Monday, April 29, 2013

Crown #87

I can no longer say that I am “better” than Seichel. This is the second tourney in a row that she has knocked me out of. Our fight in the pool was not in earnest, at least on my part, because I had already advanced and I was messing around a bit. But we were in earnest in the third round, and she beat me good.  

In terms of numbers I fared much better in the last crown that I fought in than in this one. I accomplished only one of my benchmark goals, making it out of the pool. I am also keenly aware that I faced two knights and lost to them both. However, in terms of how well I fought, I felt much better than I did in October. Not only did I win a lot of fights but I felt in control of every fight that I won and competitive in every fight that I lost. I feel that this time, in spite of where I exited the list, that I was a legitimate contender. I lost to only three people all day long: Seichelgaita who went deep, Breeder, who went clean into semi-finals (and who has changed his name to Ionis Serpentius) and Sir Thomas, who was the other finalist, knocked Darius out of the list, and took finals to five fights.  I fought all three of them well. The training paid off, as I was in great shape throughout. My shield arm tired at the end when I had been on my knees for a long time, but other than that I was strong. I fought well and I think I fought honorably. I am happy.  

It’s crown. My technique was to hit them before they hit me.

Well, that’s not entirely true. There were two other things worth noting. One, after my fight with Ivar I found myself using a tight a frame, almost like Duke Brannos. As usual I had little offense from it, but I was very active using it, which gave me a bit more. I went back to my regular style once I got out of the round robin.  The other thing is that I was very concerned all day with my ass—in particular whether or not it was sticking out. I have a naturally sway back and a bulging disc. So it kind of folds back with my hips sometimes thrust forward a bit. I also always want to emulate Radnor, who fought a leaning back style early in his career. I felt myself leaning back way too much, with my back folding a bit and my ass tucked in. This reduces your power. Throughout the day whenever I felt myself doing this, leaning back, I would roll my hips and pelvis under, straighten up a bit, and then stick my ass out a touch, taking a slight (very slight) forward lean. I wanted to be on the balls of my feet, not on my heels, and this helped a lot.

I am also coming to the conclusion that the calibration level for body thrusts has gone up recently. I am still throwing the hook-thrust as my main kill shot. I landed it several times on several people on Saturday. I had re-taped the tip going into the lists and many of those shots jarred my hand, but nobody was counting them. It was exactly the same thrust that I used to win 60% of my fights with over the past several years. It is landing clean and it feels exactly as hard in my hand, but nobody is taking it. I thought it might have been because my sword was shorter, but I put more than an inch back onto my sword. If I put two more inches on and used a sword like Darius/Omega uses, I could drive it home harder, but that would limit the rest of my offense. When I fought without a thrusting tip, and used the Western style, I liked a longer sword: but with a sword forward guard I need something faster and a touch lighter, and just a bit shorter. That was a frustrating part of my day.

I warmed up with William McCrimmon, as I usually do for Crown. Bill has perfect technique, so if you make a mistake he will make you pay. He also fights like a Westerner so he is in my comfort zone. Ron watched out warmups and had three big critiques: I was leaving my arm too exposed, I was squaring up too much, and I needed to re-hang my shield. I certainly knew the last one, but I kept the other two in mind the rest of the day.

The round robin started inauspiciously for me. We had a really hard group (it was a top heavy list) with at least four fighters who fight me really well:  Seischel, Jibril, William, and Brennan. I can’t remember everybody else I fought in the round robin, or even the names of the people I do remember fighting, but there were either ten or eleven fighters in each group. I started out fighting Sir Thomas, whom I do not really know. I can’t recall ever having fought him before. He is an Easterner who moved to the Midrealm and then moved back to the East. I don’t know where he was knighted by his shield style is very Midrealm, with a big wide heater that he holds with the point sticking almost forward, and then rotate blocks to defend leg shots. We were both frustrated. He hit me low several times and seemed to be getting angry with me. Perhaps he thought I was blowing his shots off.  After he hit my low again (breaking my knee cop in the process) I paused and, as I was saying “low again,” he hit me in the face with a thrust and said “that one wasn’t.” I grinned and said “nope! I’m dead!” and walked off the field: my bad for stopping in the middle of a fight.
I fought Brennan and we had a good time. Here is a video of the end of that fight. I throw an off side head, step around to throw a wrap, then a quick snap. You can’t really see it in the video but there is the slightest little hook in there: (can't seem to embed it).

My fight with Jibril was awesome. He always gives me fits. This time I was on. I worked on keeping my distance and moving to his shield side, but after awhile I raised my aggression level, jumped in swinging, and then threw  a stutter wrap, which he fell for. That was a great feeling!

At some point I fought William again and I took him apart. I have been avoiding molinees, but I pulled out a weird one against him, a low J-hook molinee that rolls into a leading-edge leg blow as I step off-line to the right. Once I had him turned out of the sun I jumped him. I can’t recall what I hit him with—it is really the leg shot that mattered.

I fought a good unbelted fighter named Ivan from Pennsylvania. He is tight and aggressive and hits hard. I have fought him before. After a time I took his leg (it might have been with the same shot I hit William with—I know I through it) and then, on the second attempt, I got him with a shield hook and snap as I moved to my right. Here is some video I found of the end of that fight.

I fought  a lefty named Ivar. I took his arm then hit him in the belly.

I fought Seischel last, and she was my other loss.

I can’t’ recall the details of my other fights.

My reward for getting out of my pool was a fight against Breeder. I came out with a slightly different stance than I had been using against him in practice, and tried simply to keep my shield covering my right side. I knew that circling to my left, like you would do against most lefties, was not a good plan against Breeder. After a few good exchanges I decided to try something new. I was going to strike and come off my back foot, elevating for a high wrap that I would drop into his left shoulder. Unfortunately, he was thinking “oh know you won’t either.”

Afterward we talked about what happened. We were doing very similar things. He is using a very sophisticated strategy, which he labels “defer/blind/confuse/strike.” It is very much like my press/release/attack method. He defers to my weapon by deflecting it, he blinds me with his shield, he confuses me by pressing against my shield as though going another direction, and he strike either a leg or a head based on my reaction. He could tell from my feet (big issue, if my footwork is telegraphing my movement) that I was going to go wide, but he didn’t’ know which direction. When he blinded me I didn’t care, believing him to be blind as well. We both pressed at the same time. I jumped forward throwing a wrap and impaled my face on his thrusting tip. It was a great fight, even if it didn’t end as I wanted it to.

My second fight with Seischel was intense. I finally noticed, after I don’t know how long, the her new shield is a bit longer and covers her knee when she’s on guard (I may have been missing this for a year or more—I don’t know). I got a good look at that because she took my leg almost immediately. After that she just worked me carefully, staying at the edge of her range and countering my attacks until she could cut me. It took a long time and I almost got her with a dropping slot shot, a la Houghton, but in the end I  reached for a blow and she killed me. At that moment it occurred to me that all three of the times I got hit (I can’t remember how she won out first fight—probably a face thrust, which would make four) I got hit as I squared up and came out from behind my shield, which I had been battling against at Mudthaw (it was how Seischel  and Jan both killed me there) and that Ron had warned me against.

I am really happy about this list. I felt awesome, I had fun, and I fought very well.  

I will never again autocrat a Crown Tourney that I am also fighting in.

I will now go out and have a beer.

I am switching to cardio, as I will begin training for the Rugged Maniac mud race in a few days

It is 80 days until Pennsic. I am taking the next couple of weeks off from fighting (mostly for travel). 

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Taking Stock

I just hope I didn’t peak at Coronation….

The last week before a big event you should slow your training down. You want to give your body time to recover from all that training. All I have done this week is yoga and walking. I haven’t even been doing push ups. Unfortunately, this has been going on for awhile. First with my back injury two weeks ago, and then with the cold I had last week, I have had to slow my training down. I’ve also been getting sloppy with my food. I have tried to keep my dairy consumption down since Lent ended, and I’ve succeeded. While I’ve had some chees once or twice, it is nothing like eating it every day the way I always have.  Nonetheless, according to my scale I gained 5 pounds over night last night (went from 215 to 220). That is pretty distressing to see two days before a tournament. But that also comes from taking it easy. I had three solid meals yesterday for the first time in a long time, and ate some form of bread with every meal. I’m obviously retaining water.  My back is killing me the past couple of days, and I still have some residual chest congestion (that is probably allergies).   

Since my birthday on January 26th, when I started training for Crown, I have had some form of organized workout on 75 out of 88 days. This includes home workouts, classes, yoga, fighting, bike rides, hikes, WODs, weight training--everything. The stats break down like this:

Total workouts (since I did multiples on some days): 87.  
Total calories: 40,630.
Total hours working out: 65
Total miles covered hiking, running, or riding: 93.6
Total resistance workouts: 15
Total Classes (this includes yoga and WODs):  23 (this number is deceptive)
Total bike rides: 12 (this counts some legs as separate rides)
Total walks: 18
Misc: 8 (runs, calisthenics, etc).
Days in armor: 11, including Mudthaw, Coronation, and three Beau Gestes.

I’m happy with all of this.

I wanted to be in armor 16 times, including 4 times at Nutley and 2 at Iron Bog (I did not make Iron Bog once). I fell short of that goal.  I wanted to hit the pell 5,000 times. I fell short of that goal. I wanted to have 10 resistance workouts, 10 WODs, and 10 classes. I exceeded that goal, but only technically.  I wanted to log 55 workouts. With the idea that it is better to log days worked out than individual workouts (since on some days I logged three workouts in one gym session due to the nature of my training ap) I still exceeded that goal by 9 (after subtracting the 11 times I was in armor). 

On the whole I feel good about my training going into crown.

I would feel a whole lot better if I had hit those four Nutley and 2 Iron Bog practices. Those are the only times, other than tourneys, that I get to practice against other royal peers. I managed some helmet time against Gregor, Tim, Omega, and Conrad (at coronation) but I need a lot more than that to be ready for that deep pool. As Mudthaw showed, I am fighting much better. I don’t expect to be the fighter I was 20 years ago, when I was great, but I can be almost that good, and I am not yet there. 

Still, I have a good shot to do well in this crown. It is top-heavy, as always (the list of combatants is here: There are three Dukes, two counts (including myself), eight other knights, and a number of very tough unblets, many of whom have kicked my ass in one tourney or another. On the other hand, the only fighter in this list whom I have not beaten in a tournament is Omega. I might just have an awesome day. 

Or I might not make it out of the round robin. That is the beauty of it. I love this game!

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

Sunday, April 21, 2013


When you train as hard as I have trained for this crown you get beat up. Today was the last day of training. I got Poleaxed. It was awesome: but I think I'm going to take it easy for the month of May.

I have been using rubber bands and Indian clubs. They are working. My elbow feels great. So does my shoulder, the only thing to hurt it lately was a class I took in flyfishing. Dangerous sport flyfishing.

As with last week my workouts hit a snag. What I thought were allergies turned into a wicked Springtime cold. Workout since last Sunday have been very light. Just a couple of days of yoga push-ups and bicycle riding. This coming week of course I won't be working out much at all: you need to rest before Crown.

I scheduled this month's Beau Geste as a warm-up for Crown and in that sense it was great. Because we were starting at 11 and it was just before Crown there were only three fighters present: myself, Anton, and Tycho. I set it up as a round robin in sets of three. We each had to fight the other two with sword and shield three fights: then two weapon, then poleax. That meant 18 fights for each of us. This is about the number it would take to win Crown, and would give us some practice with multiple weapon forms. An added bonus for me was that they are both lefties.

As usual it took me a while to get my focus. I beat Tycho in our first sword and shield fight but lost the other two. My mind was all over the place. I kept thinking about footwork, distance, and what I should do next, instead of thinking about the fights. By the time I fought Anton however, my mind was good. I kept my feet in line, cut him off when he tried to move, and use my distance well.

In the two weapon fight, Tycho took sword and ax well I fought with sword and dagger. I found that my usual technique against that style did not work against a lefty. I won one fight with a frost, and the other after taking his acts arm. He killed me with a short punch to the face with his ax blade. Even though I won the fight, using sword and dagger was just a mistake. With that in mind, I took two arming swords against Anton. That was fun! Using the Bellatrix style, I took his arm and took his leg then hit him in the body. Using the Milwaukee style was a failure. He got me with a short punch to the face. In our third fight, I mixed it up and presented my points and I got them with a body thrust.

That left great ax, a form that I love but don't always fight that well. Against Tycho I did well and two of three. Anton however is a pole arm fighter. He killed me all three fights. The last one was such a good hard blow I almost did not want to get back up off the ground. We got into a bind with his axhead above mine. He stepped back and swung for the fences almost pick axing. It was epic. The round Robin ended with 10 victories for Anton nine for me, and eight for Tycho. Very even, very fun.

Gui dictated that the last fight would be daggers which he put 20 paces away and forced us to run to at the drop of a flag. I was not about to play that game. I walked, and let Anton grab the dagger and do what ever he was willing to do. After some thought he picked up the other dagger and handed it to me and we fought. I love dagger fights. I'm pretty good at it and so is he. The fact that he is a lefty messed me up a bit. I held my knife with the point up and was doing very well. I almost got him under the arm. But when I switched my knife to a dagger grip, with the point down, the fight was really his. I thought that might be the way it would go, but I wanted to mix it up. Fighting dagger against a lefty is a bit odd. He stabbed me right in the throat. What a fun fight!

I am done training for crown. More on that later. I have worked my ass off and gotten beaten up in the process. I have loved every minute of it.

It is six days until Crown tournament, and that is the next time I will be in armor.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Grant's Tomb April 14 2013

Coming down to the wire in training for Crown, you start to worry about injury. You don't want to over do it, but you don't want to slack off. It really doesn't matter at this point. The real work was done in January and February, if you are worried about your training only now you have lost. What matters is how much you have worried about it for the last three months.

Is good. Indian clubs seem to be working. No pain in the elbow while lifting this week.

on Monday I did a WOD that invoked box jumps, and half way through my second set of fifty, as I landed, I hurt my back. That is why you are supposed to avoid high impact when you have a bulging disc, dummy! I rested on Tuesday and changed my routine for the rest of the week. When I have hurt my back I like to switch to more yoga and, if I lift, do circuit training because on the machines I am isolating muscle groups and not working out my vote muscles, which includes my back. I normally hate machines because they isolate muscle groups and don't work out my core. Did circuit training on Wednesday and Friday, plus a little yoga. The only other thing I did was walk.

I approached today's fighter practice as mostly a drill. There were five fighters in armor: me, Landon, Gui, Joe, and Lou. I started out working with Landon. I worked it like a Bellatrix session. Instead of just bashing, we did parry 5, 6, 4, and 3 drills. Then we did offense defense drills. The second time we limited ourselves to specific shots: one on side head, one on side leg, and a thrust. Then we fought three fights like it was Crown finals. Finally, we did a 1-6 pell drill and strike/thrust drills.

After that I trained Joe, our new fighter, who is not only energetic but big and strong.

Then we did a bear pit. We stayed out till we couldn't continue. Mostly I got my ass kicked. Landon was getting me the way Jan and Seischal got me at Mudthaw. He got Me to chase him and he either thrust my face or hit my leg. In fact, that's how Alden took me out of March Acrown last year.

My fights with Lou were good. I got him with a nice shoulder cut off a block.

My fights with Gui were brutal and painful. He hit me so hard I am considering skipping Nutley this week. The only time I got him was a belly shot past the back edge of his shield. That is where most of my kills against GUI have been lately.


It is 14 days until Crown. Although I may be at Nutley this week it is unlikely. The next time I will be in armor for sure will be next week at the Beau Geste.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Queen Kiena's Martial Spectacular

Mine is an odd specialty. I am an expert on medieval spectacle and its recreation. It is a performance studies discipline that, naturally, I entered via the SCA. In my book, *Medieval Fantasy as Performance*, the best chapter is be third, where I discuss how the SCA recreates many forms of Medieval theatre, including ceremony. I spend a lot of time on coronations (mostly Sir Guillaume's in CAID and Thorsen and Svava's in the East). I note that in both of these coronations, the incoming royalty used theatricality to create a performance wherein they were the lead actors in a drama which, by moving through, they enacted their assumption of royal authority. Others do a good job at this from time to time. today was Gregor Kiena's coronation, and her majesty had a vision of what she wanted the festival to look like. It was essentially a Renaissance martial festival. It had an archery tournament, a rapier tournament, equestrian games and a heavy tournament going on simultaneously throughout the site. Then, in the horse arena, they had two combats at the barrier, one for rapier and one for heavies. Then a set of melees for both groups. Then the King's and Queen's champions fought. All of this built up to a big finale. Her majesty being an avid jouster had invited several SCA and IJA jousters to giveaway demonstration. There were seven jouster making passes with light lance, and all of hem were excellent. They included Charlie Andrews, one of the IJA founders and seven time champion. I loved it. The horses were awesome (Sir Ankara has a Percheron that Tandy 19.1 hands and looks like an over sized Roman equestrian statue). The day was fun. Mostly, I got to fight a lot.

I have been using Indian Clubs exclusively, and have seen some improvement in my left elbow lately.

Workouts since Mudthaw have been light. I have gone on a few bike rides. Most days I do 50 pushups. I have been to Yoga class. Wednesday I did one of the tougher WODs, Grace, which consists of 30 clean and jerks for time (mi was a dismal 12 minutes at 95 lbs). Still aching from that three days later.

The tourney format was a Birka style bear pit, with one point for each fight and one point for each win. I started out with a loss to Evaldr but I came back to beat Conrad and then run through four other guys. My next time in I beat Evaldr and Jan Janovitch and went on another nice run. In the middle of my third run we broke to do the melees. When we came back my runs got shorter but I was still winning. When the jousting started I quit to go watch. In all I killed Conrad three times, Evaldr twice, Jan twice, and some other good fighters. I was sticking my hook thrust. My defense was tight. Conrad said I looked better than he had ver seen me look, that I was crisp, fast, hit hard and was patient. Good stuff.

In the melees I had fun. I was chosen as one of the five for the King's side at the barrier. I killed some guys. Balin was running it and changed up the rules, at one point saying we could only fight brought he barrier. I dropped to my knees and stabbed three people.

The team melee I still had a life at the end and I killed some good fighters. In the Grand melee, Conrad, Cullyn, Brenan and Evaldr formed an alliance and the first thing they did was come after me. So that hurt.

Was a tight defense, hook thrusts, and short fast snaps. I got several hook thrusts in and worked both my regular defender and an A frame. Both worked. I had a great time, but I found that, as I got more tired, I squared up more and that cost me a few fights. Against Conrad I had to Struve for height, and my defense was still good.

It is 21 days until Crown. My next time in armor will be hopefully Wednesday.