Tuesday, June 10, 2014

On winning CAID Queen's Championship

In 1987, pursuing a career as a television writer that never came to fruition, I moved briefly to the kingdom of CAID. I had been spending time down south fairly regularly. Yaroslav the Persistent had a large household down there, Seitch Persistent, and a couple of years before the Seitch had merged with the tribe, so that members of one were considered members of another. In other words, I had a household, friends, and sword brothers ready and waiting for me when I got there. I didn't live in CAID long. My lady got a great job offer in San Francisco and a writers strike shut down Hollywood. I toughed it out for awhile but left sometime that summer--but not until after I fought in CAID Queen's Champion tourney. It was won by Njal Grimmson, who defeated Freewind Bahadur in the finals. I got knocked out by Njal sometime late in the tourney, I remember it as quarter finals, but it might have been earlier.

I think one of the things CAID does best is the Queen Champions tourney. It has expanded to include rapier and cut and thrust, but back then it was just armored combat. There is only a four month lag between crown and coronation in CAID, and Queen's Champion Tourney is the day after the coronation--the first order of business after that event. This means that in CAID, where they only have two crowns a year, there is a major Kingdom level tournament every four months and the Queen always has her own champion, not one whom she inherited. CAID does have a King's champion too, but that is the runner up from crown. Usually the winner of the tourney is named champion: In fact this past weekend, when Bridgit said she was going to choose her champion from among the combatants, it was so unusual that people said they'd never heard of that before. I've lived in two other kingdoms. In the East a tournament is held in whichever he winner is the King's champion and the queen chooses her champion from the competitors. In the West how the champion is picked varries from queen to queen. Usually he or she is simply appointed without a tourney, but it has been done the other two ways as well. They don't have a King's Champion. 

Ever since I lived in CAID I have had a fondness, a fascination, for that tournament, and I always wanted to fight in it again, and now I have. 

This blog is late, because I didn't write about Grant's Tomb practice last week. I Will cover that briefly. 

The same: push-ups every day, yoga, long walks  and occasional bike rides. I'm training for a mud run in three weeks, so I have to get out and do some running this week for sure. 

the only technique I was specifically working on at practice was my two weapon, which I normally fight sword and short-sword. (The short sword is an anachronism left over from the days in the West before low-profile thrusting tips, when only two weapons, short swords  and glaives, could have thrusting tips and still be considered "knightly," meaning you could not refuse to fight them in the lists. It could be a gladius or a cinqueda or even a Bowie knife as well as a true shortsword. It was my knight's favorite weapon). I took it out against Arn, the champion of Rusted Woodlands, a fairly new freighter who is one of those naturals. He said he didn't think that could be a very good style, but I killed him six or seven times  losing once. I fight that at range and take advantage of my visibility. I use the same offense that I use sword and shield, and rarely attack with the knife following the advice of George Sliver-- but like Silver I do use the short sword to pin my opponent's arm, which worked against Arn and shocked him. When I take someone's leg, I switch the sword to a dagger grip to guard my own leg, and then I will use it for face thrusts. I got him with this as well. 

I fought Arn again with Sword and Shield as well as Lou, Samalle, Ansel, and I think Zack, It was a great practice, with nine fighters, three of whom were knights. I did get Lou with a great technique. He fights sword and great ax, like a maud with an ax head on it. I attacked his ax handle with a down award cut. He is used to people sweeping the handle and then trying to come with a cut to the off side or a snap, but much like I do when I use the Fiore technique against Madus, I let contact with his weapon stop the momentum of mine. Then I just turn it into a body thrust. I made this variation up on the fly, and it worked. 

You don't win a major tourney every day. In fact, although I've won some small tourneys recently, I think the last truly big tourney I won was Crown, and that was 20 years ago. I did not go to CAID planning to win Queen's Championship. I went because my squire, Agrippa, was being crowned King. I expected to hover around, see some old friends, suit up and have some fun. Instead i got to accomplish a goal I've had for 36 years. 

I'm sorry, I wasn't fighting people I know well, so I don't recall names. I also was in kind of a fog for half the day and it all runs together. I can point out a few things, however. 

Agrippa made a speech on which he quoted Sun Tzu about winning with ease. Part of the quote described how the great fighters of old would make themselves invulnerable to loss and then await until their opponents gave them an opportunity to kill them. This is probably where Radnor got his saying "we let our opponents tell us how they would like to be killed." This ended up being my day for the most part. I was using a borrowed sword and shield but my own armor (with the gamboised cuises, because I was flying). The sword was Agrippa's and it was tip heavy, and heavier than I use these days, and the shield was a large center grip oval. I could not use most of my regular offense and defense--the center grip meant I could not do a hook-thrust, the sword was a touch slower on the second shot than I like, but it was a perfect sword for some Bellatrix technique. The big shield was big, and saved my leg once or twice, but it also got me killed in my one loss before the finals. 

My first bout was against an unbelted fighter with a tear drop kite. He was very solid. I was told everything about this guy--he's super aggressive, he lays back, he can't hit hard, he is really tricky, he's a push over, he will give you real trouble. I found him to be very solid. If the blow he landed on my calf is any indication he has no problems with power. I can't remember how I won't the fight. 

I fought a polearm fighter named Renfield. Like Sir Diablu, he holds his pole straight up int he air right in front of him. This got him killed. It meant I could set up closer than I would against most polearm fighters, and I was able to pick up his first blow pretty easily. I only had to take one step to be in range. I stepped in, took his leg,and killed him. 

I fought a lady on the Queen's Guard named Blue. She was tough and had a good defense. She used a pointed triangular kite shield, one with no curves, and it kind of got her killed. I started her out with a rising snap, and then a straight thrust. Neither worked. Then in a flurry I took her leg. expecting me to wrap to her head, she set up in kind of an a frame, which exposed her whole torso. The straight line of her shield made the gap even mor pronounced. The first time I thrust there she covered it but the second time she didn't. 

There are two tall Liams. One is a knight and the other is his man at arms. They are both about six six or seven and built like oak trees. The man at arms is left handed, and he is the one I fought. He was fast and strong but inexperienced. I tried my usual opening against a leftie -- the step through off side attack and it didn't work. Neither did Gui's punch shot. But he was setting up way over to the left side with his shield, and I took his shield arm as a result (because he is so tall. A normal sized fight would gave been Hilton the head) It being CAID, I gave up my shield (which I have stopped doing since I made the switch to fighting like an Easterner). We had a long fight with single swords because I was being cautious. I used the Fiore sword in one hand technique, Radnor's technique in which a faked body shot draws the defense out and then a back hand is aimed at the head, and my usual Rolf inspired technique in which I hold the sword cocked in front of me and use short cuts. That's the best defensive style. I eventually threw a double strike, the first time hitting his sword and the second time passing beneath it to hit him in the body. 

About this time I took my loss. I fought Kuma, a big power lifter who is supposedly the top polearm fighter in the kingdom. That was an intense fight. He tried to draw me out of my defense but I wouldn't let him. I followed his attacks and closed behind them, but could not hit him. His footwork was really good. At one point I could tell I had him a bit frustrated because he asked how I was able to see him with only one eye--that was all I was allowing to peek from behind my shield, and that was defended by my sword. Eventually, however, I had to close. The third or fourth time I did so he struck while I was striking--three quick blows that were so strong, even though I blocked all three of them, they blew right through my shield. The first one had been good but I couldn't fall down fast enough. ThAt is how the center grip got me killed. He was so strong he was able to just brush it aside. 

I fought a fighter I can't name in green and black with a 24" round shield, I thought ah! My specialty, but again none of me stuff was working. I threw a rising snap, nope. I threw Martin the Temperate's leg shot. Nope. But I noticed that he was trying to use the Hauoc technique of leading with the weak side, parrying with the shield in 2 and the sword in 5 (a saber parry) and then cutting. unfortunately for him, he was striking an onside blow out of it, whereas an offside slot shot would be more effective. I was fighting a closed form, as close to an A frame as I could with the center grip, with the shield protecting my left side and the sword my right. As he stepped forward, guarding in that same window parry, I just shot thrust  down the middle and he ran his face right onto my sword. That was how he wanted to be killed. 

Then I was in Semi finals against Germanicus, another pole arm fighter. He was tough as well. He had seen what Kuma had done and tried to circle to my shield side to blind me, but I just adjusted and followed him. Both our fights were long and exhausting, in our first fight I closed behind his attack and eventually took his leg and killed him. In our second fight he tried to close with me and throw some back edge attacks but I was too close to him for that and I hit him in the head. Afterword he said "man! You East Kingdom boys really bring it! I'm glad you don't come to any of our wars!"

In the finals I faced Duke Sven. Another leftie taller than I. That's my bane, tall lefties. In the first fight I managed   to hit him with a off side head shot in the middle of an exchange. In the second he got me with a nice one-two across the face. In our third fight I took his leg and noticed that he was setting up to defend the wrap so I figured "what the hell," and threw Patrick Livathan's behind the back shot, which I'd never tired against a leftie, and he fell over. Cheers. 

I may be forgetting a round in here. Like I said, a blur. 

I had a lot of advantages. There were very few knights in the list and I didn't fight any of them till I faced Sven in the finals. I had never fought any of the people I faced before so they didn't know what to expect.  I was out of kingdom--I had nothing at all to prove and no pressure (unlike at a Crown for which I'd trained for three months). 

In every one of those fights I went in with a plan that did not work, and in every one of the fights I won, I looked at my opponent and, often in the middle of an exchange, I saw how they wanted to be killed and I killed them, just like Sun Tzu and Radnor told me to. 

After the finals I made a speech about how I had lived in CAID and was a a member of the Seitch. Which Duke Sven had belonged to as well--he was one of Jaroslav's squires--and how I learned that shot from a CAID Duke. At court I told of how I had lost to Njal Grimson back in 1988, and so this win was a dream I had never thought would come true. Her majesty and I talked about it and she wanted me to  be her champion. Since I will be at Pennsic and hopefully Great Western War as well, I will serve as her champion there and Duke Sven will act in my stead the rest of the time. 

I must admit, I have been giddy for three days. I am the Queen of CAID's champion. How cool is that? 

There are 34 days until Pennsic. My next time in armor will be at Riverfest this Sunday. Because I'm playing Hamlet this July (like us on FaceBook--Hamlet Unmasked) it will be my last time in armor till Pennsic. 


Boreal said...

I just happened to stumble across your blog whilst researching helms for my fighter (his was second hand to begin with and has never fit well). As one in the crowd during the Queen's champion tourney I just wanted to congratulate you on your victory and also let you know what a joy it was to watch you fight. The killing blow of the tourney was incredible to see. Well landed Sir! Looking forward to seeing you in action again at Great West!

s muhlberger said...

What a great story and a great experience! Congratulations!