Friday, February 21, 2014

February's Beau Geste

Duke Visivald noted after my last blog post, which was about training for Crown, that very few fighters win Crown after they turn 50, and that none win crown without practicing at least two to three times a week. The number of fighters winning crown after 50 has actually climbed in the last 5 years, as the SCA has gotten older, older fighters are being more successful. I know at least one duke who won crown at 54 without practicing several times a week. But Viz is right: I need more helmet time. Lots more helmet time.

This week I fought twice, which is two more times than I fought the week before. I went to the Sunday practice in Williamsburg and the Thursday Night MSR practice in Wantaugh. The first one was mostly a training practice and the second one was the Beau Geste, so it was a big difference.

My workouts have been really good lately. I’m still doing 50 pushups daily. Monday I had an awesome weight workout, warming up with dumbbells then doing military press building to my max weight (6 reps at 100 pounds), and 100 reps of cable and rope pull downs over the shoulder.

The only technique I am working on is my a-frame/boxer defense. I’m moving around a bit more but trying not to pattern myself into creating gaps.

At Willimaburg there were only three fighters—me, Ervald, and Samale. I fought set with both of them but I spent a lot of time drilling. We worked on two techniques. The first was Paul’s closing step: from out of range, throw a snap so that the momentum of the sword prompts/pulls the foot forward, closing range while the Sword and shield clear the way, protecting you (this is essentially Silver’s “time of the hand”). Normally, Paul brings his feet together then steps to his right, toward his opponent’s shield side, and throws another snap. Sunday I was having them pass again, to the left, with an off-side head shot, but the principle is the same: close range then move to the quarters. The other technique was Silver’s closing technique, which takes you to the right. I taught it with a thrust then taught a cut as a variation, even though I learned it as a cut (this from work I did with Steven Hand). From out of range, thrust at the eyes and then step to close range, then step to shield side with a grapevine step crossing behind with the left foot, bring the sword back into a hanging guard, and then squaring up with the right while cutting to the on side head. The important thing to remember once again is to move the hand first then the foot. The actual way to do the technique is, instead of thrusting, use the closing step from Paul’s technique above.

I drilled both fighters on those techniques for several minutes each, with each of us acting as agent and patient agent.

At Wantaugh I simply fought in theBeau Geste. I had some warmup fights first and some sword and buckler fights afterward. I warmed up with Conrad (not Duke Conrad, another one) and then with Gui. Conrad was very tight but was using a short, heavy sword with which he had two main techniques. First he would hunt the arm, especially when I was thrusting. Second he was cross blocking and throwing a backhand. I found that a tight defense and shield hooks would beat him consistently.

Then I fought Gui, who beat me. He took my leg then pounded me. But he was coming out from behind his shield badly.

There were nine fighters in the tournament, including Zack, Anton, Gui, Conrad, Bob Fox, and Baldwin. Bob I killed with a butterfly after taking his leg. Conrad I dispatched the way I had in warm ups.  Am not sure how I killed Baldwin.  

Anton fought with his polearm. I was controlling the fight pretty well, but I need to remember my old technique of flattening my shield against a poleman’s lead gauntlet, which I forgot. I killed him with a wrap as he was going for my leg—a common trade.

Zack I killed with the old Lucky step through combo. He never got a blow off.
 My fight with Gui was vicious. He almost got me in the groin, but missed low. We took each other’s legs at the same time. He was wild even on his knees, and I was able to thrust him in the belly behind the point of his shield.

I finished undefeated, Gui lost to me, Zack, the then Beau Geste, lost to the two of us. We three decided to withdraw from the tourney and not fight in the finals. We didn’t want it to seem like we had rolled in with our tourney and then taken over the place. The finalist ended up being Baldwin and Conrad. Baldwin won 2-1.

It is 85 days until Crown Tourney. My next time in armor will be Sunday in Williamsburg.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Training for Crown

Crown Tourney is exactly 13 weeks from today. That's 91 days to get ready. I hVe not been practicing or even working out as much as I'd like. I have only fought three times since last crown--100 Minutes, Birka, and one Nutley. I've been injured, tired, and turned 50. My schedule isn't quite as good as last semester for working out-I'm busy during spin and yoga classes at school. But I have a lot of flex time Wednesdays and Thursday afternoons. 

Exactly how much to train at 50--and how much I can reasonably expect to train--is a tough question. But I don't expect it to be that much different than I trained at 49, which was hard. I think that once you pass 45 or so you need to train more, not less. Yes, recovery is longer, there are lots of nagging injuries, and you are just a bit more tired that you used to be. On the other hand, you become brittle, and if you don't work out regularly I believe you will atrophy at a quicker rate. And, if you don't work out fairly hard you are wasting your time. The last two years I've been working in some Crossfit WODs to my workouts, but I've found that, at my current injury level (chronic bad back, occasional elbow tendinitis, knees and shoulders that make a lot of noise) I can't do a lot of the workouts. But I do find that it is better to mix things up than try to keep tot he exact workout routine over a weeks time (legs one day, arms another, etc). I'm not working out to build my body, I'm working out to increase strength, endurance, and flexibility, but most to prevent injury. 

I'm a firm believer in explosive training workouts: kettle bells, tabata training, snatch, clean & jerk. The big problem is speed work. I find it next to impossible to sprint. I can jog, which is painful enough, but after blowing both Achilles' tendons a couple years ago, plus my back and hips, that's about it. My usual distance is 5 k, and I'm pretty slow. 

What I really need is a dance class. 

I don't want to over do it. Push-ups every morning and either yoga or cardio on days when I don't fight, is probably enough. As I recall, some of the best shape I've every been in was when I was doing three spin classes a week and yoga most mornings. But I also love working out. I love lifting, dragging the sled, throwing boulders, farmers carries and calisthenics.  I love weird found objects workouts and obstacle runs. That stuff I like almost as much as fighting. 

I've done 50 push-ups every day this year. I also had two gym workouts this week. 


I want to be in armor 20 times, which is a lot in 13 weeks in NYC, but not impossible. 

Push-ups every day

25 gym workouts

130 total miles

Fight in Two Beau Gestes, Mudthaw, and at least one other event. 

This week my plan is:
Fight tomorrow
Gym workout Monday
Class on Thursday
Nutley Wednesday 
Run on Thursday
Rest Friday
Not sure Saturday--depends.