Sunday, May 8, 2011

A disapointing crown

Since Lucan made his announcement about how Crown tourney was to be fought—with an elimination round of four pools, fought with great weapons, then the top four from each pool advancing—I’ve been joking about how much it would suck to have Balfar and Cullyn placed in the same pool.

Crown was glorious but I must say I am mad at myself. I did get Balfar and Cullyn in my pool. Not only that, but I was in the only pool with three royal peers in it—I had to fight both Balfar and Ronald. A knight joyfully fights all comers, and I did and it was fun! Hell, I got to fight the two best polearm fighters in the kingdom, and I almost beat one of them. But I am still pissed and, quite frankly embarrassed. And frustrated. This is the first crown in a couple years in which I have not been a contender and, of course, at 47 I am well aware that I don’t have all that many more opportunities to win that second crown. I really thought I would advance. I knew it was a tough row to hoe, but I felt I could do it. But I realized that I was the type of fighter it was most likely to frustrate. And I’m frustrated. And pissed. At myself.

I did not win more fights than I lost. That is my first measure of how I do in a crown, and I failed. While the four fighters who advanced from our list were all really good at what they did and many people would have picked them, I am better with great weapons than I demonstrated yesterday. I feel I let myself down, my king and my lady with my performance—not because I was not honorable, but because I was really not much of a factor.

Whine whine whine! One thing I will not do is whine about trying my best. Losers whine about trying their best. Winners go home and fuck the prom queen. In truth I had a lot of fun and I did have one or two perfect moments out there yesterday—just not enough. And for the first crown in the last—I don’t know, fifteen, my lady was there to watch me, and I owed her better than that. On the other hand I was in good company: Ron, Thorsen, and Wilhelm didn’t advance either.

As for the list as a whole, what I predicted came true. There were some unbelted fighters who are normally not a factor in Crown who advanced out of the pool because pole arm is what they do, but in the end the same dukes and up and comers were left for semi finals. It didn’t really change much.

I was using my new bastard sword, the one I made two weeks ago. I was also using brand new gauntlets for the first time (much more protective than my old ones) and a breastplate with shoulder armor, figuring that fighting thirteen great weapon fights without shoulder armor was pretty stupid. It was light armor—a Kendo do—but when I got tired it did restrict my breathing a bit. I’m not making excuses I’m saying I was stupid. That’s too much new equipment for a tourney, especially one when you’re fighting weapons that aren’t your best form. I’d fought in the breastplate only twice before, never used the gauntlets or the sword. The pole arm was one of the loaners from BAT and I’d used it some. And all that work I’ve done transitioning to a heater shield turned out to be for naught. Sigh.

But as for my fights. I got to fight thirteen great weapon fights, seven with glaive and six with bastard sword. Take Balfar out of the equation (who went though out pool clean) and I split evenly, six fights with bastard sword, six fights with pole, three wins with each. Well, I might have lost eight. They all run together. I think I beat Jonathan Miles, but if I didn’t then I was five and eight. But I think I won that one. It is a bit of a blur, the whole round. Anyway, I dominated fights I was supposed to. I lost the fights I was likely to. But I didn’t win any of the “tossups”. Well, no: Garret was a tossup and I won that fight. But I should have won two more of those at least and I didn’t. My record was therefore seven and six. I don’t hang my head, because I fought well, just not well enough. In general, I fooled myself in two ways. First off I wanted to fight more bastard sword fights, because that’s a weapon I’ve always been good at, and one that I have a lot more experience with, and one that I’ve had success with in the past. Hanna said I looked more comfortable with it than the polearm. Unfortunately, I wasn’t. I kept losing my grip on it and not getting my blows the way I wanted them. I was actually more comfortable with the polearm. However, on that end there was another problem. Whether it was the gauntlets or something else, none of the techniques that usually work for me, those I had been practicing recently, were working very well. And then there was the inspection, but more on that later. I think that if I’d stuck with one weapon I would have done better because I could have built some consistency, and that weapon would have to be the polearm, because, while I said very recently that I always preferred bastard sword against pole I reconsidered that recently after I fought Cullyn and didn’t hit him once. It was a mistake to switch back and forth. Hanna said I was thinking too much and I probably was, because after my first few techniques failed I was trying hard to figure out what to do next.

First round I challenged Ron with bastard swords. Good fight. I was in it up till the end, but I made a mistake and moved into a shot of his (I think I might have been going for a leg shot without being in the right position and having my hands too low). He killed me.

Then I challenged Cullyn with polearms. Yes, tough fights right off the bat. Only problem was the marshals failed my buttspike. Oops. That left about a quarter of my attacks off limits. I fought him any way. As usual he presented his tip then whenever I started to move he’d cock up for a shot. I could never engage him to tie him up, so I had to move into his first shot and try to displace it. In one of our exchanges I got the position I wanted—both of use with right hand leads, my blade on top of his. I cut to his head, hit him twice. It was all arm and now power. But I thought I’d won the fight and was so elated I wasn’t ready when he kept fighting. It was an Oh Shit moment and that’s when he killed me. That was a technique issue. I got the shot I wanted but I did not execute by putting some hip behind it. After that I got a new butt spike.

My third fight was a bastard sword fight against Garret. He threw a lot of fast shots with his light sword but I got on top of it and cut his head, winning the fight, just like I tried to do. I struck from my left and he did the same, then I turned my hands on top of his blade, cut and killed him.
Ok, after that, I’m not sure I got the order right. My fight with Johnathan Miles was with swords and, like I said, I’m not really sure what happened. I’m pretty sure I won.

I fought a guy in green and white. He used a maul and I used pole arm. I cut his leg as he charged me, then did a wiggle fake and thrust him in the belly.
Ivan came at me with a really long nodachi so I took the pole against him. After a couple of exchanges I realized that he was keeping his blade straight up and down. I presented my tip and he charged right onto it. Good kill.
My fight with Oscad, the fighter there I had the most experience with and the most experience fighting pole against, was predictably long. We fought each other well. He went into that point low guard of his. I tried to counter with a left hand lead and pool cue thrusts. We double killed. In our second fight I sent two thrusts past his face, about two inches off his grill to his right. Then he got me. That was a fight I definitely should have won.

My fight with Balfar I acquitted myself well. He fights that high cutting style. We both got some good strikes in before he cut my arm with one blow then took my head with the followup.

My fight with Sterling was probably my most frustrating. It was with swords, and it was the only fight I felt I didn’t know what to do. I might have berserked a bit. It was one of my last fights and I was tired. I got my wind back, but it was tough. I was trying just simple cuts, fast, a la Gregor, working the angles. At one point we both hit each other light, then he cut me. I think with a face blow. I don’t really remember.

I fought Killian, whom I think was Serpentius. He closed strong with me. I didn’t have an answer. My counter wasn’t working as he was following me and sticking to me. The third time we went core to core he thrust me in the face with his butt spike.
I fought a squire of Gryfith’s (who also might have been Johnathan). We fought with poles. I had to talk him out of taking a really wambly shot that he totally had blocked. Then I took his arm and killed him.

My fight with Simon was tactical. I moved into a stance he countered, he moved into a stance I countered. Eventually we through two blows and I was dead. It was actually a very good fight, and he totally beat me.

My last fight was a pole arm fight against Inkanta. He was using a left hand lead, so I used a right hand lead, flourished high and hit him in the hip. It was my last fight, it was a one shot kill, and it was my best execution of the day. It ended my list on a high note.

Hanna got some of my fights on video, and I’ll post them here later.
As for the list itself, it ended with Gregor vs Brian and Kendrick vs Balfar in the semis. Gregor dispatched Brian in a gorgeous fight. Kendrick beat Balfar in the first bout but had to fight a second and lost.

The finals were great sword, then pole, then sword and shield, then great ax, then choice. It didn’t get to choice. As expected, Gregor won the great sword and sword and shield, Balfar won the pole. They fought great axes and it looked like Balfar had killed Gregor. Gregor acknowledged the defeat. But Lucan stepped in and declared it haft. Then they talked. Then Balfar decided that a blow he had called haft had actually been blade and he conceded. It was an anti climactic way to end a truly awesome tourney.

I need to decide if I’m going to keep using the body armor in great weapon fights, if I’m going to use it in sword and shield fights, and exactly how much I need to practice with great weapons in the future.
On the way home I celebrated by having low carb cheesecake at the cheesecake factory. This morning I was achy in my arms, but I still got up and did my Indian club workout, because training for next crown started today.