Monday, November 28, 2011

Nothing to report here

When I was Prince of the Mists, we used to call the winter reign "The Fat Season" because from Investiture, usually the third weekend of November, through Cynaguan Investiture (which usually fell on Super Bowl weekend back then, and my birthday), you had at least one feast every weekend. That's two and a half straight months of excess. I'm including a Christmas dinner in here. It wend something like this: Investiture, Thanksgiving, Golden Rivers Aniversary Banquet (that's three in eight days), Jingles, Esfenn Yule, Westermark Yule, Christmas, New Years, 12th Night, CAID 12th Night, An Tir 12th Night, Cynagua Investiture. Calories!! I'm not sure I went to An Tir 12th Night that year, and they don't always fall like that. But I went to something that third week of January. I gained a lot of weight.

I don't have to deal with that anymore, but the holidays are the bane of most fighters. There is a statistic that indicates that all the weight we gain in a year we gain over the holidays (kind of like all the profits a retailer makes).

This year I went to my lady's family in D.C. I had gone on a low-carb crash the week before and gotten down to 211, close to my best weight recently. I then basically ignored my diet. I decided that I was going to eat everything that appeared in front of me. Not much (I only had half a crescent roll, but it was my first crescent foll in at least five years). I even had a beer while watching football on Saturday. The result; today I weighed 213. That's nothing. I weighed 217 four weeks ago. Of course, it wasn't easy.

I have been rehabbing every day. My plan is to start strengthening exercises today (Monday) after Yoga. Alberecht turned me onto this new physical therapy device, which he and Tanaka are using. I am going to give it a try.

I am still doing my workouts and still tracking them on and occasionally on facebook. I did yoga on Monday, which has now become a regular thing. I had strained my groin on the elliptical the week before and it was really effecting my yoga (It hurts to assume the lotus position), so my teacher advised doing something else. As a result I am mostly on the treadmill. I ran for 25 minutes on the treadmill and then did yoga for half an hour on Wednesday, before the long bus ride down to D.C. On Friday I did a 3.45 mile run to help work off that turkey. I ran it in 5-fingers, and my calves still hurt. I also went shopping on Black Friday. As Keri said on "Sex in the City": "Shopping's my cardio."

As I said, no fighting right now. However, I'm considering fighting single-sword left handed at Season's Beatings this weekend. I'm antsy to put the armor on. Probably wear my plate and splint arms if I do. I've got some stuff I've been working out that I want to try.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Progress report 2

My arm hurts a lot still. It is intermittent. It didn't bother me at all yesterday. Now it stings. I have done my rehab every day. It says not to do the strengthening exercises until the stretching "barely hurts". I planned to be doing strengthening exercises by now, but the stretching still hurts a lot. I suspect now that I won't be able to fight at 12th Night.

My workouts are going well. Yoga on Monday was great. I felt drained but rejuvenated at the end of it. Wednesday's gym workout went much like the week before: I did 20 minutes on the elliptical, about 30 minutes of yoga, and abs. I was again planning to go hunting on Friday, so I was skipping he afternoon gym session. Thankfully Vitus was teaching an un-armored class on Thursday night, which I took. (I did about half the work with a left hand grip, which was less stressful) It wasn't a very strenuous workout, but it was a good one. (see below). Also, I got a pretty good workout dragging a deer out of the woods on Saturday.

Like i said, I haven't been fighting and likely won't for months. But I went to Vitus' bastard sword class, which as excellent.

Vitus uses some techniques adapted from Fiore, but not really. He uses a true bastard sword length sword, not the slightly longer version Marc uses. His sword is weighted with a metal pommel and has a thrusting tip. It can easily be used one handed. As mentioned before, Vitus is very interested in creating a period impression of a 12th Century knights, and the way he fights bastard sword reflects that.

He taught us a cool kata. He holds his sword low and behind him in a right-hand grip, with his left foot forward, as though inviting a thrust. When the thrust comes he voids by passing off-line to the right. Then he does the standard fiore move of driving his opponent's sword down and then striking with the back edge. He comes out of this into the True Window guard. From here he incresares and thrusts. Then he passes back on the right and brings his sword down to a long point that originates at the hip (don't know where this comes from). He passes on the right and thrusts, then passes on the left and cuts stotatti reverso, then does the same on the right.

At least, that's how I remember it.

Next he showed us his version of vom tag. It is the same as Paul's high guard. He passes on the right and strikes a horizontal cut to the head with the back edge (I know of know period description of this) then passes on the left with a for edge strike.

He likes to half sword against pole arms, but since he can't use pommel strikes he will block with the point down and then let go, starting a cut to the head and grabbing the pommel for added power.

Like Marc, he strikes Dritto passing with his right-foot forward and reverso with his left foot forward.

The main elements of his style seem to be high attacks (he never really strikes downward, always horizontal or upward, and says downward strikes are a mistake), voiding, and striking out of window parries (or the King's guard and the Queen's Guard). He seems to prefer the back edge when striking Dritto. It is a neat looking style, and he fights it well against either sword and shield or two weapon.

None of this makes much sense when I describe it, and I'm probably describing it wrong. I'm working of four day old memory and am unsure if I remembered all the steps of his kata. If the video comes out I will post it. Regardless, he is a fun and interesting knight, with a lot of knowledge and a well developed and effective style which looks more period than most. It was a great class.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Progress Report

So my first week (last week) of off-season rehab went pretty well.

Last week I did Yoga class on Monday. It was a good class. The instructor is very good at moving you just to the limits of your body and no farther. I push myself farther than she would like, natch, but I like her approach. I feel a bit tired but invigorated after her class.

Wednesday I did my scheduled gym workout #1, with 20 minutes on the elliptical, abs, and stretching. At some point last week, and I think this was it, I strained a hip flexer. But the workout felt good.

Being in a rush to go meet Big Mike so I could ride with him up to Cornwall, I did not do my Friday workout. It needed to be replaced, so on Sunday I rode my bike to BAT. Not a long ride, only about 6.5 miles round trip. I also taught a class at BAT, which was a slight workout in itself.

I have decided to re-order my workouts a bit. I am devoting Monday nights to Yoga from now on. The gym near my house has class at 7, which is easy for me to make. I do some brief Yoga most mornings along with my rehab exercises. I am also still feeling pain in my elbow when I stretch it, so I'm not yet adding the strength exercises.

At BAT I taught a class and did pell work with my left hand. I worked on both regular snaps and on stepping to generate power.

Count Vitus from Drachenwald was at BAT on Sunday and will be there again on Thursday. He was great to have around for a number of reasons.

His primary goal is to create a good 12th Century impression. Here is a picture of him:

Note the very cool mail chauses, the soup-can knees and elbows, the pot helm and the cross-hilted sword with finger gauntlets. This lead to some great discussions on the place of basket hilts in SCA fighting. He fights an old-school sword back style, not because he thinks it's stylistically superior but because that is the way you see fighting being done in the Maciejowski bible and the Manesse Codex. Since he uses finger gauntlets, he really doesn't want to be blocking with his hand (this is also the reason, from the days of hockey gloves, why hands are not a legal target).

Listening to him talk to Ervald was a lot like listening to me talk to Ervald ten years ago, when I was trying to explain to him why i fought in a sword back style (although i used a basket hilt and employed a lot more sword blocks than Vitus). The difference is now I've adopted an East Kingdom sword forward style, because I realized that the sword back style (and my smaller shield) wasn't allowing me to compete with the top Eastern fighters. "The top level fighters, they won't fight with that sword guard" Vitus said. Of course, nearly all the top level fighters *do* fight with that sword guard. However, he had some good ways around it, and I really liked watching him fight.

His position does raise the common question, where do we draw the authenticity line? There are no manuals for armored combat from the late 11th century, the time period we are all supposed to be armored for, but we do have the armor and some illustrations. Until the 15th or 16th centuries, blocking with the hands was suicidal. But we do it all the time now. It is an integral part of our art. At what point do we sacrifice our art for a more period look or, arguably, a more period style? It's pretty telling that in the class I taught before they armored up, I concentrated on sword blocking.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Working Out

Today I'm starting an 8 week workout program that will take me through December 31 and help me to stay in shape while I rehab my elbow. My workouts will be as follows:

Rehab daily
week 1: range of motion exercises (flexing and extending arm) 3 sets of ten, wrist range of motion (turnovers) 3 sets of ten
wrist stretches (qui gong stretches) 3 sets of ten
Week 2, add tae kwon do wrist stretches, 1 set of ten
Week 3 add Strengthening, hammer turn, 3 sets of ten, Can roll 3 sets of ten
Week 4 :replace range of motion with rubber band curls and extensions,3 sets of ten
Week 5 add shoulder rolls, 3 1 set of ten; draw the sword, 1 set of ten
Week 6, add Indian clubs

Gym Session 1
20 minutes on the elyptical
10 minutes stretching,
incline sit up, 3 sets of 10
ab pull overs, 3 sets of 10
20 each: crunches, leg lifts, right oblique, left oblique, raised knee

Gym session 2
20 minutes on treadmill
leg press, 3 sets of 10-12
leg curls 3 sets of 10-12
leg extensions 3 sets 10-12
10 minutes stretches

Classes: cardio blast, yoga, spin, dance aerobics, stair climb



First two weeks should look like this:
Today (Monday 11/7) Yoga
Wednesday, Gym 1
Friday, Gym 1
Monday 11/14 Gym 1
Wednesday, Yoga
Thursday, Gym 2

Second segment, weeks 3 & 4
Monday, 11/21: Yoga Class
Wednesday, Stair Climb
Thursday: 2.5 mile run
Monday 11/28: Gym 2
Wednesday Gym 1
Friday: (Class)

Segment 3, weeks 5 & 6
Monday, 12/5 Yoga
Wednesday Gym 2
Friday Gym 1
Monday 12/12 Gym 2
Wednesday Gym 1
Friday (Class)

Last segment, weeks 7 & 8
Monday 12/19, Yoga
Wednesday, Gym 1
Thursday, (Class)
Friday, Gym 2
Saturday Yoga
Sunday, 2.5 mile run
Tuesday Gym 1
Wednesday (class)
Thursday Gym 2
Friday 2.5 mile run
Saturday Yoga

There will be no fighting here. There might be pell work later on. Maybe I will fight left handed without a shield a couple of times. I may or may not fight at Western 12th Night. I might not fight until Birka (though I will probably need to practice a couple times before Birka).

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Fall Crown 2011

Ok: no more fighting till January. Got to heal.

I had a great crown in many respects. No, I didn’t fight as well as I wanted to. I got taken out by two guys whom I normally beat. I’ve been training with Oscad, and doing slightly better than him in most weapons forms. He went to the final four--not an indication that I’d have gone that far, just frustrating. But I am happy with this crown for a lot of reasons. First off, I made it out of my pool, which was my main goal going in. I had some great fights, and even though I fought like crap I persevered.

I had not fought for a month, hoping to heal my elbow. I took some ibuprofen and warmed up. Even though it always slows me down and makes fighting harder, I put on my neoprene elbow brace.

My first fight it was terrible. I fought Willum, the new OTC. My blows were slow, my targeting off. I was striking like crap. Don’t know how I beat him. By the end of the pool my arm was hamburger, then it got worse. In the break I cooled down and stiffened up. That sucked. I couldn’t actually lift my arm directly to my shoulder. I couldn’t’ do a bicep curl while holding anything. Instead I had to lift with my shoulder and then swing the sword around my head, like an over head return. After my first fight I was able to use some of my sword-forward techniques, but by the end (and probably, effectively, all day) I only had about three shots. I was limited to classic bellatrix style which uses next to no arm strength to generate power. Head shot, off-side head, leg. That was about it. I tried some hammer blows and the classic 1-2, but not to any effect.
I was sitting with Artos and Gwyn. Gwyn is a great coach and Artos is my swing doctor. They are even more Western-centric than I am, being prejudiced against big shields and in favor of tip-heavy swords and the bellatrix snap. But they were right about what I was doing: I needed to sit into my shots, relax and fire. More on this later.

The worst thing about the injury was not being able to grip the sword properly. I hit three people in the side of the head with full on Bellatrix snaps, from behind my head, and it was shrugged off. I hit three people with my hook-thrust, my best shot, and that got shrugged off two. Given the number of blows getting shrugged off, and by different fighters, the obvious answer is that I couldn’t deliver a sholid blow because I couldn’t grip the sword properly.

I was in a very tough pool. They seeded the list kind of weird. They said they were going to do it by order of precedence, but they didn’t. They also didn’t do what they had done last time we had pools like this, with three dukes and two counts. That time they put a duke on the first three fields and Thorsen and I on the fourth. This time they gave Edward his own field and put me on the field with Brion—this is fine, because I wasn’t fighting well enough to warrant my own field. I’m told that what they did was seed the dukes in alphabetical order and then the counts the same way.

Anyway, my pool had Brion in it. There were four lefties, including John the Breeder. It also had Eric Hundeman (sp) who gives me fits. The third knight on our field was Sir Collin. Tough pool.

I had three losses and seven wins, which was enough to advance. I placed fourth in the pool, and all three of my losses were to the other three fighters who advanced: Kenewulf, John, and Brion.

The fights I lost were the ones that stood out. (isn’t it always the way that your favorite fights are the ones you loose?). Against Brion I fought really really well. I was warmed up but my elbow hadn’t tightened up too much. IU hyad gotten the first fight out of the way and I was more relaxed. And it was Brion, so I was totally focused. My defense was good, my offense pressed him, and I even tried a spin move on him—my plan had actually been that he would catch the spin on his shield and then I’d throw a back hand to his leg. It almost worked, but almost isn’t worth much. But that was a really fun fight. John and Kenewulf both beat me by being super-aggressive and forcing me out of my game. (not unlike what Oscad was doing all day).

Collin said my fight with him put him off his game because, using the heater, I had many more angles covered and he couldn’t knock my shield around. I got him by taking his leg and the hitting him in the body. Eric I got with a great low-line body thrust. The upward thrust was having no power problems. Artos and Gwyn, watching these fights, kept encouraging me to throw classic snaps, to relax and fire from my butt. Not only had I painted my shield but I re-strapped it as well. I lowered my hand, changing the angle my arm was at, so that I had better off side protection. It worked well, but I did get my sword caught up a few times on the top edge. Just take some getting used to. Artos was razzing me about it all day. “you fight so much better with a bunny round”, “what are you doing using sword blocks when you got that big shield to hide behind?” etc.

The elimination portion was a double elimination with sixteen fighters, the top four from each pool. Each round was 2 out of three, matched weapons, higher ranked fighter chose first. I did not do so well. My first fight was against Jan Janovitch. I chose great-sword, then made the same mistake against him that I’d made against Ron, faked high and shot for his leg and he just hit me on the top of the head. Our second fight was with sword and shield. I hit him with both a snap and a hook thrust, neither of which he took (the thrust probably just caught his camail). He got me with a straight up snap after a long fight.

My second set of fights was with a fighter from Quintavia named—I thin—either Valdur or Evaldur. I’d seen him fight earlier in the day. I took sword and shield first and, after a really long fight, I hit him in the head. Then we fought polearm and he killed me, but I had a blast. I was really into that fight. I was using my new poleax and chased him all around the field. Our third fight was two-weapon. He took two arming swords while I fought sword and short-sword. I took his arm and then killed him with a body shot.

My next fight was against Jabril. He showed a lot of patience. I chose sword and shield first and could not break his defense down. Then we had a great great-sword fight, which he won when I missed a shot at his head and didn’t recover properly, so my sword was out of position. Great fight.

At no point did I chose the sword in one hand, which I’d considered. I wish I’d done it against Jabril.

The tourney itself was awesome. I picked the final-four, the finalists, and the winner two weeks ago when the list came out, so I felt the great prognosticator. The final four were Omega vs Kenrick and Edward vs. Oscad. Kenrick beat Omega in two fights. Oscad beat Edward with greatsword and then lost a two weapon fight because he talked Edward out of taking a shot. That was his game, but after Edward was almost slain he found another gear and just turned it on. He was swinging hard with both swords and Oscad said he was hitting harder than Douglas. It was fantastic. In the finals, Kenrick won the great sword and the two weapon fights, Edward won the polearm and the first sword and shield fight. In the last fight Kenrick took his leg, then his arm, then killed him. Everyone was happy. Kenrick had been in finals something like eight times before.

My tourney was awesome too. All told I fought seventeen fights and I won nine of them. I fought like crap, at no more than 50% of my normal level. Not what it takes to contend but a good day considering.