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.

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.

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).

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