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). 

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