Monday, September 10, 2012

Barleycorn and other issues

I love the Feast of John Barleycorn. I always have fun there. It was the first Easterne vent I attended. The feast is good and the parties great. There was not enough fighting this weekend, partially due to numbers (there was another unbelted event against it in the southern region), and partially due to weather. Apparently, the sky was falling. I think next year we should try to hold the Roses tournament again. That was a blast. We would just need to schedule it better. As for me and my week, well, it almost killed me.

The intensity of the week caused a slight relapse in my tennis elbow. Not anything major, but enough so that it worried me on Saturday--so much so that I fought very little and only witha  great sword (though it did occur to me that it was from a blow while fighting great sword that I developed Tennis elbow in the first place). I have also gone back to using the soup can exercises for my elbow. They are basically the same exercises as done with the Indian club, but there is something about the position of the hand--ipen instead of closed--that makes them feel a little stronger and effective (NOTHING beats Indian Clubs for shoulders, however). The flex bar is still the most important.

I kind of failed on my workouts, but that was because I couldn't' fit all of them in. I only did one gym workout, but that was because I fought twice and went hunting on Monday (and believe me, traipsing around the woods for four hours with a shotgun is exhausting!). I got 52.7 miles, but all in two days. That wrecked me! What wrecked me even more was the intense WOD I did on Tuesday. It was 100 thrusters (squat down with the barbell on you chest, stand up into a shoulder press). The suggested weight was 95 pounds. That is close to my max, so I went with 65 pounds. I did a set of 25 then sets of 10. I stopped at 62 and then lowered the weight to 45 pounds. For the rest of the week my thighs were on fire and my shoulders didn't recover till today. I did no pell work at all, so I am 500 strikes behind my goal.

I fought twice, at Nutley and at Barleycorn. At Nutley I was trying to use distance and, when closing, use Paul's single-hip or tear-drop return techniques--getting back to basics. I fought with long sword at Barleycorn and, instead of techniques, was working on four different styles--Duke Gregor's high-center form, Gui's horse-stance form, Paul's high guard and closing technique, and Marc d'Arundel's Fiore based technique. Most of this was against sword and shield fighters, but I did fight a few passes agaisnt a great swrod and two against a pole arm.

Gregor's style is very basic. It is kind of a standard SCA great sword but held higher. The ricasso is right in front of your vision. It uses a push-pull technique for power and basically just attacks the upper quarters--straight down for the head, fendente toward the shoulders (which isn't really a fendente, but bear with me). It uses lateral movement to open up angles.

Gui's horse stance is a tricky maneuver against other greatswords. You stand in a horse stance with the sword held low around your groin and pointing straight up, trying not to feel ironic about it. The cross hilt is held across, that is, the edges of the blade are toward your right and left, not toward you and your opponent. This style employs downward cuts with either edge, so you are essentially the false edge for on-side cuts and the true edge for off-side cuts. It is the safest way to take someone's leg with a great sword. You block with the true edge and rotate the false edge down to the leg, basically staying covered the whole time.

Paul's style uses two stances--A high open guard, left leg forward, and a long-point guard with the right leg forward. Most of Paul's blocks are hanging guards off of strikes (if someone strikes at him before he has struck he just steps out of the way). He closes with shield men, which is how I learned to do it, putting his shoulder against their shield and striking around it with the false edge. Mostly it gets me killed.

Marc's style is developed out of Paul's but also out of Fiore di Liberi. He has several stances but whenever I fight him he always starts in long-point. It involves lateral movement, striking only when passing (and usually to the side you passed on). As with my own single handed-sword style, and Paul's great sword, the best possible set up is to be able to block with the window parry (or the Queen's guard in some systems) pass on the left and strike on the left.

I fought only four opponents at Nutley: Steffanos, Gregor, Seichel, and Vasilly (a very eastern flavor to my opponents). I used Paul's techniques only intermittently and the rest of the time used an A frame defense. I was pretty tight.

There were three thigns of note. I was winning most of my fights except against Gregor. He said I had fought him better but I had definitely fought him worse. Like Ice he said that when I got aggressive my fighting improved. That is understandable, since offense and agression have always been my game, but disappointing since I have been trying to go to a more defensive, counter-punching style. As he put it, however, "when you were being passive I just stood there and waited for you to essentially put your face on my sword." Like Paul I need to fire into his sword to tie it up and close. That brings up Vasilli's comment. He said I was fighting him inside and more aggressively than he was used to. This was after I had talked with Gregor, so that is also understandable. He has developed a nasty little slot shot, much like Houghton or Edward Ian Anderson back in the day, and got me right on the nipple with it once.

Barleycorn, as I said, was about the great sword. This was both to rest my shoulders and elbow, and to give me a little practice for crown. Also, I was possibly going to take the train back to the city, and the greatsword is easier to carry than sword and shield. I fought six opponents, four sword and shield fighters, a great-sword fighter and a pole arm. I got the better of the great sword fighter (Ervald) and the polearm. I killed each of the sword and shield fighters at least once. I found that Paul's inside techniques were getting me slaughtered but I got one person with a wavy-rising snap from his high-guard. I did a lot of running backwards when I was using Marc's technique, but I killed Everet with a thrust to the elbow as he advanced after I had missed a shot (every technique ends in long point: Liechtenaur). I tried to use Vitus' back edge technique, where you take Paul's high guard and, instead of throwing a snap, pass forward and strike with the false-edge over the shield, giving you a better angle. I couldn't get it to work. I only used Gregor's and Gui's techniques against Ervald, but both were effective. I was also sneaky on Ervald--I put my hands together at the pommel to increase my range and took his arm when he thought he was safe. Against the pole arm fighter I executed a beautiful pass off a window parry and reverso fendente. That made my day.

All in all I got the crap beaten out of me.

There are 26 (correction: 48) days until Crown Tournament. My next time in armor will be McCarren Park on Thursday. I plan to fight this weekend at Four Tourneys and an Investiture in Bergantal.

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