Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Old, tired, and worn out. That is how I feel right now. I've been on a downward slope since Crown, which is odd because I did very well. For the first time in a long time I honestly felt like a contender. Not a bum. Which is..... oh, wait a minute.....

100 minutes ware was the first time I'd been in armor since Crown. I took a week off to recover and then deer season started. My workouts have lightened up considerably. I've been going to Yoga and Spin, but I've only lifted twice since Crown (and I was supposed to lift today but won't).

There's also a weight issue. Last year, after cheating a bit for a couple of years, I finally  went off the Atkins diet. I had lost 75 pounds about eight years ago and gained about 10-15 of it back. That put me floating between 210 and 215. I was pretty happy there. Then, last Thanksgiving, I decided "screw it! I'm going to eat what I want tis holidays." I didn't go crazy. I was moderate, but I didn't skip deserts, I didn't avoid mashed potatoes or yams, and I didn't avoid wine. By January 1 I weighed 225. I worked and floated between 215 and 220 most of the year, but here it is the week of Thanksgiving and I weight 225. I'd better not behave like I did last year or I'll be big again.

This is the first year that 100 minutes has not been on the same date as opening day of deer season, so I decided I had to go. It's SUCH a fun event, like the old resurrection wars back in the West. I had a blast, but I felt really slow.

Since crown I've worked out 13 times, but a lot of those have been "walking" which equalled hunting. Hunting whitetails means mostly sitting, but I do some still hunting and I have to hike in and out to my stand. I did help Big Mike pull a buck out of the woods on opening day. I've also been making Sin Class and Yoga once a week.

None to speak of. I'm not working on anything in particular.

I didn't do much sword and shield fighting at 100 minutes. In fact, this set with Deterich von Blooguard is about all of it:

I felt really slow and hesitant in this fight, and it shows. There are a couple of times when I'm obviously not committing  to whatever it is I'm doing. But my defense was sound.

(SCATally usually has the best videos of East Kingdom fighting. Check out his channel at Youtube.com.)

As an added bonus, here's me being soundly beaten by Ionis at last crown:

I fought about 95 minutes of the 100 minute battle with my spear. I'm not the greatest spearman in the world. I've done it all my life, but I've only been fighting it seriously for about three years now. I have five techniques: left foot/left hand lead (the "pool cue" technique), which is the strongest; left hand/right foot lead, a goofy foot technique that gives you better range; right hand/right foot lead, wherein I use the spear a lot like a rapier and lunge a bit more; choking up with my hand in the first and second quarters, which is a bit stronger but more dangerous' and choking up with hands in second and third quarters, usually with the thumbs opposed, which is for single combat. I used them all, but stayed mostly with the first one, which is the most common.

I spent about ten minutes on my knees and I got some good kills that way. I just propped myself up against a tree, to defend my left side, and worked the low line. It was fun.

I lost my arm twice--once to an arrow--and fought like that for a long time. I think I killed one guy like that as he charged.

I had a pretty good kill to death ratio. I spent most of the day dueling with Sir Mohammed from Tir Mara and Sir Oskgar.

For the last five minutes I used my great sword. I had an overpowering desire to crush something. I killed a couple of guys on breakthroughs and contemplated charging the line. With 15 second to go there was a hold. At the lay on I charged. I killed two more guys and got pumelled. I ended up with a bruised shoulder and a broken middle finger (just the tip--I'm typoing with it now, thought it stings a bit). I felt happy happy happy.

As the sun was disappearing and it was getting very cold, we held November's Beau Geste tournament.

It is 60 days until Birka. I dont' know when I will next be in armor.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Crown Tourney #88

My 88th Crown Tournament was clearly winnable. Brennan won, and I killed Brennan.

What an amazing, excellent tourney! (though I plan for the next one to be graceful). I had a blast. The whole list was fun to be part of--both to watch and to fight in, with great, honorable fighting. The result was truly inspirational. Plus my sweetie was with me and that made it perfect.

Also, we rented a red Mustang convertible for the trip. And, yes, we arrived with the top down.

It was a beautiful day, an inspiring tourney. I can’t recall the last time I saw someone get knighted in the morning and win crown that afternoon. It was truly marvelous. It took a lot of things—dukes who didn’t show up, a format that favored his skills, and some luck—but in the end everything fell into place for Brennan to win crown. When the day started he was on everybody’s mind, because his knighting was very moving, but not as a contender. Some people, when they get knighted, get an extra ten percent out of the emotions and the hype, and in the right circumstances—like yesterday—that’s all it takes to make someone king. 

Nobody expected Brennan to get past Omega in the semi-finals, least of all Brenan. But the format favored him—three of five with the fighter out of the losers list (that was him) starting with a loss, and matched alternate weapons. He is an ok sword and shield fighter but a fantastic great weapons fighter. He wasn’t supposed to win the sword and shield fight: but Omega was trying something new—using a small oval and trying to learn Branos’ technique. Brennan took his leg and then killed him. Brennan won the pole arm fight then lost the great sword. It was supposed to come down to a two weapon fight, with both of them using madus (ok, Brenna was using an upside down great sword).  Again, that should favor Omega, but after a very long fight Brennan hit him and won. He had actually fallen to a face thrust but Omega called it off, saying that it had hit him high and on the side of his helm, not in the face. 

The other semi-final saw Conrad out of the winners list and Ionis (Breeder) out of the losers list. They alternated choice of weapons. Conrad picked polearm, which he lost, then Breeder picked single sword, which he lost. Conrad then picked greatsword anm when he took Breeder's leg, he made a point of announcing that he had not chosen sword-and-shield Out of respect for Breeder's skill. Then he killed him.  

Brennan dominated the finals. Conrad won the sword-and-shield fight handilly, then lost the great sword fight (big time. The earth shook. It was an incredible shot. It hurt just to watch it). They were evenly matched in a single-sword fight, so much so that they double killed twice before  Brennan won that (Conrad was heard to say "dammit!" as he fell). With Brennan's best weapon, polearm, next it was set up for him to win and he did. Now he’s Prince of Tir Mara and will be King at Pennsic. It was truly fabulous!

My day was great too. I was nervous. I truly had no idea how I was going to do. The way I had choked the week before was weighing on me. The biggest problem was that I was totally unsure how well the A-frame defense would work for me. It did.  
In my pool were three knights—myself, Conrad, and Brennan. There were eight unbelted fighters (first names only) Tali, Ketil, Thorvald, Duncan, Carl, Rory, Mathew *and* Mathias.  The fights all run together, for the most part. I know at various times I used Ed’s version of the butterfly against someone on their knees (fake a deep wrap with a step, bring the sword over the top of their head and hit them in the face). I used the fake face thrust/leg shot. I used head/leg/head/leg fake (the upsilon). Carl I killed with a  straight snap over his sword guard.   I recall taking Tali’s leg and then, because he was defending the thrust so well, killing him with a deep wrap. I killed Ketil, I am sure, when he went for a deep off-side and I hit him with a molinee to the head.  My longest fight, not surprisingly, was my first fight, against Rory. We had just fought each other the week before, we were both using an A-Frame defense, and we were both cautious. Eventually I took his leg (I don’t know how) and then killed him with a back edge shot, a wrap that hits on the side of the head, not the rear, which some people call a thumb lead and others a snap-wrap. He has a heater shield that curves up at the points, making that a good technique. My loss was to Conrad. I still couldnt’ stick hook thrust on him in spite of putting an inch back on my sword. Hit him with it twice, right square in the chest but both times he was backing out. Then he took my leg. I almost got him with a little hidden slot shot over the top of his shield twice, but those blows landed with the thrusting tip on his temple. If they had been shorter and hit him in the face they might have been good. If they have been longer and had hit him with rattan they might have been good (might have—power is tough on that blow). He killed me with a wrap to the back, like he usually does, only this time he did it with a shield press.  My best kill was against Brennan. He was fighting better than I had seen him fight recently (duh!), but after a couple of exchanges I killed him with a hook thrust, only this time to the eyes (right eye, to be precise). The A-Frame was working very well. I was reacting to the fight. By my third fight I was in a zone, and I never really left it. I was second in my pool, with ten wins and the one loss.

In the round of sixteen I drew William Raven Hair, a northern fighter with a huge coffin-lid shield. Once I keyed in to what he was doing I had my defense down and then it was just a matter of time. He was throwing kind of slow, loopy shots with a very nice flow to them and trying to move his opponent’s defense one way while he went the other with his feet. That was not too hard to defend after the first pass. He crowded me going to my shield side and I killed him with a wrap. It was pretty much a trigger shot (which I’m never good at).

Then came my two losses.

The first was to Breeder. I came into the fight with my mind in the right place. I came on guard, instead of in an A-Frame, in a high open guard. I attacked him, pretty strongly, trying to draw his defense to his left, but in the exchange of blows he took my leg (hard--I'm still limping). Then once I’d settled he jumped on me. I took his leg in the process, but he nailed me with a wrap as I did so. He just beat me with speed. The trick with breeder is to slow him down.

Then I drew Edward McGuyver, whom I often hate facing. I don’t like the style he fights, but saying that is kind of sour grapes because he is 3-0 against me in crowns, so I need to learn to just beat him. This time I was not frustrated or angry or anything at the end of our fight. In fact I enjoyed it—which is odd because he practically one-shotted me. My mind might not have been in the right place because of how the fight started. Apparently, the marshals had said “Make what honors you will,” but I had heard (salute the crown). They called lay on and I stopped so I could salute Hanna and then Edward. I may have thrown one blow at him, I’m not sure, but then he threw a beautiful molinee-back-edge shot at the inside of my shield and followed it up with a thrust with the palm up, a thrust I’ve tried once or twice without a lot of success. This was great. It broke down my defense perfectly. It wasn’t quite what Larry had done the week before, but it was similar. All along during the day I had been worried that I had not trained enough with the A-Frame to be good at it. I was just beating slot-shots with my basket hilt. I figured that it would probably get me killed at some point. In fact I did really well, but this was that point. Against my normal stance that thrust would not work at all, because I cover more of my right side with my shield. Against my A-frame that was the perfect choice. I enjoyed that moment because I learned something, and because it was such a beautiful shot.

It was worth watching Edward fight Breeder as well. He didn’t beat him, but he fought him really well. He slowed him down. He was crowding him in a way that I can’t really explain. I hope there’s tape of that fight because I really want to see it again (I hope there’s tape out there of some of my fights as well).    

I had a really great day. It was beautiful weather, I fought very very well. Conrad and Brennan, out of my pool, were the two  finalists. I almost killed Conrad and I did kill Brennan. I was in the conversation and I feel that, even though I was knocked out in the third round of the double elim part—that I was in contention. That is where I want to be. 

I also always fight better when Gracia is there, both because she encourages me and keeps me focused, and because it just makes me happy to have her watch my fights.

Happy, happy, happy!

It is 94 days until Birka. The next time I will be in armor is likely to be 100 minutes war (it’s deer season, so I’ll be otherwise occupied for a few weeks).