Friday, November 20, 2015
Ok: so I'm actually writing this post before starting my post on last week's Crown Tourney. I was pretty busy last week and there was a lot to write about. But I'm going to write this first because it's fresh in my mind. And it was a good practice. I'll publish it second.
I'm only getting to the gym once a week now. They've cancelled classes at my neighborhood gym and, after seventeen years and three locations, I'm thinking of dropping my membership. Have not missed a day of push-ups (50), and still getting 10,000 steps most days.
I ended up working a couple of things: controlling range, especially in the A Frame, and trying to develop my trigger fighting better. I used a variety of shots and defenses, but I think I only threw one thrust and that did not land. It is all about edge work right now.
It was Southern Region Sunday, so while it was a big practice most people were out there working on melee fighting. I was interested in training for singles. Ron had wanted to just do some singles training off to the side so I hung out there. We worked with a new trainee of Bill's and a few unbelteds. I fought one set each with Sir Mord, Jonathan, and .... (I'm not sure--I think there was another set...), two sets with Ron and three sets with Critter. I used three--actually four--different defenses: an A frame, a high open Western guard, a high closed guard (looking over the top of my shield), and a sword foot forward guard. I was flowing between them easily.
Critiques: when in the high closed guard I am still vulnerable to a slot shot. Ron noted that my lateral movement is too broad and is opening me up too much, especially to off side leg shots. I pulled a couple of off side hip shots, a common problem for me. I thought I was getting tunnel vision, especially against Mord.
Positive take aways: Ron said I'm fighting as well as he's seen me fight in the past few years. I killed him a couple of times. The best one was when I took his leg with a dropping leg wrap, a la Collin de Bray, and then killed him with a top edge hook.
Against Critter my counters were working. I found a great one that worked every time I threw it (he was using a center grip kite, which helped). I used to employ a small shield technique from Hauoc. Fighting in a weak (sword foot forward) high closed form, leaving the on-side leg open, when the leg is attacked, defend the leg with a rotation block while defending the arm, shoulder, and head with a hanging sword guard. On contact, you throw a shot straight down at the shoulder. Sometimes you will hit the head. I've killed dukes with big kite shields while I was using sword and buckler with this technique. I've used it with a bunny round and with a center grip kite, but it's never worked with heater shield. I hit Critter with it five times by starting in a standard strong (shield side foot forward) high guard and, as he threw at the leg, passing back on the left and doing the block/counter as above.
I found, no surprise, that my defense was best in the A frame, but Ron had little trouble taking it apart. I won most of my fights but was indecisive.
On the whole I felt slow.
There are 70 days until Birka. I don't know when my next time in armor will be (I will be missing 100 minutes this weekend for opening day of deer season).
Wednesday, November 18, 2015
This blog is late. Sorry. I’ve been very busy.
Crown was awesome.
There were lots of complaints about the marshaling. People were saying the marshals were interfering too much with the fighting. The marshals wanted to make sure everything was pristine and all the fighters understood that if they walked off the field the fight was over, and that if they weren’t satisfied they had to say so now. Marshals were also policing all conduct—not just calibration—heavily. Of course, last fall they were told they needed to get involved more, so they are in a no win situation.
But Crown was awesome.
I didn’t mean to take as many arms as I did (I don’t know the number). Several years ago I made a conscious decision to fight like an Easterner. One result of this was I stopped giving up my arm in fights. This was a big deal for me because in the West it is expected, and I like and am good at the single-sword fight. The Easterners have one of two reactions to that—they either ridicule you or (more common) they feel insulted. I’ve never in the East , in seventeen years living here, had someone, not even a duke, give up his shield for me after taking my arm. I did not target arms, but I took a lot of them, and I won all those fights because I kept my shield.
Crown was awesome.
I can easily count the number of times/days I’ve been in armor since the last crown: At Riverfest Demo, three days at Pennsic, Horic’s barbecue, Southern Region, once at Cloisters Demo, and once at McCarren Park. Since August, I’ve only fought with my short polearm. Not a good training regimen.
Still, Crown was awesome.
I was in a really tough pool. Of the six fighters who made it to quarter finals, three were out of our pool. Ouch. There were twelve fighters in our pool. The knights in our pool included myself, Duke Brion, Sir Luis de Castillo and Harold Haakonson. Among the unbelted fighters was Sterling, Fergus, Collin, and Hrafn Bonesetter, who (spoiler) went to the final round. I can’t remember all the other names, but most of them were very tough. I lost two fights in my pool, to Brion and to Collin. I normally fight Collin well, but he beat me pretty quickly. My biggest win, of course, was over Hrafn. He is a very good two sword fighter who uses more of a western than Milwaukee style—Double strikes and cross blocks. When I fight a two sword fighter, especially one who’s swords are out in front of him, I flatten my shield our and hold it slightly away from my body. This allows me to pick up his leg and body shots easier, as they are coming equally from both sides. I guard my head mostly with my sword. I close range, and then jam his swords with my shield, rotating it so that it covers as much side-to-side as possible, and crouching. Then I try to take their leg or thrust them in the chest/shoulder area. This is how I beat Hrafn. I took his leg then his arm then killed him. The loss to Brion was quick. I took both Sterling’s and Luis’ arms. My victory over Harold is on FaceBook (I can’t copy it here). It’s old school and beautiful.
My first fight in the round of sixteen was against—who else—Wulfhir of Stonemarche. This time he was fighting with a shield. A coffin-shaped shield—long and thin. He was way too hesitant. I took his arm and then killed him. He needed to be more aggressive.
My next fight was against Baron Simon, a pole arm fighter who (Spoiler) went to semi-finals. He was really, really tough. Against glaives I like to go into a low modified A Frame, presenting my thrusting tip. Sir Kuma says he can only see one of my eyes when I do it, making me really hard to hit. After a thrust I like to follow up and try to control the glaive with my shield while striking at the leg. I was defending really well, but eventually Simon took my leg and then stayed out. I turtled and tried to sucker him forward—that was the only time I was hunting an arm, and that because it was the only target that got close to me—but eventually he got me.
In the losers list I drew Duke Gryffith. About ten or twelve years ago I drew him in a tourney and one-shotted him with a simple molinee/head cut—like Radnor or Eric von Steinhouse used to throw. It’s a molinee at the head that misses, but the sword just follows around into a snap. After that one time killing him with it, Gryffith never fell for it again. I pull it out once in awhile—I’d used it on Collin in the pool, but he’d blocked it. I had not fought Gryffith in at least five years, maybe more, so I figured I’d try it again to see if he’d forgotten it. He had. After one-shotting a duke and knocking him out of the lists, I really didn’t care about what happened the rest of the day.
The next round I got to fight Ivan, who had so thoroughly destroyed me last crown. Last time he was super aggressive. This time he was cautious. We spent a good five minutes or more staring at each other. When we finally engaged, he was still just as fast, but my defense was a little bit better. I took his leg, then he took mine as I took his arm. I managed to kill him after that.
That led me into the quarter finals again. Because Ron had not yet fought Brion and I had, but Ron had fought Simon twice already, I got to fight Simon again so Ron didn’t have to face him a third time (He had won their fight in pool play). This time I fought Simon much better, but I was a bit fatigued, and he could still run faster backward than I was running forward. I did something I occasionally do—not just against polearm fighters but especially against them: I threw a spinning back fist. Sisiulle said “You know better than to show boat” but it wasn’t really show boating. I’ve won fights in crown with that shot, including against really good polearm fighters. When a pole fighter is using a right hand forward grip, he’s more vulnerable to shots from the off side, which is where the spinning back fist strikes. I timed it well, throwing it right after a thrust that missed to my right, so I wasn’t in danger of being hit while my back was turned. He picked it up, but that was ok. I got my weapon and my feet reset. Unfortunately, I didn’t get my shield reset. It was probably fatigue, or maybe I just wasn’t thinking. The combat computer had a glitch in it. Anyway, my shield was just a bit too wide to my left and he hit me with a thrust to the face. After the fight I realized that I had been too focused on his leg. I’d thrown a few cuts at his head while I was running him down. I picked up his leg shots well that second fight. I realized that he was circling mostly to my shield side, so I was able to cut him off a bit. But what I don’t think I did was throw a wrap. I was concentrating too much on trying to take the leg, which he had defended. I needed to throw a high wrap when I was close to him and he was blocking my leg shots.
ARRRGGGGHHHH!!!!!!!! For the third time (maybe fourth) since I moved here I got knocked out in the quarter finals. I have yet to make it to semi finals in an Eastern crown—which is where you can really call yourself a contender. On the other hand, only one guy beat me in the knock out round, and I went to quarters, which I hadn’t done in a while (I think since 2010).
Anyway, Crown was awesome.
My big take away is that I’m in a good space with my fighting. I fought really well. I continue to believe that I will win another crown one day.
The victor of the day was Duke Keneric over Hrafn in three straight. Vivat!
I’m skipping 100 minutes war because it’s (once again) opening day of deer season. It is 72 days until Birka. I don’t know when I will next be in armor.