Monday, September 8, 2014

Grant's Tomb and John Barleycorn.

After John Barleycorn.

Crown will be November 1, opening day, which sucks. It will be in southern New Hampshire, which is almost as close as it could have been this time since it had to be in the Northern Region. 

I managed to fight twice last week, and Grant’s Tomb on Sunday and on John Barleycorn on Saturday. We had thought Barleycorn was going to be a disaster. Rain was forecast, we didn’t know if any fighters would show: but it turned out to be a great event., especially for fighting!

I managed one Yoga workout and one Kettle Bell workout last week, plus I did pushups every day. I have to kick that up a notch.

I was really trying to work on distance. I wanted to fight mostly at my max range. This was good in all my fights but especially important against Gui.

There were four of us in armor: myself, Sam, Tycho, and Gui. Two lefties, two righties, two knights, two unbelted fighters.

I was in training mode fighting Sam. I warmed up against him with some slow work then we did some situational drills. We did a few straight up fights,  then block and strike drills. Then a few more fights. Sam is getting much better but he is not good for me. I have a tendency to fall into old fun habits against Sam because he is not good enough to beat them, and because he is trying to learn a Bellatrix style and that’s the old habit I like most.  The result is that I get a bit of indecision in whether to fight my current A-Frame style, where I need to work, or to fight the fun fight, which is what he is fighting, and do stuff that I don’t do against the better fighters. Of course I usually go for the fun fight.

Against Tycho I was nice and tight. I got him (he’s a leftie) with a shot where I wrapped to the body and, when he blocked it, I turned it into a thrust. That’s the one blow I really remember.

I fought two passes with Gui.  He had been watching Duke Branos’ fighting video  viewed here:
So he was fighting an A Frame, which he never does. Totally freaked me out and he clobbered me. I mean it was embarrassing.

Our second pass I did much better. I fought him well in both the A Frame and the high guard. When he went into a high guard I stabbed him in the belly behind his shield. When he went into the A frame I threw thrusts at his inside line. It worked a lot better than the first time. I found that, for the first time ever, I was timing his leg shot. He would throw it and I managed to block and throw in half-time a wrap to his head.  I hit him with it three times.

So there had not been a lot of fighters showing up to Barleycorn lately.  Last year I think there were four of us. This year Gui and I had made a big push to get more fighters there. Tormundr made a really cool bar mace as a prize for the tourney, plus Sir Edward’s Unbelted Challenge was also taking place. It turned out people wanted that bar mace. There were eight fighters taking part in Sir Edward’s tourney. Six of those fought in the second tourney, plus five knights: myself, Sir Balin, Duke Conrad, Duke Keneric, and King Brenan. Umm, yeah. Top heavy!  J

The list was a double elimination fight, best two out of three, with a challenge round. In the challenge round I was the last fighter left and was picked by Avran.  He wanted to fight great weapon, so we ended up using His Majesty’s matched Danish axes (no thrust, which saved my bacon in our first fight). The first fight I used it the way I normally fight Great Ax, thumbs opposed and fighting like it’s a pugil stick. This worked well. Second fight I used it like an ax, short grip at the bottom of the haft, longer swings. That was more satisfying, as I used a good technique to win, avoiding Avran’s blow and hitting him on the head from Vom Tag.

My second fight I drew Brenan. In our first fight I started out in an A Frame but switched quickly to a high guard and he showed me right away why I don’t fight that style out here—hit me in the face with that little flick from the A Frame guard that travels right down the top of my shield and into my nasal. My second fight I went into an A Frame and we fought for some time before I killed him with a hook thrust. The third fight I got sneaky. Jade has this this thrust that is like Bruce Lee’s  floating punch. It’s designed to look like it’s not coming. It’s kind of an attitude/no attitude technique. You circle to the right, out of range, relaxed, shield and sword  at your side. You step with your left foot to just outside range, then pass on your right into range, raising your sword from your side but, instead of bringing it up to a guard position, you extend it into a face thrust , turning the knuckles slightly up so that the tip drops a bit as it comes over the shield.  I put it right into his left eye.  It’s the fourth tourney in a row that I’ve beaten Brenan.

Next I fought Duke Keneric. In one of our fights he took my leg and then I put a thrust up the inside of his shield as he hit me, so we double killed. The other two fights he did what he usually does, took my leg (once by switching from a sword foot lead to a shield foot lead, changing the angle and getting a deeper passing step), then killed me with that wicked deep off side that is almost a butterfly shot. They were good long fights and I managed to take him off his game a bit with my thrusts, but in the end he got me.

Next I fought Tycho. I was really proud of my second kill because I changed the angle of that shot. I was throwing a shot that could have been a wrap from slightly to his right but, on the fly, I pulled my elbow in, pushed my shoulder up, and hit him with the true edge in the face.

My last fights were with Balin. Those were awesome. He is one of the top two sword fighters in the kingdom but he hasn't been active for several years. But he was at Pennsic and has been getting back in, and he is still pretty amazing. I think we double killed but I’m not sure. He took my right arm and I took his left at the same time, then we got into a single sword fight until he took my left arm. Our last fight he took my leg then got me with a body/head combo and landed them both. In that last fight I almost got him with a  thrust, but in my single sword fight I had picked up Gui’s sword to guard my right hand and afterward kept hold of it. It’s shorter than my sword by more than an inch, and with that extra length the thrust might have counted. I always feel with Balin like I just need to improve my timing and I can beat him. He creates a lot of slop. His sword blocks are so crisp and he’s got some nice sabre technique, and it’s a really fun fight.   

At some point during dinner my right elbow, inside, started to hurt. I may take it easy this week. I’ll still do my pushups.

To illustrate what I was talking about regarding fighting Sam, Here’s a video of me fighting Arn. Arn is a talented fighter, but new. He doesn’t have the experience to know what to do against a style he’s never seen. I described this fight back on June 10, ( . That stands out to me in this video is my indecision as to what style to fight. You can see me switch back and forth from a high open form to an A Frame. If Arn had thrown shen Iw as in that transition he would have pasted me.

It is 54 days until Crown. Unless I feel really good on Thursday, or end up going to River War in Iron Bog, my next time in armor will be Sunday at Grant's Tomb. 

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