Monday, February 13, 2012

BATtle Royale (with cheese)

I had not really decided that I ws going to fight at BATtle Royale (With Cheese) until probably Saturday, but my elbow had been feeling good all week and I decided to go ahead and give it a try. The event was our farewell event to our glorious Brooklyn practice site, which probably bears mentioning.

About four years ago Oscad de Segovia moved to Brooklyn from Michigan. He was running the Brooklyn Free Lighting Project, which occupied space in an 8th floor warehouse in the Brooklyn Army Terminal. It had plenty of room for fighting, ceilings that were high enough for polearms if you watched out for the sprinkler system, space where we could store our armor and even a place to set up a shop. As Oscad said, his only goal was to set up a fighter practice that he could walk to and where he could store his armor, but the site became a great deal more. Not only did we have regular heavy and rapier fighting practice there, we started holding monthly tournaments there in both forms, the Beau Geste and the Lapin Agile. It quickly became a site for meetings, dance practices, calligraphy workshops, and events. For a time the local ladies brought food to the workshops. I fought a *lot* more simply because I didn’t have to haul my armor on the subway, and since Oscad had the only pickup in the canton, he was more than happy to haul people’s armor to and from events, since it came and went from his own warehouse. A few of us who, like most New York residents, don’t own cars (the SCA is the only thing that is made harder by that) got to a lot of events we otherwise would have missed, because all we had to do was get our bodies there. Best of all, we armored and trained several new fighters out of BAT, and likely would not have done so, or at least not had as many successes as we did, were it not for the combination of a well equipped shop, an indoor practice site, and a place for new people to store both loaner gear and their own. Now that the lighting project is over and we are losing the site, it will make SCA in New York city a little bit harder. But then, being spoiled as we have been all this time probably has its pitfalls as well—though for the life of me I can’t think of what they could be.

BAT showed how vibrant an Urban SCA branch can be *if* it has that greatest of luxuries in an Urban setting, space!

It was a very nice event, with the usual excellent pot-luck, nice schmoozing in the hall, a rapier and a heavy list, and visitors from far away. Lots of fun!

I had relatives in town this week (when you live in New York City everybody eventually comes to visit) and nothing throws off your routine like house guests. When I wasn’t working I was playing tour guide or going to a Broadway show (they wanted to see Phantom, which New Yorkers generally only see when relatives are in from out of town). My workouts and even some of my PT went out the window. I did hike aorund the city more than usual though. AND I got to fight today!!

I mostly wanted some time with my heater shield, which I had re-strapped right before Crown and had only used that day. It is a standard 2x3 heater, but whereas the old strapping had my hand high up in the corner, I brought my hand down and flattened the angle of my arm out a bit, to make it easier to fight left handed fighters. It is a touch harder to hold up that way, but it is aluminum and fairly light. My technique for the day was dictated by my concern for my elbow and my desire to shake things up a bit for myself. I fought in what I like to call the “classic Atlantian style” mostly because it is in Atlantia that I see it most often. But it’s probably a misnomer. Not all the Atlantian fighters fight this way. It is the polar opposite of Oldcastle style (which is basically what they call Bellatrix out here). There are also fighters in the East and Aethlemarc who fight this way as well. But it does seem to be the most common way to fight in Atlantia: 2x3 heater with a short, light sword and no thrusting tip. It uses a closed form high guard and really fast snaps. The no thrusting tip was important because I sometimes rely on the tip too much. The thing about the Atlantian style is that it relies very heavily on one shot: the downward slot shot, which with that short sword comes very fast and hits hard. I fought about half the time with my shield-side foot forward. Once I switched to using Branos’ defense, with the shield high on the left side and looking past the leading edge, with the sword guarding the right side. When I fought a great weapon I switched to my longer sword with a thrusting tip. The great thing about the Atlantia style is efficiency. Movement is economized, and there would be a lot less strain on my elbow.

The format was a round robin with a total of ten fighters. I turned out to be the only knight in the tourney when Gui dropped out to take care of some Vice Regal business. I had planned to fight fairly relaxed and mixing my forms up a bit, fighting pole arm and possibly even ax and buckler against one of the glaives, and use sword and heater sparingly, just against the two or three more experienced fighters. However, I didn’t face them until the late rounds, and by then I was too tired to do anything else, plus I realized how stupid it would be to put more strain on my elbow. So I stuck with the heater the whole day and, as I said, only switched swords for great-weapons. It was the best way to protect my elbow.

I won the tournament without a loss. Ended up I had to fight Everet twice because they wanted a final round and he had the next highest number of wins. I also fought Deklin, Avran, Ervald, Duncan, Shandar, and three visitors from House Three Skulls, including Hassan, the guy who runs this very cool video blog I like to watch called The Easter Fighter. Watch it. His feed is good too. Two of the fighters were using polearms and one, Avran, used a great sword. Everybody else was sword and shield.

Since I was rusty and a bit worried about my shoulders, I warmed up wearing leather body armor and my stainless steel shoulders. However, being as out of practice as I was my arms were getting very heavy very quickly, so I took the shoulders off. Wise choice. I warmed up with Everet, Deklin, Avran, and Duncan. Deklin being a lefty it was good practice.

My wins against Avran and the first polearm fighter I fought—the one from 3 skulls—I won with thrusts. I can’t recall if I beat Shandar with a thrust as well, but I think I did.

My fights against the others were all very simple and straight forward. I won most of them with the aforementioned slot shot to the helm. I had three victories that stand out: my fight against Hassan, where I took his off-side (leading) leg with a keelson-like shot—acting like I was throwing Brion’s off side leg-fake, head shot, but instead pausing and cocking on the fake and following through to the leg. I killed him with a good combo too. I threw Radnor’s version of the butterfly (locked wrist, wavy-rising-off side body). As I did so I did a slide-step off-line to my left. I hit his arm, light, but that moved me so that I was a bit to his right and his shield was no longer in my way, so I got him with that slot shot as my followup. I often find it is better, instead of crowding someone, to step off-line to the left when someone is on their knees. This opens them up by changing the angle, so that the shield is no longer in between your sword and their bodies (always a good thing). I did a similar thing to Ervald after I legged him in our fight. I moved to my left, but not into him, and hit him in the belly (at least I think that was that fight—they do blur in a round robin). In the final round fight Everet did it for me. I more or less waited for him to step to his right and throw a blow at me. When he did so he opened himself up and I slot shotted him. He uses a center grip kite (which he picked up from me) and so he’s particularly vulnerable to that slot. Ervald got that one on video, so I hope to post it here.

I was SO tired by the end of the tourney. Most of my power was gone and I really only had a couple of shots. I slowed way down by then, which was draining my shots of power. That’s the rust.

My elbow felt good the entire day. In fact, it felt great. My shoulder and my back hurt a bit, but those are things I can deal with a lot easier than the elbow. Afterward it started to stiffen up. Right now it hurts a tiny bit, but it is nowhere near as bad as it was in the fall. It is also not tender to the touch. I iced it, and my shoulder, and my back, rotating the ice back between them every twenty minutes, for a little over an hour total. It is stiff and hurts a bit when I bend it now, but I am not displeased. I don’t intend to fight again for two more weeks, however, as I want to make sure it recovers.

What a fun day of fighting! A good way to end our tenure at BAT. And, as a slightly broken and very rusty knight I feel good about winning the tournament. No, there were no other knights in the tourney, but any day you win a tourney is a good day. I felt my fighting was nowhere near where it should be, but was in a much better place than I expected after such a long layoff and injury.

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