It's good to get out and to hit and be hit. It's what we do. In the SCA we literally earn our stripes. Last night I earned three good ones on my thighs, one across my forearm, and--the worst/best one--a deep stripe across my left calf that, through my Demi-cuise, gave me a wicked Charlie horse, one that will make walking up that hill to CCNY more annoying than ever.
Next I fought Breeder, whom I must stop obsessing over. He is one of the five or six guys that, while I can occasionally beat them, I am unable to crack in a tourney where it really counts. The only time I've beaten Breeder is in Birka. However, I started out intending not to try to beat him. I set up and rotated through all of my standard leftie set-ups to see what he would do. I wanted to see his opening technique--his first-fastest shot. I began in the A Frame for two fights, and he killed me with two-shot combinations right away. I was surprised at that, because I was set up in a strong defensive position. He uses a rainbow offside for his second shot, (I need to figure out if it is a back-edge hit, probably, in which case I think it would be the blow Duke Anton from Atlantia used to throw), and that dropped well over the top of my shield, and it was lightning fast. I had similar results setting up in a classic Bellatrix (though I made a mistake with that--the same one I was making against Zack on Sunday), a high guard a-la Phillip Harlech of Exeter, Gui's cross guard style--wherein my shield is pushed all the way over to the left and my off-side head is guarded by a sword placed way over to the right, my boxer stance, and a classic "ox" guard, with the sword held high at a downward angle and the tip threatening his face. I've had the best success against Breeder with the boxer and the ox (at least since I switched to this heater shield: my best success against him in total was using Gui's ward with a center-grip kite shield). This is my old bad habit of not fighting my own style and trying to copy others, but in this case it was more for information sake than trying to win fights. Some of our fights went longer, some were fast. In all of them I was trying to see what he would do. Where he used the same one-two combo he had dusted me with when I was in the A-frame, but he wasn't married to it. The thing he seemed to keep coming back to was a very good on-side head followed by a thrust, relying on the fact that his opponents are usually staying out on him. I closed once and had some success. I did take his leg by stepping wide to throw a short wrap, but he killed me. The only time I killed him was on my knees. He was over blocking a lot, and I hit him with an off-side head has he stepped in for a deep wrap, which I managed to block as I threw my blow. My boxer was not very effective at all the one or two bouts I used it in. He said that, like Rangaldr (who is the main source for that technique) I was squatting to much, and it was causing me to square up. A couple of times, I stepped wide to go for short wraps and he nailed my left leg. It just doesn't work very well with him. I end up to square and he nails me.
Vasilly fights like a bull. He's stocky and incredibly strong, and he uses a short heavy sword. He wants to rush in and cream you, and he hits very hard. I got him with a couple of shots as he was coming in, once a stutter wrap. Backing out, I was able to get him to expose his legs a lot. His defense is tight when he's on his knees, so I ended up getting frustrated with edge work and just using a thrust to either kill him or set him up. Big problem with these fights was he hit me low four times, including once in the calf that, through my demi-cuise, gave me a charlie horse that is killing me right now.
The last person I fought was Jan Janovitc. At some point in my fight with Vasilly, my nice mandrake thrusting tip tore off the end of my sword, so I was forced to fight without one. Jan fights a very western-influenced style, so I kind of fell into old patterns, and I did very well. My sword was too short for a lot of my techniques and I ended up just missing or hitting just with the tip on blows that in the old days would have worked. As always, I was bailing out of my off-side leg shot and pulling it, and I landed a beautiful slot-body shot that he did not feel much of at all: but I was having a lot of fun fighting my own style, high semi-open form with a light sword and only edge work. Jan doesn't have the one shot that really destroys me in that style, because he starts with his sword too far back to throw it (it has to start from in front and preferably from an A frame--which, since so many people around here do use an A-frame, I've had to abandon the way I grew up fighting). I enjoyed fighting a style that I could vary open/closed, long/short, high/low, throw complex combinations, big fakes, and vary my timing with. It was fun with both of us fighting so that most of our blows followed Radnor's axiom of starting from behind the head and decide what to target as your hand gets in front of your head. Probably my best fight of this pass was our last, when I managed to come in close, tie him up, step out and take his leg along the way and, then, after lots of different attempts to break him down (and lots of catching myself thinking about a thrust, stepping out, and having to remember what I used to do without a thrusting tip), kill him the way I killed Radnor in practice back in 94 or so (the time I realized that I could actually beat him with intention and not just luck), by throwing a flurry of blows that finished with a top-edge hook and an on-side head shot.
As an added bonus, here is video shot by Tina Degenhart, not from Nutley but from Sunday in Iron Bog. No sound. My fights with Sir Mord start at 6:07. My fights with Zack start at about 9:06. You can see clearly where he hits me in the cup. I think in that last fight, where I was just trying to be super aggressive, he kills me three times before I can say "good." In these videos I look slow, my targeting is way off, and I wonder why I keep doing this stuff.
It is 51 days until Crown Tourney. My next time in armor will be most likely be at Wantagh practice a week from today.