Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Arrows and Ales and Helmet Time--More thoughts on how to run a class

Having established my training goals, which I was supposed to begin enxt week, I kind of got a jump on them, which feels pretty good. I am still missing Pennsic a lot, but my body has recovered and is now ready for the increased workload I’m going to put on it. I still need to drag my pell out, however.

My rehab is going fine. I have kind of reached an equilibrium. I do it regularly but I miss days now and then. My elbow feels good at rest. My Achiles has been very good recently, but I am feeling the increased workload from cycling (see below). My shoulder is the same as always—use it for awhile and it will hurt, but a lot more if I skip my rehab.

I was resting my body. All I did this past week was ride my bicycle and go on a couple of walks. I shot sporting clays on Thursday, which is a pretty good workout. The walk is long, it was hot, it takes 2 hours to go 2.5 miles, you are carrying a shotgun the whole time and your shoulder takes a pounding. Counting that walk, with the rest of it on my bicycle, I logged just over 50 miles last week, which I did not think I would do.

The technique I am working on right now is Duke Paul’s Single Hip Return. ( I am still working on a few things. In the videos on this page he does not do the pulling down motion of the start of the return that he has been teaching. I need to talk to him about this. I was teaching this technique this weekend (see below) and, while what I was doing will work and was how Paul had been demonstrating the technique recently, I want to make sure I am teaching it correctly (I know what I am teaching will work for me). Basically, it is a variation of the standard second blow off an onside blow which, instead of driving the sword-side hip forward gets its power form pulling the sword side hip back. Paul’s variation is in increasing the velocity of the sword by shortening the arc that it describes. 

An Dubaghin was holding their “arrows and ales ” event at the Unitarian Church in Huntington on Saturday. Gui has been going out there recently to establish a rapport with both the barony and with the two large fighting units out there, Three Skulls and Sutr’s Brood, neither of which have knights in them. Saturday I went with him. We hung out most of the day and then got into armor around 2:30 or 3:00. I was running the class. I did not get a whole lot of fighting in, but this was not about me it was about the unbelted fighters out there, so the little bit of helmet time was welcome.

The post-Pennsic gremlins were in full force. I had unpacked, washed, and then re-packed my armor into a different bag. Not only did I forget my belt but I forgot my shield. I borrowed a belt. 

We started with free-sparing. I used to fight with just a five-inch rondel as a shield—not even really a buckler— and I had my greatsword with me, so the lack of shield didn’t bother me, but I was supposed to be teaching sword and shield. I went out and warmed up with Stick, a big strong leftie from Three Skulls, just using my Torvaldr gauntlet for a shield. That was fun! Later I borrowed a shield and had a set of fights with Antonius.

After that I lined them up in two ranks, both the armored and the unarmored students, and we did some technique instruction. I taught them three foundational Bellatrix techniques—the snap (which none of them had ever had explained to them) the tear-drop return and the single hip return. I went over them in detail, watched each of them closely as they performed the techniques, and gave them some pointers. Then I paired them off so they could do them in slow-work with an opponent.

After that they put helmets on and did armored drills. There were four fighters in armor at that point. I had each of them fight each of the others as though it were a crown final. Then two more fighters joined us. I had each fighter hold the field as a defender using Paul’s offense/defense drill, in which the patient agent (defender) is given three blows to throw (in this case on-side head, off-side head, and on-side leg) while the agent (attacker) is told to keep up a hard continuous attack. The encounter is over when the patient agent has thrown his three blows. They really liked this drill.

After that they broke up for some free sparing. Because there were so many lefties, and they were not that experienced, they were having real trouble finding areas to attack and they were getting sloppy. I put on my helmet and a left handed shield to teach them about hooks and magic buttons.

The baroness was so happy that two knights  had come out to the island to train her fighters that she called us into court to thank us and gave us some bruise balm. (Long Island is one of the most isolated parts of the kingdom, believe it or not, because NOBODY wants to have to drive through New York City to get there).

So all in all a good week. I actually got some helmet time and I logged 50 miles. I am already ahead of the game.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Ok, back on the horse!!

I have recovered from Pennsic and a really hard (too hard) clubs and bells workout last week. All I’m doing right now is biking and stretching. I skipped Yoga on Monday but, like Woody Allen in “Love and Death” I practice a lot when I’m alone. It is now, however, time to get back on that horse. My achiles has healed to the point where I can fight. My elbow has healed to the point that it really didn’t bother me at Pennsic. Yes I need to rebuild confidence in my body as well as rebuilding my body. But it is time to train.

Crown is on October 27th (early) which doesn’t leave much time. I will say up front that I am considering skipping it, something I rarely do. It is in Maine, near Bangor, which is either a long drive or another expensive flight. Plus I’m not so keen on the format. There will be eight pools instead of four, with only two people advancing from each pool. That doesn’t bode well for me, because I usually have at least two brain farts in the early rounds of tourneys and loose fights I should win, hence the reason I like pool play. On the other hand, the pools have no weapons restrictions on them. The later rounds have some pretty complicated ones, and I am only a barely adequate great weapons fighter, so it doesn’t favor me. On the other hand, I live to fight in Crown, and if it wasn’t so far into Maine I wouldn’t think twice.

All that being said I am training as though I plan to win the thing. My training goals are:
  • ·         There are just over nine weeks until crown tourney. In that time I want to be in armor twelve times. That works out to a minimum of seven Thursday night practices, three Nutley practices, the Cloisters demo, and Barleycorn. Ideally I will be in armor more than that.

  • ·         Counting Yoga on Mondays, I need to get at least three resistance/endurance workouts per week. That equals 27. Of those at least 9 should be WODs, 9 yoga classes, and 9 other workouts (these can be weights, cables, bells and clubs, triple threats, or more WODs).

  • ·         There is a long unused pell in the courtyard downstairs. One of my neighbors always complained when I used it. I should be on the pell five days a week, which would equal 45 days. That means I should strike the pell at least 4,500 times between now and then, but lets set the goal at an even 5,000 strikes (not more—when I was hitting the pell 1,000 times a day was when I developed bursitis).

  • ·         This one is actually the toughest: if I make 50 miles a week on my bike (which is not easy for me) that will be 450 miles between now and Crown. That is a lot. I will include miles in the gym on stationary equipment (the weather is going to change after all).

This is a tough schedule. Remember, the last week I will be training down, and not doing as much in the way of workouts or riding, so I will need to pack a bit extra into the earlier weeks. The other part of this is that I need to have a couple of fights each week with long sword, with glaive, with two-weapon, and with dane ax. Since Gui is great with the dane ax and the long sword, those will be easy to come by. I’m hoping to get a a couple of workouts with Ron and a couple with Andre (probably down in Philly) as part of my totals. I would love to get up to the Knights Hall, but that is probably out of the question unless it is on  a weekend, and some of my weekends will be taken up with hunting.  Oh yeah, there is one more thing: I’m going to Bermuda for four days. I can do my weight workouts while I am there but not much else. Pell work is probably right out.

Speaking of training, Sir Alexander de Hautville holds fighter practices after which he leads a power lifting session for an hour. That is very hard core. I’m a spindly little weakling next to him, so this is a bit intimidating. Being out of the Belatrix school, I don’t actually believe lifting is necessary to make someone a good fighter. I do it mostly for the endurance not for strength or speed, but I admit that it helps me if my technique is poor or I want to do something unorthodox. But what  do you think? Paul is very clear on this: if you are using proper technique, a 120 pound 5’ tall fighter should be able to kill anybody. Technique renders strength moot. Do you agree?

There are sixty-six days until Crown Tourney.   

Sunday, August 12, 2012


So I had a great Pennsic. I was there for two weeks. There is a lot to talk about, so the format for this post will be a bit different. So much happened that I don't know where to start or what order to put things on, so I guess it will be stream of consciousness.


Ajax's knighting was the highlight of the event for a lot of people. He is one of the most popular of the regular cast of SCA characters. His story, of how he was offered the belt, did something stupid, had the offer rescinded, and then hd to wait 19 years and live in three other kingdoms before the offer was made again, is well known. It was a magnificent ceremony, with a neat Greek oath and lots of emotion. He had several spokespeople. It was the first polyamorous knighting ceremony I can recall, as both his wife and his girlfriend escorted him in and put his belt on him. I loved It because I have been advocating for him since he started
doing well in the West. But it meant something more to me: it was the first time that all of my peeps, my Western peers and my Eastern peers, got together for something like a knighting. I love both my kingdoms, my old home and my new one. Thanks to Ajax, Sig, Gui, myself, Andre, Titus, Lucan, Jade, Uther, Roger, and Omega, there is a very strong friendship right now between the Western and Eastern knights. I like that.

I don't know that mixing the sides up did anything, really. I found that we and the Midrealm would shake hands and line up next to each other, but we didn't really bond the way we always seem to with the Atlantians or the Aethelmarcans. That intense rivalry leads to intense fighting, and I missed that. I heard people complaining after the belted and unbelted champions battles that it just wasn't as much fun or nearly so intense. That was my impression as well. The Midrealm and East live and breath for Pennsic. I always find the comradery before the champions battles to be one of he most fulfilling feelings of the war. The mid feels the same. But for the rest, it is just a vacation. It is not the same. Rivalries are a good thing. I miss it.

Was kind of nasty. I heard complaints on our side about the Tuchux and from the other side about VDK. I am not sure it was tougher than in previous years, in fact I think it was less so. But I did get wrapped from behind in one battle and I did get blindsided and cross-checked over the hay bales once. It was shield on body but it didn't occur to me that it was illegal till about a day later. I didn't really care. My experience was unique because...

The marshals were being weenies. Not all of them, but a lot. They were extremely zealous. I know somebody who was dragged to marshals court for pushing a Tuchuk off the bridge in a completely legal move. It took about 15 seconds to clear him. The marshal who dragged him in was not even a heavy marshal. It was crazy.

I got to present a banner to Duke Finnvar to commemorate his retirement from fighting. He is the only person to have been king of both the Midrealm and the East at Pennsic (he was king of the East at Pennsic 2 and of the mid at Pennsic 6). More impressively, until Monday, he had fought in every battle at every Pennsic. He received a huge ovation, and the kings cried.

Was so long ago I barely remember it. I hear we won. I thought it was a silly scenario. The few Ostgardr fighters teamed up with Silverlance, which got us a lot of action. I fought it with sword a shield and had a blast. It was awesome. I was slaying mightily.

I fought with spear for all but one of the five. I liked the way we did it, with five battles with 15 minute time limits. We switched bridges every fight and so we got to fight different units each time. At first my spear work sucked but it picked up by the end. One fight I took out Richard Blackmore's 5 foot pole arm thinking to direct traffic, but I did get a kill with it.

I got picked for the combined champions battle, the scenario they usually use for the allied battle, a one hour game of capture the flag with resurrections every three minutes. I used sword and shield. This was the battle I got blindsided in. I fought the whole battle and didn't sub out once. We lost, but I killed a bunch.

I skipped it. Injury control was my main goal this Pennsic, and I didn't want to stress my Archie's that much.

I live for the Pennsic field battle. It is my favorite SCA war activity. I took my poleax out. It was awesome. I did have some trouble getting people to take shots from the rubber ax head.

I assisted Paul in his basics class and learned a lot of stuff I was doing wrong. I don't really use his single hip technique, but I learned more about it and have been playing with it. It also sets up Paul's version of the off side body. Check it out at

The Mooselodge allowed their tourney to be used as a fund raiser for Wanda and Ashley. We raised $396. I was a wreck for the rest of the war.

Are you kidding me? What happens at Pennsic stays at Pennsic.:)

It was the best Pennsic ever!