Sunday, April 27, 2014


I love Vermont, upstate New York too. I'd probably hate living here, but every time I visit I think "Yeah, this would be cool." I went to practice in Bennington today, and had a blast. 

Not bad this week: a gym workout, a 13 mile bike ride, yoga, and push-ups every day. 

I was going to work a straight down wrist snap in, like that Saber blow to the middle of the forehead,  imore as an experiment than anything else, because Gui and I were discussing it the other day, and because it seems like a good attack out of the A Frame. I also wanted to work on some low line thrusts. Neither one worked, but they didn't get me killed either. 

There were four of us in armor: myself, Sir Alecander de Hauteville, and his two squires Collin and Dana. I fought a set of passes with each oft hem and then we did a bear pit. Each of us held the field against the other three. We did two rounds of that, rested, and then did two more. It was great exercise. I won my early fights, lost most of my later ones. 

Dana is a bull. He rushes in swinging really hard, goes belly to belly with you, thrusts low line (sometimes in the cup) and tries to muscle you around. He uses a really big strapped kite, and is hard to break down. He got me with a really good face thrust once, took my leg and crushed me once. 

Collin uses a center grip kite with a sword leg forward lead but keeps his sword behind him--a weak high open form, which is one of the hardest to use. His off side head and arm were very exposed. I killed him with two old school techniques--a straight Bellatrix combo--off side head, tear drop return, on side head: and a molinee that flashes the tip in the face and just follows up with a snap (I killed Alexander with that too). 

Alexander has changed his style since we last fought. He uses weak high closed form. He also no longer tries to crush and out thug his opponents. He has developed a very fast, elegant saber style offense. It fits him really well. He is one of those big fighters wight fast hands. My best win against him was when I took his leg then through Fast Eddy's shot that misses the off side head, changes direction really quickly, then becomes an onside snap. His best kill on me was a wicked hard off side rib shot where he faked me out of my socks by striking onside head (I blocked with my sword in tierce) faked the snap (I put up the block in quinte) the he hit me in the off side ribs (and I buckled in pain). :-) 

The drill we did, essentially fight three fights, rest two, fight one, rest two, fight three, was really really good. I needed some work against the Northern Region style, and I just needed the helmet time after a layoff due to Spring Break 

Afterword we went to Madison Brewing Co., a local brew pub. I had a very good burger, and tasted both the IPA and Old 76, very nice. 

My next time on armor should be Wednesday Night at Nutley. It is exactly three weeks till Crown. 

Monday, April 21, 2014

The best laid plans

It was spring break!! (still is, actually). I had time! I barely fought at all. Silly me. I fought on Palm Sunday at Grant's Tomb, but that was it. I didn't go to Nutley on Wendnesday becuase I was weak--I didn't want to make that long walk up hill with armor strapped to my back in bad weather. I figured, Oh, I'lly go to practice on Thursday instead. Ah, but Thursday was HOLY thursday, and Wantaugh practice is in a church, meaning it was cancelled. I looked into Hawethorne pratkice, but it too was cancelled. And, of course, there was no practice on Easter Sunday. I briefly thought about getting out of town to Albany this weekend, and fighitng at their Saturday practice, but saturday was Balfars Challenge, which I wasn't planning on going to but which everybody els would be attending. I did mange to workout.

I got in a bicycle ride, a good gym workout, a couple of long walks, Yoga class, and some work with the kettle bells and the indian clubs, so it wasn't a total waste. I had once had dreams of training hard all week of break, but ended up getting some freelance work, which is even more sedentary than teaching.

All I was working on at Grant's Tomb was by defense against lefties and my thrusts.

There were five of us in armor: Me, Gui, Tormundr, Tycho, and Samael.

Tormundr is a good person for me to fight because he is as tall as I am and he has a really good thrust. He tagged me with it twice, proving yet again that a good thrust is the best attack against an A Frame defense. I found that with the sword I was using (a bit over taped, tip heavy but with a heavy basket hilt) I was unable to launch a good counter attack from the A Frame. He is another person against whom an old fashioned Bellatrix attack works better.

Against Samael I did fine. He is a bit wild, and I was able to get him to over commit.

Tycho and Gui are both lefties. At first I used a airly standard leftie defense against Tycho--shiled way over to cover my right side, hanging guard to cover the left side of my head--but I wnated to try a variation of the A Frame defense against Tycho. I looked past the front of my shield but cocked the point to my right, to cover the right side of my leading leg instead of the left. I held my sword almost paralel to the foward edge of my shield. This proved really good defensively. The biggest whole I found when he threw a double strike, striking my sword and then moving to his left and striking again, but hat will be easy to compensate for. I hve a good thrust from there and off-die attacks but little in the way of onside head attacks.

Against Gui I realized that I've got a mental block. I keeptrying to fight toe-to -toe with gui and meet his agression with myown. Gui has more agression that a wolverine on steroids. THat is a losing game, ad I keepb getting my ass kicked. I'm not sure when or where I got that into my head, but it is why I've been losing to him so uch recently.

This was a good practice. It is 26 days until Crown Tourney. My next time in armor will be... I don't. Maybe Nutley on Wednesday, if not that then Hawethorne on Thursday. I'm hoping to be up in Albany this weekend and may seek out the practice up there.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Being sick sucks

For the second time this Lent I am sick. Stomach virus. Projectile vomit. This was Monday Night/Tuesday morning. I've been queasy all week. I've managed to do my push ups every day, but nothing else.

However, Sunday I got to fight in Iron Bog!

Obviously none. 

In one of my fights I employed a number of techniques to test my opponent, but otherwise I was just working on counter punching out of the A Frame, or so I thought. 

I fought Ron (twice),  a fighter I can't name, William McCrimmon, Omega, Harold Haakonson, Bardolf, and Bran. 

I warmed up against Ron and he basically slaughtered me. My feet were out of place, like I was not moving strongly enough. 

My next set of fights was against a heater shield fighter I cannot name. He was fast and precise, and I had trouble with his off side. My endurance was good enough that I outlasted him. 

Then things got serious. I fought Bill, who has taken a big leap in both speed and power, back close to where he was ten years ago. This to go along with his great targeting  and precision. He was a ll over me, and I was very happy to take his leg and then kill him with Ed's version of the butterfly (fake the off side, plant your right foot next to his hip, start a blow that looks like wrap but the step out with the left foot and turn the wrap into a blow going straight down into his face or body). After that I killed him again and he started running out of steam. He was forgetting to breathe. He lost his wind fast. 

At the end of my fights with Bill I broke the thrusting tip off my sword and so for my fights with Omega I took out one of Ragnar's swords. It was thin (possibly not legal), short by about three inches, and light. I managed to strike Omega with it three times but there was no power on any of them--so it turned into an exercise in defense, and my defense was pretty good. 

I rode down to practice with three of my nephews--Bill and his squire brothers Harold and Bardolph. They are three good unbelted fighters who are nearly as funny as the stooges when you get them together. I'd promised all three of them a fight. Since Harold is a pole arm fighter I picked up his spare Glaive and took him on with that. We were both using fairly short light glaives. I started with my thumbs opposed a la Visivald, which some people erroneously call quarter staff style. We are both fairly big guys, and we locked up in a pretty good core to core and wrestled a bit. It was pretty savage and we both loved it. He got me with a thrust in the throat and I hit him in the arm then the head. after that I changed my grip but he cut my head after a long exchange. Those were great fights. 

Next I fought Bardolph. He is a tricky left handed that Bill describes as "drunken Gumbie." I had never fought him before. I started out using Lucky's passing shot (snap/pass off line to the left, step around, strike), which worked. Then I took his leg with Martin the Temperate's hidden leg shot, which I'd never used against a lefttie. It worked, and I thrust him in the belly. Then I set up in Gui's old form, pushing the shield way across, so the point actually tails to cover the left leg and the shield is held at a diagonal in front of me and using a hanging guard to cover my off side. The best attack out of that is a punching off side, which I never manage to land with power, but this time it worked.

After that I fought Ron again. Hey look! Video!

This is some great video because it exposes a lot of my flaws. Ron and I are squire brothers, can you tell? We are both 50, we both started as teenagers, and we share William the Lucky, Radnor, Paul, and Houghton as early trainers. It's a really fun fight for me.

The first thing I see is that my A frame starts out fairly tight but kind of goes away. Ron, meanwhile, never loses his high closed form. The idea behind the A frame is that the front corner of the shield is held high enough to cover the on-side head shot. The shield guards the left side and the sword defends the right and the middle. As with my old eater style, wherein the shield is more central, it cocks forward and exposes my leg, which is how Ron got it in our first fight.

As I start moving around I start getting a little sloppy. It might be Radnor's old dictum that you should fight like you walk, but my feet start to come together. I loose that strong stance. He caught me with a really nice fake and that had a lot to do with it.

Our third fight I was moving more--right/left/in/out. He is actually taking that slot-shot to the shoulder, though it's hard to tell on the video. That's a shot I have been working on a lot.

I knew I was being more active than he was, but it really shows on video. I'm throwing four times the blows that he is. I thought I hit him with a stutter wrap, but I can't see the stutter, and I don't think I planned that shield press.

That fifth fight I was amazed at how wide my legs were when he hit me. I was SO out of position. I realized watching the video that I had moved to the left to change the angle on the slot shot I threw, and he triggered on that and killed me. Regardless, I need to be much more aware of my feet. I think the main reason I'm squaring up is because Ron squares up so much. It's something a lot of older fighters do, both to gain a bit of speed and power in that hammer blow, and also to help with balance.

The sixth fight I felt best about. I moved slightly left and adopted a weak side lead to take advantage of the fact that Ron had squared up and hit him with a nice hammer blow.

This was a good set of fights.

After that I fought Bran, a fighter using a medium size centergirp. This was a teaching moment for me, as he was holding it too close to his body.

Great practice!

It is 35 days until Crown. My next time in armor will be tomorrow at Grant's Tomb. 

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Nutley and other things.

One problem with the way we train and practice is that there is no standard. For years the only two knights teaching in Ostgardr were me and Edward. Ed and I love each other, but we are opposites. Ed tells people that they should never do the things I teach. I'm a Bellatrix fighter. I generate power by moving my hips into a blow. Ed tells people that they should never move their hips, that if they work out their forearms with the exercises he gives them and use hilt heavy swords they can increase speed and ergo power. He and I can work with the same advanced fighters, but we cannot teach the same beginners, because we are telling them opposite things. This is very medieval. Training in the Middle Ages was not standardized in any way. There were no schools. As far as we can tell the fight masters of the 14th and 15th centuries gave people individual training as they needed it--usually when preparing for a formal duel (probably judicial). For the most part, the so-called masters had one or two tricks that they taught their students just to prepare them for one fight (see "the coup de Jarnac.") in the same way, Bellatrix, Gendy, Von Drachenklau, Baldar, Branos, etc all have different styles that they teach, and which are sometimes incompatible. It's not a bad thing. I like that variety: but it does sometimes make teaching hard. 

I had a bit of that at Nutley. 

Again I feel I slacked off thus week. I did push ups every day, ran 4 miles, took a yoga class, and fought at Nutley, but both Tuesday and Thursday I wanted to get out to an aerobics class and did not make it. 

Sometimes, it's a good idea to limit yourself--to take something away. I was determined to fight in an A frame defense exclusively this week, but also to work strictly on blade work. My best kill shot is a thrust, and my current leg shot is off a fake thrust. By refusing to thrust I had to develop other things. I ended up throwing maybe three thrusts all night, and none against Gregor (and I think none against Brenan).  

I only fought five opponents: Hartman, a young fighter from Bloodguard with a lot of speed and power; Jan Janovitch; Prince Brenan; Arn (the current champion of Rusted Woodlands and a guy who did much better than I at Mudthaw); and Duke Gregor. 

When I fight in the A frame, which is  a counter-punching, defensive style, my fights are long--one reason why I am so concerned with Aerobics. This was no exception. I had some long fights with Hartman. I was fighting well. The best thing I can say is that although young and in fair shape, he tired before I did. 

Against Jan I just had one really long fight. I kept fighting the urge to slip into a high closed form. Eventually I took his leg and killed him. 

I've killed Brenan the two times I fought him in tourneys recently, both times with a hook/thrust. This time their was no way I was going to throw that. I killed him a couple of times with wraps and once with a slit shot. He killed me at least three times as well. 

I had noticed watching Arn against Jan that he cocks his heater shield up, exposing his leg. This is a problem I had for years. I worked his leg and got it in almost every one of our fights. I even took it with Martin the Temperate's hider leg shot. I explained what I did and I know it won't be there next time (that kid is a spunge). 

I was going to stop but Gregor was suddenly available so I went one more set. That was great fun. Right off he took my arm, which I really though I'd had protected. He tried the whole time for my leg and didn't get it. I killed him twice, once with a slot. 

I was using a sword that was a bit heavy and was totally groomed by the end of the evening. I landed several shots over the course of the night that wrent good, buyi was very happy because my timing on them had been great. 

Now here's that thing: Brenan said to me "you fight much better when you are patient and counterpunch." Gregor said "you fight much better when you attack and press." Obviously that has a bit to do with their individual styles. Gregor can sit out at medium and long range and throw really fast shots that come in at weird angles and snipe you to death. He's a great offensive fighter, but like all offensive fighters (me) you can break his timing by attacking into his attack Brenan doesn't have that kind of offense. He is a patient, defensive fighter who either beats you on well timed counterpunches our waits for you to make a mistake. Essentially, they were both advising me to fight like they do.

I filed my letter of intent today. Used the new form. I lost my auth card (it might be ready to expire, I don't know), so I need to fix that ASAP. 

It is exactly six weeks till Crown. My next time in armor will be tomorrow at Iron Bog.