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.

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