Friday, September 9, 2011

Helmet Time and BAT

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)

* 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)


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


* 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

* 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.

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.

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