Sunday, March 24, 2013

Mudthaw, March 2013

Mudthaw is the greatest non-crown tournament I have fought in. That includes Eigils Tourney, Ducal Prize, even Silver Dollar Tourney. Mudthaw is awesome. Part of it is the Chaucer Factor: when spring comes round, the ice melts and the mud begins to thaw men's thoughts turn to the clash of arms. Unless we've traveled to warmer climbs the only big tourney we've seen in three months has been Birka, which is inside. I did not get the count of the number of fighters in the lists but I figured to to be in the 90s. The fighting was great. There are a lot of videos of it here. (unfortunately none of me. I should have had a camera person there, ). 

My elbows are in good shape, my back not so much. I am working hard and feeling good.

It's only been four days since my last post, and I have been intentionally avoiding working out. I waled five miles on Friday--walking to the Brooklyn Public Library and back--but that's it.

I was not working on anything in particular this tourney other than tourney fighting. I was simply trying to fight my best. If anything, I was working on being patient, waiting for my shots, and being tight.

I went seven rounds. I killed every unbelted fighter that I faced. Most of my fights, until I got into the fifth round, were relatively short.

I warmed up with three sets and then rested most of the day. I laid down and closed my eyes in between fights and waiting for the pairings to be announced (as in common in the East, all fights for each field are announced at the beginning of each round). They were using a single tree double elimination, like they use in the West and CAID, instead of the two-tree system they usually use in the East. We started out with six fields then collapsed to four and then two. Their were long waits in the first three rounds.

I used to carry a Meade composition book and journal my fights right away, but since I started keeping this blog I wait a day or two before I am sitting at a computer with both time and energy to write stuff down. It makes remembering my fights a bit harder sometimes, especially when I am in a tourney, but I think I've got all of them.

I ended up with a bye in the first round because there was  a mistake at the lists table and they wrote out two cards for the same fighter, so they scheduled him two fights in the first round. I fought a short lady fighter and killed her quickly. I don't remember her name.

I know in the second round I fought Galfrid but I don't recall how I won.

I fought Stephanno, a knight from Acre in third round, and I know I killed him with a thrust. It was a tough fight. He is really good. (he likes to remind me that when he was sixteen I was the first SCA knight he ever fought, at an Acre War on Long Island).

In the fourth round I fought Mathias, who has given me tough fights before, and who beat me at King's Rattan Champions last summer. I was pretty tight. I fought mostly at range and we traded blows for a long time. I eventually took his arm and then killed him.

My next fight was against Jan Janovich, and that was a frustrating fight for me. I kind of knew what would happen going into it, but I did not stop myself. Jan and I fight fairly close to even. I think I have a slight edge on him most of the time, at least since I've lost weight. He totally kicked my ass in last crown, however. The main things is that fighting Jan can be like fighting a mirror for me. He prefers a sword back Western style, having trained with Ronald for so long, and that's my favorite game. Trouble is, it is not the game  I have been practicing. I decided that if he set up with his sword back, which he did, I was going to fight that way too. Often that is a good idea for me. I have some of my old fakes in that position, which won me a lot of fights back in the day. Sure enough, I opened with a wavy-rising snap and almost killed him. He ducked and I tracked my sword to where he was ducking. I hit him low on the helmet, toward the bottom of the cheek plate, and he did not take the blow which is not too surprising--it lost power when I changed direction and drew it down. I tried a few other things--an upsilon leg shot, a hidden leg shot, but Jan was too slick for that. Eventually I got him with a hook thrust but he hit me in the head at the same time and we double killed. Like I said, we are close to even. After that I tried to tighten it up a bit but he hit me in the leg then worked me till I chased him, coming out from behind my shield, and he killed me. Lesson: don't chase Jan while you are on your knees.

My next fight was against Wilhelm von Ulm, a big, fast, hard hitting knight from Blood Guard who is a perennial Crown contender. This time I fought the fight I had been trying to fight--a defensive counter punching style with a tight high closed-form defense. It was an awesome fight. We were in that chess match mode--move, stop, back to one, throw one blow, re set, block one blow, back out. It was a long fight that gained in intensity as it went on. Eventually I took his leg. I tried a couple of things on him and was working him good when his shield broke. He withdrew from the fight. That is frustrating, because I didn't actually beat him, but I did win the fight, and I was fighting well.

My last fight was against Tzeichel Gaita von Halstern. We practice a lot at Nutley and in tourneys I usually win our fights, but not always. I think I am better than she is, but I was not yesterday. She was on. That was an incredible fight--long, intense, heroic. It was fun. Both uf us were trying to be defensive and fighting at range. We both had thrusts that landed and died because they were too far away, and a few tip shots. I had re-affirmed, as I did last year in a few fights (Brion at 4 Tourneys, Jabril in Spring Crown) two of my best money shots are not working right now. I hit her with both the hook thrust and my stutter-wrap, and did not stick either one. I had failed with both of those earlier in the day as well. Eventually she killed me with an extremely awesome shot. I was moving forward and she popped me in the face with a thrust. It was similar to what Alden had done to me (exactly) a year before in March Crown--got me chasing him then thrusting into my face. This one was actually better. I saw her kill Evaldr with the same shot the next round, and she used it earlier in the list two. It is a lot like my fall away snap, which I learned from Duke Ronald when we were still squire brothers. You move either away or to the right, plant with the right foot, step back with your left but this allows you to rotate your shoulders so your right shoulder is moving forward. It looks as though you are still moving away, but in fact you are rotating into a shot and your sword shoots out forward. It is a very deceptive movement The difference is that where I throw a snap out of that, she has turned it into a thrust. It is an incredible shot, and it took her deep into the lists. She was on fire yesterday, and she kicked my ass.

That was my day. I went and fought some pick up fights. I fought a few more with Galfrid, and at least I know how I beat him then. He fights a center-grip heater really well, but I noticed that he was placing it way out in front and catching my snaps on the front quarter, so I throw a snap-wrap (very old school) and nailed him. I also fought a few fights against Wolfhir, who was using his big black great sword. he was not prepared for what I was doing to him. I like to present my tip, like I am fencing sabre against his greatsword, and let him thrust at me then come under his sword stepping forward, and try to control him,. It worked pretty well. Then I fought somebody who hit me hard in the back of the hand and I decided it was time to quite. Great great day.

Breeder killed Gregor in the finals with a very pretty body shot.

Other things worth noting: William McCrimmen was a killer yesterday. And I loved watching Joe fight with his little shield. I was hoping we would draw each other. I was looking around for a tiny shield to take out against him. He was fun to watch. Ever the perfectionist, he said "I wanted to be the last unbelted out." I pointed out that, since and unbelted fighter won, that would be a pretty good day.

So here is my post mortem: if you don't go to the semi finals of Mudthaw you are not ready to contend for crown tourney, and that is where I am at. I fought really really well. I went seven round in a very tough list. I killed the fighters I was supposed to kill, but I was trading even with the knights who are all on the edge. Jan has been to finals in Crown twice and Wilhelm has been to semis (if not finals). Tzeitchel has gone deep (this is the best I have ever seen her fight). However, they--and I--are not of the calibre of Breeder, Gregor, or Kenric, let alone Lucan, Ice, and Omega. So that is where I am today. But I have a month to get better.

Still it was a great day. The best moment may have been after the tourney when Breeder came up to talk to me. He said I fought great, which a lot of people had been saying, but he also said "you were more patient than I have ever seen you," which was really the point.

After the fight, Agrippa asked me what I could have done better. I had focused well, I was in shape (in spite of the fact that the fight with Tzeitchel was one of those "we are both exhausted" fights), I had slain mightily. My answer was I needed to fix a problem with how I was using my shield. Twice against Tzeitchel and at least once in an earlier fight, I threw a shield hook and threw a blow but hit my basket hilt against the top edge of my shield. I had planned to re hang the shield in January but I never did--I am not the world's best tool user. The way it hangs now is great for fighting left handed fighters and for defending against those quick off-side face shots that are so popular out here.  Trouble is, it gets in my way and it leaves my leg more exposed than it should be with a 36 inch shield. It also blocked at least one thrust yesterday. That is a stupid equipment thing that I know I should have done something about. Now, however, just a month out from crown, I am not about to go change my shield. I will have to practice with it and then consider changing it after crown. That is the main thing I got out of the list yesterday.

It is thirty five days until crown (I think, I keep getting this wrong somehow, and all I am doing is counting). The next time I will be in armor is at a demo on Tuesday for a Combat of the Thirty party.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Nutley! :-)

Zipcar can be expensive and a real pain. You have to get it back on time. It's not cheap. but it does have some advantages. It comes with an EzPass. Insurance and fuel are included in your rental. They are close. It cost me $46 to rent a Mazda 3 from 7:00 PM to 11:30 PM, and I almost got it in late and could not extend it (because somebody had it reserved right after me). It was worth it. Man! Was it worth it!

My elbow is killing me after my workouts this week. Fighting still doesn't seem to bother it, but push ups and lifting does. Need to go back to the Flex Rod.

I've been kicking it pretty good. Very intense workout with dumbbells and bar bells plus abs on Sunday (new personal record for a one-handed dumbbell press, 50 lbs). Monday was Yoga and Tuesday I took Lizette's kick ass 90 minute class (30 minutes of abs, 1 hour of body sculpt aerobics. OMG!) Then tonight I fought.

There were 22 people at Nutley (at least--that's what I counted). As we arrived, nearly all of Arundel was pouring out of a big pass van, having driven in from Aethelmarc. Lots of great fighters. I only fought four guys, but they were the four I wanted to fight.

Jumped right into the deep end with Gregor. I was not trying to limit my technique to two or three things. I was just fighting like it was Crown. I took his arm once and killed him twice. He killed me at least five times, but hitting him more than once was awesome. My worst moment was the time I got his leg while I was still standing and couldn't close the deal. He got a really nice shot on my right leg then killed me.

Next I fought Stephan. Like I said, deep end of the pool. He always kills me. I had the dry heaves by the time we were finished. I started out trying a Janos style offence and he naild me right down the center. Then I went into an A Frame defense and was lasting ok, but as soon as I started my offense he would kill me. Then I went into my normal closed high form, and it was working better. I hit him in the arm once and in the shoulder, which he took as a kill. That's twice in one night. I also laid two thrusts on him, one off a hook, but they were both on his cammail and I didn't drive them home. I was too worried about getting hit. Still, getting them in was great.

Next I fought Douglas with his form, two sword. As usual, I used my arming sword and short sword in a modified George Silver style. I killed him at least four times and took his arm once. What I do is presnet both tips evenly with a left leg lead. I retreat and then advance, out and in, out and in, following him when he moves back, always trying to keep right at the edge of distance so I can close with a thrust and kill him. I keep my short sword forward so, like Silver, I can pass my arming sword behind it. I never got the classic Silver move--pin the right arm with my short sword and then stab in the belly, but I got a lot of other stuff. Twice I killed him, and twice I just caught his gambesson, with inside thrusts, plus one more time when he was on his knees. My best thrust was when I just did a downward cut and then brought the tip up into his belly. My best blow of all was a three fake direction change that was brilliant. I started out with a fake thrust with the right hand. This was intended to be seen as a fake. It was followed by a blow toward the left leg with the same sword, so it looked like a fake thrust leg shot, kind of standard. But as I did that I leaned in with the left hand and threatened his face with the short sword. This (a) brought his left hand down to block the leg shot and (b) brought the right hand in to parry the face thrust. But neither of those was real. In order to threaten the face I roll my right shoulder back and my left shoulder in, and in typical Bellatrix fashion, this sets up an off side head shot, which kills him. I was very proud of this set of fights.

But pride goeth before the fall. My next task was to fight Duke Timothy. Last time I fought Tim I did great. This time it was like child's play--for him. He had me from the word go. Everything seemed a touch slower than it had earlier, and he seemed a lot faster than anybody else in the room. I knew what he was doing. He was guarding with a hanging parry and throwing a straight saber shot for a kill. He did it off an upward fade, off a downward fade, and off a block, but mostly he did it while I was moving in or out, and he was killing me easily--not every time, but one of three. It was practically all he was throwing. I did manage to take his arm twice, once with a spinning back hand. I also got him with a thrust and (I think) once with a cut. He must have killed me ten times and all but one with the same shot (when I finally started guarding that and going belly to belly with him, he got a great short on the unarmored part of my rib cage with a deep wrap. A real deep wrap. I mean, they were my RIGHT RIBS. What a set of fights.

 Sagan always said you measure yourself against who you want to beat, and to be the best you measure yourself against the best. By that measure I did pretty good. I laid stick on Gregor and Stephan multiple times. I adjusted against Tim and had a couple good moments. I may have had the better of Doug. At worst we traded evenly. It was a great practice!

(even if I did have to dash out quickly to get the car back on time)

It is 37 days until Crown (I mis-counted last time). My next time in armor will be Saturday at Mudthaw.

Saturday, March 16, 2013


I hadn't done the con thing in a long time. It was odd being there and trying to figure out why. Back in the day I went to cons to meet girls, but the SCA took over that roll in my life. I'm also not drinking right now, and I don't read much SF. I was there for the demo and to see some old friends. I was reminded o how much fun cons can be, and almost wishes I was staying for the parties.

I have been a slug. I haven't done my rehab this week. Elbow feels fine for now.

I have been a slug here too. I was racked up after Beau Geste so I didn't work out on Monday. My workouts this week consisted of three days of doing 50 pushups plus on one of those days 50 pliƩ releves in various foot positions.

I am really glad I went to the demo because the fighting was a blast. Traveling light, I just brought arming sword, buckler, and greatsword. There were three other fighters: Ervald, Avran, and Chuck from Three Skulls.

Fighting Chuck I used a lot of my basic tricks and they worked: Martin's leg shot, wavy snap, and Hauoc's bait and switch. They all worked. Later, I got Ervald with a wavy rising snap.

Ervald and I fought bastard swords, he won two to one. I did best using Gregor's high form in the first two fights.

Against Avran in a greatsword fight I think I beat him four or five to one. in both of these fights I got killed when I went wild to put on a show.

Ervald and I fought counted blows with sword and buckler. I hit him nine times to four.

Theee kills against Chuck on his knees were the best things I did. First one was when i killed him with Ed's butterfly.Second was when i was using gemini's combo setting up the face thrust.
I was supposed to use Gemeni's magic button techniue, throwing a backhand then pressing the bottom of the shield and thrusting. only his was out I'd place.
I turned my press into a shield hook and cut him. That was great because I had a plan but changed it on the fly. My best fight was the last, sword and dagger vs Chuck's sword and shield. I took his leg by faking a face thrust and rolling it into his leg. Then I reversed grip on the dagger. I threatened him with both points but then threw the shot Radnor learned from Ed: miss the back hand high and tighten the pinky, reversing direction on the blow and cutting the head. That worked perfectly.

It is 42 (corrected) days until Crown. My next time in armor will be Wednesday at. Nutley.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The Beau Geste

I started the Beau Geste tournament in 2008 as a way to train for other tournaments and to train new fighters in how to fight tourneys. We are in the third month of our reboot, and this tournament was a blast. 

My elbows are in good shape and the Indian clubs work well. I still have to figure out what works best on the inside of the elbow. 

Workouts kicked my butt last week. I did nothing on Monday and Tuesday. Then I did a WOD on Wednesday that was killer: I warmed up with 50 pushups and 30 hammer curls. Then I grabbed two 45  pound plates and did a farmer's carry, walking them up and down the basketball court 10 times (a bit over 900 feet, or 30 yards). Then I grabbed a 25 pound dumbell, hoisted it overhead, and did waiter's carries for the same distance, alternating arms, so I ended up doing 150 yards with each arm. 

Thursday I recovered.

Friday I did an intense triple workout. I ran on the treadmill for 20 minutes. Then I did a quick lower body workout, with squats, calf raises, and lunges for 20 minutes, then I did 20 minutes of yoga. 

Saturday I was an idiot and took Lizette's interval training class, which is really step with weights, plus 10 minutes of abs  at the end. It kicked my butt! I was so tired afterward! 

Then Sunday was the Beau Geste. I fought with great sword, which is a lot more tiring than sword and shield, especially in the legs, which were already wiped out. My hips and flexor tendons are killing me, but I feel GREAT! 

As I said, I fought greatsword at the Beau Geste. It's not my best form. I was really just playing with technique, and because two of my four opponents were left handed, and I NEVER fight great sword against left handed sword and shield fighters, I was making it up as I went along. I tried  a bunch of different things: Paul's high guard and point guard techniques, Marc's A frame defense, Gregor's high center guard, Vitus' Fiore based technique, and my old kenjutsu based technique I learned from Elrik. I can accurately describe each of those techniques. I know *how* to do them, but executing is a different thing--especially against sword and shield fighters. The most effective was probably Gregor's technique, which is easy and not that interesting, but effective. I won only one out of five fights (including the tie breaker against the one guy I had beaten) and was the first person eliminated. 

After the tourney I did a set of sword and buckler vs sword and shield.  I fought against Tycho, who is left handed. I could freeze him with a pump fake and strike an off side blow to his face, and I got him at least once by moving off line to the right. Mostly he pasted my ribs and leg. I don't fight lefties with the buckler often either, and I was trying to get my high closed form to work but couldn't. My open form was better. 

Then I fought two sword against Landon. This went much better, I took his leg twice, thrust him to the body once, and cut him a few times. I used Paul's high form but, like against Gregor in crown last year he was not cross blocking so that style was flashy but ineffective. Using a modified Milwaukee style worked much better. Since I was using two broadswords instead of a broadsword and short sword, and since only one of them had a thrusting tip, I did not do my usual Silver inspired retreat-pin-thrust technique. 

These were all great fights. 

It is 46 days until Crown. My next time in armor will be at the Lunacon demo this Saturday. 

Monday, March 4, 2013

Mini practice

It was 28 degrees this morning and a lot of people bowed out of practice today. Alexander, who lives near by, said he would come but not bring his armor. At first it was just Gui and I, and Gui only had his ax with him. We were not in a hurry. But the Tycho showed up so I decided to suit up. Suddenly it was 47 and I was beginning to be sorry I wore my Under Armor.

I am only using the Indian clubs right now. I am not sure how it is working on my left elbow, but everything else is cleared up and I feel good.

According to my monthly workout summary from, I had 28 workouts last month-- that I've a day, although a lot of this were days when I had two workouts, and that also includes fighting. I also supposedly burned 16,440 calories. Not bad. This week I had some fun. In addition to some hiking, pushups, and yoga, I went to the gym twice. Wednesday I did a cool triple threat workout at school--20 minutes on the treadmill, 20 minutes on a dumbbell workout, and 20 minutes of yoga. I pushed the dumb bells hard and it felt good. Friday I did a WOD from a couple days before, Grace, which was 30 clean and jerks with 95 pounds for time. My time was slow, 12 minutes, but the workout was great.

My plan was simple. Build on how good I had done at Nutley by working on one thing, with one backup thing. The one thing was walking around my thrust, like before, and the backup thing as an offense out of an A frame. But with just Tycho in armor it quickly turned into a training day. First we did a set of fights with both of us starting on our knees, aside from him patterning me and killing me by breaking the pattern--he kept going off side head / body wrap and when I decided to launch into it by following his first shot back he double struck to my head and I walked right into it--other than that I did nothing stupid. Well, that is not quite true. Eventually I fell into m old habit of getting bored and practicing new stuff. I knew I was over doing it when I started using Duke Branos technique, which is kind of like Kelson's version of the A frame, but with a crouch. It's odd. Google his videos. I NEVER fight that way, and I have no idea if it is even feasible against a lefty.

After that we did situational drill. I started on my knees and he started standing, then I stood, the we both fought from our knees. The lesson I took from this was that the combo I worked out against Zach works against Tycho as well. Following the trust by stepping off line, passing on the right, then throwing a wrap.

Alexander decided that we were having so much fun that he went home and got his armor. I worked Joe for a bit. I think it was his first time in armor. He has some naturally skills.

Against Alexander I again was doing some stupid stuff, but those were very fun fights. I tried an A frame but he broke it down by going for low line thrusts. I fought a lot of classic Bellatrix because I had been showing him a rising snap, and I killed him with a wavy rising snap, but it left too many hotels in my defense. Then I changed up and decided he thing i was going to work on was fighting at range, once my forte. After that we had some long fights but I won all of them.

It was a fun practice. It is 55 days until Crown, and I am not sure when my next time in armor will be (hopefully Nutley this week).