Thursday, October 25, 2012

So here we are...

Once again I accidentally posted a post to the wrong blog. Gotta keep that straight. Taped it into this one, since it is kind of important.

I wanted to fight one more time last week. I fought on Wednesday and Thursday and I wanted to fight once more on Saturday. I tried to get people together but everyone was busy. I did not want to rent a Zipcar to go to Carillon because renting and driving to Crown is going to be expensive. I ended up not fighting at all. As the last full week of training for Crown, however, it was pretty good. I worked out every day. I fought twice. I am finally down below 215 pounds. THis week I slowed down. I did Yoga on Monday, pell work and mace exercises on Tusday. I should get in some yoga today (Thursday). I feel good, but I am not at all satisfied with the results or where I am in my fighting.

The only things I have been doing is soup-can exercises for my elbow and stretching for my Achilles. The Achilles has been a bit sore with workouts every day.

This was a great week according to my workout tracker on I biked 49.5 miles (actually more because I didn't track my whole ride on Tuesday). I did yoga on Monday, I fought Wednesday and Thursday, I did the WODs plus some yoga on Friday and Saturday. The biggest result of all of this is that, while today is supposed to be a rest day, I really want to bike down to Coney and workout on the par course!

The last fighting before the tourney should be about focus and endurance, but I was working on greatsword technique, with varying success. I am moving away from the Bellatrix techniques I used to use and employing a long-point technique that comes from Count Marc, but is related to the Japanese based bastard sword techniques I learned from Elrik. But I am also employing the standard high-center technique favored in the East Kingdom these days, and Gui's horse stance technique.

I fought at Nutley on Wednesday. I fought like ass. I started out with a greatsword set against Lou. I was doing pretty good. I used mostly the high center technique and won four or five of our fights. Wavy fakes were
Working best, however.

Next I fought Stephan. I did not lay stick on him once. Tim said I looked really good, and Stephan is the best fighter in the kingdom, but I did want to hit him once. I am certainly not where I need to be to win crown if my offense can't break the best fighters at least a few times. As Sagan says, you measure yourself against the best and by that measure I am still lacking.

After that I fought Vasilli, and that was where I thought I was not doing well at all. He took my leg and then pounded me in our first fight. He uses a short heavy stick and bull rushes, and he is really strong, but he is wild with a sloppy defense. He was taking my leg and hitting me with short stick slot shots. I should be able to defend that. In our last three fights I made some adjustments, I killed him with a hook thrust once, with a cut, and then by standing his rush up and attacking him on the of side helm, which beat him.

Then I fought John the Breeder, a true recipe for pain. I fought him really well. John is the new kingdom phenom, probably the best natural we have had since Stephan: fast, strong, great instincts, but also with a huge kite shield and fighting left handed. He has won ten tournaments in the last year. I fought him really well. I think we only actually had three fights but they were all long. I beat him once, by triggering off his leg shot. I took his arm, which was not my plan but it worked. Three times i had him dead to rights but could not execute. Twice i missed open thrusts and once a cut. In our last fight it cost me. My thrust was off line, my follow through opened up my right side and he creamed my ribs, which is why i rarely thrust against lefties. The amusing thing about John, not only has he started to break down and analyze fights like a knight, but I learned
This week that his footwork, which is excellent, is based on a cha-cha step. I love dance based footwork. That warmed my heart.

I discovered, as I had before, that I probably need to rehang my shield again. The problem with this theory is that one reason it is hung as it is none is specifically for John and Gui, to give me a defense against lefties that approaches that of my old center grip kite, which was the best shield for lefties I have had. But I do need to raise my arm a bit. I am also squaring up too much. These combined make it harder to defend my leg. I should not be losing my leg so much with a 36 inch shield. But the other reason I was dissatisfied is that I am just not seeing he fights well right now. It is a mater of focus and reaction. I literally do not know what to do from one pass to the next. I am not targeting openings as fast as I should be, and I am not reacting to what I see. Hopefully, that is a product of seeing more stuff than I was six months ago, but if so then my computer needs to pick it up and process it.

Thursday night was all about the greatsword. I left my shield at home. I fought against Landon first, him using sword and shield. I won our first fight then lost the others. I found that if I closed with him a la Bellatrix I was doomed. Later I fought Damion, our new guy. That was probably not a good idea just because I was not in a training other people mood. I was in a training me for Crown mood. However, he is a beast, in the best shape of any of us there, and gets off on the contact, so they were still pretty good fights and he enjoyed them. I fought Landon again, this time with greatsword, then Gui, then Tormundr. In between Gui was teaching Tormundr greatsword techniques, mostly using long point in he way Marc uses it, thrusting, controlling strong to weak, winding, cutting along the blade. Then he went out and fought me and did all those incredible Yoda shots he does and wiped me out. In those fights, when I closed with him and he could use his superior blade control, I was doomed. When I fought at the edge I was winning our fights. Gui says I need to put a pommel on my sword to weight it better. Funny, because I used to love counter weighted bastard swords, but I am really proud of my old school stick o rattan these days. Anyway, if you want to train for greatsword, Gui, is probably the best person after Gregor to train against. It was a great night.


So, here we are. It is two days until Crown Tourney. I have not been training as hard this week as I had been. Training for Crown is like training for a boxing match, not like football. In the normal course of things, like fighting in an active tourney season, you treat it like a football season or even tennis. You practice once or twice a week, condition yourself, and fight on the weekends, either in wars or tourneys. This is the way I used to approach the SCA, back when I was basically just a stick bum and my body was less battered. I would fight at practices, sometimes four a week, always at least two, and then go to a tourney or war on most weekends. The spring/summer that I was knighted I fought in four champions tourneys (and won two of them), two crowns, a coronet, one prize tourney, whatever fighting there was at Bletane that year, (and Purgatorio after I was knighted) and two foreign wars. I am pretty sure there was a principality war in there as well, and a couple of other small things, like love and honor tourney or a baronial war, that I am missing. And, of course, I was knighted at an inter-kingdom war that July. It amounted to about fifteen fighting events in six months. which is almost three events out of every four weekends. All of this led up to my winning Mists Coronet that September, the best day I have ever had on the field (won every fight, did not even lose my leg, in a royal tournament). That is the fighting constantly model.

Now, mostly because of the kingdom I live in (it is much more spread out) and the fact that I don't drive anymore (living in Brooklyn it is an overall waste of money) I get to maybe ten fighhting events a year, less than one a month (of course, this includes Pennsic, and there is nothing like Pennsic on the West Coast, for fighting or for anything else). That includes, normally, three Crown tourneys a year, two in the East and one in the West. As a result, I not only fight differently but I train differently. Instead of looking on fighting as a continuous season of events punctuated, like Golf, by a few majors (once again we come back to Paul's dictum that the sport most like SCA fighting is Golf), I concentrate on training just for those three crown tourneys, with everything else being just a fun tuneup. It has taken me years to realize that both my living in the East and my age required a change in how I do things. I train like a boxer trains. A few weeks out I will decide what my training regimen will be, focus on the event, and train for that. And, as with training for a boxing match, you train down the last week in order to recover a bit, heal, avoid injuries.

In August, nine weeks out, I said I wanted to work out three times a week and ride at least two more times, plus fight at least once--that is six workouts total per week. In those 10 weeks (let's call it ten, to be fair) I have had 97 workouts. That is almost ten a week. It does include a lot of combined workouts, though, where I counted aerobics at the gym and weights on the same day as two seperate things.

I wanted to do 450 miles before crown. I totaled 386. That is good, but I failed.

I had ten Yoga sessions, most of those actual classes, some on my own, plus combining it with other workouts. This was an accomplishment.

I was supposed to do 18 resistance workouts. I only did 12. That was a failure.

As I suspected, pell work was the hardest thing to actually do. I did it two or three times. Complete fail.

Counting the tourney, I was in armor ten times, an average of once a week. This was a failure, mainly because of the concussion, which kept me out for two weeks. My bench mark had been slightly more that once a week. I'm going to call this a qualified success.

I have probably trained harder for this crown than for any specific event. If i go back to Pennsic and to the obstacle race in June, which was kind of a pre-training training, I have done good. I am not where I want to be nor even where I could be. I feel great and I'm proud of how hard I have worked.

I am not one of the favorites for this event. With Gregor going for it, and with Kenrik and Marcus, who are much better than I with glaive or great sword, I am in trouble. This format does not favor me. With eight pools instead of four, especially if they are truly randomly seeded, pools could be really tough. I might not even advance. But I love crown, I love great fighting, and I love fighting in tourneys with the top guys like Gregor. And I have beaten Gregor in a tourney, and Jan, and Marcus, and Kenrik, (never Ivan, interestingly). I can do this. And if I don't it has been a lot of fun training for it and it will be even more fun to fight.

It is two days until Crown, which will be my next time in armor.

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