Saturday, September 27, 2014

Grant's tomb and Wantagh

I started this bog on Sunday 9/14, right after the Beau Geste at Grant’s Tomb practice, but I didn’t finish it that night and for a lot of reasons (work work work) I’m just getting back to it. Too bad, because I have a few interesting things to say.

So here is a simple truth: most SCA fighting is based on the broadsword. Impact weapons aren’t fast with that second shot, but they are really good for rising snaps and high wraps. Some of the best Florentine fighters use the same sword work that sword and shield fighters use. I learned a long time ago that a great sword is just a big broadsword, and I can throw lots of the same fakes with it that I would with my broadsword.  That is the basis for the Bellatrix greatsword style: with the variation of a slightly wider stance, it uses the same body mechanics as broadsword, and the right hand travels in pretty much the same arc.

 I left my shield at home for the Beau Geste.  The biggest reason was I’ve had a mild tendonitis in my elbow. It started at the feast last Satruday after Barleycorn. I have a strong suspicion that it’s because I was using my steel arms and not my leather ones (my bauzbauds are with Torvaldr getting shortened, but I just found that I have my old leather arms downstairs. I thought they were in California. However, with elbow pain I decided that 5 pieces 16 ga elbows were just a better idea to I stuck with those). Also, I intend to have to fight with greatsword at Crown.

I also went out to Wantagh practice last Thursday. I hauled my gear to the subway, took that to the LIRR, from Wantagh station I packed my armor over to the church where practice is held (only about two blocks). Unfortunately, Tycho had forgotten his helmet and the only other person in armor was Bob Fox.

It’s been really, really hard to get workouts in. It’s not that I don’t have time, it’s my new schedule I have a 5 AM alarm Monday and Wednesday (it should actually be 4:30, but I’m trying to stay a bit sane), a 5:30 alarm on Tuesday and a 6:30 alarm on Thursday. I’ve got lots and LOTS of time to work out—Monday and Wednesday I’m done by 9 AM-- and a gym that’s open from noon till 9PM four days a week at school. Trouble is, I’m barely able to stay awake. I only have an afternoon class on Friday, so I slept in, but I *still* slept 12 hours Friday night. So it was 50 push ups every day, Indian club workouts, one kettle bell workout, and one nice bike ride on Friday (7.5 mile commute each way).

Since the 14th my workouts have picked up. I’ve been to two Yoga classes, I’ve been to the gym twice, I’ve been doing pushups every morning and Indian clubs most nights. Sunday I did a bench press WOD and pressed a personal best of 205—not a lot, but a lot for me. I also got in some cycling and a walk across the Brooklyn Bridge.  Yesterday I did the same gym workout, only instead of bench press I warmed up with dumbells and then did a clean and press from the floor with a 50 pound dumbell, ten times each arm, which is another personal best.  Those pushups are working.  

I was trying to return to my roots with the Bastard sword—the Kenjitsu based techniques that Elric taught me long ago, the Belatrix based techniques that I studied for a long time. That went out the window as soon as we laid on.

At Wantagh I was just fighting to fight, with no real plan for working on any technique.

 There were only four fighters at Grant’s Tomb—Brian (the Brian from Loch Laven, not Avran), Nikolai, myself and Gui. I was fighting with my two handed sword. (a lot of people call it a bastard sword, but to me a bastard sword is about four feet long and this is five. It has a handle about 16 inches long, which is way longer than a bastard sword). 

I warmed up against Nikolai. He got me once. I hit him using what is essentially a Kendo technique: stand in long point with my right foot forward and, as he throws, raise my sword, pass off line to the left, and hit him in the shoulder. I got him once more on a short chop to the head.
I found that most of the day I was passing back and firing,

We fought  a modified bear pit format. We each took turns holding  the field against the three others, meaning each of us got six fights total, but wins and losses only counted when you were holding the field.  Theottetically, we could have ended up with a four way tie. But we didnt’. Gui won handily.

I won both my fights against Brian and split my fights with Nikolai (although I beat him when I was holding the field). I found that I was not using any of the Bellatrix technique. I did kill Brian once with the disengage thrust I made up thirty years ago (Fake a thrust to the face, circle down toward the right and back up, then thrust to the face of neck). Gui just destroyed me.

I had a few sword and shield fights with Nik and also , after his shield broke and he took the one I had been borrowing, I did that silly thing with the upside down greatsword in lieu of a shield. On instinct, I used it to thrust him in the chest once. I fought those fights pretty well.

I had more to say ten days ago.

Thursday against Bob Fox I learned a valuable lesson. Bob has a snap that goes straight down. Usually when someone throws a straight down shot it’s a chop. It follows a wide arc, and I just move off line to the left and throw an off side, and they are usually open: but Bob’s isn’t a chop, the way most people throw it, it’s a snap. It’s a snap that comes straight down. This means that I can’t tell if it is going to be a regular flat snap or one that will travel downward until it breaks, which is too late to step around it and, besides, I run the risk of walking into it if it is indeed a flat snap. The important thing that I learned was not that, it’s that this technique eats my A Frame up. It’s really hard to defend against. When I fought a high closed style, when I fought a Bellatrix style, when I just grabbed the initiative and attacked, I won nearly all of those fights. But when I fought my A Frame, the way I would if it were a crown, Bob beat me up and stole my lunch money. It’s a very valuable lesson. Any center line attack is going to be effective against that A frame/boxer style.  Because I don’t have a downward shot in my repertoire, I’d never figured that part out. Inside line thrusts I was aware of—both throwing them and the need to defend against them—but not that downward snap.  

It is 35 days until Crown. My next time in armor will be at the Cloisters this Sunday.      

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