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.