusting tip, so I didn't have all my offense, and we both had good defenses and strong attacks. We worked it very hard.

Oscad was great. I beat him twice, he beat me twice. His fighting has gotten so much better, and it's mostly mental. He is simply more fierce than he used to be. His attacks are strong and measured. He is conserving energy and picking his shots. He is patient. He is doing all the things I am trying to do, and it's working really well for him. I killed him once with an interesting little thrust to the outside of his guard, and once with a simple cut that slipped into his timing pattern. Great fights.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Workout and fighting musings

A thought occurred to me while thinking about my fight with Gregor and some of the things that happened at Mudthaw. Word at Mudthaw was that I had "really picked up my game". Terik said that the thrust has really expanded my attack, which may be but I don't like to think of it that way. My fight with Gregor impressed a lot of people, but (a) I lost, and (b) I *always* fight Gregor well. It was my fight with Grifith that really felt good.

And that got me thinking.

Grifith said that my defense was a lot better, and it's not--according to him--because i went to a longer shield (he doesn't consider 38" to be long). He says my defense has gotten much tighter. Now that's probably true, but what i really did was start concentrating on defense instead of offense. Wanting to be Radnor, I've always concentrated on offense, and I've got a pretty good one. I was bothered by Terik's statement because it implied that my blade work was not so hot, and I've always been proud of my blade work. But I've always been an aggressive fighter. Now I stress patience. Griffith and I spent a lot of time staring at each other. So did Gregor and I. But against Grifith, patience was a good tactic.

The thing I came to realize today is that my past fights with Grifith (who, interestingly, was Gregor's squire) I've always had trouble with what to *do*. I had no real offense for a shield as big as his. It wasn't just that the shield was large it was a mental thing: my inability to fight his style was disproportionate to the size of his shield. I think I've killed him once, and that was in a pickup fight using an old-school molinee/onside cut. Gregor, on the other hand, the Duke in the occasion, I have no problem whatsoever fighting. I just go for it, sometimes I kill him, usually he kills me, but I *know what to do*. Gregor trained with Ron and he fights with what would be a standard sized Western heater. Against him i just go out and fight my usual fight, and I do well. The same is true when I fight Duke Tim, or Horic, or Ron: I know how to fight against that style because I've been doing it for thirty years. Up until recently I've looked at those big shields and something in my head has been psyched out. I've been flummoxed. Now it's different. Now, concentrating on fighting more like an Easterner, defensively motivated, and as Terik points out using the thrust effectively (which isn't hampered by the length of the shield) I have ways to attack the Eastern style.

And that's why my fight with Griffith meant more to me than my fight with Gregor. It meant that I've gotten rid of whatever mental block was hampering me when fighting one of those big kite shields.

Oh, the workout:

I didn't workout much over Spring Break last week. I did a dumbbell workout one day and then Indian clubs but I pulled a muscle in my scapula. It wasn't really painful, but I stopped working out for a couple of days. Of course, I picked up extra shifts at the store, which meant standing, walking,a nd climbing ladders all day long. That store has kept me in pretty good shape. And the two days i didn't work at the store I was doing the tourist thing in DC, walking my feet off. So i was not being a slug.

This week however has started well: yoga yesterday, 30 minutes on the treadmill and a kettle bell workout today (shoulders feel great in that tired post workout sort of way). Tomorrow hopefully I'll make it to Nutley.

Sunday, March 28, 2010


The East Coast interpretation of the rules regarding shield to body contact is that you may use the shield to manipulate the body, but you may not punch with it. Ok, news to me. You may not only place the shield against the body but a light push is ok--at least that is how it was discussed at Mudthaw. some fighters were using their shields to really push their opponents around, and the Marshals had to stop and parlay over it.

I, by the way, had a fantastic Mudthaw. I went seven round, I killed a knight, I had great fights with two contenders, either of which I could have won.

My first round I fought somebody I don't know and one-shot him with a wavy-rising snap.

My second round I fought Lasier. I've always had a lot of respect for her as a fighter. She gave me a good hard fight. Her offence was sharp and she pur together good fast combinations. I took her leg and then killed her.... I think it was with a hook/thrust, but it might have been a wrap/cut combo. I am not sure any more.

My third fight was Griffith. We fought a long time. I had some good offence and defended most of what he through at me. He eventually killed me with a very nice, sneaky face thrust tha barely tugged my helmet but definitely moved it--right at the end of his range, which I had judged to be a bit shorter than it actually was. He said my defense had really improved and that I was fighting much better. :)

My fifth fight was Ivan Ivanovitch, a good leftie out of Serpentius. We had a nice tough fight. Both of us got cuts to the other's nasal that were way out on the tip and mushy. I eventually killed him with an off-side head cut.

My next fight was a long drawn out affair with a polearm fighter named Collin. It was tough. I managed eventually to get the shot I wanted, a parry five/saber cut. Nothing else was working.

My next fight was another long drawn out affair against Oskgar. I managed to contrull his cuts by trying to control the pole right above his hand, and eventually thrust him in the body.

My last fight was a really incredible fight against Gregor. We went round and round for a while, took each other's legs, and then just flung rattan hard and fast. I couldn't get him with the hook thrust and eventually he caught me with a good backhand.

Congrats to Douglas Henry, who beat Gregor in the finals.

The best compliment paid to me afterward was when changing for court, and Griffith asked me if I was going up to Canada for Crown. I guess I am in the conversation now.

(don't let it go to your head, V.).

Both Horace and Jabril asked me about directions to BAT practice, and Darius said he was going to try to get up there once in awhile this season. That bodes very well....

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Beau Geste

Yes, I won the Beau Geste tournament on Sunday. It was a lot of fun. Oscad ran it as he has before, with one fighter starting on his knees in the first fight, the other kneeling in the second fight, and then both standing in the third if necessary.

My first set of fights were with William. I don’t recall how I won the first fight, but in the second, when I was standing, I killed him by setting him up with two molinee body shots, which he blocked, followed by a third molinee that turned into an onside headshot (Radnor’s “rule of three”). He blocked that but it put me in position to wrap him to the back of the head.

My second fights were with Avran. In the first I charged him on my knees, yelled like a samurai, and hit him on the top of the helm after three cuts that he blocked. In the second I got to use the technique that had been used against me in the greatsword tourney at Estrella four years ago. I cut to his left side, wound my blade so it was behind his and pulled back, pulling him off balance. Then, instead of hitting him on the back as had been done to me I simple stepped in and short chopped him to the face.

My third set of fights was with Timur, my man at arms. He scored a win against me, so we ended up standing. I don’t recall how I won those fights (I need to go back to writing this stuff down right away).

My fourth set of fights was against Alexander. This was the round that I lost. My first fight against him when he was standing I lost pretty quickly. The second fight I won with a short cut to the head. The third fight we went back and forth till he started fencing me at the same time I got fancy. I did a wavy fake and stepped off line and he drove his tip right through my chest.

The last set of fights was against Visillis. That was a blast I won the round with a beautiful hook/thrust.

One cool thing was how I felt during the tourney. I had gone into it expecting to play around, use the buckler, fight two sword, etc., not really caring. But I wanted to fight William with my sword and shield because he’d come all the way from Jersey to train with me. Thing was, once I got into those fights, my brain clicked over into tourney mode and suddenly I wanted to win. I fought the two greatsword fights because I wanted a bit of practice with that form (I maybe should have fought Alexander Florentine). But I was totally on. My fights with Vasillis were, from my perspective, pretty awesome. I was in the zone and fighting with purpose and I wasn’t even having to think about it. My mind went right to where it needed to be.

But I still need dukes!

None of that, however, was the coolest thing about the day. The coolest thing about the day was Timur’s last fight against William, when they were both standing. He hadn’t been in armor for about a year. He was using his round shield against William’s classic heater style. He stepped in and punched William’s heater low and at the outside, right where I’d told him to punch over a year ago when I was teaching him the “magic button” technique I’d learned from Gemini. He did it perfectly and killed William with an excellent onside headshot. That was cool to watch.

Next stop: Mudthaw.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Training Report

Am Exhausted!

Not a lot on the training front this week unfortunately. Nobody suited up at BAT this weekend. On top of that I've been both busy and exhausted. Had to literally drag myself tot he gym this AM. Feel better for it though. This weekend is the Beau Geste however (come out and play) and so I should get some good work in.

Sunday it was unarmored training with Avran at BAT.

Monday I rested (except for working on my feet all day).

Tuesday I did twenty minutes of Yoga, 25 minutes on the treadmill, and a really intense dumbell workout. It consisted of hammer curls (sets of 20 reps with 15/20/25 pounds) Side and front raises (sets of 15 with 10/15/20 pounds) shoulder presses (sets of 15 with 15/20/25 pounds) and some light fighting combo work.

Wednesday I rested.

Thursday once again I had to skip my workout to prep for class. Did some exercises with the Indian clubs before I went to bed.

Today (Friday) it was a fast intense workout at the gym: 20 minutes on the eliptical trainer and a cable workout doing every exercise to fatigue. "Pitching Presses" 20 reps each side. Cross curls, 20 reps each side. Pushdowns, thirty reps. "Draw the sword" fifteen reps each side. Front raises 15 reps each side. Simple Curls, 30 reps. Cable Crunches/Pulldowns, thirty reps. Over the head/over the shoulder extensions, 20 reps. I ended with 25 situps on the incline bench. I worked fast so I was in and out in an hour. Have to work tomorrow so no gym, but I might bike to work instead. And, as I said, Sunday is the Beau Geste.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Training is hard work

Duh. And life gets in the way, but this week I'm doing pretty good on my regimen. In addition to standing for six hours a day and going up and dowh ladders three days a week at work, and walking and taking the stairs a lot, I've been able to keep to my workout goal this week--this in spite of the fact that I had to skip working out on Thursday and grade papers instead.

Sunday: was BAT practice. I warmed up with the Indian clubs and I fought.
MONDAY: I worked out with the Indian clubs and did Yoga.
Tuesday: went to the gym at school. I did ten-15 minutes of Yoga, ran for a half an hour on the treadmill, and did a kettle bell workout.
Wednesday: I rested.
Thursday: I just got to do Indian clubs when I had to skip the gym.
Friday: I went to the gym and got a good workout in in an hour. I did 55 pushups, 125 crunches, a kettle bell workout, and 15 mintues on the eliptical trainer.
Saturday: I went to the gym and did spin class, in which I usually ead the streatching afterwards. I didn't lift because I had done kettle bells on Friday and was planning to fight on Sunday, which is BAT once again.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

BAT Practice 3/7

Practice was pretty dead again this weekend. There seems to be a serious motivation sink somewhere, and after two years of increased attendance we've hit a drop off. Oscad was worn out from the long drive home from A&S, Gui is hurt, Nik is hurt, Alexander is hurt, Richard is poor, Gil moved, Rav is at boot camp, Dugal has family, I don't know what's up with Timur and Jarrod except that they have lives. That's pretty much the core of BAT right there. It left me, Bill and Avran in armor on Sunday, and frankly while I like those guys and teaching is fun it's not what I need right now. I need dukes.

Nutley practice this week might happen. It depends on Oscad (yes, that's part of the problem, relying on others for transportation, but when you live in NYC a car is a luxury, not a necessity. I don't like hauling my armor on the train to Jersey and I do enjoy being able to store it at BAT).

Anyway, Saturday I did Yoga and Indian clubs as a workout. Sunday I warmed up with the Indian clubs before practice and then fought. I did have some fun great sword fights with Avran. I have been training him in the Bellatrix style of greatsword for a few years now--which gets both him and me roundly ridiculed among southern Region knights, but he has certainly made progress. I never could get it to work well for me, but then I only play with greatsword on occasion. TO use Paul's great sword style you have to practice it constantly (Paul is so very Japanese in his approach) and since great sword is all Avran fights, he is learning to make it work. Unfortunately he needs new armor. The hanging guard, sometimes called the "king's guard" and "queen's guard" (wrists crossed), and which Paul calls the "tip down guard" is a foundational technique in Paul's style, and Avran's shoulder harness prevents him from crossing his arms properly. Since I trained with Paul and I was using Avran's very nice nodachi, I got all Japanese on him. My first kill was my best, when I did a double strike and passing shot and hit him in the head with a nice loud "kiai!" After that he tightened up and we were fighting mostly to a stand still. Then I fought him using sword and shield, which was fun. Then I fought Bill, who was fighting left handed (he switches back and fourth, fighting leftie at BAT and rightie at Nutley). He is very strong (right handed he usually hits harder than Darius, though that is partially because Darius doesn't try to hit as hard as he can), and he usually tries to simply bull me over. He's started being more precise and patient, waiting for me to attack and then attcking into whatever I do. It is allowing me to play my game a bit more, but it is also allowing him to launch much better attacks. It should improve his fighting greatly.

I did have fun, but I wish more people were coming out to BAT these days. Maybe after Mudthaw it will pick up. I hope so!

Friday, March 5, 2010


55 pushups
Superset of crunches (125)
15 minutes of yoga
brief kettlebell workout (includinging the "hold it over you head in a lying position then stand up" exercise)
More stretching. no time for aerobics, so I took the stairs there and back.

A brief word about exercise.

On my Facebook page the other day I noted that I was doing some SCA specific exercises in my workout right now (I missed today’s workout, unfortunately, but I will make up for that by working out tomorrow morning after my 8 am class). Someone asked me to share what my SCA specific exercises are., so I decided to write about it here.

First a few principles of how I approach exercise for SCA fighting. I do not want to build bulk. I do not want to increase my upper body or arm strength, at least not significantly. I do not believe that upper body strength is necessary for success as an SCA fighter. I once had an Atlantian duke tell me that if you can put your thumb and forefinger around your wrist you’ll never be a knight. Since I could do that at the time and was both a knight and a count, I felt that was an erroneous statement. Using the Belatrix snap technique, which is the basis for most SCA fighting styles, all the strength comes from the legs. The hand merely guides the sword into place. Radnor once said that any blow that requires strength to throw it and land it is part of a bogus technique. In the Gendy style and some of the center-mass styles based on boxing, upper body strength is more important. What is important in all the styles, however, is core strength. The reason I work out is to build muscle endurance, flexibility, speed and, most importantly, core strength. That being said, any exercise program you can stick to is going to benefit you and benefit your fighting. Circuit training, for instances, works every major muscle group. If you do high rep, low weight sets, you will be building the kind of long, lean muscles and the kind of endurance that is good for SCA fighting. What I don’t like about circuit training is that it isolates muscle groups. A lot of dukes I know are using Pilates these days because it focuses on the core. The best full body workout you will ever encounter is rock climbing. For the past several years, until recently, I have concentrated on two exercises almost exclusively: bicycling (including spin class, which I love) and yoga. During that time I’ve been on a low carb regimen, I’ve lost more than fifty pounds, and I am back to about 80% if the fighting ability I had fifteen years ago when I won crown.

But here are the exercises I use now. As always, check with a doctor before you begin any exercise program:

• Dumbbells: I do a pretty simple dumbbell combo with relatively light weight (I’ve got ten pound bells at home, but I use fifteen to twenty five pound bells at work). My I do hammer curls with each dumbbell, then press each one over head, then bring each one alternately to the opposite shoulder, then do side raises, then front raises. That is one rep. Repeat that ten times and your arms will want to fall off. That’s one set. I do all of this standing.
• Barbells: I actually prefer barbells to dumbbells. My barbell exercise is even simpler. I do military presses, curls, standing rows and overhead triceps presses, three sets of ten reps each. That is all. The key to this and to the dumbbell exercises is that I do them standing. All of them. The fact that I have to engage my core muscles is much more important than the fact that I am lifting.
• Calisthenics: They say that if you do calisthenics you have to do them every day in order for it to work, and indeed, if you do 200 pushups every day you will be cut. I simply mix them in from time to time. I usually do fifty pushups a day and either 125 or 250 crunches. A good way to do the pushups is a build down. Start with a set of ten, then do a set of nine, and so on until you have done one. This will be 55 pushups, which in a day is not bad.
• Cable work: I love the cable machine. There are a few things that you can do with it that you can’t really do any other way. The three best natural fighters I have ever known were Duke Radnor, his brother Manu, and his friend Wolfshawl. All three of them were from Hawaii. Sagan once suggested that the reason they were all so good was because they surfed and they raced outrigger canoes. There are few better core exercises than rowing outrigger canoes. It is the pulling down while tightening the core as much as pulling back that does it. You can simulate that on a cable machine. Attach a push-down rope to a high pulley. Sit down facing the machine and pull the rope all the way down to your hips, tightening your gut as you do so. Do three sets of ten to twelve, or two sets of twenty. Then kneel looking the other way and pull the cable over head, pushing away from you, alternating with pulling it over each shoulder. Same number of sets. The other great exercise is a one handed push. Start with you feet spread far apart facing away from the machine in a fighting stance. Reach back to grasp the pulley with one hand. Pull it toward you. Turn your hips to drive the shoulder forward, then push the handle out in front of you. All of this to simulate the action of a blow. Mix these exercises in with chest flies, curls, and rows.
• Explosion exercises: Really there are only two of these. The first involves rubber bands, which you can make out a bicycle inner tube by splitting it lengthwise, or buy them at a sports store. Link them to a post so you can put them over your shoulders (wrap one around the post and put the other one through the two closed ends). Face away from the post and Lunge forward, fifty times on each foot. Then fall forward into a push up and push yourself back up with your hands. The second one is simply the clean and jerk. Do no more than five up to the max weight you can do (for me it’s 115 pounds, though I keep trying to do 135).
• Indian Clubs and Kettle Bells: If you do nothing else, use Indian clubs and kettle bells. These are the best combination of strength, core, and flexibility you can do. You can get most of the exercises off of youtube:

There are so many exercises to do with kettlebells and Indian clubs n youtube that you will never run out of things to try. This one is a basic drill that is pretty good:

• Feats of strength: kettlebells and Indian clubs are old school strongman stuff, the type of thing that went out of fashion as isolation and body building came into fashion. Swinging the two handed mace, one handed presses, and especially standing up holding a weight over your head are great ways to test your strength and work out your core. As MMA has become popular all of these exercise that combined upperbody strength, core strength, and flexibility have become more popular. They are all over youtube. I'm not particularly strong, but these are really good things to toughen you up. These maniacs at Gym Jones are probably the most intense. I found them through Gemeni's page.

The main idea of all these things is to build core strength. I like to mix and match these workouts. This week my workouts looked like this: spin class and cable work on Saturday, Indian clubs on Sunday (because fight practice was cancelled), rest on Monday, yoga, half hour running on the treadmill, kettlebells, and crunches on Tuesday, Indian clubs on Wednesday and Thursday, calisthenics on Friday. Rinse and repeat.

Monday, February 1, 2010


Hi guys.

I've started to get a lot of spam comments on this blog, so I've started moderating them. It means they may not get posted as quickly. Sorry, but I'm tired of all the spam.

On greatness

The greatest SCA fighter in my book is Radnor. Not only is he still the most beautiful and amazing fighter to watch but his 20 year unbeaten streak will probably never be equaled (for a twenty year period Radnor won every tournament he entered, from small local champion ship tourneys to big open tourneys at war, to Silver Dollar, to crowns). Radnor is also the only person to have won crowns in four different decades.

Others insist it's Jade, who has won crown sixteen times. When celebrating Titus ducal at twelfth night, the three dukes in his line, Uther (Titus' knight), Jade (Uther's knight) and Greyhelm (Jade's knight), performed a little ceremony. Greyhelm, who won crown eight times, presented himself as the past presented himself as the past, Uther (who was about to be crowned for the eighth time) was the present, and Jade presented himself as the future--which I guess means he's going to win March Crown. Jade doesn't always do well in other tourneys because frankly he doesn't get up mentally for them--he just doesn't care. But he does great in Crown.

Or it could be Paul, who is the Grand Master of our art, who won western crown with four different weapon styles, and who once took on twenty fighters at once and beat them in a demonstration of how good he really was.

Or it could be Brion, who only has ten crown victories, but that is fighting in kingdoms with six month reigns and so has fewer opportunities.

Or it could be Stephan Von Dresden, who wins everything he enters but has never entered crown.

And once upon a time there was Torgul...

After that you get into expanded list of dukes, the Lucans and Baldars and Daks and Darius' and Edmunds and all the others.

But maybe it's time to talk about Rolf in this discussion. Rolf didn't win lots and lots of crowns, but that was in part because in his prime, in the 80s, he was content with the two. But he has won eight royal tourneys, four Western Crowns and four Cynagua coronets, including this last one. This was the 30th anniversary of the first Cynaguan coronet, in which he finaled, and he won the second. That means that he will be Prince for the 30th anniversary of the first royal tourney he won. That is an accomplishment nobody has yet matched (though give Jade a chance and he probably will).

And one more thing: at one time or another I've killed every fighter on this list--except Rolf. Not even in practice, and I've been practicing with him for thirty years, from the very first day I put on armor.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

BAT Practice and Birka


Market Day at Birka was yesterday. It is the greatest fighting event in the SCA. No kidding. Prova is the most spectacular event, and I love the pageantry, but Birka does away with all of that and strips down to the essence of fighting. Lots and lots of fighting. There are over 3000 fights at Birka among roughly 150 fighters.

And I missed it. Life sucks.

But they do publish the results on the Norther Army site. Douglas Henry won after years of flirting with the top spot. He fought 123 fitghts and won 94. He didn't have the best winning percentage, but that's not what it takes to win Birka. You have to win the most number of fights. Vivat Douglas.

(my best rank at Birka was 24, and I peter out after a bit over 50 fights).

But the big news from our standpoint is that Oscad placed tied for fourth. (!!!) He won 82 out of 100 fights. Good Job Oscad!

It also meant that most everybody was at Birka. I went to BAT, fenced with Alexandre and Llewellyn (they both beat me soundly, but it was fun) and then I trained Nik, the only other heavy fighter there. It was a lot of fun.

I ended up using some Bellatrix techniques. We did slow work for awhile, then we fought, then we did drills. I wanted him to work on movement and striking. I taught him the double-strike to the leg with a lateral step to the right on the second strike. Then I taught him the onside head, offside leg with a lateral slide to the left. He used those two plus a simple one-two onside, offside head combo. We did the three combo drill, where he defends and has only the three combos he's allowed to throw, and the drill wins when he's thrown them. We did it twice. He said that it forced him to pay better attention to what I was doing and to look for an opening. He only killed me with them once, but his fight became much tighter.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

King's Champion


Oscad de Segovia, who lives here in Brokenbridge and who hosts our practice at the Brooklyn Army Terminal, is the new King's Champion!

Monday, January 11, 2010

The pre-season officially begins

For most people pre-season begins at Estrella. This was always me. I would maybe practice a bit between Thanksgiving and Estrella, but at Estrella I'd fight in the Outlands tourney, which kind of got me going for the rest of the year. (used to be Silver Dollar, which I do miss). Since I've stopped going to Estrella I've started going to Birka, which probably is the best shake the rust off event you can go to. However, I often start earlier than that, with midnight fighting at 12th Night. That's when I get back into armor after a fattening break and begin to work on my fighting again.

This year midnight fighting was moved up to seven o'clock which, since I was still jet lagged, was fine by me. I had a blast.

I fought an unbelted fighter named (I believe) Vinnet (I must have mangled that), Uther's brother Chad, Uther, Sir Mark, and Sig. The only knight out there that I missed was King Edward of Atenveldt.

Mark is a really good great sword fighter. I think I killed him once after taking his leg. With the bunny round (it was the first time I'd used one since Jun and the second time in a year) I could not track his leg fakes. He destroyed me.

Chad is a really good fight. He is taller than me, stronger, and uses a center-grip kite. I did ok against him working the inside edge of his kite shield. It was a really fun fight. He needs to hit a touch harder, but since I know he can do so easily, I suspect he is just being careful with his control.

Vinnit is a beginning fighter who needs to attack more aggressively and on an angle. She is very short, and should use that to her advantage by trying to disappear behind my shield.

My fights with Uther were awesome. He said so, which made me feel almost as tall as he is. I actually killed him twice, once with the hook thrust when we were both legged, and once with Havoc's downward counter off the leg shot, when he leaned out a bit too much. I also took his leg three times, twice with the double strike, and nearly got thim with two other thrusts. Later when going over the fights in my head it occurred to me: the hook thrust, the downward counter, and the double strike to the leg are my three best techniques right now. This means the fights I won were not flukes--the drilling has been working. I managed within several casses to use my best techniques when the opportunities presented themselves, and they worked. This is pretty cool. Uther said that, while I was thrusting too much (and I thought I wasn't doing it much at all, which says something) I was attacking at really unique angles and making great decisions, which was "awesome." Ok. That made *my* twelfth night almost as much as Eilis getting her duchy did. Almost ;-)

My fights with Sig were good too. I started out very much in control, but as the set went on he started to come on. The more aggressive he is the better he does against me. He said my wraps felt a bit weak, which doesn't surprise me.

This was a lot of fun!

So yesterday I took a long hike with my Squire tthrough Golden Gate Park and today I'm going to the gym to work out. Sunday at the Beau Geste will be my next time in armor.