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.


Pierre Sogol said...

kettlebells! I'm more a kettlebell guy than SCA guy - I was a pell for a year or so with a friend in college, now a Marshall (I pine to reparticipate but lifes complicated). Anyways, I always 'felt' that the explosiveness and cardio of KBs would translate well to SCA fighting, especially juggling and explosive gripwork. I actually just picked up your book at the library were i work is how I found your page.

MAC said...

Wow! Cool! One of the first clear examples of cross-promotion marketing!

Explosive cardio is really an important element of fighting. I was told (I haven't asked him) that when Duke Stephen of Beckenham had his heart attack his cardiologist looked at his heart had this unusual cross hatch development pattern, which had probably made the heart attack less sever, which was only developed by topping and starting repeated bursts of energy. It is also a source of hand speed. There's an interesting book called "Speed Strength Training for Martial Arts" that discusses this (it's what turned me on to doing the clean and jerk--well that and this rock-hard, skinny little janitor from school who came to the gym three days a week and did nothing but the clean and jerk.)

Pierre Sogol said...

A KB snatch, which has this tri/pec/ab stretch at the peak that recruits the pecs and can be done for reps or explosively - makes me really think of this. Correct me if I'm wrong (which I know from having now seen footage of German "academic fencing" mensuren - more like the blows I see in tournament), but I always saw in the pullover, which happens a tad the peak of said snatch, a great exercise for the "walloping from above" action of dropping a bludgeon on someone. the footage below is recumbent, but I'm sure you can imagine an upright application;


but again, those 'death from above' blows aren't so common in fighting are they? Swinging sledgehammers for upright, integrated upperbody abwork I always though would go great with a fighter regimen, or similarly onehand KB work with a towel looped through the handle.

Pierre Sogol said...

I thought of another great exercise, windshield wipers, which can be done lying down on a bench with your hands grasping the uprights, on the ground with a weighted bar overhead (not recommended), or hanging in a pike with your legs up from a chinup bar (rather well-gendered). Here's some vids of the action;




It's easiest laying on a bench with your arms grasping the uprights, going slow and staying tense. The weighted twisting of the obliques is just the kind of action when you torque your waist and hips to smack someone. Serious Russian twists (as in arms extended holding a weight), are another great one, same action but more stressful on my back (gotta keep it straight and go slow, no momentum);


All of this hits all your abs, so I wouldn't do any other ab work nor on a kettlebell day; you'll end up with really thick, beefy midriff. Granted, it's muscle but...ugly. you should stretch your back well before doing them.

STAG said...

Push the big shield out of the way with the tip of your shield.

(or can't you do that in your kingdom?)