Sunday, September 16, 2012

Four Tourneys, and investiture, and a practice

A beautiful Sunday morning here in Brooklyn, and yesterday was an awesome day for a tournament. It was a bit of a drive--we spent more time in the car than we did at the tourney, which is a violation of somebody's rule. But it was pretty awesome on top of a difficult week. I was sick, and struggled just to get to work let alone to work out.

Fell mostly by the wayside as I spent most of time at home asleep in bed. I did not miss any work but that is because I only work for 1 hour and 15 minutes on Thursdays (officially--it is my one class and I can and did put off grading). I should not have tried to fight on Thursday, but I am an idiot.

I did not work out at the gym all week, but I did log 49.62 miles on my bike, which I am calling 50 just because.

Because I was sick, I wasn't practicing anything in particular at practice. I was just having fun. I fought a couple of polearm fights, a few sword and shield fights and some ax and broadsword (yes, I said that). At the tournament I was just fighting. At the tourney I was just fighting, and trying to do so without a plan. When I had a plan I got killed.


Practice, while small, was the best practice we have had at McCarren Park this year. There was me, Landon, Ervald, Anton, and the new guy Damiem in armor. I also had four other guys, including Sandro and Adrenalin Rob, for the unarmored class. I almost didn't go. Then I almost didn't get into armor. I felt miserable. But when the adrenaline kicked in from fighting I felt great, so I'm glad I fought.

Class went well. I discussed mace exercises with them, showing how you can do them with a basket-hilted broadsword. Then we reviewed our distance exercises. I taught them the first part of my kata. Finally, I showed them the Asgard school sword-blocks, and we did the drills for those.

Landon and Anton were in armor by then. I got dressed and went out to fight them. I did several passes with Landon with sword and shield. As before, he was fast, had a squirrelly defense, and hit hard, but I was used to his tells by this time. I think the only time he beat me was when I took his arm and we fought single-sword. I showed him the old Martin the Temperate leg shot, which, coming from CAID, amazed him. I had to stop to fix my shield edging.

I went and got a pole-arm and fought with that for awhile. I fought a few fights against Landon and one against Anton and I lost them all. I was trying to stay very basic against Anton, who was using a pole as well, but it got me thrust in the face with a beautiful thrust, one that ran along the shaft of my glaive just above the gauntlet.

After that I let the new kid use my shield and I went and got the ax, which I had thrown into my kit as an after thought. I had a LOT of fun. I started out using it as a florentine style, trying to set up a leg-head combo, but that didn't really work. after that, and losing my leg, I choked up on the shaft and just used it as a blocking stick. I had a mind that if an opportunity came I would punch somebody in the face with the blade, but it never did. We were running a bear pit at that point and Landon kept beating everybody, including me. But late in the game I got him with the same thing I had been winning with all night, a cut from 5. Then I killed Damien with a wrap. My best fight of the night was probably my fight against Ervald. He had his glaive, so I expected some sort of attack at my leg. Instead he attacked my head. I blocked it with my sword, transfered the ax to the shaft to pin it, then stepped right and short-sticked him. That was a great moment.

Four Tourneys and an Investiture was a tournament in Bergantal (Western Mass.) on Saturday. They were scheduled to have the Crestfallen tournament (knocking the crests of of people's helms), Gryfith's Ducal challenge, Gregor's Ducal challenge, Kelson's Ducal Challenge, and the Bergental championship--which is actually five tournaments, but apparently nobody counted ahead of time. However, the Crestfallen Tourney did not happen due to a lack of entries, so it was four after all.

I fought in the three tourneys I was eligible for, which might have been a mistake. See, I was still sick, and because I was fighting I missed the day-board. All I had to eat prior to the tourneys was a McDonald's smoothie and a sausage burrito. I was a bit lacking on calories and by the end of the day I was feeling kind of faint. No--I was feeling faint. I spent four hours in armor, nearly all of that fighting. Once the adrenaline wore off I crashed completely. We went to a near by sports bar for bar food (lots of calories) and I could not believe how wasted I felt before eating and how good I felt afterward. I know better: always eat before you fight!

The tourneys were pretty awesome and apparently my training has been doing some good. Gryfith's tourney was fairly close to a crown but without this crown's weapon restrictions. There were about 32, four pools with two people advancing out of each pool to a double-elim list of eight. I swept my pool, which surprised me. My best fight was with Brennan, the current King's champion. He took my leg and then kept trying an off-side molinee to my shoulder, but he was over extending each time. I blocked it a few times with my sword and then realized that if I blocked it with my shield I could kill him with a simple off-side head shot, which worked.

In the double-elim list I fought Wolfhir, Brennan again, and then Duke Brion in the semi-finals. Wolfhir was fighting sword and spear and I caught him with a face thrust after much posing. Brennan again took my leg and I defended well. I finally got his leg then killed him right away with a hook-thrust. I had two chances to beat Brion and could not do it, but I fought him very well in our second fight. In our first fight I had a plan (bad idea). I tried an off-side leg fake-on-side head shot that I stole from his former squire Duke Sean. I nailed me with a counter off-side as soon as I threw it. Later I asked him if he knew what I was throwing or if he triggered off my hand crossing my face. He said it was the latter, that that is one of the things he always looks for and triggers off of. In our second fight I played a strong range game and threw a lot of interesting stuff. We had some good exchanges. He gave me an opportunity to talk him to death when I hit him with my hesitation wrap, but I refused to take it. It was a beautiful shot: I had seen the opening and thrown the blow (a double-pump dropping wraparound). It hit but needed to be about two more inches down on the stick. He killed me with sich a beautiful blow I am still trying to figure it out. It was like he rotated his sword at the forte off the top of my shield.

Duke Kelson's challenge was Sword and buckler, a game I love to play. Once again it was pool play, but this time leading to a single elimination knock-out round. I have three setups for sword and buckler. I either set up in a weak high closed form, a la Duke Hauoc (sword ffoot forward), or I fight a straight Bellatrix  style. The other thing I sometimes do is use the first guard from I.33, but that rarely works. In the first setup I am trying to draw a leg shot and then countering with a straight-down off side to the shoulder or head (very effective with a small shield). With the Bellatrix setup I am just trying to use classic Bellatrix technique. Both were effective. As usual, the I.33 setup got me killed.

Gregor's challenge was a Robin Hood at the bridge game. We had a tarp representing water, a board representing a log, and two pieces of rattan which represented quarter staffs. We could not thrust and we had to hold the stick in the middle. Victory was attained by crossing the bridge. You could defeat your opponent by striking him three times, pushing him into the water, pushing him backward off the bridge or just leaping past and gaining the other side (which I almost did one, but my hell caught the tarp). I mostly got the snot beat out of me. I won one fight by pushing someone into the water. I won another by using the staff like a long sword and hitting my opponent in the head three quick blows. The third fight I won was a total accident. I was being pushed, lost my balance, and I spun around on my back (right) foot 360 degrees. My opponent went flying off the bridge and into the water. Everybody was all "Wow! Valgard! great spin move!" and I was like "total fluke!"  I did not advance to the finals in that one.

However, I ended up in a 3 way tie for second in my buckler pool with the two people who beat me. After we finished our Robin Hood pool we had to fight it out to see who advanced to the buckler finals. At that point I stopped trying to channel Hauoc or Paul and started to channel Radnor. I won both those fights. In the knock -out round (which was eight people single elimination) I fought Sir Cedric and killed him with Radnor's high off side fake/leg fake/tear-drop return/snap, which was once my money shot in the land of small shields and few sword blocks. It worked like a charm. Then I got to fight Steffan Von Dresden, the best fighter in the SCA. I usually do ok against him sword and buckler because I practice it more than he does, but not so much yesterday. My focus was gone. His energy won the fight before we even started. He had me back on my heels at the lay on, before we were even in range. I tried a molinee leg shot that sometimes works on him and the best I can say is that it didn't get me killed. He nailed me a few blows later with a shot so hard it felt like he'd hit me with the basket hilt.

It was on the whole a great day. If I hadn't had a cold I might have lasted a bit longer against Von Dresden. If I had stuck that wrap on Brion I would have gone to the finals (incidentally, he won both the buckler and the regular tourneys--Cullyn won the Robin Hood tourney). I am not ready for Crown, but I was surprised how well I fought. I was watching Sagan's lecture on training versus practice Friday night, and his axiom that you judge yourself always against the people you want to compete with was strong in my head. By that rubric I am almost where I need to be. I advanced to the semi-finals in two of the three torunaments and I very nearly killed Duke Brion. But close is not there, and I would have really liked to have gotten into the finals against Marcus (who was terribly disappointed at coming in second in a tournament again--though Crown is kind of set up for him to win)  

It is 42 days until Crown. The next time I will be in armor will most likely be at Nutley practice this Wednesday. If not there then in McCarren Park on Thursday.  

No comments: