Thursday, September 8, 2011

Mutley, 9/7/2011


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.

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!

1 comment:

Brennan mac Fearghus said...

Thanks you for your notes.