Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Nutley Practice 12/14/16, and a word about a squire

Prince Kido

My squire Kido was one of the best fighters I've ever had the privilege to know or cross swords with. He came into the SCA an accomplished martial artist, a judoka who also practiced a Chinese spear technique, which made him instantly one of the best polearm fighters in the kingdom. The thing that stood out about him was that he was good--amazingly good--at anything he decided he wanted to be good at. You should have seen him dance. He surfed, which was amazing for a guy his size. He didn't really understand the SCA or the middle ages. He was always amazed by things that most of us take for granted. He was also arrogant, and left a trail of anger and destruction in his wake. He told stories about himself that seemed to be total bullshit, but at least in the fighting arena and the singing arena he could back them up. He had a habit of winning martial arts tournaments and then breaking the trophies he'd won because they were meaningless to him (though he didn't do this in the SCA). All that mattered was beating his opponents. He was a true samurai: the only things he respected were beauty and the sword. Combined with the arrogance of a samurai was the arrogance of a Sicilian. He lived large (we was large) and loved fiercely and apologized to no one. He embarrassed a lot of knights by being instantly as good as many of them, quickly better than most of them, and never apologizing for the effrontery of kicking their asses.

He was also a classically trained operatic tenor.

One of my favorite memories of Kido was not an SCA memory. It was at Northern Ren Faire. We were part of the combat show. Our bit was two shows a day fighting with SCA weapons but, essentially, BOTN rules. Grappling and throws were ok, you lost when you went to ground. Often we'd fall down after three or five stiff head shots, but otherwise it was like steel fighting with rattan weapons. We started our first little melee and somebody tried to grapple with Kido and he shoved him aside. Then he turned to me and said "wait a minute! I can throw people, can't I?" I said yes, and from that moment on he became a whirlwind. He was like a man among boys, wading through the scrum and tossing people aside, using his spear as a lever and sweeping their legs. He won every fight that day. It wasn't even close. And he grinned that huge kami grin of his the whole time.

Kido was also among the kindest and funniest men that I knew. He had no fear about anything. He would laugh hard and always made me laugh with him. He had an odd mix of fat jolly Sicilian and fat jolly Japanese. If there was a literary character whom Kido resembled, a lot of people would say it was Falstaff, but it wasn't (Anghoise was Fallstaff--it's a long story).  Kido was Porthos. He was not the brightest bulb, but was fiercely loyal. He was not as tall as Porthos, but he was incredibly strong ("Porthos, please kill this fellow with a single blow.") He was funny and charming and just good. He was also a peacock. That's Porthos.

Kido died yesterday. His health had been failing him for a long time and he had both diabetes and congestive heart failure. As one of our friends put it that big heart of his was bad. I am sad, of course for the loss of a cherished member of my family, and for one of my best friends: but, as a knight, I'm full of regret. Kido was my biggest failure. He came in fighting with a polearm, and he was great. I taught him sword and shield, and he was great with that too. I should have been able to get him knighted. He had the skill--hell, he had more than enough skill. He won Mists coronet three times (reigned twice--long story). In the mid-nineties, he was better than probably two thirds of the knights in the West.  If I'd ever been able to teach him that humility virtue, and get him to keep his mouth shut for six months. he'd have been knighted long long ago. But I couldn't. If I'd stayed in kingdom I'm sure he would have stayed the path, because at that moment in time he was just, right, almost, right there: but I didn't and he didn't. I will bear that failure forever now.

I'd give almost anything right now to be able to cross swords with him again, or point at somebody and say "Kido, kill that guy," or to watch him do an aerial somersault over a legged opponent and hit him with a back hand (an amazing feat for a guy that big), or to see him do his Buddha imitation, or (damn!) to hear him sing Pagliaci. But I won't see any of those things ever again. And I'll never pass on my belt to him either. He once pointed to me and said "that belt is a legacy. I expect to wear it some day." He never did, and god-dammit he should have.

NUTLEY on 12/14
I hadn't fought since Crown because of injury and the play. Plus my new glasses had been giving me headaches, which is not something you want before you fight. I was going to wait till after I got back from California to get back into armor, but Tim had brought some people out from AEthelmarc, and I had to go out and play.

I had been wanting to work on my vertical technique, my distance game, precision shots, and my attitude without attitude, the Radnor stuff. This was mostly to build off some good work I'd done at Crown. I used the A-Frame a bit as well, but fell into it as a secondary thing. I'm trying to find a happy medium between the high closed guard and the A-Frame, which is somewhere around where Greggor sets up. Technically it's an A-Frame because he's looking past the front edge of his shield and not over it, so the corner of his shield is guarding his on-side head, but his sword is held higher than in a traditional A-Frame, cocked to make it easier to throw an on-side head shot. Working on this exposed both my arm and my leg, and both got taken a couple of times as a result.

However, I started out each set with a classical Bellatrix fight, and I won all but one of those.

I had a plan and I stuck to it, which was to fight only five sets, and to make one of those sets with Tim. I love fighting Tim. Tim also wanted a piece of me because, he said, I totally kicked his ass at AEdult Swim. I looked back over my notes from that set, and it doesn't seem like I did, but he wanted to beat on me badly.

I did really well against ArnNe. I started out with a Bellatrix technique and it flustered him. I got him, once again, mostly with high wraps. He did manage to take my arm three times because of how I was trying to adjust my guard. Well, once I went for a stupid leg shot and he got me with that deep off side he loves so much, which I knew would be the result.

These fights went 50/50. I won t he first one by taking his leg with a triple strike and then working him for awhile, eventually landing a butterfly with a hook. He got me with two rising snaps, one when I was in an A-Frame, which isn't supposed to happen. This was probably due to the fact that in our second fight he tattooed my leg so hard I got a slight limp, and I didn't want to experience that pain level again.(He'd also beaten on my leg at AEdult Swim).

AQUILLA (Argent, a Chief Embattled Sable between Three Eagles Displayed Gules)
He's a member of ICOD and fights like it, but he's a bit sloppy. He's taller than me and didn't really take advantage of his height. I got him with hook wraps and with timing shots, and once with my follow through back hand, a la Rolf or Ron.

FRECERICK (Quarterly Gules and Argent, in 1 and 3 a Bull Statat Guardant Counter-changed: jupon checky Gules and Argent)
He's a squire from AEthelmarc, short, right handed heater, fast and aggressive. Great fight. His window is his off-side face. I killed him there a few times and also with a butterfly. Afterward we spent about 15 minutes working on Brion's off-side leg fake/off-side head shot, which had really faked him out. With his style it should work well for him.

DUKE MALCOLM (busy purple, black, white-don't ask cause I'm not sure)
He and I were doing exactly the same thing, playing a range game and laying back. we did go corps-to-corps a couple of times, but neither of us managed to turn it into a blow. I mostly got him by moving to my left and changing my angle. He said my off-side head is opening up when I commit. He killed me there once, but he said the opening is constant. He freezes my shield with a shoulder dip (probably thanks to the pain from Tim) and as I throw the head is open. I need some film to study that.

In all it was a great night!

It's 41 days until Birka. My next time in armor is probably West Kingdom 12th Night.


Life is good.

Brion and Anna ran a marvelous crown tourney. I made it to the round of 8. I had a good day. No: I had a GREAT day!

The reason I had a great day is because I did much better than I expected to. I fought much better than I did in Canada last spring. I beat two knights. The two guys who beat me had to fight each other in the semi-finals. I nearly beat the first one and double killed with the other. I was in the mix. And I had not trained for this list--the minute I decided to do Harvey I gave up any serious training for Crown. Plus I'd been injured. I was also really relaxed once we got moving. I wasn't as tense. I wasn't trying not to lose.

Brion decided to have a straight double elimination list--no pools--with byes not being fought. There were 43 fighters in the list, which meant (I think) 21 byes (to get down to a list with powers of 2 in both winners and losers' brackets). That format moves very quickly, and the losers bracket will be two rounds longer than the winners. For me, it meant only six fights in total.

Every fighter I fought except Hrafn was using a kite shield, which meant tight defense. In fact, I didn't take anybody's leg except Hrafn, who was fighting two sword.

I'd also beaten all but one of the fighters I saw in a crown before, and that one I was fighting for the first time.

Radnor has an axiom: we let our opponent tell us how he wants to die. This was my day. Fighters told me how to kill them, and I obliged.

I warmed up against Collin, a fighter I really like to fight. I went through a progression of stuff. I fought him bellatrix style in a high open form, in a high closed form, and in an A-Frame. I lost one fight to him. I used a butterfly and a hook-thrust. I felt good. 

I did not get one of those 21 byes. Not only that, bur there were enough knights in the list that I drew one, Sir Kettil, in the first round. That is a very tough fight to start out with. But he literally told me how he wanted to die. Right before the fight I heard him say he was still fighting in a Zoom-Bang, but he was going to go to something else, because it still hurt to get hit in the body. Then we started fighting. I tried a few things, mostly an A-frame but also a bit of the high open form. Then I noticed he was setting up in a high open form--not an A-Frame, with his elbow held high. THen he set up in range. Then I threw a butterfly on him (which is a double fak followed by on off side body, thrown with a locked wrist), and I hit him on that zoom-bang shirt and he went down.

Next round I fought Eduard de Bosco, a fighter in Serpentius whom I did not know. He had a long, wide, peaked kite. I tried a few things on him, then noticed that his A-frame was set up to look over the front corner of his shield. I switched into a high-closed form and tried mostly to time his shot to hit him with a slot shot--something I've been working on a lot lately. After a few tries I got both the timing and the targetting correct. If you are a member of the SCA East Kingdom FaceBook group, you can see that fight at the 10:50 mark of this video: https://www.facebook.com/groups/17551346704/

Next I fought Sir Mathias Grunwald. He and I seem to meet in Crown a lot, and our fights are always long and hard. I noticed that if I pressured him with some old-school attacks designed to move his shield around, gaps would start to open up. I did, and eventually I got him with a slot shot as he moved out of position.


My next fight was against Avaldr. He and I have had some real knock-down drag-out fights in past crowns, and this was no exception. When I had been building this sword for Crown, I'd gone out searching for some webbing to use to strengthen my thrusting tips, because I end up tearing a lot of tips off. I couldn't find any. However, I had made my last sword with athletic tape and that tip had not torn off, so I went with that. And, of course, my tip tore off. We noticed it right at the beginning of the fight. Damn! I really wanted to use the hook thrust against Avaldr. It's the best technique to beat that tight defense of his. Oh well--edge work only, which I've been practicing a lot. He was fighting EXTREMELY well, attacking the angles tangentially, like Old Castle used to teach. He was staying at range, picking his spots, and moving in fast. I was doing the same. We both had some near misses until he moved to his right and killed me. It was a long fight.

Moving to the losers bracket, I next fought Rory, whom I fight a lot. He has a tight defense but a predictable offense. He likes to move to his left and throw an off side at me. He opened with a rising snap that I blocked. Then we had a couple more short exchanges. He kept creeping closer to me. When he was close enough I threw a hook/thrust and killed him with it.

My final fight was against Hrafn. I had beaten him the fall before, when he had gone to final round, by crowding him. At one point he ran onto my thrusting tip but it didn't bite. Or maybe it did, and tore off on his mail, which is why it was no good, because later in the fight it was off  again. Well, I'd beaten him without using a thrust in the past. We double killed. I took his leg and he took mine. He thrust me in the belly with his left hand. I died. Another long hard good fight.

Afterward both Visivald and Brion approached me with advice. Vis said that I have better technique when I am moving--which I know, and I'd been trying to move more this tourney. I used to move constantly, but going to the A-frame had made me static. Brion said he thinks I can win a crown if I find a way to shorten my fights. I had too many fights that were too long. I didn't feel tired, but he was probably right. He's Brion, after all.

Like I said, great day. 

There are 80 days until Birka. I'm taking some time off to finish healing. I'm certainly not fighting till after Harvey.

Sunday, October 16, 2016


So, I have to apologize. I've been in armor three times since my last post. 

I fought at the Cloisters demo in September. As you may be aware, demos are the most dangerous thing that we do. Fighting at demos is different. We get over dramatic. Sometimes, we get hit multiple times. I'm not sure how, but I think I kind of ended up with a concussion. I think it was getting hit multiple times by Gui's heavy great sword. Regardless, I had a headache later that night, and then another the next day, and headaches for about three days following, and then intermittently for days after. I also had a bad headache the day the hurricane rolled through, but I get headaches when the weather changes a lot. I've had concussions twice, once from fighting, once from hitting myself in the head doing pell work (don't say you've never done it). Neither was like this. Both those concussions felt worse. This is just eh. I've got an appointment to see a specialist on Wednesday. I'm sure that like all specialists, she will say "nobody should ever do what you are doing."  My new helmet is still awesome, and MUCH more protective than my old one. 

After two weeks off, I fought again at Middle Town. I started feeling a headache on the way up, but that was as soon as we drove into the country, and the fauna changed, and my nose stuffed up (decidedly un-fall like foliage we've got right now). I felt great while fighting but the next day I felt like I had a virus.  

In other words, I'm sure right now that every little thing I'm feeling, up to and including the toe I stubbed the other night heading for the bathroom, is a concussion.  

So today wanted to get in five sets. I got six, including two with Ron, fighting him being the main reason I went down to practice. I felt great. No headache, and I got hit hard twice. I also fought Bill and Harold. Bill beat me once out of six fights. Harold beat me three out of five, which is odd. I usually do better against him. He and Ron said I was tentative, which was probably me being overly cautious. 

My first set with Ron was terrible. I won only one fight (though that was with a Houghton trick, which against Ron is a real coup. My second set against him was great. I won half our fights, and we were really going at it. I was crisper, moving better, everything. Of course, I always take a while to get warmed up. 

I also discovered that my wrist, which has been a bit achy lately, is truly sore. I know what to do about that--brace, exercises, etc--because this is a flareup of the repetitive stress injury I got last year. It made my second shot very difficult, and I did better with tear drop returns as a result. One classic three blow Bellatrix combination won me Ron's leg.  It also worked on Bill. 

The biggest problem early n was that I was not protecting my leg. I was probably expecting to be covered in my stance, and I clearly wasn't. My defense got much ore active after a few bouts. 

All I can say about Middle Town is that I had some great fights against breeder but he had my leg every time he wanted it. I did well against Arne too. 

There are 20 days until Crown. I hope to be in armor twice more between now and then.  

Monday, September 12, 2016

The Feast of John Barleycorn

Ok, two things: first off, Barleycorn has long been my favorite Eastern event. The very first one I went to was a blast. No, the fighting isn't as good as at other events, but it is a good party and usually a decent feast.

But let me say a few words about Sir Edward's tournament...

And these words could lose me a few friends...

A lot of people HATE sir Edward's tournament. He's been running ti for 22 years now. In Ostgardr, ti's very popular. In the rest of the kingdom it is generally reviled. Hatred for this tournament, which is the centerpiece of the fighting at Barleycorn, has significantly depressed attendance. I've hared complaints from all sides on this: complaints stating "there should be no testing in fighting," and "when I'm gearing up for a tourney I shouldn't have to remember that Vert is green." I've heard people complain "I don't wnat to have to drive three hours to take a test," and "I don't want to drive six hours to be told I can't fight in the tourney." I've had knights tell me "we decided a long time ago that all that stuff was bullshit."

To which I say "bullshit."

Let me explain. Sir Edward Zifran hosts a tourney called the "unbelted challenge," which ahs two parts, a tournament and  a written test. The test has 50 questions, 9 of which have never changed. They include questions on heraldry, chivalry, arts, sciences, EK law, corpora, and medieval history. They are things like "give the heraldic names for the following colors" and "name three Ladies of the Rose." You need more than 60% to pass, and you need to pass to get tournament. You get ten points for every fight you win in the tournament, and ten for winning the tournament itself. The prizes are always the same: coffee crisp chocolate bars, which make a nice light snack. It's not a hard test. Anybody who has been reasonably active in the SCA for more than three years, who reads a book once in awhile, should get at least 61%. The whole thing is Sir Edward's playful way of promoting the idea that knights should be well rounded individuals.  As is well known, by corpora, all peers are supposed to know how to dance, play chess, emblazon arms, compose a poem, etc. And as is also well known, the chivalry often ignores these requirements, only looking at how well each candidate can fight, and whether or not they are a jerk.

And the order suffers for it.

I was talking to Duke Ronald about it recently. We were squire brothers, and the people who trained us--Alfrik our knight, William the Lucky, Andrew of Riga, James Greyhelm, William of Houghton, Meythen Gervaise--were real hard asses about this stuff. Edward, who was knighted int he West, comes from that tradition as well. While I want to see Barleycorn flourish, and I get that lots of people hate the test and don't come for it, my gut reaction to that is "stop your whining."

If you are a serious fighter in this game you should know that stuff by rote. You shouldn't have to remember that Vert is Green. You should know that as well as you know that Duct Tape is usually gray. You should know the difference between a pavanne and a bransle. You should know that you have to be a member of the SCA to fight in crown. Some of the questions are harder, sure: but you should still pass. And if you can't you shouldn't complain about it. You should study: because if you can't pass Edward's test you should not be considered for knighthood.  

This year was a bit different. Attendance was up because of the investiture. More people entered. Everyone who took the test seemed to enjoy it--even the three who didn't pass. There was lots more fighting for them anyway (the second tourney went on till nobody could keep going). The queen took it and approved. It was good to see. 

I've been hitting the gym on Thursdays, using my Indian Clubs, dumbells and kettle bell at least one other day, 50 pushups, 50 squats, and 10,000 steps a day. I've also been taking the German Longsword classes at Swordclass NYC. So I'm feeling good. But I need to up my aerobic activity. I still haven't gotten my bike on the road, and I've only run twice (once on the treadmill) since school started.

I was being intentionally lazy. First of all it was hot and I was tired. I had to run the rapier tourney, as I was the outgoing champion. I fenced six bouts then stood around for an hour in the REALLY hot humid weather in my doublet and sweatpants. Second of all, I wanted to work on energy conservation. So it was goofy foot, high form, counter punches with snaps, off sides, straight leg shots and maybe a wrap.

That was a recipe for pain. So I switched to an A Frame.

I didn't get to do much. By the time I got into gear I wasn't the only one who was overheated and tired. It was a universal affliction. I did get some great bouts against Balfar's foster-squire Victor. He is awesome! He was fighting Florentine and I was feeling his blows. I got him with some thrusts but little else. I fought in the mellees and had a very good time. I fought a few pickups with Conrad from Acre as well.

Mostly I tried not to collapse.

I've passed marker six in the "Let's Walk to Birka Challenge."

It's 54 days until Crown Tourney. Assuming anybody else shows up (not looking good) I'll be in armor tonight at McCarren Park. Otherwise my next time in armor will be at Nutley on Wednesday.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

McCarren Park

OMG my calves hurt! 

Great workout today.

It's the post-Pennsic doldrums. I didn't get my armor back until Sunday. It's beat up, and I need to replace every strap and bake the Courboli bits. 

So Agrippa, my graduated squire, saw that I was wearing the crusader helmet at Pennsic but didn't see that I had a new helmet from Cet. So I get home lay week and find a box and in the box a lovely helmet that can pass for sort of a burgeonet or kind of a Roman cavalry helmet. It's mild steel, but I really like it. 

And now I've got three helmets--four if you count the Norham I got for Gracia. 

And something else: Crown is going to be a lot tougher. I was offered the role of Elwood in Harvey this fall. It goes up a couple of weeks after Crown. I will be able to practice, but not enough to train like I need to. 


The new semester gives me some great opportunities. I'm working out Thursday's at BMCC and, if it works into my schedule (and it should) Tiedays at CCNY (which will usually involve kettle bells and the heavy bag). I've also now added 50 squats to my 50 push-ups a day, and I'm making my minimum of 70,000 steps per week. 

Today was a rough Tripple workout: yoga/treadmill/weights. 

My goal at practice was to keep in my A-Frame. 

There were only three other fighters at practice on Monday, and I didn't get to fight Auzer. I got two sets with Ervald and one with Luthor. I fought both of them sword and shield, and I fought a pass with polearm against Ervald. I was way too tentative against Luthor because his speed is incredible. I won most of my fights, even with the polearm, but I'm still frustrated with my offense out of the A-Frame. 

It's 64 days until Crown. My next time in armor will be Nutley next week. 

Monday, August 15, 2016

Pennsic 45

Random Thoughts:

This blog will not be in the usual format, because Pennsic is long and there's so much to write about. I will of course leave a lot out. I've already forgotten a lot of important stuff, and I left mu paper journal at home.

Pennsic was too hot to enjoy most of it.

A person who would know told me there were nine heart attacks on the field this year, leading them to close down all martial activities (even target archery and thrown weapons) on Thursday, after cancelling the woods and shortening the alternate resurrection battle from 90 minutes to 30.

I was in armor for five days.

I fought in the Known World Baronial Rapier Champions tourney and killed lots of people but totally wiffed my showcase fight. However, I was the best talker, and extemporized a poem for my introduction. By the time I was ready to get into heavy armor, the pickup field was empty. Too damn hot.

The Pennsic Open field battle is still the greatest spectacle, and most fun battle, in the SCA.

I fought most of the battles with spear, except the open fields, which I fought with a short polearm.

Over the eight days I was there I walked over 140,000 steps/70 miles.

SATURDAY of war week I did not get into armor. I attended opening ceremonies, marching as Ostgardr rapier champion, and basically tried to stay alive.

SUNDAY was the day of champions. I always armor up for the champions battle even when I'm not chosen (I've only been chosen once as an Easterner). It's not so much that I'm the guy hoping to be asked to dance (though I am) as what Duke Lucan once told me: we are all alternates to the Bellted champions team, and we should always be ready to fight in it. I was not needed, however.

What seemed to me to be the Midrealm's cunning plan worked, and we lost the battle for the first time in 17 years. I've always said that the reason we always win that battle is the guys at the top of our team--Lucan, Brion, Andre, Omega, Gregor, Stephan, Balfar, Russlan, Ron, Douglas Henry, Randal, etc, are just too tough a core. We've always got at least five of those guys out there, and two of them are always the last ones left at the end and win the battle for us.

This year they split the belted champions into three teams of seven: fighters who had been knighted more than 12 years, 7-12 years, and 0-6 years. The first team consisted of Brion, Greggor, Balfar, Lucan, Thorsen, Russlan, and Jan Janovitch. That team cleaned up. Our other two teams had one duke a piece on them, and they both lost. I don't know the number of dukes and counts on each of the Midrealm teams, but concentrating our top guys on one team took away our advantage and they won.

We won the unbelted fight.

We also won heroics 6 bouts to 4, in large part because of our allies.

The best fight of the war was Hanse vs. Branos: https://youtu.be/1zaN0OLjYSc

Was billed as the MOAB (Mother of all battles). This involved an portion of the field that was open, a portion that was broken up, and the castle. It was fought in two segments, in the field and then, after a break to reset, in the castle. One side had unlimited resurrections, while the other could resurrect in the break between segments only. There was a siege weapons element as well, as they had to hit a target on the castle three times to breech the walls. The battle was scored on time.  This battle sucked. It would have been better if it had been fought in more segments, like the open part of the field, the broken part, then the castle. Instead, both sides just fell back to defend the outside of the castle, then the inside. The East won with a truly heroic stand by the King's retinue and the unbelted champions in the gate house of the castle, but it did not come off at all like planned. They set up most of that terrain for nothing.

The heat was hardest on my on Monday, when I was fighting in my crusader great helm.

So we had five bridges, and we fought them five times in times ten minute battles, with ten minutes in between. We fought with the Southern Region and had a great assignment--front rank in every battle, meaning we went in, fought, and usually died quickly enough that the heat never became an issue. I got into some good spear duels and killed some guys, and died every time. Because of the beastly heat, I got my conical helm strapped and padded:

Much better.

As I was leaving the field Hanse asked me for some pickups and I borrowed Ron's sword (no thrusting) and shield. I took one of three and they were all great fights. I has down a move that always gets me killed, lifting the bottom of the shield with his own and thrusting.

This was the killer day. Due to storms the day before, they had canceled the woods battle. The alternate battle was a wall battle with three gaps, the center one with block houses set back 30 feet, and each gap with a flag. As I said, they shortened it from 90 minutes to 30 because of the heat. Spectators were collapsing, as well as fighters. I fought spear, but only got into the fray two or three times. I spent most of the battle on the sidelines during the two long medical holds, sitting in the shade and drinking water. I was on my way out with the short polearm when they called it. I did get in two sets of pickups with it--one against a sword and shiled, and I won a few of those, and one against a 7 foot polearm, and I won all of those. Then they closed the battle field.

Friday at Pennsic always seems to make it all worthwhile. THey shortened the field battles from five to three, but they were still awesome. I took the short polearm and wore my crusader helmet and surcotte and had a blast.

I killed lots of people--more than any other day. I also saved our bacon twice in the same battle. Amusingly, somebody posted a picture to Facebook of me wearing that same surcotte in 1992. I don't wear it very often.

Our plan was basically the same in all three battles: attack the center and left, while Black Tallon and the Tuchux held in reserve, and then when they tried to attack our right flank those to units would engage and, and one of them would get a flank. Then they would roll up that side. We were the exposed right flank in all three battles, which is the most dangerous place to be.

In one battle I got to use my ensign skills. As we attacked we were getting separated from the unit on our left and falling a bit behind, with Darkyard right in front of us. I took command and started shifting us left, using my sort polearm to guide/push (gently) our shieldmen into place, the way Alfrik taught me. By the time Darkyard charged we had closed that gap and were able to repell them. After that charge, however, we were in trouble. Our left had collapsed, and our center had pushed forward but was bogged down, and we were now in a classic double envelopment. I saw this and used my polearm to  grab some guys who weren't engaged on our line and pull them to our left flank as it collapsed. We engaged and refused for awhile and the battle fragmented, eventually getting turned around so that I was now facing West instead of East and we were surrounded on all sides. We were backing up and keeping out of range of the unit in front of us. I thought we were gonners, but I checked over my shoulder and saw the Tuchux coming up from behind. They had blown right through their left flank and just as our center was about to collapse, had hit their center from behind. The center disintegrated, they were left standing, and they just came straight through to us. SO I stopped walking backwards, started walking forwards with them, and got in three or foru mor kills as we hit that last unit and mopped up. Hence the short polearm in the open field: it's good in a press, good for breakthroughs, and great in command.

The training for Crown Tourney begins the minute the open field battle at Pennsic ends, so I changed helmet and fought pickups after that. I wanted at least five sets of three each. I got six, including two knights. I fought pretty well.

There are (assuming it is on the normal date) 81 Days until Crown Tourney. My next time in armor will be next Monday at McCarren Park.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Three HOT practices.


So it's been a while since I've written, and I've been to three practices. A lot of that was teaching, most of it was heat acclamation. The war is coming up, and I need to be in shape.


This was a light practice. I drove up with Arnne and Luthor, as they are both getting ready for herroic champions, and wants to get in as many singles as possible. I love it up there with the Middletown guys, and it was a very fun trip. Mostly it was a teaching practice for me, but that's good for me and for the fighters up there.

 I fought just four people, Derrek, Matt, Arne, and Hassan.  It's a long way to go to fight four guys, but it was fun.

The main reason I go up there is to do some training with my man at arms, Derek. That fight was pure teaching mode. He really needs to bring his sword back into position before he throws. He is starting his lies way too far forward--a real rookie habit that he needs to break. He's big and strong so he gets away with it up there, with no Knights to fight. 

Matt I thought mostly goofy foot, trying to build on what I had done Sunday.  He has improved markedly in the few months that I've been going up there. I got with Silver's technique, The one I mentioned in my last post. 

Arne I got three times. That felt great. He relies way too much on that offside body counter, and now I'm picking it up. He likes to zone block with that center grip kite, and when he does so he is susceptible to deep wraps. I even got him without thrust once. 

Hassan, as always, is fast and Squirrley and ducks a lot takes deep steps with a wide stance, and squares up a little too much. He blinds himself a lot, and I took advantage of his slot once with timing and once with a hidden shot. 

The funniest thing was, as we were leaving, seeing dozens of people wandering the streets with their nose buried in their phones searching for Pokémon.


This was the mellee practice that wasn't. The team has been announced, it was way too hot, and almost everybody who said they were showing up failed to do so. So it became a very good single combat fighting practice.

I Fought seven people, including Goldstein, VDK Gavin, Bloodguard Joe, Sterling, a poleman named Henry, a two sword fighter in white Japanese kit, and a lady with sword and shield. 

I wasn't working on anything but surviving the heat. 

A few things stand out. 

Goldstein fought me with sword and buckler. He killed me once. I think. Maybe. He has a great rotation leg block. 

Against the two sword fighter, I started out with the straight thrust out of the a frame. The first time he blocked it, but the second time he walked right into it. I played William the Lucky a bit--I hid underneath my shield and pounded his leg, then his body. I think he beat me when I took his arm and we fought single sword. 

The lady fighter (never got her name. Green shield with gold crescents), gave me a good fight. I was in training mode, and she jumped in my shorts. Very determined with great pop to her shots. She just needs to tighten her defense. 

Henry tried to stay out and I rushed him, then he bull rushed me and I wrapped him. 

Against Joe I decided to use the one-shot drill. I only threw straight snaps from a high guard. No fakes even. I won all three of our fights. First one I one-shorted him with a counter--as soon as his hand moved (it was a leg shot) I hit him. Then I double tapped him with a step to my right. Then from the en garde, I threw a very high, broken-wrist snap that went over his sword guard.  

Sterling was the only person who killed me more than once. He figured out all he had to do was aim for the highest part of that tall great helm. I could barely feel the shots, but they were clean so I took them. I did best against him from the a frame but also did well with Bellatrix style. We double killed once, and I won three to his two. I killed him with a butterfly at one point, which felt good. 

It was too hot. 


so, there are only two fighters in armor, me and Aleel. That's OK, it was a hot night there had been a huge rainstorm and it gave us a chance to work on stuff. He's a relatively new fighter, but he is strong and fast and he works with Stefan, which means he's deadly. When he learns what to block and where, he'll be really good.

All we did was fight several passes – he killed me in the first one. I fought most of them in a frame, and had his offside head and his leg pretty well pegged, while he landed a couple of high on side head shots. Our last fight I went all Bellatrix on him, which was kind of fun. One thing about that style is that it's so aggressive it gets people's defenses out of position, which is how I took his leg. Eventually, I took his arm, and then we paused and took a break.

After that, we did the Bellatrix offense/defense drill. He attacked while I defended, and the fight was over when I have thrown three blows – I got one each of an onside had, and offside had, and an onside leg. Then we repeated that with him defending. The main point is learning to defend, but the secondary point is using a one-shot counter if you see an opening. He took my leg at the end, which is excellent.  After a short breath, we did the same drill with me kneeling and him standing, and then vice versa. 

That was it, a very short night. 

It is 10 days until Pennsic. My next time in armor will probably be Thursday night at Hawthorne.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Southern Region Mellee Practice

So, I'm really done with the big greathelm. I will use it this Pennsic in one or two battles, just for fun, wearing a nice long crusader surcoat, so I'll have something of a Morgan Bible look to me. 

But I've got my new helmet!

Mine! Mine! Mine!!!

Ha!! Did not make it to the gym all week. 70,000 steps this week and last. I completed the "walk to Pennsic" challenge (cover the distance between Eastern CT and Pennsic by Pennsic) a month early. Still making my push-ups 50 every day. 

I ended up using a lot of weak high closed form (goofy foot) to great effect. 

I did not go for the Mellee. I went to pick up my helmet. I wasn't very thrilled about fighting. My back still hurt. But, when Bill said he was only doing pickups that de used it for me. 

Only fought four guys. I fought two Knights--William McCrimmon and Mord, and two good unbelted fighters--Luther and Tallon. 

My fights with Mord are on video below. As you can see, I was freezing his shield through pumps and body dips. More of note, I fight the first fight in an AFrame, but switch thereafter to goofy foot. I'm particularly fond of that off-side leg shot. 

Bill: fought me much better than at SRWC. He landed that body slot shot that Mord couldn't stick, and almost took my hip with a juke right/left/cut move, which I use on Brenan sometimes. Bill just had the angle wrong. My best shot with him was a stutter wrap. 

I fought Luther much better than I had at McCarren Park last week. Goofy foot worked well against him, and his off-side leg was gettable. I did the Horic thing to him (toes to knees and keep throwing) and got a body shot under his shield as I stepped back out. When I took his leg and closed like that, however, unless I bent over to look down, offering him my head, he completely disappeared. 

Which why I'm done with this helmet. 

For some reason, I had his number with a simple Snap/back handed slot shot (reverso fendente for those who like proper terminology). I killed him with it three times, once after taking his leg. This, by the way, is technique straight out of Fiore. 

So I've got this other technique I don't often use so I don't often talk about. It's similar to a technique used by Duke Stephen of Beckenham and count Glenn ap Rhodri, but it actually comes from Steven Hand's interpretations of George Silver. One of Silver's two wards is a high open form, with the feet close together at a 90 degree angle, left toe pointed forward, the arm extended straight up over head, and the sword pointed straight up in the air. He uses it mostly with broadsword by itself, but also buckler and dagger (nice, regular system, Silver). I use it single sword, but also with shield.  I change my too--I place the tip of my thumb at the back of the handle, to push the sword forward, like with modern saber. The cut is almost always a fendente, though you can strike a flat snap as well. There are lots of tricks from that position--elaborate molinees, disappearing behind the shield, etc., -- but silver mostly uses it by passing back on the left and dropping a fendente, usually onto the arm. 

So I used this as an offensive technique against William. Dropped it behind my shield for a hidden snap. It cost me my leg, and I lost that fight. But I used it defensively against Tallon and it was beautiful. He threw a leg shot and I moved off line to my left, blocking the leg and cutting fendente to his head. It was very satisfying. 

Not surprisingly, my back felt much better after fighting. 

It is 29 days until Pennsic. My next time in armor may not be till then, depending on the packing. And padding my helmet. I'm done with the greathelm. 

Saturday, June 18, 2016

War camp + practice.

Yikes! ! I am A week behind on this blog!

On the other hand, not a lot is happening.

I was in armor twice last week, at the southern region war camp, and at McCarren Park practice on Monday night. And I am still using that huge crusader pot helmet. When I realized on Monday is that it makes me extremely top-heavy. I'm having trouble moving, and I am losing my balance. Plus there's the whole vision thing: it's almost impossible for me to see an offside shot in that helmet, let alone leg shots. So I think any victory I have is a pretty good one.

At war camp, fought two of the battle scenarios, the boat Landing Beach battle and the bridge. I was actually having a lot of fun, and while my wind was slightly affected by the helmet, I did pretty well. I also hit a lot of people. It was all shield wall work, and I ended up standing up the charge a few times. 

I did pick ups with Gunther, master Karl, sir William McCrimmin, sir Eric Hundeman -- the brand-new night -- and Duke Edward. Except for Edward, with whom I went one and two, I won more fights that I lost. 

At McCarren Park it was jus me, Ervald, and Seamus. I had my slot shot working, but felt really slow and weak. A new helmet might not help, but it couldn't hurt. 

There are 40 days until Pennsic. My next time in armor will be Minday at McCarren Park. 

Friday, June 10, 2016

Riverfest (plus a practice)

It's important to be able to put on a show. When a well known band from the 1970s--lets say, Orleans--is playing on a stage 40 feet away, you need to up your game. But if you only have a few fighters and no set schedule, what do you do? Oh: it's raining, and a monsoon is coming in. We just did a few passages of arms, one pair at a time, then talked.

Made the gym yesterday with a good workout: 20 minutes on the treadmill, 20 minutes weight lifting (dumbbells and kettlebells) and 20 minutes yoga. I've made my steps and pushup goals. I've been doing the "Walk To Pennsic" challenge, which consists of logging 537 miles between March 8 and July 28. I will complete it today, in about 600 more steps.

Ok. The demo was blled as a greatsword class and torunament, but that didn't really happen. Only one student showed up. My greatsword technique is an odd conglomeration of the teaching of Paul of Bellatrix, Elric Scapvarger, Gui Avec Cheval, Gregor von Heisler, Marc d'Arundel, a bit of German long sword and the bastard sword techniques of Rolf the Relentless. These are quite different, obviously. Mostly I either fight in long point, a la mark, or with the sword cocked in front of me a la Rolf and Greggor, or else with the quillions cross wise, often in a horse stance, edges out, a la Gui.

We only got one person to show up for the great-sword clinic, Dirk Krasner, and I did some passes with him, mostly fighting out of long point and working on the techniques of Duke Marc--thrust, hanging guard, pass and cut. I won many of those fights.

Later, for the show, he and I did a passage of arms to three blows with sword and shield, great sword, and arming sword. I won each round 3-1. I tried to do a little half-swording with the arming sword, but that got me killed. I also tried the Fiore sword in one hand technique (which comes off the left hip, point tailing). If I'd committed to the strike, it would have worked. but I followed that up with a classic--strike an on side blow, parry 6 (the window parry) pass on the left and cut to the head.

After the passage I tore all the padding out of my helmet. In doing so I discovered two cracked (but not broken through) welds. Not usable. Whatever was going on, although i didn't develop a concussion, I felt the helmet was not protective enough. Padding wasn't bottoming out, but it had always been a lighter helm than necessary. So I decided not to use it any more, and to make sure I wouldn't use it anymore, I took the padding out. Otherwise I'm like an adict. I what to fight! (!!) Cet is making me a new helm, and I will fight in that when it is done. I do have a backup, unattractive as it may be...

At McCarren Park the next night there were eight  fighters in armor--myself, Gui Auzer, Luthor, Ervald, Sable, and Seamus d'Arundel. That's a good practice. Unfortunately, I was using the great helm I got from Gui a few years ago. I haven't used a closed-face helmet in over a decade, and it wasn't pretty. I was losing sight of everything coming to the off-side.

None shall pass.

I warmed up against Seamus, but we didn't actually fight. I hit him in the shin and we stopped. That was a product of visibility.

I did some teaching with Sable. I was fighting with just a few blows and concentrating on seeing what she was doing. We mostly need to work on her power.

I fought Gui with greatswords, since we hadn't been able to fight on Sunday. I did shockingly well. I killed him with a shoulder cut the first fight, and got him once or twice later, plus several double kills.

Luthor reminded me why I started using the A-Frame. He is so fast he completely beats my closed high guard. I simply couldn't keep up with him. Once I switced to the A frame I think I won all of our fights. Getting past his first attack was all I needed. I took his leg  couple of times and killed him with deep wraps and butterflies.

Auzer also beat me up our first two fights, but, again, once I got a handle on what he was doing I started winning. He was throwing his usual punching off side then jumping in and throwing a deep wrap. I just guarded for the wrap and timed my blow to hit half a beat behind his. Killed him with a deep wrap and with an off-side head shot that way. Then, anticipating his move forward, I killed him with a hidden trust--hiding my thrusting tip behind my shield and then sliding it past his.

Against Ervald I mostly took his leg. He killed me once with a good, aggressive off side attack. I caught him moving his defense up and hit his leg two or three times. I helped it along with an upsilon once. Then I killed him with thrusts and body shots.

Ending where I began, with Seamus, was important. He was also able to beat my high-guard, but I had his leg pretty good. I killed him with butterflies and stutter wraps, with a hook wrap and a hook thrust. He beat me with speed and a really wicked off-side, much like Arne at Mudthaw. Only this time I was not seeing the off-side due to the helmet. Ouch. Bruises. Ow.

All in all I felt odd because of the helmet, but good because of the helmet time. My wrist was bothering me at first, but that got better, not worse, as the evening wore on, as it often does. Thing is, the next day it still felt better. I'd worn the brace on it on Monday and I think that hurt more than it helped. Luthor, Zack, Seamus, and Gui all pasted me at some point, but I felt much safer in this helmet than in my old one. It's much heavier and more protective. I did get a bit of a scratch on the nose, but that's just adjusting the chin strap. Those four are really really good, and they each overwhelmed me at some point.

It's 47 days until Pennsic. My next time in armor will be tomorrow at Southern Region War Camp.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

War of the Roses


I love War of the Roses. It's a nice, pleasant event. The first good camping event of the year, good fighting, fun tourneys.

This year, Hot.

I had planned to play around, work with my man at arms Patrick, and maybe fight in the Tournament of Roses on Sunday. Plans didn't work out due to a shot I took to the back of the head.

I was using my light sword without a thrusting tip. The big draw on Saturday was the great-weapon's tournament. I really only have two primary techniques with a  great weapon--thumbs aligned and thumbs opposed. I can play the oarsman style, but I don't think it works that often.

I've been getting between 70,000 and 85,000 steps every week, and 50 push ups a day. Nothing has changed.

I only fought in two of the battles because, in one of them, I took a pole arm to the back of the head. That was fun. I was engaged with Mathias and then BAM! I didn't even see who threw the shot. It hurt my neck and might have given me a concussion. I say "might have" because I didn't feel any of the symptoms I felt when I had what my doctor called a "mild concussion" three years ago--no nausea, no dizziness, I had had a slight headache before I fought, but that was probably a combination of the heat and the bus trip up to Albany. I was slightly stunned for a moment, and felt odd. Just odd enough to say "in 95 degree muggy heat I don't want to fight anymore."  I marshaled and hung out the rest of the day. I stayed off site and did not return on Sunday because it was even hotter.

My few sword and shield fights were fun, but nothing to really write about. They were warm up / pick up fights, and I was just getting my joints moving.

I did have lots of good pole arm fun. I fought three authorization bouts, then in the tournament. The auth bouts convinced me that I should fight thumbs aligned, which is what I usually do against other pole arms. My reactions were at least good, which is all you can test in against new fighters. I won my first bout against a great sword fighter. He took my leg with a thrust, then I took his arm and killed him. My second fight was against a shorter fighter who just nailed me with a thrust from below after a brief exchange. It was a great shot.

Nothing else to report, really.

There are 57 days until Pennsic. My next time in armor will be Sunday at Sir Gui's Greatsword Dance Party.  

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Ostgardr Heavy and Rapier Practice Tourney

Small tourneys, what do you do?

I am a big fan of practice tourneys. At BART practice, back in the early 80s, use them to help cure tourney choke. The Argent Angels host of the Crapaud, a monthly tourney. This week's will be the 242nd (and they've never missed a month). In Ostgardr we held a tournament called the Beau Geste tournament. We stopped doing them regularly a while ago, but we still try to hold them now and then. 

If the turn out is small--3-7--you need to find a way to increase the number of fights. 7-12 a round robin is fine, by the time you hit 16 you should run a double elimination.  

I hosted a practice tourney for both heavy and rapier on Sunday at Sword Class NYC, the combination Kendo dojo and HEMA school in Harlem. We had 5 heavy fighters and 3 rapier fighters (two of us were doing double duty). We held a sort of round robin for both lists. Everybody had to fight everybody three times, and we tallied total number of victories.

Just 50 push ups and 10,000 steps a day. I've done some odd workouts of squats and Dumbbells I'm designing a new workout program for the summer (4 days a week for a month I will have access to one of the best gyms in the city, plus I will have a 32 mile round trip bicycle commute. I will do one or the other. 

I fought all but one sword and shield fight in a high closed form, with my sword slightly forward of my shield, a la Prince Brian. I used the light sword without a thrusting tip. I need to be wary of exposing my arm in that form.  I was concentrating on fast counter punches and double strikes. 

As the only knight, I fought but not for the prize. In three of my rounds I used sword and shield and in the fourth I fought single sword. The other fighters were Sable, Ervald, Samale, and Ronan. 

The winner of the rapier prize was Ronan, and of the heavy prize, Ervald.

The prize for each was a jelly donut. 

It is 64 days until Pennsic. My next time in armor will be Saturday at War of the Roses.   

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Wantagh, Cinco de Mayo

Wantagh 5/5

There were four people in armor: me, Horic, Caitlyn, and Bob Fox. I fought one set each with Bob and Caitlyn and three sets against Horic. 

I used my lighter sword, which made it harder to strike a good blow, and I did not use the thrust once (and at one point I lost the thrusting tip anyway). I also fought in a high closed form, not the A frame, throughout. It taught me a few things. 

For instance, against Bob, I was trying to time a forehead cut with his blow, blocking as I threw. I hit him several times like that, but as I was throwing I was also backing out slightly, to aid my defense, and this was robbing my blow of power. I adjusted, taking a slight slide step forward as I threw the blow. I killed him. 

Caitlyn was teaching. She was not as sharp as the last time I fought her. I told her to work on her feet--move with purpose, complete the movement, don't square up--advise I should take as well. 

I fought Horic very well but had power issues. Probably two thirds of the blows I struck were no good. That's the super-light stick.  At first I was getting his leg but he adjusted to that.  When I used his technique for fighting someone on their knees he, natch, had a counter--a very wicked off side leg shot at a weird angle.  My goal was primarily to counterpunch with a straight snap. I did get one kill with a stutter wrap. The best thing I did was figure out the hole in his guard, and killhim through it--with three off-side body shots (I landed two more that weren't stout). One was a classic butterfly. 

This practice is exactly what I needed last night. I was upset about mundane tribulations and I got to hit people with a stick. Sometimes, you just need to bash somebody with a stick. 

There are 82 days until Pennsic. I likely won't be in armor till after Kalamazoo. 

Monday, May 2, 2016

Crown Tournament #94, East Kingdom Spring Crown, Quebec

So this crown was not a success fighting wise, but I learned a lot about myself. It reinforced some things that I already knew, and it was a lot of fun.

First the negative: I was way under prepared. Due primarily to injuries I had not fought nearly enough between Birka and Crown. This is part of being 52 instead of 22, and you just have to manage it. Coming into this crown I felt unfinished--that's the only way I can describe it--like Edward Scissor Hands. That seems odd after 37 years of fighting, but I have been trying to put some things together in my style, and I've not quite done so. Alfred says that I'm making incremental changes and I need to start making wholesale changes (he's talking about taking a more zen approach). Maybe, but I really just need to do a few things right.

I tried a lot of other prep to get mentally ready. I worked out with weights and Indian clubs. I repaired all my armor, getting t those things (my shoulders, for instance) that I'd been putting off. I repaired my shield, made a new sword, and put the basket hilt on my old (slightly shorter and lighter) one. The drive up to Quebec flew by. I felt good. None of that helps with a lack of helmet time.

In my first loss (my third fight) my chin strap blew out. We were in pool play and had been admonished not to slow the pools down. I rushed around like a decapitated chicken trying to get it fixed. I couldn't get it riveted so gave that up after three tries and fixed it with p-cord (what Flieg calls "soft rivets").  I lost my first fight back in the pool and was out of sorts the rest of the day.

All day long I was tentative. I was trying not to lose. I had too much fear. I was not aggressive--except in my fight with Ryo (more on that later). I was told that there were two face thrusts that looked good on me in two different fights. Neither had felt like they had any positive force (my definition of that is that, while I'm not rocked by it, it has to push my helmet back into my gorget), and my opponents insisted they were satisfied with them. The one face thrust I did die to, in pool play, was just what I am looking for--stiff enough to bottom my helmet out, not "hard". I did start worrying, however, about whether or not my chin strap repair made thrusts somehow feel different. Regardless, after I was told that, I lost my next two fights and was out of the lists.

Randal and I had a long talk after the lists and he crystallized into words what I was feeling. My plan recently, not just for this list, but for my fighting in general, has been to simplify everything. Don't throw a lot of fakes or molinees, don't go for as much fancy foot work. Use that stuff when an opening presents itself, but concentrate on counter punching with snaps and off-side heads, and working the angles with wraps, off sides, and body shots. React more than you act. In the words of Duke Radnor, "let your opponent tell you how he wants to die." That is NOT what I was doing this crown. In this crown I was fighting like it was practice. I was trying everything. This is also why I lost to Arne at Mudthaw. I had something that I knew was going to work, but decided to try something else then go back to that. As Randy put it, I was cycling through techniques--"ok--that didn't work, lets try this; this almost worked, so come back to it." Randy said he heard me say at one point (and I did) "No, if I do that you'll just take my arm," meaning I was keeping up a running dialogue with myself about what I was doing, instead of just doing it. He saw that, saw a hole in one of my techniques, and simply waited for me to cycle back around to it, then took my leg. I was predictable--and my strength is usually that I am NEVER predictable. I need to do what I had planned to do all along--just stick to a couple of techniques until they work, and only add to them if an opening presents itself.

I was not fighting like myself.

One last thing. Readers of this blog will know that I have been struggling with the advantages and disadvantages of three wards--the High closed form, and the High open form and the A frame.The High Open Form is the classic Bellatrix style. It's how I was trained, and fought for 25 years, and won my crown and coronet. It is allows for the strongest and most creative offense, though slightly slower. The High closed form brings the sword forward to guard the head. It presents the fastest counter punches, but it's susceptible to wraps.  The A frame is a variation on the high closed form, and it's how I've been winning fights lately--it's very defensive. Instead of looking over the top of the shield you look past the front edge of my shield and use my sword to guard my right side--but it has almost no offense, and ti doesn't allow me to do the thing I want to do most right now--a counter punch snap or off-side body, and it's off-side head is just a touch slow. Most of the fights I've lost recently have been because I was either transitioning from one ward to the other, or because I was in the A frame and had drifted out of position, or because I was using the High open form. To be specific, nearly all my losses come on the right-side edge of my shield. I lost to off-side head shots in pool play. Ivan and Brion took my sword arm. So did Arne at Mudthaw. Tiberus knocked me out with a molinee saber cut. Randal took my *right leg with a back hand. I lost one fight to a fast inside thrust. At crown last fall, Simon beat me with thrusts to the inside of my shield (and almost got me with one on Saturday). The crown before that I was beaten by Ivan (leftie, right side of my shield) and Dimitri took my right leg when I did the foot stomp fake. Conclusion: I am squaring up way too much, exposing my right leg, drifting my shield to the left,  and not using my sword for defense as much as I need to be in the A Frame. Part of this is a natural resutl of using an A frame--the left side is cut off completely, but I'm obviously doing it wrong. Really, most of all, it's squaring up--one of the biggest sins in fighting. That cold just be me being sloppy, or it could be compensating for something physical like a bad back. Regardless, I need to work that out. Knowing that, and knowing how I felt mentally, and knowing what I was doing with technique, and that I was fighting like it was practice--all of which I figured out after the lists--actually makes me feel good about this Crown. And so does the fact that the winner--though certainly I'm no Duke Brion (only two or three were ever as good as he is)--is older than I am.

And the good: I beat two knights, Rhys and Simon, one of whom--Simon--was the only person I lost to in the round of sixteen last crown. I lost to Ivan, Brion, and Randal. Those, and my final loss to Tiberius, were all great fights. I was actually fighting very well. I had a lot of fun and I liked the outcome of the lists.

Oh, the site was at an incredible medieval village in Quebec. One of the best sites I've ever seen.

Here is some video from a French news crew showing me against Reynaud in pool play. 

Long live Prince Brion and Princess Anna!

It is 87 days until Pennsic. My next time in armor will probably be this Thursday at Wantagh practice.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Training and teaching

Crown tournament is just over a week away, both my main and a back up transportation options have fallen apart. Thankfully, next week is spring break, and I know I can get up to Canada if I have a week to get there. I am also not at all where I want to be. My ribs have not fully healed from Mudthaw, The inflammation in my wrist has flared up, and I have about 6 pounds heavier than I would like to be. I feel very broken. Worst of all, I have not fought as much as I wanted to at this point. After MudThaw I took two weeks off to rest my ribs, fought in a great practice in Hawthorne, but my rib pain flared up, so I have not fought this week, and unless I fight at daffodils on Sunday, I won't have fought this week. But nothing I do at this point can make me any better. Training for crown has to happen eight weeks out, not one week out.

I did walk 88,000 steps last week and fight, and I've walked 75,000 steps so far this week, and lifted, and done yoga, and some kata with the Indian clubs, so I havenot been a complete slug.

Plus, Monday night was our first outdoor practice of the season. I ran the practice with two new fighters and one experienced fighter. It was a really good practice. 

Nobody was going to get a lot out of just fighting. And, as is well known, I like to train with slow work and drills and out of armor as much as I do fighting. So, that's what we did. 

Start with some fighting, because everybody wants to fight.

Three minutes of slow work for each pairing. Rest.

Several minutes of blocking and striking drills. Tripple taps blocked with the shield, combinations blocking shield side with shield and sword side with sword. 

Specific work on an A-frame Defense. 

More open fighting. 

Work out of armor on things that need to be corrected (in this case hip mechanics and footwork). 

That's how to run a practice. 

It's nine days (barely) to Crown. My next time in armor will be there. 

Friday, April 15, 2016

Hawthorne 4/14

Hawthorne 4/14


That's really all I have to say. I've bee resting since Mudthaw and healing my ribs. Probably should have rested more. 

I did shave down the handle of MYS sword, which helped A LOT! My knuckle still hurt from Mudthaw. However, I'm still having power generation problems with this light stick, to legs but also to off-side face shots. Must drive those home.

My ribs are still injured. It's inhibiting my movement, especially shield work, and it's tiring me out. Didn't think it would still be this bad. 

I did a good dumbbell and clubs workout last week, but the ribs really hurt, so it's just been push ups and walking. 

Honestly, I just want to work on my defense and saber cuts, but that's easier said than done. 


He's fighting goofy foot and it's working for him.  Still blocking deep with the leg. He won three and took my arm. I won three. I got him with a classic hook snap, a hook thrust on our knees. And a simple sabre cut when I go position on him. The big thing was, in my a frame, he was taking my arm. Knuckles up! 

Worked slow on him. Got him all but one time. Everything working. 

Guy Le Strange
Destroyed me! I knew what I was getting, a Bellatrix two-sword style but left handed. He killed me with left handed wraps every time. I did get his leg once. My ribs are really giving me trouble. I may need to stop. 

Sir Tash from Atlantia
He was using an 18" buckler. Great style--weak side forward, sabre cuts, nice fake. I won 5 of 6. My leg shots were on. Got him once with a thrust and the rat with cuts. My best moment was our last fight when I went all Horic on him: took his leg, threw a shot to engage his sword, jumped (actually slid) in and flurried, both front edge and back edge. Got him in the ribs. 

He won our first with a thunderous wrap. His right hand thrust is incredible and got me at least twice. I got him at range twice, but I did best when closed hard and started throwing wraps. He can't fight in that well. 

He was fighting with Tanaka's center grip. As usual, if I squared he'd take my leg. Great fights! I got him with a hook thrust, wraps, and a butterfly. (!!) best of all I got him with the push button technique. I took his leg, through and off side head that I pulled through instead of rebounding, then with the leading corner of my shield, I punched the lower leading edge of his shield, a point near the end of a diagonal line drawn from the back corner of his shield through the boss. (It works on strapped shields too). Then I thrust on side yo his face. 

It is 15 days until crown. With these ribs, I may not be in armor until then. 

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Mudthaw AS 50

Ok, so I've not posted in this blog for awhile, and I've been fighting a lot. In the two weeks ending yesterday I've been in armor five times, which is pretty good. My bum wrist was feeling better, I wanted to get some helmet time in, and I wanted to prep for Mudthaw, which is a nice test to see where you sit going into Crown in a month.

I'm sitting at the kiddie's table, but more on that later.

I attended the Southern Army Sunday practice and Nutley the week before last, then Midland Vale and Wantagh the nest week, then I fought in Mudthaw. Normally I'd discuss every set of fights I had, but that's too many, so I will just discuss the issues.

WORKOUTS: I did 50 pushups and walked 10,000 steps every day (or, at least, I averaged more than 10,000 steps a day: I'm doing the "walk to Pennsic challenge," wherein we track how long it takes to walk the distance between Crown Prince and Princess Kenrick and Avenlina's to Pennsic. In other words, I'm keeping close track of my steps). My pushups are back to being just a work out, and not impossible, as they were when I came back from my surgery. The first week I also went to the gym one day and lifted weights, did some yoga, and hit the heavy bag. Another day that week I used the dumbells, kettle bells, and Indian clubs I have at home for a very awesome workout.  Last week, since I was fighting so much, I just stuck with that and the walking and the pushups.

See below.

Ok, at Southern Army Sundays it was mostly about mellee. I did a couple of pick ups, but I was fighting with sword and shield or with spear in mellee. I had fun. I got to call the best move of the day--a column charge in the gate battle.

At Nutley I fought Arn, Duke Gregor, Princess Thora of Atlantia, Gavlin, Temple 404, Luther, and King Brenan. I fought all of them well. I bested all the unbelted fighters and killed each of the Dukes at least twice. At some point the thrusting tip came off my sword, and I left it off, just doing edge work. That was great! I even got two good kills on Brenan with the edge. I usually have to rely on the thrust against him. Here's what I wrote about my fights with Arm in my journal: "The simpler I kept it the easier it was to get him. Hen I went for the inside thrust he voided and hit me in the ribs. Or my arm." 

Remember that.

Midland Vale and Wantagh are basically teaching practices for me. I was the only knight in armor at either place. I relied on very simple stuff against everyone except Hassan at Midland Vale and Auzer at Wantagh. Mostly, I was using straight saber cuts to the head. This requires me being in a high closed guard, not an a-frame, which is my best defense. The thing that seemed to be working in all four practices was the hook/wrap. I'd never rally thrown that before--I'd always thrown a hook/snap or a hook/thrust, but this just kind of jumped into a fight on the fly at AEdult Swim, and I've been winning with it.

I went six rounds at Mudthaw. I fought no knights. My first five rounds were very semetrical--I fought two guys from VDK and three from Bloodguard in that time. I planned to keep the fights very simple--just four basic shots---head, leg, off-side head, wrap, a few hooks, no fancy molinees, very few fakes.

Yeah, right. A lack of patience is still my biggest problem.

My first loss was in the first round. I got destroyed, I fought Turig (sp), a giant from VDK. He's clobbered me a few times before. I think I've beaten him once in Mudthaw. He was not going to let me get set. At the lay on he jumped me. He charged, threw an on-side head, an off-side head, and an on-side wrap to the body. I was laughing as I fell to the ground. I did not throw a blow.

In the fights I won I won one with a thrust, one with a hidden shot, one with a great slot (what "d planned for) and one was a pole arm guy I wrapped to the body.

Then I fought Arn. I was cautious, almost tentative. I was not aggressive as I needed to be. I noticed that he was throwing the off-side body a lot as a counter. I tried to set him up by throwing an on-side leg, rotating over to catch the off-side body, and  then throwing the off-side head (or arm) the way Sagan teaches it. The set up worked but the blow didn't land well. It skipped and caught both his head and his shoulder as he was ducking. Then, because he does a window-block to guard his leg, I decided to try something fancier. I used Duke Edric's foot stomp/face thrust.

What do you think happened. Here's a link to the video:

Ionnes killed Doug in an incredible on fight final.

It was a fun day none the less. Even though I lost my first round fight I went to sixth round. While I should have beaten both Turig and Arn, they were both having banner days. Arn went to quarter or semi-finals and lost to Doug (who was able to pull off that left-handed off side face shot that I couldn't connect with). I had some great pick-ups, especially with Ron. But a few questions remain. (1) Should I have put the thrusting tip back on my sword? I had real trouble with people not taking my shots--especially leg shots, and I'm sure that was the balance/weight of the sword and how it had changed with the thrusting tip. On the one hand I won a fight with the thrust. On the other, a thrust lost me a fight. (2) Had I fought too much the previous two weeks? I don't fight the week before crown in fear of over training. I did great in last crown having fought only six times since the previous one. It's possible to over train. (3) My wrist was not as healed as it seemed. I started out with tape wrapping both my hand and my wrist, but found this distracting and restricting. I took it off after my second fight, and taped just my wrist (the way I normally do) after that. But the inflammation in my wrist and elbow did resurface (I'm wearing my wrist brace as I type, since it was typing and mousing that caused the injury in the first place).  Turig's body wrap really effected me. I don't think it broke anything (other than my pride) but my back was spasming the rest of the day. I felt an ache every time I did certain moves, and it made it hard to lift my shield quickly. That was particularly bothersome in my fight with Arm.

It is 26 days until Crown Tournament. I probably will not fight at all this week.