Thursday, December 17, 2015
On small shields and the rule of three.
I went to practice Sunday. I'm having surgery and will be out for six weeks, so I wanted to fight.
I'm pretty good with a small shield. By small shield I mean one that is 24 inches long or less. There used to be a western conceit that a smaller shield would beat a bigger shield even in the hands of a less experienced fighter. It's not really surprising that they believed this, since small shields were really all they knew. And besides, there was some evidence of the best fighters used the smaller shields. Between AS 5 and around AS 30 or so, The most dominant fighters in the SCA, judging at least by international reputation as well as by the success at the big inter kingdom wars, we're all coming out of the West or their former principalities of Atenveldt and An Tir: Paul of Bellatrix, Radnor, Torgul, Jade, and Brion. With the exception of Brion, they all used either 24 inch round shields, 22 inch bunny rounds, or relatively small center grips. The belief was that the smaller shield give you better visibility and a better offense, while you could use a big shield against the wielder.
There was a lot of social pressure do use a smaller shield as well. Some people did not maintain the smaller shield was superior, but there was a strong belief that using a bigger shield was unchivalrous. I won both my royal tourneys with a 32 inch long heater shield. By both the bio metric measures that were in use at the time, inseam length or length of your torso chin to pubis (if you know anything about ideal proportion's you know that that should be the same measurement) this was the proper shield length for me at 6' 3". And yet I was often told that my shield was way too big and unchivalrous.
However, I also spent a lot of time using a 24 inch round shield, a 24 inch bunny round, and occasional smaller shields as well. It was the aesthetic with which I grew up.
I made my 10,000 steps per day, and my 50 push-ups per day, during the last weeks. In fact I haven't missed my push-ups in almost 2 years, though that will change beginning tomorrow. I've also been doing some work with the Indian clubs.
A BRIEF DIGRESSION
last Monday we did hold a practice and McCarren Park. I did not fight but I did do some training. I did all of my work with unarmored fighters. There were two fighters and armor, and three new people without armor. I got all five of them to work with me doing warm-ups. I taught them my wrist stretches, how to warm up swinging the broadsword holding the blade, I showed them hammer exercises, Zach showed them the pipe exercise. We did some striking and walking drills, and that I taught them about the time of the hand body and foot, and the medieval strikes: fendente, mezanno, and sottano, from both sides, and a thrust. The key was not actually the strikes, it was stepping properly for each strike (passing forward on the side you are striking, but always following the hand). Afterward we did slow work.
Two of my most useful techniques are the rule of three and striking out of tempo. I vary my tempo in a couple different ways--through breathing (striking between breaths or out of time with my breathing), moving my body in a different tempo to my sword, or setting up a rhythm and then breaking it. The best way I've found, at least for me, is to switch between and old school Bellatrix style and a more modern sword forward style, which strikes faster. Sometimes, when you switch from the faster to the slower style, you can strike behind someone's block.
The rule of three I've explained before. Do something twice then break the pattern on the third time. These are what I was working on.
There were three knights in armor besides me--Ron, Mord, and William. I fought all three of them, plus three unbelted fighters. My defense in the A frame was very solid. I transitioned out of it to a standard high closed form against Ron, and that got me killed, as my shield lagged out of position. Still, Ron rated my defense as excellent. My best moments against Ron involved high wraps, which he normally defends very well. I killed him once with a stutter wrap and once when he pushed his defense to his right I countered with the high wrap. That was one of the best kills I've landed on him.
The rest of my fights I worked on triggering attacks to the off side--that's where you throw the off side head in time with and over your opponent's attack. It's the most effective counter. I also worked in some changes in tempo. Against one fighter I switched to a Belatrix style, became super aggressive, used his counter hip technique without success, then used the rule of three--fake high/throw low, fake high/throw low, fake high/rising snap. That worded.
Harold's squire is using a small center grip peaked heater, probably 22 or 24" long. One of the unbelt's was razzing him about how small his shield was (he's not tall, so it's not that small on him). I said "I'll fight you with that shield." His reply was that he'd tear my leg off if I used that shield, so I picked it up and said "let's go." I one shorted him. I used Hauoc's high closed weak form, baiting with the left leg open but back, and when he threw for it blocking low with the shield, a high hanging guard with the sword, and firing straight down on contact. Since he's reaching for the leg his head and left shoulder are always open. Then I fought him in the standard Western high open form. In our last fight he thought he had me after we were both legged, but u killed him by sitting down to change the angle of my shot.
I'm about to go in for hernia surgery (really, in writing this in pre op). I don't know my next time in armor.