Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Brain power

So the holidays are over. Ok, New Years and 12th night are still to come. This year, while I did watch my portions, I threw the diet out the window-- and it is starting to show. Food was incredible. If you followed me on FaceBook you saw rib roast, squash soup, lemon bars, pies, and fudge fudge fudge--not to mention a Dartagnan gift basket from Alfred of Carlysle. The pate and smoked duck, amazing! Also, if you followed me on FaceBook, you noticed that I was working out a bit more than normal. Not too worried about the extra pounds. Oh yeah: I got the tomahawk off my Amazon wish list!

REHAB:
Rehab goes well. Unable to pack my Indian clubs I brought my rubber yoga band. I did my wrist, elbow, and shoulder rehab with it every day. The elbow is better to the point that I will try kettle bells next week after I see the doc.

WORKOUTS
Workouts were great this holiday. I managed to keep my schedule--Yoga class on Monday, treadmill and Yoga Wednesday, another workout Thursday or Friday. Since travelled last Friday I called up a full body dumbell workout on in demand before we left. Not amazing but there were two exercises I had never seen before. Pretty rare. Then Saturday I went for a run in Falls Church. Monday a bunch of us-- Me, Hannah, her dad, step mom, and sister--took a yoga class at the DC University Club (very 1%). The instructor.declared us to be a talented family. Yesterday I went for a longer run, then today I did a full body workout combining the rubber band arm and shoulder work with pushups, squats, calf raises, and lunges. So I have worked out a lot the past week.

FIGHTING:
What I haven't done a lot of is fighting, but that is ok. I have a slow motion kata that I do, which is designed to concentrate on ballance and core strength, and I have been doing that. It is pretty simple:

* In a sword forward stance, sword back (high open Western form) throw an off side head shot.
*use a Bellatrix over-head return and pass forward on the right.
* Throw an on-side head shot.
* use a teardrop return and pass forward on the left.
* Throw an on-side leg shot.
* Use an inside return and pass forward on the right, aligning your feet, toes pointed parallel to the left.
* Throw an off-side body shot.
*Side-step off line to the left.
* Throw a molinee to the off-side leg.
* Pivot into the right, entering a sword-leg lead (weak closed form).

From there I work various combinations-- Double strikes wrap fall away snap: lucky's off side pass. Paul's on side pass. Lucan's off side pass. Radnor's seven blow combination, upsalon leg shot, foot stomp, and his version of the wavy-rising snap. Speaking of Radnor, I watched a couple episodes of Brain Games on National Geographic Chanel. Watch it! One reason Radnor is the best fighter I've ever seen is because of the way he apparently could control his opponent's mind. Papa Houghton and Macenruig could do this too, but Radnor was faster, stronger, and trickier as well. Most of this he accomplished by using the types of brain tricks discussed in the NGC series, especially the mis-direction. He had three rules in fighting: no one can flow three direction changes; all fights are won in between beats, and hit them in transition windows. I guess the fourth rule would be establish a pattern and break it on the third or fourth time through. Oh, change your body tempo to control your opponent's. I guess that is five rules. The transition window is the most important and the hardest to execute. Because, as the NGC show notes, nobody can do two things at once, fighter brains cycle between offense, defense, and movement. The best fighters train theselves to bypass this by honing their reflexes (which can be used against them). But most fighters are constantly cycling. If you can pick up on this and throw a blow at the precise moment that they are cycling off of defense, they will probably not see the blow that hits them. More on this sort of thing later. -r

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Rehab and Report

It's been two weeks since my last post. I sit here at BAT, unable to fight because of my elbow. I've been working on a lot of things lately that are worth talking about, but I am in that period where I'm getting really frustrated not being able to fight.

REHAB:
I have moved to Indian clubs with my rehab with really good results. My elbow is no longer tender to the touch. It doesn't get wore with normal usage. It's not longer stiff. My doctor gave me a ot of exercises where I'm supposed to use a hammer to go through range of motion with my wrist. It is a weight on a stick. Even though they are a bit lighter I'm doing these with the Indian clubs. This week I added some of the basic exercises, like this one: .

However, today I wanted to test my elbow a bit, so I played a little Wii Fit. I went throught he Tennis, Bowling, and Baseball exercises, and my elbow started to hurt so I stopped. It's improved a lot, but it's not healed.


WORKOUTS
I've managed to do some form of aerobics three times a week, which along with my rehab is all I'm trying to do right now. Most of this is at Map My Fitness and on Facebook. This week I bagged my Friday workout in favor of a long hike with a weighted backpack on both Thursday and Friday. My Wednesday workout was an aerobics class at Kensington Fitness, and Monday was Yoga. The week before I had gone to the gym a couple of times and done a lot of walking. I've been running in my five fingers on the treadmill, but no street running.

My nutrition, however, has not been as good. I haven't been keeping good track o it this week, but it's just as well because the holidays have been taking their toll.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Nothing to report here

When I was Prince of the Mists, we used to call the winter reign "The Fat Season" because from Investiture, usually the third weekend of November, through Cynaguan Investiture (which usually fell on Super Bowl weekend back then, and my birthday), you had at least one feast every weekend. That's two and a half straight months of excess. I'm including a Christmas dinner in here. It wend something like this: Investiture, Thanksgiving, Golden Rivers Aniversary Banquet (that's three in eight days), Jingles, Esfenn Yule, Westermark Yule, Christmas, New Years, 12th Night, CAID 12th Night, An Tir 12th Night, Cynagua Investiture. Calories!! I'm not sure I went to An Tir 12th Night that year, and they don't always fall like that. But I went to something that third week of January. I gained a lot of weight.

I don't have to deal with that anymore, but the holidays are the bane of most fighters. There is a statistic that indicates that all the weight we gain in a year we gain over the holidays (kind of like all the profits a retailer makes).

This year I went to my lady's family in D.C. I had gone on a low-carb crash the week before and gotten down to 211, close to my best weight recently. I then basically ignored my diet. I decided that I was going to eat everything that appeared in front of me. Not much (I only had half a crescent roll, but it was my first crescent foll in at least five years). I even had a beer while watching football on Saturday. The result; today I weighed 213. That's nothing. I weighed 217 four weeks ago. Of course, it wasn't easy.

REHAB;
I have been rehabbing every day. My plan is to start strengthening exercises today (Monday) after Yoga. Alberecht turned me onto this new physical therapy device, which he and Tanaka are using. I am going to give it a try.

WORKOUTS:
I am still doing my workouts and still tracking them on mapmyfitness.com and occasionally on facebook. I did yoga on Monday, which has now become a regular thing. I had strained my groin on the elliptical the week before and it was really effecting my yoga (It hurts to assume the lotus position), so my teacher advised doing something else. As a result I am mostly on the treadmill. I ran for 25 minutes on the treadmill and then did yoga for half an hour on Wednesday, before the long bus ride down to D.C. On Friday I did a 3.45 mile run to help work off that turkey. I ran it in 5-fingers, and my calves still hurt. I also went shopping on Black Friday. As Keri said on "Sex in the City": "Shopping's my cardio."

FIGHTING:
As I said, no fighting right now. However, I'm considering fighting single-sword left handed at Season's Beatings this weekend. I'm antsy to put the armor on. Probably wear my plate and splint arms if I do. I've got some stuff I've been working out that I want to try.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Progress report 2

REHAB:
My arm hurts a lot still. It is intermittent. It didn't bother me at all yesterday. Now it stings. I have done my rehab every day. It says not to do the strengthening exercises until the stretching "barely hurts". I planned to be doing strengthening exercises by now, but the stretching still hurts a lot. I suspect now that I won't be able to fight at 12th Night.

WORKOUTS:
My workouts are going well. Yoga on Monday was great. I felt drained but rejuvenated at the end of it. Wednesday's gym workout went much like the week before: I did 20 minutes on the elliptical, about 30 minutes of yoga, and abs. I was again planning to go hunting on Friday, so I was skipping he afternoon gym session. Thankfully Vitus was teaching an un-armored class on Thursday night, which I took. (I did about half the work with a left hand grip, which was less stressful) It wasn't a very strenuous workout, but it was a good one. (see below). Also, I got a pretty good workout dragging a deer out of the woods on Saturday.

FIGHTING
Like i said, I haven't been fighting and likely won't for months. But I went to Vitus' bastard sword class, which as excellent.

Vitus uses some techniques adapted from Fiore, but not really. He uses a true bastard sword length sword, not the slightly longer version Marc uses. His sword is weighted with a metal pommel and has a thrusting tip. It can easily be used one handed. As mentioned before, Vitus is very interested in creating a period impression of a 12th Century knights, and the way he fights bastard sword reflects that.

He taught us a cool kata. He holds his sword low and behind him in a right-hand grip, with his left foot forward, as though inviting a thrust. When the thrust comes he voids by passing off-line to the right. Then he does the standard fiore move of driving his opponent's sword down and then striking with the back edge. He comes out of this into the True Window guard. From here he incresares and thrusts. Then he passes back on the right and brings his sword down to a long point that originates at the hip (don't know where this comes from). He passes on the right and thrusts, then passes on the left and cuts stotatti reverso, then does the same on the right.

At least, that's how I remember it.

Next he showed us his version of vom tag. It is the same as Paul's high guard. He passes on the right and strikes a horizontal cut to the head with the back edge (I know of know period description of this) then passes on the left with a for edge strike.

He likes to half sword against pole arms, but since he can't use pommel strikes he will block with the point down and then let go, starting a cut to the head and grabbing the pommel for added power.

Like Marc, he strikes Dritto passing with his right-foot forward and reverso with his left foot forward.

The main elements of his style seem to be high attacks (he never really strikes downward, always horizontal or upward, and says downward strikes are a mistake), voiding, and striking out of window parries (or the King's guard and the Queen's Guard). He seems to prefer the back edge when striking Dritto. It is a neat looking style, and he fights it well against either sword and shield or two weapon.

None of this makes much sense when I describe it, and I'm probably describing it wrong. I'm working of four day old memory and am unsure if I remembered all the steps of his kata. If the video comes out I will post it. Regardless, he is a fun and interesting knight, with a lot of knowledge and a well developed and effective style which looks more period than most. It was a great class.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Progress Report

So my first week (last week) of off-season rehab went pretty well.

WORKOUTS
Last week I did Yoga class on Monday. It was a good class. The instructor is very good at moving you just to the limits of your body and no farther. I push myself farther than she would like, natch, but I like her approach. I feel a bit tired but invigorated after her class.

Wednesday I did my scheduled gym workout #1, with 20 minutes on the elliptical, abs, and stretching. At some point last week, and I think this was it, I strained a hip flexer. But the workout felt good.

Being in a rush to go meet Big Mike so I could ride with him up to Cornwall, I did not do my Friday workout. It needed to be replaced, so on Sunday I rode my bike to BAT. Not a long ride, only about 6.5 miles round trip. I also taught a class at BAT, which was a slight workout in itself.

I have decided to re-order my workouts a bit. I am devoting Monday nights to Yoga from now on. The gym near my house has class at 7, which is easy for me to make. I do some brief Yoga most mornings along with my rehab exercises. I am also still feeling pain in my elbow when I stretch it, so I'm not yet adding the strength exercises.

PRACTICE
At BAT I taught a class and did pell work with my left hand. I worked on both regular snaps and on stepping to generate power.

COMMENTS
Count Vitus from Drachenwald was at BAT on Sunday and will be there again on Thursday. He was great to have around for a number of reasons.

His primary goal is to create a good 12th Century impression. Here is a picture of him:


Note the very cool mail chauses, the soup-can knees and elbows, the pot helm and the cross-hilted sword with finger gauntlets. This lead to some great discussions on the place of basket hilts in SCA fighting. He fights an old-school sword back style, not because he thinks it's stylistically superior but because that is the way you see fighting being done in the Maciejowski bible and the Manesse Codex. Since he uses finger gauntlets, he really doesn't want to be blocking with his hand (this is also the reason, from the days of hockey gloves, why hands are not a legal target).

Listening to him talk to Ervald was a lot like listening to me talk to Ervald ten years ago, when I was trying to explain to him why i fought in a sword back style (although i used a basket hilt and employed a lot more sword blocks than Vitus). The difference is now I've adopted an East Kingdom sword forward style, because I realized that the sword back style (and my smaller shield) wasn't allowing me to compete with the top Eastern fighters. "The top level fighters, they won't fight with that sword guard" Vitus said. Of course, nearly all the top level fighters *do* fight with that sword guard. However, he had some good ways around it, and I really liked watching him fight.

His position does raise the common question, where do we draw the authenticity line? There are no manuals for armored combat from the late 11th century, the time period we are all supposed to be armored for, but we do have the armor and some illustrations. Until the 15th or 16th centuries, blocking with the hands was suicidal. But we do it all the time now. It is an integral part of our art. At what point do we sacrifice our art for a more period look or, arguably, a more period style? It's pretty telling that in the class I taught before they armored up, I concentrated on sword blocking.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Working Out

Today I'm starting an 8 week workout program that will take me through December 31 and help me to stay in shape while I rehab my elbow. My workouts will be as follows:

Rehab daily
week 1: range of motion exercises (flexing and extending arm) 3 sets of ten, wrist range of motion (turnovers) 3 sets of ten
wrist stretches (qui gong stretches) 3 sets of ten
Week 2, add tae kwon do wrist stretches, 1 set of ten
Week 3 add Strengthening, hammer turn, 3 sets of ten, Can roll 3 sets of ten
Week 4 :replace range of motion with rubber band curls and extensions,3 sets of ten
Week 5 add shoulder rolls, 3 1 set of ten; draw the sword, 1 set of ten
Week 6, add Indian clubs

Gym Session 1
20 minutes on the elyptical
10 minutes stretching,
incline sit up, 3 sets of 10
ab pull overs, 3 sets of 10
20 each: crunches, leg lifts, right oblique, left oblique, raised knee

Gym session 2
20 minutes on treadmill
leg press, 3 sets of 10-12
leg curls 3 sets of 10-12
leg extensions 3 sets 10-12
10 minutes stretches

Classes: cardio blast, yoga, spin, dance aerobics, stair climb

Running

Cycling

First two weeks should look like this:
Today (Monday 11/7) Yoga
Wednesday, Gym 1
Friday, Gym 1
Monday 11/14 Gym 1
Wednesday, Yoga
Thursday, Gym 2

Second segment, weeks 3 & 4
Monday, 11/21: Yoga Class
Wednesday, Stair Climb
Thursday: 2.5 mile run
Monday 11/28: Gym 2
Wednesday Gym 1
Friday: (Class)

Segment 3, weeks 5 & 6
Monday, 12/5 Yoga
Wednesday Gym 2
Friday Gym 1
Monday 12/12 Gym 2
Wednesday Gym 1
Friday (Class)

Last segment, weeks 7 & 8
Monday 12/19, Yoga
Wednesday, Gym 1
Thursday, (Class)
Friday, Gym 2
Saturday Yoga
Sunday, 2.5 mile run
Tuesday Gym 1
Wednesday (class)
Thursday Gym 2
Friday 2.5 mile run
Saturday Yoga

There will be no fighting here. There might be pell work later on. Maybe I will fight left handed without a shield a couple of times. I may or may not fight at Western 12th Night. I might not fight until Birka (though I will probably need to practice a couple times before Birka).

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Fall Crown 2011

Ok: no more fighting till January. Got to heal.

I had a great crown in many respects. No, I didn’t fight as well as I wanted to. I got taken out by two guys whom I normally beat. I’ve been training with Oscad, and doing slightly better than him in most weapons forms. He went to the final four--not an indication that I’d have gone that far, just frustrating. But I am happy with this crown for a lot of reasons. First off, I made it out of my pool, which was my main goal going in. I had some great fights, and even though I fought like crap I persevered.

INJURY
I had not fought for a month, hoping to heal my elbow. I took some ibuprofen and warmed up. Even though it always slows me down and makes fighting harder, I put on my neoprene elbow brace.

My first fight it was terrible. I fought Willum, the new OTC. My blows were slow, my targeting off. I was striking like crap. Don’t know how I beat him. By the end of the pool my arm was hamburger, then it got worse. In the break I cooled down and stiffened up. That sucked. I couldn’t actually lift my arm directly to my shoulder. I couldn’t’ do a bicep curl while holding anything. Instead I had to lift with my shoulder and then swing the sword around my head, like an over head return. After my first fight I was able to use some of my sword-forward techniques, but by the end (and probably, effectively, all day) I only had about three shots. I was limited to classic bellatrix style which uses next to no arm strength to generate power. Head shot, off-side head, leg. That was about it. I tried some hammer blows and the classic 1-2, but not to any effect.
I was sitting with Artos and Gwyn. Gwyn is a great coach and Artos is my swing doctor. They are even more Western-centric than I am, being prejudiced against big shields and in favor of tip-heavy swords and the bellatrix snap. But they were right about what I was doing: I needed to sit into my shots, relax and fire. More on this later.

The worst thing about the injury was not being able to grip the sword properly. I hit three people in the side of the head with full on Bellatrix snaps, from behind my head, and it was shrugged off. I hit three people with my hook-thrust, my best shot, and that got shrugged off two. Given the number of blows getting shrugged off, and by different fighters, the obvious answer is that I couldn’t deliver a sholid blow because I couldn’t grip the sword properly.

FIGHTING
I was in a very tough pool. They seeded the list kind of weird. They said they were going to do it by order of precedence, but they didn’t. They also didn’t do what they had done last time we had pools like this, with three dukes and two counts. That time they put a duke on the first three fields and Thorsen and I on the fourth. This time they gave Edward his own field and put me on the field with Brion—this is fine, because I wasn’t fighting well enough to warrant my own field. I’m told that what they did was seed the dukes in alphabetical order and then the counts the same way.

Anyway, my pool had Brion in it. There were four lefties, including John the Breeder. It also had Eric Hundeman (sp) who gives me fits. The third knight on our field was Sir Collin. Tough pool.

I had three losses and seven wins, which was enough to advance. I placed fourth in the pool, and all three of my losses were to the other three fighters who advanced: Kenewulf, John, and Brion.

The fights I lost were the ones that stood out. (isn’t it always the way that your favorite fights are the ones you loose?). Against Brion I fought really really well. I was warmed up but my elbow hadn’t tightened up too much. IU hyad gotten the first fight out of the way and I was more relaxed. And it was Brion, so I was totally focused. My defense was good, my offense pressed him, and I even tried a spin move on him—my plan had actually been that he would catch the spin on his shield and then I’d throw a back hand to his leg. It almost worked, but almost isn’t worth much. But that was a really fun fight. John and Kenewulf both beat me by being super-aggressive and forcing me out of my game. (not unlike what Oscad was doing all day).

Collin said my fight with him put him off his game because, using the heater, I had many more angles covered and he couldn’t knock my shield around. I got him by taking his leg and the hitting him in the body. Eric I got with a great low-line body thrust. The upward thrust was having no power problems. Artos and Gwyn, watching these fights, kept encouraging me to throw classic snaps, to relax and fire from my butt. Not only had I painted my shield but I re-strapped it as well. I lowered my hand, changing the angle my arm was at, so that I had better off side protection. It worked well, but I did get my sword caught up a few times on the top edge. Just take some getting used to. Artos was razzing me about it all day. “you fight so much better with a bunny round”, “what are you doing using sword blocks when you got that big shield to hide behind?” etc.

The elimination portion was a double elimination with sixteen fighters, the top four from each pool. Each round was 2 out of three, matched weapons, higher ranked fighter chose first. I did not do so well. My first fight was against Jan Janovitch. I chose great-sword, then made the same mistake against him that I’d made against Ron, faked high and shot for his leg and he just hit me on the top of the head. Our second fight was with sword and shield. I hit him with both a snap and a hook thrust, neither of which he took (the thrust probably just caught his camail). He got me with a straight up snap after a long fight.

My second set of fights was with a fighter from Quintavia named—I thin—either Valdur or Evaldur. I’d seen him fight earlier in the day. I took sword and shield first and, after a really long fight, I hit him in the head. Then we fought polearm and he killed me, but I had a blast. I was really into that fight. I was using my new poleax and chased him all around the field. Our third fight was two-weapon. He took two arming swords while I fought sword and short-sword. I took his arm and then killed him with a body shot.

My next fight was against Jabril. He showed a lot of patience. I chose sword and shield first and could not break his defense down. Then we had a great great-sword fight, which he won when I missed a shot at his head and didn’t recover properly, so my sword was out of position. Great fight.

At no point did I chose the sword in one hand, which I’d considered. I wish I’d done it against Jabril.

TOURNAMENT
The tourney itself was awesome. I picked the final-four, the finalists, and the winner two weeks ago when the list came out, so I felt the great prognosticator. The final four were Omega vs Kenrick and Edward vs. Oscad. Kenrick beat Omega in two fights. Oscad beat Edward with greatsword and then lost a two weapon fight because he talked Edward out of taking a shot. That was his game, but after Edward was almost slain he found another gear and just turned it on. He was swinging hard with both swords and Oscad said he was hitting harder than Douglas. It was fantastic. In the finals, Kenrick won the great sword and the two weapon fights, Edward won the polearm and the first sword and shield fight. In the last fight Kenrick took his leg, then his arm, then killed him. Everyone was happy. Kenrick had been in finals something like eight times before.

My tourney was awesome too. All told I fought seventeen fights and I won nine of them. I fought like crap, at no more than 50% of my normal level. Not what it takes to contend but a good day considering.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Sacrifice and Inspiration

The SCA, as I point out in my book, is a middle-class activity, and has all the trappings and characteristics of a bourgeois capitalist hobby: it is bound by large numbers of rules, it is concerned with protocol and form, it is extremely hierarchical, and it seeks both permanence and legitimacy (by expanding the society through recruitment, by establishing its own history, and in the continuous push toward authenticity). It is also middle class in the most simplest of ways: people of the middle class make up its members. There are few truly rich people in the SCA. They tend not to need the emotional validation the SCA provides to its members because they get it through real-world as opposed to play-world success. There are poor people in the SCA, but the SCA is a luxury, and simply because of cost the poor have to limit their SCA activities. Although it began among college-students and “Berkeley hippies protesting the 20th century”, the SCA is structurally middle-class. It works best if you have a job that provides leisure time and disposable income, a car, a garage, and a 9-5 weekday job, because fighter practices, dance practices, and events take place on weekends.

I have long been frustrated that I do not train as often as I should or as I did when I was 25. Back then it was nothing for me to fight two practices a week plus an event nearly every weekend. One reason I quit my retail job (losing almost $1,000 in extra income a month), was because I didn’t have time to fight anymore. Living in New York City makes training hard: I don't have a garage or a car, for instance.

As I’ve documented here, I decided to train hard for this crown. I made an effort to be in armor twenty times between Pennsic and Crown tourney. Through Cloisters I had been in armor eleven times, which put me well on my way. But with my elbow hurting as it did I decided to take time off. I have run and done Yoga and rehabbed my elbow, but I have not been fighting (this week I added Indian clubs to my rehab workout, but I haven’t used the kettle bell all this month).

SACRIFICE
With the time off I decided to get ready for crown in other ways. I have been watching tape. I’ve been visualizing fights, and I’ve been working on gear. Last week I shaped and taped two new broadsword blades. Sunday I stripped my shield and painted it two coats of flat-black. I also took time to do some teaching at BAT and at Nutley.

I was making a bit of time for my other hobby: I went deer hunting on Saturday and planned to go tomorrow. Problem is, there is a snow storm forecast for the area I hunt tomorrow, up to ten inches, maybe even a foot (I’m betting on three inches myself). This means that Sunday is going to be great hunting, and I would have a real chance at bagging either the six or the eight pint bucks I saw last weekend. But Sunday is the last BAT before Crown. I need to put armor on, even if I only fight left-handed. I need to paint my device on my shield (a long and arduous task), and put the basket hilts on my new swords. I made the plan that fighting took precedence over hunting before Crown Tourney, and so I am going to sacrifice probably the best day of bow-hunting this year to go to a fighter practice where I probably won’t even be able to train, just get some helmet time and fight left handed. (Which reminds me: see the orthopedist this week).

INSPIRATION
Which brings me to inspiration. I am inspired by numerous things. My lady inspires me because I want more than anything else to make her queen. Sissule inspires me by her grace. Alethea inspires me by her joy. Mom Eilis inspires be with her nobility. I am inspired by Omega and Lucan and Andreas and Brion simply through their prowess. I was always inspired by Radnor to be that amazing heroic knight. Rolf and Thorin and Bedford have inspired me by proving that I am, in fact, not too old for this game.

But lately what’s been inspiring me has been the knights on the new Chivalry FaceBook group. There was a discussion of how people trained and how often. I noted that before I stepped it up for crown and then got injured, I would normally try to fight once a week and do aerobics 2-3 times a week, mixing in Yoga and kettle bells, but I would often rely on the simple fact that living in New York provides a good workout. This is true, but it means that I don’t keep a good workout schedule. (today I will go to the gym for the first time this week). The knights who posted are doing some amazing things. They are doing pell work every night. Some are lifting three times a week. Most are fighting 2-3 times a week and running or biking for endurance. One knight said he does yoga four times a week and fights twice a month (which I can totally understand, no matter how many people said he needs to reverse that). I am inspired to knuckle down over the winter and go back to doing a solid off-season workout after crown, concentrating on yoga and aerobics until my elbow heals, and then adding in pell work, Indian clubs and kettle bells in addition to fighting. What my brothers are doing is awesome, and although my fragmented urban life-style makes it hard, I intend to emulate them.

Crown is in 8 days!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Mists Coronet

Ajax won Mists coronet last weekend. The video is below. It starts out slow, but the final blow is pretty incredible.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Injury update

The tendinitis in me elbow hasn't gotten much better. I am doing my rehab and stretching. I might go get a portion shot. Regardless, I haven't fought in two weeks and will likely get only one practice in before crown at this point. I might even have to fight left handed without a shield.

I also have not been doing my kettle bells or Indian clubs. Both will be important in my rehab, but later. Right now it's just rubber bands.

Haven't been to the gym much lately, but I did run today.2.5 miles in my 5 fingers. Not a lot, but it felt great.


Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Low Cost Armor, yet again

I recently updated my article on Low Cost Armor yet again (the last update was 2008, wow!). The cost for a period looking suit of armor has crept up, but it can still be had for right around $300, and less if you want to get creative. Here are the high lights:

The two armorers I use most often are both armoring laurels who make affordable mutions grade armor at good prices: Master Alail Horsefriend and Master Cett Donegal. (Among other things, Alail made the helm I wear using Rough from the Hammer parts made by Ronald Wilmot, and then Cet put the bar cage on it: so three armoring laurels worked on my helm, which in the end cost me less than $100).

Cet Donegal now owns Rough From The Hammer (http://roughfromthehammer.com). This is the place to go to REALLY keep the prices down. Cet’s stuff comes rough finished and un-strapped—he sells parts to other armorers who finish the products and resell them. Elbow cops from this shop are $12 a pair. Spaulders are $20 a pair. He makes very affordable helmets, but only as custom orders.

Alail’s website is located at http://www.horsefriendarmoury.com. Like Cet, he has some great prices on munition grade armor: a sugarloaf helm for $100 in 14ga mild, splint legs for $120, splint arms for $80 and stainless for only 150% of his base price. Here is a basic suit put together from his old price list:

Great Helm, $80
Elbows, $20
Knees, $25
Churburg Breast plate (w/ Kidney Protection)$120
Simple Gorget, $30
Spaulders, $20

That totals out to $295. We still need a few pieces. We have to make cuises and vambraces and we don’t have hand protection. Some scrap leather to make vambraces and cuisses out of, the basket hilt and shield basket from Ashcraft Baker, and you’ll have a suit of armor most of which came from an armoring laurel within our target price. Not too shabby. Then add a gambeson and a nice surcoat and you will look very knightly.

A few armorers have beginner’s kits for sale in the right price range. Ashcraft Baker (www.ashcraftbaker.com) has a beginner kit that includes helmet, gorget, basket hilt, shield basket, and articulated elbows and knees for $220--a great price! Add some kidney and lumbar protection and you’re SCA legal. If that’s what you can afford go for it. However, the helmet is a spun top and I’m looking for something a little more period in style.

To complete the project you have to pick and choose pieces. Some armorers have expensive helms but reasonable legs. One has the best price on bascinets but their gorgets are expensive. In every case to keep prices down avoid buying cuises and vambraces. Those are easy to make. I want to put together not just SCA armor, but a knightly kit that, if not historically accurate, is at least evocative of a single time period. Below are a few more kits which fit the bill.

Crusader Kit:
From True Hearth Armory (http://www.truehearth.com)
• Teardrop Helm $80
• Standard gorget $40

From Bokalo’s Armoury (www.bokalosarmoury.com)
• Demi Gauntlet $25

From Rough From The Hammer (http://roughfromthehammer.com)
• Fanless elbow cops, no wings, pair $12
• Fanless knee cops, no wings, pair $13
• Spaulder A $12
• Kidney Plates $20

From Ashcraft Baker (www.ashcraftbaker.com)
• Basket Hilt
• Shield Basket $25 (set)

That’s $227. Now invest in Period Patterns #101, available from several SCA merchants (try http://camelot-treasures.com/patterns/index.htm) for $21. Make the long, short sleeved crusader gambeson, reinforced with some of the plates from Rough from the Hammer. Make the gamboized cuisses, also included in the pattern, and attach to those the kneecops using leather lacing or cord. Use an inexpensive canvass and cotton batting, and materials for this should be about $40. They are not required under SCA rules, but some kingdoms require vambraces, and they are really a good idea. You will need to make some out of scrap metal or heavy leather, but the elbow cop is the hard part and you bought that.

We are now SCA legal. Total for this project before shipping is $288, including the cost of the pattern, which really shouldn’t count towards our total since it will be used several times over. Note: I didn’t include materials for a shield, but my first several shields were free anyway—scrap plywood, discarded garden hose and an old belt for straps.

14th Century Suit #1
One variation is to turn this into a Wisby suit. Do everything as above, except don’t get the helm or the kidney. Instead, you need to get hold of a sheet of 18 gauge steel and a way to cut it (with GAA out of business I could no longer find a metal Visby kit. I hear Alchemy has a plastic one, but I’m trying to avoid plactic in this exercise—however, cutting your own keep the price down. I used to use a jig saw with a hack saw blade). Go to the armor archive wisby coat page and download the patterns. You can also buy Period Patterns #102 (see below), which has a Wisby coat pattern in it. Then add From Boldo’s Armory (http://www.boldo.com/armory/index.html) the “Classic Pembridge” greathelm for $100. This will take you a bit over our budget when all is said and done, but still very affordable and it will look sharp.

Now for the hard one:

14th century suit #2

From Illusion Armory (http://www.illusionarmoring.com/)
• 14 ga. Bascinet (don’t get the 16 ga). $110

From Bokalo’s Armoury
• Pinned dog collar gorget $35
• Demi Gauntlet $25

From Rough From The Hammer
• Fanless elbow cops, no wings, pair $12
• Fanless knee cops, no wings, pair $13
• Globose Breastplate $60

From Ashcraft Baker
• Basket Hilt
• Shield Basket $25 (set)


That comes to $280. NOW: get both Period Patterns #101 and #102 ($21 each). Make the gamboized cuisses from pattern #101 and the jupon (short, long sleeved gambeson) from pattern #102. Materials for the jupon and cuisses, again, are about $40. Use some sole leather for vambraces. Note that this suit doesn’t have shoulder protection.

Really, the secret is to get a good looking helmet. The rest of your hard points can be armored fairly inexpensively. Then cover it up with a good surcotte and you won't look like a schlub.

Monday, October 3, 2011

West Kingdom Crown

Here is some video of West Kingdom Crown Finals, Duke Uther vs. Duke Connor, great fighters whom I love to fight against. Note three things: first is how Uther clearly does not wantto close with Connor (wise, since that's how he lost the second fight). The second is that Connor keeps looking for that shot I throw with the bunny round (and a bit with the heater and kite) where I block the on-side leg shot with shield low and a hanging guard, and as soon as the sword contacts with my defense shoot straight down with my sword (most people lean into their leg shots and this catches them--we both learned this from Hauoc, I'd bet). The third is something I always say: many times, it's much better to go for the shoulder than the head.







There's lots more from crown over on Youtube.

Colisters!

My favorite Ostgardr event is the Fort Tryon Medieval Fair demo. The fair is put on annually by the NYC parks department in the park where the Cloisters museum is located. It is a great New York type event. Incredibly crowded and full of energy, and just a little bit weird. I love it. We usually get a good audience for our shows and this time was no exception. We also have a very well organized demo team in Ostgardr. Under a big Marquis tent and a few pop ups we had pictures and fliers, arms and armor, and demonstrations of spinning, weaving, sewing, leather work, armoring, and stone carving. There was dancing, rapier, and chivalric combat. They put on a good show. On top of that, Gui and Johanna are turning out to be a GREAT Viceroy and Vicereign. They were a strong presence this weekend. Gui made new weapons, organized the fighting, oversaw the tourney, and played the crowd.

The tourney, by the way, was for the Champion of Ostgardr. It was limited to unbelted fighters living in the province. There were four combatants and the victor was Tormundr.



In progress weapons



The weapons rack at Cloisters


Of course, I was mostly there to fight.

INJURY
The bad news is that I've decided to abandon my training schedule to let my elbow heal. I took a week off to let it heal, went to the orthopedist (who confirmed that it is tendinitis and not something more serious) and even had two spa treatments (I was on vacation after all). I had had an opportunity to fight on Saturday at coronation, which I'd been looking forward to, but decided that I wanted to rest it a full week. It didn't' help. In fact, my elbow hurt worse on Sunday than it ever has.

FIGHTING
As I've said in the past, a demo is not someplace you work on technique. There is too much show going on for that. Even if you are fighting the way you always fight, the people you are fighting are often doing something crazy. However, it is a great place to get in helmet time and fight with odd weapons.

I was not fighting well at all. My elbow was effecting both my speed and power. But I was having fun none the less. All of the fights except in the tourney were to counted blows, usually three. Gui had made new maces using the awesome rubber mace heads Icefalcon is selling. Those got a lot of use! I fought one handed at the barrier against Tormundr with them. Then I fought with great sword and great ax. Later I did some fights with sword and shield. My last set of fights I was fighting sword and shield against Timur and my elbow just would no longer function. I won the first fight and then just gave up on my right arm. I switched to fighting left handed with no shield. I struck him twice more as he struck me, so I won that fight, but that was when I decided that I'm not fighting again for at least two weeks, possibly three.

Once again, I cannot stress how how useful a barrier is at a demo. It provides for some really dramatic fighting, it's showy, and it keeps the fights rooted into one place so they don't get too close to the audience. For the finale of the day I ran a single-sword melee at the barrier the way they do it in the West, where you have two guys on each side and as they are struck they cycle out and are replaced by new fighters, so the action is fast paced and non-stop. We disallowed arm shots to make it more dramatic. They destroyed the barrier in the process. It was a lot of fun!

This was my eleventh time in armor since Pennsic. Unfortunately, I will not be in armor again for at least two weeks, probably not until Nutley on Wednesday the 26th.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Sunday 9/25 at Conrad's

For practice on Sunday we skipped out on BAT and went to Conrad’s house in Jersey. The knights resent were me, Oscad, Conrad and Roger. Unbelts included Shandar, Deklin, Wulfgar, Gunther and Johnathan. It was an excellent practice.

INJURY
My elbow needs to be xrayed and it needs rest. I am still convinced that this is tendinitis, but it flares up regularly and it is really painful. It is effecting my technique, my speed, my power, and I ended up getting out of armor much too early because of it. As a result this practice started out great and ended up being frustrating.

TECHNIQUE
Very oddly, I fell into a technique I can’t recall ever using before. I think it was to rest my elbow. I wasn’t doing it constantly, but that I was going it at all surprised me because it was unplanned. I am not sure it was at all effective, but it was interesting. I was essentially fighting like Kelson but goofy footed, which I suppose made it more like Omega. I went into a slight crouch, raised the front corner of my shield, looked past the front edge instead of over the top, and kept my sword low, in a true saber parry 3 position. Like Kelson, I was guarding left side with the shield, right side with the sword. It was an interesting defense, so long as I moved my feet a lot.

FIGHTING
I fought Wulfgar, (not Master Wulfgar) first. He usually hits very hard but he was being tentative and not committing to his shots. He was also over swinging. I began experimenting, which is how I fell into the odd guard I was playing with.

Next I fought Conrad which was awesome. I killed him a number of times, the best one being a simple old-school trick of throwing a flat snap, slide-stepping to the right, and throwing the same snap. It is a trick employed by both Bellatrix and Von Dresden. I also got him a few times with the hook, particularly the top-edge hook, but he says I am using it too much and I hooked too deep and caught his bicep at one point. E also said he expected me to hook and then throw a leg as he recovered, which is odd because that is something that I do and I don’t know why I didn’t attempt it against him. We took each others legs several times and once he got me with a shot that never should have worked, what looked like a wavy-rising snap that turned into a straight down body shot to my right pec. Nice bruise too.

I fought Roger next and that was interesting. He is pumped up with that “I just got knighted!!!” extra 20%. He’s more aggressive and more precise and he is not over thinking or worrying about his fights. I killed him with a few thrusts, but it was mostly an exercise in defense for me. He was tight and on. He got me with an interesting stop thrust right in the face.

My fights with Oscad were awesome as usual. In the past we have fought a lot alike, mostly to my advantage. He would work mostly at long range, use sword blocks and foot work, use kind of a saber attack off his blocks with a good straight line thrust. He doesn’t’ realize it (we talked later) but around Birka his fighting took a big change, and he now is more aggressive, he closes right away, he mobs me with offense and he presses his attacks. It is the main reason why he got knighted, but he doesn’t realize he’s doing it. Our fights were a blast. He won more than I did and my best kill on him was when I was on my knees and he was crowding me, I got him with a sit-down dropping shot, like I killed Doug with two weeks ago. Conrad said that it looked like I owned his leg early on but then went away from it to work on other things (true) but by the time I went back to it I was too gassed to take it (also true).

After that I stopped fighting. I wanted to fight everybody there, but I took my legs off to use the bathroom, cooled down, and when I next moved my elbow it didn’t want to move any more.

Two interesting things from this practice: I am definitely game planning around my elbow. I don’t ave much of a wrap. I’m not using some shots because of the strain they’d put on me, I am using more Bellatrix technique to rest that tendon, I’m slower and have a very weak off side, so I may be thrusting a bit more. Second, roger says he fights and does better against me if I am using the heater, while Conrad (and earlier Ice) say I am much more effective with the heater and am a much more serious threat. In both cases it is for the same reason: I am intentionally trying to fight like an Easterner, not only in shield shape but also in technique, style, and shot selection. I use fewer molinees, fewer fakes, fewer tear-drop returns, I keep my hand forward in a sword-side guard and, most importantly, I am trying to be a defensive fighter and counter punch rather than an offensive fighter and create openings. To Roger this makes me less of a threat because I’m not doing anything that freaks him out. He is comfortable in that fight. To Duke Conrad, who was never freaked out by me (even when he was an unbelted fighter) it makes me much more effective, because now I am fighting a smart fight. Both of them see the same thing—that I am fighting more like them—but it means different things to each of them. I find that to be pretty cool.

I asked Conrad what one thing he would have me work on. He said I should add an offside shot of a rising snap—not quite the one he hit me with, as he demonstrated. He wants me to cock like it’s a wavy rising snap but pull my elbow in as I throw the rising part then drive it up into a straight off-side head or off-side body. It should be distinct from a butterfly because it doesn’t take that sweeping upward arc. It is kind of like the blow Radnor gave to Leon when he fixed his elbow cop during coronet finals, when Leon beat Uther.

This was my tenth time in armor since Pennsic (!!). Commitments in October will make it hard to get ten more practices in. My nest time in armor will likely be at the pas d'armes at Gregor's coronation. This will give me five days of rest on my elbow. If not then it will be at Cloisters on Sunday. However, I'm planning on seeing the doctor today, and I might end up taking more time off as a result. Such is life.

Friday, September 23, 2011

BAT practice, 9/22/11

So I dragged myself off the couch, forced myself out the door, and—elbow more or less the same—called a livery cab, heading to Brooklyn Army Terminal. The Thursday practice is mostly a training practice for our new guys. The three who are most dedicated were there—Deklin (Eddie), Duncan (Richard), and Shandar the Barbarian (Andrew: the barbarian part isn’t accurate, but we feel obligated to tease him about his name). We have at least four more new guys who show up from time to time, but these three are the regulars and they made it to Pennsic. Much of the evening involves Oscad and I giving instruction. I spent a lot of time describing to Duncan how to close with an opponent on his knees. But it does allow me to work on some things. I get to fight Oscad. As I said before, Deklin is a natural and Shandar is becoming a good polearm fighter. Duncan fights crisply and is a learning sponge. It is always good to train people like this, and all of them have reached the point where they surprise me from time to time. I ended up training Shandar and Duncan but not fighting them. I fought Deklin and Oscad (twice). Forcing myself out of my comfort zone, and having had a great sword and shield practice last night at Nutley, I just fought greatsword and polearm.

TECHNIQUE
When first learning two-handed sword I learned from Rolf (currently King Rolf) using a true hand and a half bastard sword witout a thrusting tip. This has always been my favorite vaiation, but with Rolf that mostly meant playing baseball with someone's helmet (in his case, with my helmet). I then studied under Elrik using his nodachi (which wasn’t really a nodachi but a blade with a tsuba that was about the length of a large Shinai). He employed a lot of kenjitsu in his technique. This is where I began employing the regular kendo stance. Then I began to study with Paul of Bellatrix. I’ve always found his technique difficult to master, but seeing what he’s done with it, it’s amazing. I then started taking WMA workshops and trying to employ some of that technique into my SCA fighting, which does not work well for me. Recently I’ve been looking at Marc d’Arundel’s work, since he’s the only person to win Western Crown with a two handed sword, and trying to learn his style.

I normally try to use Bellatrix’s high guard or his thrusting guard, which Lichtenaur would call “plfug” (plow). These are demonstrated at the Bellatrix Fighting School website. However, that works best with a true great-sword or a nodachi. My old way of doing things, if the handle of the sword was short enough, was to use a kendo stance, with the left leg forward. I try to incorporate Gregor’s high guard technique, he being the best great-sword fighter in these parts, but to little success. The various guards in Lichtenaur I will play with but I don’t find that they work all that well in the SCA game. Marc’s style, listed on his website, involves an A-fram guard, a central stance (mostly) a lot of thrusting, and striking only to the side you pass forward on (so if you are striking at the right side you pass on the right).

For this practice, I was mostly trying to stay alive.

FIGHTING
I only fought three sets of fights.

My first set was with Deklin. He is left handed but uses his greatsword sword with a right hand grip. I found that the kendo stance was working best for me, but nearly every fight we ended up core to core. I tried the same shot on him that got me killed against Ronald in Crown, knocking the sword up and sweeping the leg. It got me killed again. That used to work so well. I think I forgot to pass off line to the right. The one time I did take his leg I used the technique I learned in the great-sword list at Estrella awhile back, Half swording, passing on the left, getting between his sword and helmet, pulling his sword away, and clubbing him.

My first set of fights with Oscad were also with greatsword. I guess you could call it bastard sword, since that's what Mark calls it, becasue it's too small to be a zweihander, but it's really not a bastard sword either. Again, we ended up core to core all the time. I think we traded pretty evenly. I decided about half-way through that I was not moving enough. I was closing but then mostly going toe-to-toe with both him and Deklin. Attacking on offline steps became my main focus for the rest of our fights, which kept me at range and made our fights really dramatic, and certainly was better defensively. I did once take his leg and kill him with a one-handed shot.

In my polearm fights with Oscad I not only had fun I redeemed myself a bit from last crown. He got me with a sweeping thrust, but after that I was fighting really well. I won most of our bouts. I used a number of specific techniques against him and they all worked:

I have a thrust fake I use mostly against shieldmen. I fake a thrust to the face, draw a circle toward the leg and up again, and thrust to the face. It worked. He almost killed me with a thrust to the armpit at the same time, but it caught my gambeson and he pulled it because his head was being knocked back like a cue ball.

I used Tadgh O’Doin’s bayonet drill, where, with a right hand lead, I cut to the on side, pass on the left and cut to the off side, then choke up by un-crossing my arms and thrust and cut inside. Killed him with the cut to head.

I dashed his pole aside a la Ajax, hooking it away with my back edge, then gather stepped, and cut to his face.

Because he uses that odd reverse-grip guard, with the head held low, the pole high, and a left foot lead, I tried David Civet’s swim move on him, where I reverse so that my thumbs are opposed and just swim my way into him, trying to gain control of his blade by dashing it down. It worked really well. I closed in and cut him.

Oscad said my main quality was persistence. I kept coming, kept repeating the same few blows till they worked. That's about right, I don't have a deep bag of shots with polearm like I do with broadsword.

Those were all good fights, but I used just about every trick I know.

This was my ninth day in armor since Pennsic. My next time in armor will be Sunday, ether at BAT or in Iron Bog (we might get the whole crowd to go down).

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Nutley 9/21/11

Nutley last night. I traveled over with Oscad. Neither Gregor nor Omega were there, nor even John the Breeder, but it was a top heavy practice nonetheless. I only fought four sets, but they were all against knights, and I worked hard for everything I got.

INJURY:
My elbow had stopped hurting by Wednesday, but started again before I even got in the car. I need to take a month off, but it absolutely cannot be the next month. I will go in and have it x-rayed, though. I’m sure it is tendinitis, but just in case there is a bone chip in there I’d like to know. It affected everything I did. I wore the brace this time (and it didn’t hurt as badly a it did Saturday night), but the combination of the brace and the stiffness slowed me down. I had real problems generating power (though my sword was starting to broom as well, which could be part of it).

TECHNIQUE:
I took Omega’s advice and worked on my stance by switching my lead foot only between opponents. I concentrated on my shield alignment, setting up with my shield between my opponent’s sword and my head at all times. Because of the stiffness in my elbow I was mixing in some Bellatrix technique, which doesn’t require as much arm in your shots, but I was trying to minimize that. It’s not going to win me a lot of fights by itself.

FIGHTING:
I fought four opponents: Jan Janovitch, Max, Stephen, and Tzeitchel. I fought Jan and Stephen with a shield foot lead, Max and Tzeitchel with a sword foot lead.

Against Jan I was effective in my defense and many of my blows were landing on target but with very little power. This was when I started using the Bellatrix technique and my power went up. Jan fights an almost western style, and the Bellatrix technique worked well enough against him. I killed him a few times. He was hard to track down. Both of us are trying to play at extreme range, and a lot of the time we were just not close enough.

Against Max I felt more comfortable. When I fight goofy foot I bring my sword farther forward in defense but keep my elbow back to generate power through my core. I worked fine. I didn’t have many power issues against Max (except with an off-side leg blow I really didn’t expect to land). I think we fought three fights. The first one he blew right through my block. The second one I think I hit him with an on-side head shot. In the third fight I took his leg and he became a turtle. I used every technique I have for someone on his knees but couldn’t hit him. I used a standard butterfly and Ed’s butterfly. I used a hook/thrust. I used a top-edge hook. I used Rolf’s Head/body/head combo, and Gemini’s “magic button” press with the face thrust. I even went behind the back (which was flat anyway). I didn’t lay sword on him. Like Stephan and Jabril, he looks past the front corner of his shield intead of over the top, and when he does that on his knees it makes him really hard to hit. The hook thrust he twisted out of. The top edge hook couldn’t push his shield down far enough. Same with the press and face thrust. His shield was too high for the press to be effective. When he took my leg I went all rock and roll on him, trying to change up the tempo, and we had a good exchange but he hit me.

When I fight Stephen I count it as a success if I hit him once. I use those fights to find the most glaring holes in my defense. He is so fast and strong and precise that it is all you can do. I did kill him once, with the hook/thrust, which is much better than I usually do. But fighting Stephen is as much fun as fighting gets. Once again, I was fighting strong side (shield leg forward). Next time I will fight him weak side. The first thing I learned, or that he reinforced, is that the heater leaves me open for a quick off-side face blow. This is how Thorsen used to kill me all the time. As soon as I threw a leg shot, or started an off-side, or a fake, or (bad form) telegraphed a blow by cocking, Stephen would fire at my off-side face and usually kill me. The second thing I learned is that I can’t go to my right against Stephen. Every time I did he tent-pegged me—by far the hardest I was hit all night. He did it three times. Once I bit my tongue. It is a blow I use a lot in the same situation, but he had me timed perfectly. When we talked afterward, he said that straight on my defense was tight and he didn’t have many openings, but that when I moved to my right I opened up every time.

Fighting Tzeitchel I switched back to goofy foot and I was winning a lot of my fights. We were both tired. It was the end of the night. I found that I had a good gap on her on-side head when she was throwing a blow. The best kill she got on me was when I was aggressive and pushed her. She backpeddled and got me with a very high, over the shield off-side head blow.

All in all it was a good night. I was probably more comfortable fighting goofy foot, but my offense wasn’t as good. I had a pretty tight defense however. After my early fights with Jan my power problems went away. I had a lot of fun.

This was my eighth time in armor since Pennsic. I may fight tonight at BAT. If not I will fight this weekend.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Queen's Farm

It is really not easy to train at a demo. The fighting is often not the same as tournament fighting. It can be, but there is a long tradition of putting on a show for the audience, and while some knights insist that fighting your best game and seriously trying to beat your opponent puts on the best show possible, others point out that often the subtleties of serious tourney fighting are lost on audiences not used to our combat. I tend to agree with the latter position. For instance, look at the way finals often go between our top fighters. They can stare at each other for five minutes before launching a blow, then back out and wait again, trying to entice their opponents to make mistakes. Lucan vs. Brian went on for an hour like that. On the other hand, it does little if there is one duke and four relatively new unbelted fighters, and the duke ends up killing the others with one or two shots over and over again. It is worse when there are only two or three fighters in armor. But if it looks too much like we are playacting we lose credibility with the audience. For this reason it is a bad place to work on your technique.
However, there are also some advantages to demo fighting. For one thing, it is easier to get in fights with two-handed weapons or Florentine, because this adds variety that the audience likes, and those weapons forms are often more dramatic than sword and shield (depending on who is fighting, of course). Plus the value of just time in the helmet can’t be stressed enough.

In Ostgardr, our two biggest demos are at this time of year. The first is the Queen’s Farm demo at the Queen’s County Fair (yes, Queen’s County has a fair. Really. Live stock and every thing). The second is the Fort Tryon Medieval Fair at the park that houses the Cloisters museum. Queen’s Farm was last weekend and Ft. Tryon is two Sundays from now. I fought Saturday at Queen’s Farm and, not only was it fun, but I did some good training. Unfortunately, I also ran up against my elbow injury again. Before the day I thought it had subsided, but by the end of the last show it was really bothering me and I had to sit down.

At Ft. Tryon there will be a tourney, but I probably won’t enter.
I also got in a little archery and thrown weapons practice for fun.

TECHNIQUE:
Because of the nature of demo fighting, I wasn’t working on technique much. I was either fighting full out or taking it easy to put on a show. I wasn’t picking specific techniques to concentrate on. The one exception to that is that I did work specifically on some Bellatrix technique. See below.

FIGHTING:
For two of the four shows there were only two fighters in armor, myself and Gui. Because of this, neither of us was fighting as hard as we normally would. We didn’t want to break each other, especially with more shows later in the afternoon. However, every third or fourth fight we would “fight one for real” and these were good practice. Gui is an excellent left handed fighter. When I use the center-grip I normally get the better of him, but when I use the heater he normally clobbers me. This time I was concentrating on attacking the back side of his shield and it was working well, at first. He Is using a narrow heater hung for punch blocking, with his arm almost parallel to the top edge of the shield almost in the middle. This gives him lots of sword side defense, kind of like the center grip does, but it opens him up for shield side shots because he ends up cheating too far over. I took his leg from that side, which I almost never do with a lefty, stabbed him in the body and later in the shoulder. My lefty defense was very strong as well, but with Gui I found that if I cheat as much as I had been I have no offense.
Alexander joined in for the second and fourth shows. I mostly worked on old-school belatrix technique against him (and a little against Gui) because it is more dramatic. This allowed me to do some slow-developing timing patterns and some old-style misdirection fakes. The fakes only worked once, but the timing and hooks was worked twice. In the fourth show he and I fought some great sword, practice of crown.

In the third show we got the best possible combination of drama for the audience and fighting for ourselves. I challenged Gui to a passage of arms with five weapons forms: glaive, great sword, short pole (he had brought his maul and his Danish ax, which are about the same size), Florentine (sword and poniard, my favorite) and sword and shield. It ended up a tie, with me winning the Florentine and the glaive fights, him winning the ax and the sword and shield fights, and us double killing in the bastard sword fight. In all of the fights what I was looking for was just getting used to switching rapidly from one form to another, a skill we rarely teach ourselves. I am competent with all of those weapons forms, good with two of them and expert with one, but moving from one to another quickly forces me to focus on fundamentals. In a way that is bad because it means I’m focusing less on the fight than I should be. It is good practice switching forms every fight. This was great practice!

I enjoyed the pig races. Yes, pig races. It was a county fair after all. :)

This was my seventh time in armor since Pennsic. Next up will be BAT on Thursday and hopefully Nutley on Wednesday.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The SCA of my youth!!

Hal Ravn, who used to take movies of crown tourney back in the 70s, posted a 13 minute video of West Kingdom June Crown, 1978. It was the summer before I joined. There, in mostly black and white, are nearly all my heroes! It also displays how ugly fighting can look when its in slow motion. Man! That hit looked nasty. At the very end there is a real rockem-sockem fight between two of the knights most responsible for who I grew up to be: my knight, Alfrik, and Sir William the Lucky (who knighted Alfrik and gave him his chain, which I presented to Oscad at Pennsic). Ah! The good old days!!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Workouts

I have been good lately in my cardio workouts, not so good on my strength and flexibility workouts. Since I'm not fighting at Nutley this week I was supposed to do a strength workout on Monday with the kettle bells (or more likely a plate with a handle in it, because I would have been at the gym at BMCC). However, yesterday I rode my bike to CCNY (15 miles or so, depending on the route). I rode back in three stages because I had a doctor's appointment and wanted to hit paragon for the warehouse sale. The last eight miles of the ride I was struggling to carry a big Marmot parka in a shopping bag. Today I plan to hit the gym for my 20/20/20 workout (20 minutes on the either the elliptical or the treadmill, 20 minutes for a quick kettle bell workout, 20 minutes of yoga).

However, it might just be a better idea to adopt Gunnvor's workout. My niece (she is squired to Omega) Gunnvor on her blog posts her current workout, and it is a pretty good one. Check it out.

Monday, September 12, 2011

The Feast of John Barleycorn

The feast of John Barleycorn was this weekend and my boy Gui was being invested as the new Viceroy. It was a great time!! Oscad organized a tournament for the Ladies of the Rose, which I fought in. It was both fun and productive.

TECHNIQUE:
This week all of my work has been directed toward my feet. It has involved stance and footwork as I continue reacquaint myself with the heater: do I stand sword foot forward or shield foot forward? What is the proper stance for fighting a left-handed fighter? How do I move to keep the shield in the right place. I fought with a heater for 20 years and won my crown and my coronet with one, but I’ve used it very little in the past ten years. I found when I moved here (and I weighed forty pounds more than I do now) that I wasn’t doing well enough against the Easterners. I went first to a small shield to improve my offense, then to the kite because I found fighting so many really good fighters who used long kites to be a losing proposition with the 24” shield. With the heater I am not only re-learning what I knew but learning how to adapt to changes in fighting that have occurred over the last decade, and also how to integrate the stuff I’ve learned while concentrating on the bunny round and the center-grip kite, which in some ways are easier to use. Incidentally this week, particularly at Nutely, I also ended up working on my hooks and cuts a lot (as opposed to my bread-and-butter hook/thrust). This proved crucial.

THE FORMAT
I really loved the format of the Rose tournament. It was a blast. The tournament was contested not by the fighters but by the ladies of the rose. Each lady of the rose fielded a team of three heavy weapons fighters and two rapier fighters, with only one knight and one don allowed on each team. Then the fighters were paired in individual combat, with the knight fighting the other knight, the don fighting the don, etc. Winning three fights out of the five gained the Rose victory for the round. It was a very fun format. With seven teams we broke into two pools. I fought for Alethea and she was in the pool of four, against Brenwyn, Roxanne, and Svava. For me it meant fighting Antonio (for Svava), Gregor (for Brenwyn) and Omega (for Roxanne).

THE FIGHTING:
My fight against Antonio allowed me to use what I’d been discussing regarding lefty defense against a very good lefty. I lost the fight but was satisfied with my defense over all. I kept my feet parallel and my shield centered on his sword. As he moved to gain advantage I shifted my feet to always maintain that alignment. It worked very well as long as I was patient. We had several exchanges that were hard fought. I was practicing defense, patience, and counter-punching: the opposite of my old offence fist style. Eventually I decided to be more aggressive in my offense, and he took my leg. By biggest problem against Antonio was commitment to my shots. I hit him once or twice on the head and once with a body thrust, but because I was being overly defensive they all lacked power. The body thrust in particular showed me my problem: as I threw it I was stepping back to avoid his sword, and thus had no power behind it. Shortly thereafter he took my leg. The fight lasted a couple more exchanges but eventually he struck home. Omega said that my problem was that I had let him bait me into a slug fest, and that had cost me my leg. This is how I read it too.

Against Gregor I found myself to be very comfortable using the right-leg lead, but I switched a couple of times. We had several good exchanges as I worked hard to keep my distance and fight at extreme range where I could pick up his fakes (which are superlative) more easily. I tried my hook/thrust (which is a front-edge hook) but he was ready for that and backed out of range as I threw. Luckilly I had his counter covered. When we did close my Nutley experience from this week kicked in. I used a top-edge hook to take his shield down and stepped back with my left foot, cutting as I did so. He ducked (he’s so good at that) but I hit him in the shield shoulder, taking his arm as he took my leg. Now on the ground with him standing and with one arm, it was a fight in my favor. I eventually took his leg and killed him with my next combination.

Against Omega I was also using the sword foot lead primarily, switching to a shield foot lead only in transition. We had three or four good exchanges before he took my arm. Fighting him left handed with him still using his shield I acquitted myself well. I made several passes before he took my leg. He gave up his own leg, saying two points up was too many, but this just made it easy for him to throw his belly thrust, which killed me. Afterward he said that I had been fighting very well. He said that I had not left my arm hanging out but that we had both started blows at about the same time, but that mine carried my arm into the path of his sword. I had actually thought I’d left it out in the middle of a combination, but that was not how he saw it. He said my one-handed defense was excellent.

This was a great day. It was my fourth time in armor this week and my sixth time in armor since Pennsic, which feels good. Likely I will miss Nutley this week but should make it to BAT on Thursday. Queen’s Farm Demo is this week, so I will have the opportunity to fight twice this weekend, though I might head over to Jersey for a Sunday practice.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Helmet Time and BAT

HELMET TIME:
There is one point where I differ with the teachings of Duke Paul, and that is in the value of helmet time, of actually fighting as part of your training. Duke Paul has long held that training should be done out of armor, and that for both the novice and the expert (I will have to ask him about the journeyman, however) fighting has little value. The novice will better learn technique if he is out of armor, and only when his technique is sound should he put on armor (why he prefers his students to train for a year before they put armor on). The Expert knows what combat is like, and doesn't need the experience of fighting as much as he needs to be constantly perfecting his technique through slow work and pell work (it is from Duke Paul that I learned the saying that the sport most like SCA fighting is golf, because it is all about the perfection of your swing).

My opinion is that unarmored training must supplement armored training. There is no replacement for actually fighting. I was a good fighter when I moved to the Mists. But moving to the mists meant two things. One, I could train with Duke Paul once in awhile--especially when we were working the Renaisance Faire demos together--and two I could fight more often. A lot more often. There was a fighter practice every night. There was a period between when I was 27 and when I was 32 when I was going to two practices a week and an event every weekend, and a brief time, after I got knighted, when I was going to four practices a week plus events: Monday night in Santa Cruz, Tuesday at Mission College, Wednesday in San Francisco and Thursday at BART, three crowns and two cornets a year, six wars plus local tourneys. Those were the days! That is also why I won crown.

My mighty and great descendant, Prince Miles of the Mists (who worked those faire demos with us as a page when he was ten years old or so) posted a list of every event he's fought in since he started on the Armour Archive this week. The thing to note is that he started fighting in 2008.

>>> (from the Armour Archive)
Tournaments

* Beltane, Prize Tourney, 08
* June Western Crown, made man at arms to Duke Uther 08
* First Sword of Esfenn, 08
* October Western Crown, 08
* Mists Coronet, 08
* Harbinger of the Mists 08
* White Shield 09
* March Western Crown 09
* Investiture Prince Alfar's Prize Tourney 09
* Newcomer’s Tourney, Open list, 09,
* Queens Champion Tourney, 09
* Western Crown, June 09, (D. Titus), Made Squire to Duke Uther
* Western Crown, October 09, (D. Uther)
* Canale Games Tourney 09,
* Warlord of Southern Shores, (Won) 09 got thrusting tip
* First Sword of Esfenn, (Won) vs. Viscount Leotulph 09
* Westermark Maddness, 09 (Won) Shepard Of Westermark
* Mist Coronet 09, (V. Leohtulf)
* Banner Bearer’s Tourney 09 (Finaled) vs. Egil Utherson
* White Shield 10
* Estrella, Outlands Prize Tourney, 10, (D. Uther)
* Estrella Knights Of Saint Michael Tourney, 10
* Estrella Cancer Tourney, 10
* Crapaud 164, 10,
* Crapaud 166, 10,
* Crapaud 167, (Won) Vs. Loy 10,
* Western Crown, March 10, (V.Alfar)
* Crapaud 168, 10,
* Mist Spring Coronet, 10 (Finaled) vs. Vis. Sir Marc
* Newcomers Tourney, Open list,10 (Finaled) vs. Duke Radnor of Guildemar
* Treasure Chest Prize Tourney, 10
* Beltane, Prize Tourney, (Won) vs. Vis. Sir Sigifrith Haukneff 10
* Live Chess tourney at Beltane, 10
* Princess' champion tourney, 10
* June Crown, 10
* West Antir War, Caid Prize Tournament 10 (Bjarnheddin Winner)
* West Antir 2010 Bellatrix 3 Generations Challenge
* Westermark Maddness, 10 (Sheppard and Troll) (current champion)
* Southern Shores Warlord, 10 (Won) (current champion)
* Final Sword of Esfenn
* Queens Treasure Tourney Purg 10, Finaled Vs. Viscount Gunther
* October Crown
* Great Western 2010 Rose Tourney
* Great Western War, Caid Principality Tournament (Won) Vs. Count Edward (east)
* October Mists Coronet
* Cynaguan Fall Coronet (Bye-Fights/Rose Fights)
* Crapaud 177, 2010, Semi Finals?
* Crapaud 178, 2011, Quarter Finals?
* War Collegium Western Unbelted tournament 2011 (Winner)
* Estrella 2011 Outlands Prize
* Estrella 2011 5th Annual Rose Tournament
* White Shield 2011 (Winner Vs. Duke Lycurges Outlands)
* March Crown 2011
* Crapaud #180
* Fettburg Baronial ChampionShip (Finaled) victor Count Alfar Utherson
* Fettburg Baronial Prize Tourney (won) vs. Count Alfar Utherson
* Mists April Coronet 2011 (winner) vs. Sir Loy (Sigurgata)
* Treasure Chest Tourney Nordwache
* La Prova Dura 2011 Finaled
* Beltane Queens Treasure Tournament (Knighted)
* Newcomers Tournament Open Tournament (Winner) Vs. Viscount SIr Jeffrey Scott
* Potrero 2011 (CAID) Halfdan's Invitational prize tourney
* June Crown (By-Fights Maybe) Pick-Up Fights Definitly.
* Pennsic XL - Second Generation Tourney (Finaled) Vs. Prince Quillium (Ealdermore)
* Caid Crown - (By-Fights)
* Purgatorio - Queen's Treasure Tournament (winner)

EXPECTED

* Rivenoak Baronial Championship
* Westermark Maddness
* October Crown
* Great Western War Rose Tournament

WARS

* Mist/Cynagua 08
* Duchess' War 08
* West/ An Tir, 08
* Great Western War 08 (Caid)
* Cynagua/Mist 08
* Boars hunt, 08
* Estrella 09
* Mist/Cynagua 09 Prince’s Lance
* Potrero War 09, (Caid)
* West/An Tir War 09,
* War of the Heart, Jeffries War 09,
* Great Western War 09, (Caid)
* Cynagua/Mists 09,
* Baronies War 09,
* Western war Collegium 10,
* Estrella 10, (Atenveldt)
* Treasure Chest War 10,
* Mist/Cynagua War 10,
* Potrero War 10 (Caid)
* Duchess' War 10
* Kingdom War Practice (Spartan skirmish with Ermine Company)
* West An tir, 10
* Great Western War 10
* Cynagua/Mist War 10
* Boars Hunt, 10
* War Collegium, 2/5/2011
* Estrella 2011
* Treasure Chest War 2011
* Cynagua Mists War '11
* May Potrero War (CAID) '11
* Duchess' War '11
* West Antir War '11
* Baronial Manuevers '11
* Spartans And Ravens Skirmish '11
* Pennsic War XL '11

* EXPECTED
* Great Western War
* Mists Cynagua War (Prince Miles Vs. Prince Achilles)

<<<<<<<

Yes, he grew up around this game and yes he has a lot of natural ability, but look at the amount he fights. this is just tourneys and wars, and some of those things listed are tourneys he fought in *at* wars, so they double up. But he also practices two to three times most weeks. The results are clear. In his second year of fighting he won three tourneys in a row. He won coronet in less than three years and then was knighted exactly three years after the first tournament he fought in. Now, I'm not saying you will be knighted in three years if you fight that much. I won't even say it couldn't hurt (fighting can hurt. fighting a lot increases the chances of being hurt). But that kind of aggression in training helped Miles a lot and, similarly, it helped me.

Locally I look at John the Breeder, an unbelted fighter in Duke Omega's unit who has been fighting less than two years and who, as I said, totally tattooed my legs two days ago at Nutley. John fights three times a week, and it shows. Not only did he final in the novice tourney at Pennsic, he finaled in the Atlantian Speed Tourney as well. His physical prowess is of knight caliber already. He is a legitimate threat even to the best dukes in the kingdom right now. All he lacks is depth, and he is getting that at a rate much faster than most people get.

If you practice once a week and average 1 fighting event a month (that's 12 fighting events in a year, which is actually hi when you look at all fighters), in a year you will have been in armor 60 times. Let's say that one of those events was Pennsic, and that you were in armor for all the battles. That would be another five times. Let's say 70 to be generous. But if you are practicing three days a week and averaging two events a month, then you would be in armor 168 times in a year. Assuming two of those events are major wars, let's make that an even 175. You are getting almost 130% more helmet time--more experience--in the same year. So when Miles had been fighting for three years, it was the same amount of helmet time that most fighters get in six years and four months (give or take).

My plan to be in armor twenty times before crown (which will be difficult) seems puny by comparison. But I do want helmet time.

FIGHTING
For that reason I let myself get trapped last night. I was hauling my gear over to BAT last night so that Oscad could put it in the trailer and take it to Barleycorn. But when I got there Oscad, Richard, Eddie, Andrew and Mark were all in armor. I had my armor with me. I was not planning on fighting but how could I not at that point? By the time I got into armor Richard and Oscad were out, but I still got some helmet time.

This night should have been more of a teaching night for me. I didn't fight any of the guys like I would if it were crown, and I spent time teaching each one of them, but they each also presented a challenge. Andrew fights exclusively polearm, and he's getting competent. Competent is how my polearm is best described. Since weapons depth is important in crown I fought him with a partisan. He made the same mistake four times (letting me get on top of his glaive), and I won each of those four fights . When he knuckled down and was more careful we were trading even.

Eddie is left handed, fast and strong. I practiced doing what I didn't do against John. I kept my feet in a line, almost like a fencing stance, so my shield was positioned more to my sword side. This limits my offense but increases my defense. As Eddie tried to move around me I circled always keeping his sword right in front of my shield, a la Gemini. It worked. It would not have been as effective against John with his deep steps and his speed, but it was significantly better. Eddie asked why I was holding my sword behind my head so much. I said it was because it was how I was most comfortable in that stance. If I brought my sword forward I would be squaring my shoulder and hip more than I wanted to. I didn't tell him that I was channeling Phil.

Against Mark I was fighting sword and short sword. He was sword and shield. Half the fights I was using the short sword tip up, like I was fighting Silver. He gave me the opening I wanted once: he threw an off-side head shot. I blocked it with my broadsword and, at the same time, took the short sword and pushed against his swordarm, turning him around and exposing the back of his head, which I then hit. The other half of the time I fought like Larry does at Nutley, with the tip down, dagger style. This was great fun, and very effective. It made the short sword both more defensive (better leg defense) and more offensive, in that I killed him with it three times. Of course, the times he took my leg it was a totally different story. I don't think I won any of those.

It's my fifth time in armor since Pennsic, so I am back on track. Barley corn is tomorrow.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Mutley, 9/7/2011

Ouch.

TECHNIQUE:
What I am trying to do right now is reacquaint myself with the heater. I went back to it at the beginning of this year, and have been practicing with it since (except for last BAT, when I used a smaller one, and Western Crown where I use a Bunny Round). Aside from a couple years using a 24” round, two stints with a bunny round, and my two year experiment with the center grip kite, I have fought with a heater most of my career. It’s safe to say I have more than 20 years experience with a heater. However, most of that was using an open Western style, which no longer works in this land of huge kites and expert face-thrusting. I am trying to re-train myself.

The first big thing is do I fight sword leg back, the way I learned and fought for 25 years, or sword leg forward, the way I have fought for the last five years with the bunny round and the kite?

My sword leg back technique was originally a Bellatrix school technique, designed to drive the hip forward and generate power. It places the shield in front in the best position to cover the whole body. After moving too the East I went to a more closed form with the sword forward. There are two main variations of this. One is with the sword guarding the head area and the shield guarding everything else, not unlike Jade’s high/low technique, but with a bigger shield. The other is the way Duke Kelson fights, with the shield guarding the left side and the sword guarding the right.

Von Dresden uses an A Frame defense, which is similar, but I have never really pursued it. I mostly use the sword to guard my head.

Sword leg forward puts your sword in between you and your opponent. It allows you to strike at him while keeping your torso father away, out of range if he is your height or smaller. My sword leg forward style is a weird amalgamation of things I’ve learned from Lucan and form Havoc. Lucan points his lead foot way off to the left and pulls his shoulder back, tensing through his core and loading up his arm to generate power. Havoc is a little more square and his feet are closer together. With both the bunny round and the kite this style worked really well for me. The heater is tougher. It doesn’t move over as well as the bunny round or the kite, so with the sword leg forward the leg is harder to guard. This is what I’m working out right now.

FIGHTING:
Last night was Nutley practice. I rented a ZipCar and drove over, arriving pretty late because of traffic at the Lincoln Tunnel. I fought John the Breeder, a new (4 month) fighter whose name might have been Eigil, Vasilli, Brenan, and Sir Douglas. Because I need to practice my weapons depth, I fought Douglas two sword.

I found that the three right handed fighters were all pressing me and offering me their shields. I was doing a hook/snap, but passing back on the left as I did it, which I just fell into and which was very effective and against Brenan and the new guy.

Against Vasilli I found, for some reason, that a top-edge hook was working better. Vasilli, by the way, has taken a big leap in his fighting. He is not only better but more elegant. He is no longer clubbing people (he is super strong). I think he’s found that with his strength he will not tire as fast and will have better targeting if he throws with more control and less OOMPH. He was using a lot of wrist shots, but with him they are plenty powerful. They are also faster, crisper, and better targeted.

My fights with John the Breeder were fun and painful. He is totally brining the love. He hits as hard as Vasilli ever did, maybe harder, and faster too. I don’t think he knows how hard he swings, but that’s the joy of fighting three to four times a week. I may have won twice. I won the first fight by taking his arm, and I won another fight by closing and hitting an off-side head shot. He dominated the rest of our fights. I have six very colorful bruises on my right leg and hip, and one on the inside of my left leg, most of them from John.

Brenan fights the Lucan style and does it well, so that was good practice. I did very well against him. At one point he hit my elbow with a glancing shot that was also flat. He told me not to take it but, that is the shot that hurts most today. The main thing he needs is to control range a bit better.

Against Douglas I took two broadswords. I started out trying to use Alfred’s style, left sword on my shoulder right one on my hip. Doug said that that made him uncomfortable, so he simply waited me out, not wanting to close. When I closed and tried to sweep his swords he backed out., so I abandoned that Later, when I tried to close aggressively and attack with cuts from both swords, he jam blocked both my shots then threw a short blow down the center and killed me. I was probably best using the same sort of style he does, with both points presented, but I think the only kill I got was using an old Houghton trick. He took my leg, closed in real tight, and I sat down, aiming my basket hilt between his knees and hitting him in the chest.

On the whole I fought better than I did last week.

I asked Omega/Darius to watch my fights with Brenan because I was going to go back and forth between my sword foot forward style and my shield foot forward style, and I wanted him to critique me. He said I just looked uncomfortable. I hadn’t fought with the heater much lately and rarely ever with the sword foot forward. He said I looked most comfortable with my shield foot forward, but nothing was really clicking. He suggested nest practice I alternate, do one passage one way, the next the other, and figure out which is most comfortable. He said something interesting. He fought with a heater for 20 years before going to the big Lucan style kite and a sword foot forward style. He said that sword foot back is his most efficient and comfortable style, and that he can win 90% of his fights with it. But against Gregor and Lucan he has a better percentage with the sword foot forward, and that’s why he uses it all the time now. Watching Gemini on YouTube this morning and thinking about his mantra (keep your shield between you and your opponent’s sword) I think I have a new way to stand. I’ll try it out on Saturday. I also need to re-strap that heater so my hand isn’t so far up into the lead corner. Against John the Breeder and other left handers I need to do what I did back in the day: stand with my feet parallel so my shield is cheated all the way over, a la Phil Harlech. I knew this once upon a time, but I didn’t do it against John.

It was my fourth day in armor since Pennsic. I feel good, especially the bruises (bruises, like road rash, let you know you are alive). Next up, Barleycorn!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Messing with crown.

People often object to the king messing with criwn. In most kingdoms there are no restrictions on crown. Everybody brings their best fight. In the east there is a tradition of multiple weapon formats in finals, which I have heard people object to. But sometimes it goes even farther. Two crowns ago the East used a pool play format for the first round, with four round Robinson and four people advancing from each. Last crown the round robin was limited to great weapon. This time the round robin will be any weapon, but the double elimination section will be best two out of three, a different set of matched weapons each round. Once upon a tome in An Tir Barek declared only center grip round shields for his crown. Cowryn fought with a five inch roundel. Michael in Atlantia declared no thrusting tips. Now Rolf has declared all swords in Western Crown must have a cross hilt. They can have a basket hilt, but must have a cross hilt too.

Ok. Rolf is my boy as well as being king. I think it is a bit silly, and since I'm not fighting I have no skin in it. I think it is the king's list, and however he wants to play it we play it that way. Cross halted swords will shake a lot of people up. Could be fun.

Monday, September 5, 2011

BAT 9/4/2011

HOW TO RUN A CLASS

I spent some time training with Paul of Bellatrix. His training method revolves around unarmored work: classes, slow work, drills, pell work.  He encouraged new fighters to train for a year before they ever put in armor.

I employ some of that. I try to lead unarmored classes at BAT and I do a lot of pell work and slow work. Along with Ronald, also a Bellatrix product, I am trying to hold unarmored classes every time I go to practice. We have instituted a policy at BAT that the new fighters need to do drills before they get into armor. Myself, GUI, and Cian will lead the classes (at least one of us is always there).


The form of our class is simple. First we do a set of blocking and striking drills. Then we review some of the stuff we learned before. Then there is a lesson, usually a new drill or a new concept. After that is slow work and perhaps some pell work.

Today we used the blocking striking drills. They are essentially the same as thaw in the Asgard system. We reviewed the salute, the various engarde positions, and the sabre parrys that are uses in sword blocks. The lessons was striking and walking. Then I did some slow work with each of them.


All of the fighters seemed to get something out of it, depending on their skill level. With myself, Gui, and Sir Edward there to teach, they got some quality instruction. The format of the class works well. If it were an armored class I would run it differently.

An interesting point: I was talking with a historian of fencing recently, wwho teaches both modern fencing and HEMA. He told me that the "class in a line, where the students are taught together in a group, comes out of 18th Century military training, and that before that all instruction was private. Students would take individual lessons with the master of a salon and then would spar with one another. I found this fascinating. It is, in a way, the way most SCA teaching is done, though it is even less formal.

FIGHTING

Oscad had my armor in his truck, and he was in Philly celebrating his aniversary. Oops. Luckilly we had a lot of loaner gear. I wore my old gambesson, a weight-lifter's kidney belt, some black plastic legs, Eddie's helm, gui's right arm harness, a Torvaldr bauzband (he's left handed), a demi of John's, a loaner gorget and what ever pads were lying around. We have a 32" loaner heater and some spare swords. I actually felt great. I lost my leg more than normal, but I also was pretty light on my feet. It would not have flowan at nutley, but it was fun. I fought, in order, Lou, Gui, Alexander, and Tormundr, which is a broad range of fighters and pretty good for a practice on Labor Day Weekend.

Techniques:
Used a larger variety of techniques than I usually do. It's kind of like I forget them while I'm fighting, but not yesterday

I worked on some old-school techniques, including a lot of Western high open form. With the shield I was using it made sense. Lost my leg a lot.

I tried the hook/thrust against Alexander and he killed me. He is the first person I've found who has a truly good counter to it. It comes from his fencing skills. He saw it as a thust to his torso. He passed forward offline, twisting out of the way of the thrust while cutting at the same time. Killed me good. There goes my money shot!

Still working on the punching head shot from a closed form (a la Ice). Found that against the kite, if I time it right to throw as he is thorwing, it cuts through where that corner on a heater would be very nicely. That's likely why Ice throws it. Have to try it against Rolf or Omega.

On my legs against Alexander I swithced from looking over the top of my shield to looking past the leading edge of my shiled. I looked twice at hie leg then threw a wavy rising snap. He was going for a body thrust, which missed, and I killed him. That trick is set up as soon as you change the shield position. It gets him thinking about the leg shot.

I did not use a thrusting tip against Lou and still managed to kill him, he was fighting sword and long madu, so the thrust was missed.

Jade's standard opening combo; sword foot forward, shield held low inviting the head shot, sword held high. When he throws the head shot bring your feet together and your shield up. Your left arm and your sword should form a line. As he recovers, your sword follows his back and you hit him in the arm pit.

Rolf's figure 8 attack. Strike on-side head, folw through so your sword is in front of your shield, strike off side body, follow through with a tear-drop return, strike onside head. Works with opponents on their knees or standing (look at the video of the last Western Crown finals).

Gemini's variation of that, when the opponent is on his knees, which ends by punching the corner of your shield into the lower-leading edge of your opponent's and thrusting to the neck or face.

Radnor's butterfly and upsilon leg shot, which are both locked-wrist techniques. In the first you start an onside leg shot, bring the basket hilt toward your face so the sword passes upwards in front of his shhield, then turn that into an off-side body shot. The second is just a wavy-rising snap that turns back into a leg shot.

A couple of those techniques were used on Lou and Alexander, a couple on Tormundr, who is newer. I just kept going to the well to see what might feel good at full speed and what wouldn't.

My shortcoming stemed mainly from getting lazy with my shield arm, and squaring up too much, which I was doing on purpose but it wasn't working. Gui pasted me a couple of times.

TRAINING:

Did a great 13 mile bike ride on Saturday. Haven't lifted since Monday last. On weeks when I fight at Nutley, like this week, my regimen will be recovery on Monday, bike or gym for aerobics on Tuesday, fight on Wednesday, recover Thursday, bike Friday, fight on the weekend. On weeks when I don't got to Nutley (unless I'm going to a thursday practice) I will lift on Tuesday and Thursday, bike Wednesday and friday, recover Saturday and Monday. Or that is the plan.

This weekend is the Feast of John Barleycorn, which will be Gui's investiture as Viceroy of Ostgardr and a rose tournament. I'm hoping to get some fighting done on Sunday as well.