Wednesday, May 21, 2014


I've fought in 89 Crown Tourneys and I'm still not a Duke.

This one was pretty awesome in a lot of ways. The fighting was beautifully intense, the local group was amazingly welcoming, the drive up and back through the Adirondacks quite pleasant, I had great travelling companions--William McCrimmon and Astrid Olafsdatter, I got to eat a double Teen burger and a root beer float at A&W Canada: it was a fun trip.

I also fought very well. I didn't do what I wanted to do--win--but I did a lot. I probably fought as well in this crown as I have in any since I moved here, even the two wherein I went to quarter finals.

There were three dukes and myself in the list, so each of us got seeded to separate pools. (the dukes were Conrad, Edward, and Omega). I finished first in my pool, undefeated, to make it into the round of sixteen. I then went three more rounds, to the round of twelve, before getting knocked out by Evaldr. My strategy was first, to stay alive--if you are the one alive at the end of the lists you've won. My other strategy was to fight a mostly defensive fight and keep everything simple.

Best to talk about the two fights I lost first. I lost to Evaldr and to Cullyn--two fighters whom I can beat as often as not (at least when Cullyn is fighting sword and shield as he was Saturday, and not polearm). I was a bit disappointed with those losses, but less so when both of them went to semi-finals.

Cullyn was doing what I was trying to do, only he was better at it. He was fighting a completely defensive fight, and mostly throwing one blow--a diagonal off side cut (a roverso fendente). He may have thrown a snap or two and a leg shot, but not at me. In the video, I think he throws one leg shot, and all the rest are off side shots aimed at my head or right shoulder. It was perfect. I probably should have been more aggressive--but being aggressive against him was what got me killed. I also should have attacked his off side. The video below is of Omega vs. Edward, but I can be seen fighting Cullyn in the background. It gets pretty much all of our fight including my death.

My fight with Evaldr had a bit more action in it. Although I didnt feel tired I think I was getting there, because I got sloppy as the fight went on. I also got increasingly frustrated, and trying to be trickier and trickier. At first I'm being very economical. Then I throw a stutter wrap (which almost get him) then I throw a stomp thrust, then (not necessarily in order) a spinning back hand, a thrust of a fake, a thrust off an off side, and a hook thrust. Most of them he voided by moving, primarilly to his right. Catching him going to his right was how I killed him at Birka.

I don't have video of my fight from the round of 16 (at least I haven't found any).

In my pool (of which there is no video because Tally, who took all the video I've seen so far, was fighting), I was fighting very well. I killed three knights, some very good unbelted fighters, and went undefeated. Of course, there are pools and there are pools: William's pool had both the finalists and one of the semi finalists in it. He went 3 and 5 and should probably be pretty satisfied. I would have had real trouble making it out of that pool.

The knights I fought in my pool were Luis, Antonio, and Sir Gareth Grey de Wilton from Tir Mara. 

My fight with Gareth was very satisfying and very old school. He was using a heater fought in a high open form. I saw this and kind of grinned. I took his leg with that Martin the Temperate leg shot (resting sword on shoulder, elbow straight out, wrist curled under, just fold the elbow into the ribs, open the wrist, and let the sword snap into the leg). Then I killed him with Fast Eddie's direction change shot, which has been working a lot for me lately. (Miss an off-side head shot, curl the pinky finger around so the sword does a really quick teardrop return, and hit him in the head). 

My fight with Antonio was long and hard. I eventually took his leg (dont' recall how) and then killed him. I know I planned, if I took a leftie's leg, to use Gui's punching shot to set up my attacks, which worked for me against Tycho recently, but I didn't. I didn't want to close range that tightly against him. 

Against Luis I got him with a body thrust. He fights with a Dane ax as his left hand weapon, going for punches or thrusts to the face, but I crossed him up. He thought I was going to throw a high body thrust that looped in from his left, but--as he stepped forward with his right shot and threw a snap, moving his ax to block what he thought I was doing, I threw a low-line body thrust from below and he ran right onto it. *snicker* 

I don't remember the details of my other fights, really. I double killed with a buckler fighter, who bit on my rising snap but hit me with an off side at the same time. I killed Tally with a shot straight down the middle that I hid behind my shield after I'd taken his leg. Not sure about There was tall lefty I hit with a double tap to the off-side head. All of that is kind of a blur. 

The lists as a whole were frighteningly savage. Watch the videos Tally shot of Semis and finals to see what I mean. 

I left a lot on the field. I know because my shoulders still ache from the effort four days later and my knees were weak on Sunday. I won my pool--undefeated, I killed three knights, I went to the round of 12, and I lost to the two semi finalists, who were having career best days. It was a good Crown and I'm pretty proud of how I did. 

It is 64 days until Pennsic. My next time in armor will be sometime next week. 

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Final Crown Prep

Last night I edged my shield and made a new sword (blade--I still have to put the basket hilt on it). Tomorrow I take the long drive up to Montreal. Time to assess. 

I know I can win this crown. It's a tougher list than the last one, but I am a tougher fighter right now than I was--my defense has improved considerably over the last six months. 

I'm still not settled on how I want my sword balanced with this new style. 

I'm in great shape aerobically--I'm outlasting a lot fo guys--but I don't know if that will be good deep in the list. 

I met few of my training goals. It was odd. My training dropped off at Spring Break when, because I had more time, it should have picked up. Mostly that was poor planing. 

Here were my goals as of February 15: 

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. 

The actual final tally looks like this: 
Total number of workouts = 130 
16 times total in armor
50 push ups every day
106.77 miles total biking/running/hiking (map my fitness doesn't break it out in their stats)
26 gym workouts
I fought in Mudthaw and two Beau Gests but nothing else. 

That last one bothers me. I really should have been able to be in armor twenty times, stomach flu and spring break not withstanding. Other than that I've been active, I'm in good shape, and I'm fighting well.

It is two days until Crown, which will be my next time in armor. 

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Nutley Practice, May 7, 2014

You really need to keep your equipment up—especially your swords. This is an issue for me, as I’ve been fighting a new style, one that works best with a lighter, hand heavy sword. The sword I’d been using was perfect about 50 layers of tape ago. Last night I fought like ass, in part because the sword would not move the way I needed it to. I did, however, get some new rattan, so that won’t be an issue at crown.

Since the last practice I went to, I’ve done two yoga classes, biked, walked, and done push ups every day. My workouts have not been what I’d planned three months ago. I have not been lifting weights very much, not been to many intense aerobics classes, just push ups and yoga, walking and biking, occasional running and using the Indian clubs. I’ve barely even touched the kettle bells.

All I wanted to work on last night was my A-Frame defense, my straight inside thrust and my off side head shot.

I only fought four opponents last night—Arn, Tycho, Gregor and Stephan. I fought long sets with each of them. My wind was good but my arms did tire a bit.

Against Arn I had more steam than he did at the end of our set. I felt really good about that. I took his leg and killed him. I think he slipped past my defense once, and that was after I’d started attacking more and going on offense.

Against Tycho I was trying a variation of the A frame, in which I cock my shield over, the point toward my off side, and hold my sword to the right and up to guard my head. He broke it down pretty handily. The times I killed him I took his leg. My main thing was a need to see is offense more—I was blinding myself.

I didn’t touch Gregor this time. He still couldn’t take my leg, and remarked on it, but he had my number otherwise. I was being just a bit more aggressive, and he was taking me to town. Our first bout I had planned to go for a stutter wrap, but he knew where I was going before I did, and when I got there his sword was waiting for me. It was perfect timing. He got me moving in a couple of times. He exposed my two biggest flaws. The first is that, when I bring my hands in to close off the center line in the A Frame I leave my sword arm exposed. The second is that when I get in tight I’m flattening my sword out. This was because with that tip heavy sword I needed the rotation to get any speed or power on my shots. But by flattening it out—holding it more or less parallel to the ground—I was taking it out of the equation, because he would just shoot above or below it and get me. I need to hold it at an upward angle like I do in the A frame, just a bit higher when I’m in close.

I didn’t touch Stephan either, but that is rare. He was the only person who was able to take my leg all night, and he got it twice. He said my defense is really improved. He can’t get me with his right cross any more, which is his payoff shot.  He ahs to work hard to open anything up. Making Stephan work is one of my life’s goal.

Afterward, my shoulder felt tense and a bit achy. I stopped after four fights in order not to strain it. I iced it after ward and it felt fine by the time I went to bed. He problem was the sword: I just can’t push a tip heavy sword into those shots from the A Frame defense. It is slow, probably light, and puts way too much work on the shoulder.

Crown is in nine days. This was my last practice till then.