Monday, April 18, 2011

More on polearms

BAT on Sunday! Yay!

The frantic rush to practice with great weapons continues. Once we got inside (Oscad had stayed up in CT after Balfar’s Challenge, and John was at work so nobody had a key. Drew managed to jimmy the lock just before John got there) it was mostly a shieldless day.

Diablo was there to give polearm and greatsword instruction. Dougal was there, and he’s a really good great weapon fighter. Lou, Jibril, and I were also in attendance.

I didn’t fight much but the amount I did fight was great. I used the short bastard sword once again and had fun with it. I fought Lou with it and did really well. He had started employing some of the things I had taught him on Thursday. I also fought Dougal with it. I lost a few more of these fights and in one he re-set my neck when I walked into a stiff thrust. On the whole I was working on concepts as opposed to techniques. I pulled my hands together on the bastardword, which gave me a bit more ranged and prompted me to use the really old-style techniques I’d learned from Rolf back in AS 13. I found my core to core work was lacking considerably, which is frustrating since that’s a big part of the bellatrix style.

I also fought polearm against Dougal. I won about half our fights. With polearm I was at first concentrating on technique. I did very well fighting the tip-forward fencing style. I did horribly trying to use Oscad’s oarsman style. Our last fight I used an opposed thumb style a la Visivald or David Civet. This was fun and I beat him by chopping him in the back when he tried a spin move on me.

I fought sword and shield with Jibril. He and I were both defending well. I don’t know who won the most fights. My best kill on him was a hook thrust, and I almost got him with a followup thrust off a cut to the off side head. After trying for several fights I finally managed to get him with a wrap. I was completely unable to take his leg.

Afterward we talked a lot about why he had been fighting me well. I pointed out that against me his footwork is very good. I then explained to him the concept of “gaining the place.” My offensive footwork is designed to get me into a position where I can attack my opponent at an angle, so that I am not facing his defense headon. This is what Silver calls “gaining the place” and Liberi refers to as “pissing down his leg.” In other words, if you can park on your opponent’s hip you will win the fight. I used the following examples, which are all worth learning:

• The Lucky Two step, in which you strike an onside blow, pass forward offline to your left, briefly exposing the back of your head to an offside shot as bait, then pass gain with your left foot and square up, throwing an off side head shot. If your opponent hasn’t moved you are now nest to him and inside his defense.
• Lucan’s passing shot, which is the same thing except since he starts with his shield foot forward he has eliminated the first step (though he does start with that foot a bit off line and sometimes moves it more so, like Liberi) and, as he doesn’t close as deep, the body is a better shot for him.
• Bellatrix’s theory that you imagine your opponent inside a circle in a box, and you move to the corner of the box to attack where you can hit him but he has trouble hitting you.
• Gyrth’s explanation that you imagine your opponent’s range as a series of concentric circles or ovoids, and that you should pass off line and intersect the ovoid on a tangent, so that you are in a better position to strike than is your opponent.

Jibril knows I move a lot so he was circling away from me or trying to cut me off—in both cases denying me the place and forcing me to fight him toe to toe, where he is most comfortable. This was instinctive on his part but it had the effect of denying me the offense I wanted to employ.

I made a cross hilted bastard sword, about the same size as Dougals, but without a counterweight. I did it in the old style, using Artos’ technique for attaching split-rattan quillons between two duct tape bushings. Hopefully it will hold up for the next four weeks!

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