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.