Monday, August 26, 2013

August, 2013

The dog days of August are like this. Only three fighters showed up for the Beau Geste yesterday: myself, Ansel, and Samale. We fought a three of five round robin, in which Ansel was victorious. Samale was awarded the banner. Vive Le Beau Geste. 

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Training for Crown, fall 13

Counting this one, there are ten weeks until Crown. That is not a lot of time. I lost out on Pennsic, which usually jump starts my fall training. Plus I binged a lot this month hanging we family and stressing over my step father. My weight is as high as it has been (226) since I lost all that weight on the Atkins diet eight years ago. (I know how to take cared of that part, I just have to do it). 

But it is time to lay out my training regimen. 

In ten weeks (including this one) I plan the following: 

15 times in armor. That is a tough haul (I am counting last Sunday).
200 miles on my bicycle. That's only 20 miles a week, but by November that might be tough. 
Run eight times
Total of 50 logged workouts (that should be easy).

My general plan is warmups every morning. Yoga on Monday, cardio Tuesday and Thursday, fight or weights on Wednesday, rest Friday if I'm fighting Saturday, weights on Friday and rest Saturday if I'm fighting Sunday. We will see how that works out. 

New twist: try to fight Ron, Omega, Ice, Gregor, Stephan, and Lucan in that time frame. 

Other twist, diet: I think I am sticking with eating meat only at night. Maybe dairy at night, maybe none at all. 

And, of course, there is deer season to work in around all of this....

Monday, August 19, 2013

Long Island Practice and BBQ 8/18/13

Awesome Long Island Practice!!

Ok, I am officially fighting like ass. Having skipped Pennsic, gained a little weight, and only been in armor three times since Crown, this shouldn’t come as a surprise. But it still sucks.

This was proven at my first intense practice since Crown Tourney. We held a practice and BBQ out on Long Island hosted by Count Horic, who is getting involved in training fighters after a long lay off (and who still has incredibly fast hands). It involved about three hours of fighting, pork chops, hamburgers, home brew, a hot tub, you get the idea. Gui said there were 36 fighters in armor, but I only counted 24 or 25. None the less, that was a great turnout. But I fought like ass.

 Since last post I have done one really intense WOD (45 Turkish get ups) and a 15 mile bike ride, plus some yoga. Not much really, but that’s only one week.

I was planning to continue concentrating on defense and employing three kill shots—the hook thrust, the slot shot counter, and a stutter wrap. However, I allowed myself to get distracted in two ways. Once again, if a fighter was using a sword-back style so would I. Also, I got into a discussion with Horic on his style, which is an in-fighting style using a lot of back edge and some odd angles relying on Gendy sword technique. He also has an approach to fighting a person on their knees where he jumps in and puts his toes about two inches in front of his opponent’s knees. I tried to employ both of these.

After some free sparing we broke practice up into three groups. Horic taught an un-armored clinic for newer fighters and those who weren’t in armor. Cullyn taught a pole arm clinic. Gui and I ran one of Paul’s rotation exercises. This is where two lines face each other, you fight the person in front of you, and then you rotate one, so that at the end everybody ahs fought everybody. With an odd number the person at the end is supposed to sit out. Unfortunately, we had an injury, someone left, someone came late, and we messed up the rotation. There were thirteen fighters, but not everyone fought everyone by the time it broke up into free sparring. But we got almost all the way through. I know I did not fight Landon/Agrippa.

First the bad stuff: I fought like ass. In the rotation exercise I lost to Brennan, Tiberius, Omega, Breeder, and maybe twice more (possibly once to Stick?). I sucked. More to the point, in spite of working out and doing cardio, I hit a wall in my fight with Tiberius. That fight was interesting for a lot of reasons. I expected to win that fight and I did not. I had trouble with his large center-grip scuta, and my focus was not sharp enough to make an adjustment till late in the fight. I had been retreating too much all day, and decided to stop against Tiberius. I closed up and did a defensive advance, with Radnor’s technique of just taking a walk (that is, walking normally, as though strolling through the park and not in a fight—kind of like Musashi’s “attitude without attitude”). That was working and I was pushing him back. I realized then that I should be thrusting at and pressing against his corners, since that with a center-grip scuta that will get him way out of position. I did so, but over extended and that’s when he hit me. At least I had a plan. My best fight of the day was my fight against Darius/Omega. He did some training with Ranvaldr at Pennsic ans was fighting that crouching right/left defense style of his. I was picking up and blocking his shots well, and had a vigorous offense. He beat me, but it was a great fight. Breeder just overpowered me.    I had a couple other interesting fights, which I won. Against Brick (from VDK, not Sir Alberecht), I used a Bellatriz technique of flat snap, lateral movement to the right with a tear-drop return, flat snap. In one fight I just went all old-school on the guy and overwhelmed him with about ten blows. I also killed someone with a stutter wrap.

I fought a total of ten sets throughout the day. My opponents were: (sword and shield) Tormundr, an Unbelted VDK fighter whose name I forget, Breeder, Gui, Mord, Lord Conrad, Carl (a transplant from Montana); (great sword) Dugal and Everett; (sword and Buckler) Brad.

I can’t remember details from most of those fights. I know that against Brad I used Havoc’s upright closed stance to great effect, and at one point after taking his leg I jumped in and imitated Horic, toes in font of knees, and it worked well.

I lost three fights straight to Dugal trying to employ some Fiore technique and then some Bellatrix technique. None of that worked.

I did much better against Everett, especially after I lost my thrusting tip. That forced me to go into Gregor’s high form and I killed him three times using short cuts never going outside the shoulders (well, I did take his arm once, so I must have done so at that point). He killed me four times, mostly with cuts to my hips.

Against Tormundr and Carl I mixed in some old-school Bellatrix technique, which was effective.

I was trying a lot of the techniques that Horic was talking about, but—as usual—when I do tight inside work with that shield I foul my sword a lot due to how I currently have it strapped. Will change that at next armoring workshop.

Obviously, the three sets which were the most telling were those against Breeder, Gui, and Mord. Mord I killed with a stutter wrap and my counter slot, just like I drew them up.

Gui I killed three times to his five. I got him once with a high thrust and twice with cuts. He was beating me with basic stuff—one/two combos using a back edge shot instead of a flat snap.

Breeder beat me every time. The interesting thing was, after we talked about it, he said I hit him at least three times with off-side head shots with no power at all. Since I did not realize I had even touched him, I found that interesting. I think the reason is against Breeder I am so intent on my defense, on movement, I trying to pick up his shot, that I am not doing anything else right. I know, for instance, that he takes the leg really well on the step, yet he took mine twice during pickups plus in our fight in the circle (hardest hit I took all day). I knew to defend against it and I watched him eating Agrippa’s leg up in their set, but I still stepped (literally) right into it three times. I was not paying any attention to my footwork, usually my strength.

Against the lefties (Gui, Breeder, Stick) I was doing something I never do, trying to use more thrusts, it worked against Gui. 

All day long my mind was not right. I was not committing  Against Breeder, I was a bit panicky. I was not moving my feet with purpose most of the time. When I did have a break through in those areas, like against Darius, I fought well.

Good take aways have to do with my defense. I was picking up a lot of shots visually and reacting well. My defense was tight most of the time. Nobody (except maybe Brennan, who got me with an off-side body shot when I over extended) had an easy time with me. Omega gave me a compliment, that he’s heard people say that since I’ve gone back to a heater I’m a pain in the ass (because they were so used to taking my leg right off the bat).

I was one of the first fighters on the field and (along with Everett) the last fighter off. 

The barbecue was excellent.

During the day I took Landon into my service for a year and a day, a trial period to see if he wants to become my squire permanently.

Sunday basically started my training period for Crown. More on that tomorrow.

It is essentially ten weeks until Crown (I must have miscounted last week). That is 70 days. My next time in armor will likely be at the Beau Geste on Sunday.


Monday, August 12, 2013

Grant's Tomb Practice, 8/11/13

I wasn’t at Pennsic this year. I was taking care of a sick relative in California. That sucks—the relative being sick more than missing Pennsic, but missing Pennsic stills sucks. Not only did I miss out on the socializing, the seeing my friends from the West Kingdom, the parties, my adopted family and loved ones—I also missed out on the twelve straight days of fighting! Pennsic is the best time of year for me in nearly every respect, but it is a fighting orgy. At the end of Pennsic, whether I’ve been there for one week or two, I have fought at least six days in a row and sometimes twelve, and it shows. My reflexes, timing, speed, footwork, everything is sharper at the end of Pennsic than at any other time of year. I feel like a God: an achy, beaten up, battered, bruised and sore God who can barely walk, but a God.

Pennsic is therefore the jumping off point for my training for Fall Crown, and missing that hurts a lot! But yesterday I finally got back into armor.

I did not fight in California but I did work out. I stayed with my cousin. She lives up on the side of a mountain in a Redneck paradise. They have cows and pigs and their yard is full of heavy things. I did lots of push ups and squats. I did curls and presses with a four inch thick steel drill shaft. I did cinder block workouts. I marched around holding a granite block over my head. I wrapped a tow chain around my shoulders and climbed the hillside. I kayaked. I hiked. I threw big heavy rocks. Best of all they had a heavy bag and an ax handle that balanced perfectly for pell work. But mostly I was there to lift my step father into and out of his wheel chair, which I did several times a day. In other words, I worked out.

Agrippa was asking some of the knights about me, and one of them said that I know fifty different techniques but I haven’t found my one technique. That’s a fair assessment, as I have acknowledged before. It is not entirely true—I have at various times had one technique that I used as my bread and butter shot, and I used it until it didn’t seem to work anymore and then developed another one. But I have always been something of a chameleon, and that has led to a lack of consistency. Lately, since I have been trying to fight more like an Easterner, I have tried to change that. For the past couple years I have been concentrating on two simple techniques—the hook thrust and the molinee cut from a hanging guard. While I’ve used other stuff to kill people with those have been my money shots (which is why I’ve been so frustrated that people seem not to count that hook thrust anymore). So that was what I was working on at fighter practice and, really, nothing else. I just wanted to knock the rust off. 

There were six people in armor yesterday: Myself, Agrippa, Damien, Grimm, Andrew, and Sam. Grimm I did not fight at all. Sam and Andrew are new fighters. I fought them with the buckler and was in training mode—mostly. Damien has been fighting for about 18 months. Agrippa was the only advanced fighter there besides me.

My fights with Andrew and Sam, as I said, were training sessions. I used the buckler so my targets would look big. I did get a little distracted fighting Sam, however. With his 32 inch heater and a mostly sword back guard, it was like fighting an old school Bellatrix or Old Castle fighter, and I started using Bellatrix techniques. I threw rising snaps, back hands, the upsilon leg shot, molinees—all stuff he would never see out here and was really unable to defend. I dialed it back after a while when I realized I was having too much fun.

Damien has been fighting BOTN and his fighting has suffered a bit. He always had focus problems, but he had technique before. Now he’s lost that. Making that switch seems to be hard for a lot of fighters.

Agrippa and I fought ten fights. He was just coming off Pennsic and was even faster and more aggressive than usual, which is a lot. Our first fight he totally mugged me. I was outclassed. He beat me three times again, once with a thrust. Then I got out of training mode, tightened up, and went back to counter punching and setting up my two main attacks. I never hit him with the hook thrust but I killed three in a row, two with that saber cut. Then we took a break for a bit. When we fought again, I won all three of those fights as well. So he won our first four fights and then I won six in a row, mostly by finding my focus.

After that I did some unarmored training with Grimm and Katy.

It is 83 days until Fall Crown. I will be in armor this Sunday, but I don’t know where, either Iron Bog or at the barbecue at Count Horic’s