Thursday, September 26, 2013

Nutley, September 25, 2013

I'm writing this today, soon after my last post, because Nutley is fresh in my mind, and the bruises Kelson provided me are fresh on my body.

I've only done one workout since Sunday. I went to the gym on Tuesday and did yoga, push ups, and an improvised kettlebell workout. Improvised because I used a plate with handles cut into it instead of a kettlebell. I did squats, rows, curls, presses, and snatches using the Tabata timer. Complete workout was about 50 minutes.

One result was that, for the second time in a row, I went to Nutley the day after an intense workout. Bad idea. It was, however, great training for those late rounds in Crown when it's hard to lift your arms.

Because of the way my shield is hung I have found that the A-Frame defense works better with it than any other. If I try a high closed form, my preferred style with a heater shield, the rest position is in a place that I don't like. I've always had a problem (Ron has it too) of adopting a high-corner guard with my shield so that the point of the heater sticks way out, exposing my leg. This comes from fighting with bunny rounds a lot. With this shield that's not possible, but I'm uncomfortable with where the shield sits. My arm doesn't like that position. In order to keep it at Sagan's check point (according to Sagan, you should hold your shield so that the forward corner is just at eye level in front of your sword-side eye and look over the top edge) I have to hold my arm fairly low, but not as low as I would with a center grip. It's kind of in between in an awkward place. However, it's in a great place if I'm fighting in an A-Frame (where you hold your shield above eye level on the left side and look past the forward edge, with your sword held to defend your sword side), so I did this more at Nutley. I still have trouble generating offense out of that style.

I only fought four sets this week, with Sam, Cullyn, Kelson, and Jan Janovitch.

My fights with Sam were basically warmup fights. I fought entirely out of the A-frame.

Against Cullyn I found myself adopting something close to his sword forward Lucan style but I fought agaisnt that. I wanted to stay either in the A-Frame or the closed high-form. He nailed me good on our first pass but after that I settled in. I even got him with a good wrap as he was passing forward--probably the best reaction shot I've gotten in awhile. Later I got him with a triple strike to the off-side head from my knees. I also got his shoulder using the technique Ron was teaching me at Iron Bog, that kind of punching shot from right in front of the shoulder designed to get in front of the leading edge of the shield.

I actually laid stick on Kelson, three times--though he was using a center grip not his usual heater, which helped me out a bit. After our first pass, which he won handily, I started attacking off the thrust. This is a great tactic against fighters using a center-grip heater, because  it knocks their shield around and sometimes they find it hard to recover. I often thrust at the leading corner and then turn that into a molinee as I move of line to the right. My best kill against Kelson came as we were in a heated exchange. I threw an on-side blow and started to come around to the off side but changed it up in the middle, so it turned into a cross shot. At the same time he was moving to his left. I caught him right on the forehead. I also got him with a hook-thrust and a lucky shot that had nothing to do with skill on my part it was just flailing.

Jan I love to fight because he has a very Western/Oldcastle style and, like me, relies a lot on lateral movement to keep him at range. At first he was totally kicking my ass. His blows were faster, stronger, and more precise than mine. If I advanced he'd retreat. If I stood my ground he'd move around me. Once or twice I got belly to belly with him, but that just meant neither of us had a shot. However, I took his leg in our last fight and then everything changed. He stuck his shield way out on defense and I was able to control it. I killed him with a top-edge hook.

After our fights, when were were getting out of armor, he said that he was worried about the coming time when his body started to fail him, and that he hoped it wasn't doing so already. I laughed and said my body had started to fail me twenty years ago. I've never been an athlete but I had good athletic genes. My dad played collage football and was a PE coach. I have a cousin who was a basketball player and another who was an international swimmer. One of her sons pitched in the minor leagues. I was never particularly strong but I had gifts--I am tall, lanky, I had great balance, good endurance, and good rhythm. I noted to Jan that I was thirty when I won my crown, probably at the top of my game physically, and that it's been down hill from there. When I moved to the East, at age 34, I was 35 pounds heavier than when I had won crown, and even heavier still than when I'd won coronet. I'd already started to go down hill even then. When my weight got up to 275 I was awful--no endurance, no speed, I had strength and some guile but nothing else. I went on the Atkins diet. I lost 75 pounds (right now I'm at about 215, so that's 60 pounds below my high). Still I'm not as fast, my endurance isn't what it used to be, I get occasional tendonitis, I have a bad back (four rear end collisions and one rollover--none of them my fault), and even my balance isn't quite the same (a result of my back injury). But I work out more than I did at 30. A lot more. I also adopted a low-profile thrusting tip and, after playing with a viking round, a bunny round, and a center-grip kite I went back to a heater, only this time a standard Atlantian sized one of 24" by 36".  I'm not the fighter I want to be right now (as I said, I feel I've plateaued due to lack of practice this year). I don't have the physical gifts I used to have. But we compensate, and this is a game where timing, position, and distance win a lot of fights, and where how you balance and swing your sword can increase stick speed a lot. If Rolf and Gregor can win crowns in their 50s and Thorin can win at 60 I've got a lot of fight left in me. That's a beautiful thing about our sport.

It is 38 days until Crown Tourney. My next time in armor will likely be Nutley next Wednesday.

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