Saturday, January 30, 2016


You know how you occasionally find a great stick of rattan? One that sticks really well and lasts a long time? Like vorpal rattan. I just retired one. I used the same sword nearly all last year. It took me through two tough Crowns and Pennsic. Yes, I was injured part of last year, but I was amazed at how many people were taking all of my shots from a year old sword. It's a bit frayed, and after the tourney I reverently cut the basket hilt off of it, and then threw it out. Thanks Death Tongue (all my swords are named Death Tongue). 

Birka, in case you don't know, is a three hour, ten field "holmgang" bear pit. You get a number and stand in line. You fight until you are killed or step out of the list. One poin for each fight, one for each win (or two for a win one for a loss). About 150 fighters compete, and they fight more than 3,000 fights. It's the toughest tourney in the Knowne World. Great place to kind of ease into things just coming off of surgery, because I csn drop out or drop back in at any time. I usually try to rest after five times through. 

So this year I kept a running journal. Every time I rested I dictated a bit on my fighting. Not quite live blogging, because I waited till now to post it. I hoped I'd remember more of my fights. No such luck. I had planned to just do some technique work, limit my self to one shot for a fee fights, that sort of thing. Ha! That went out the window as soon as I walk in (which was about ten minutes late because they laid on before court was over). 

First rest break. My first six fights were Arn, Breeder, Thorson, Brian, Frithiker, and Doug. Not ego building. I beat Arn and Thorson, lost to Doug and Breeder, also Lost to Brian and Frithiker. On the one hand I'm not doing well. I haven't put together any runs. On the other hand, that's one hell of a tough list right there. My fight with Brian was particularly good, because I started out wounded in the hip, he went to his knees, but of course he could rise up. We fought good and long in my defense was good and it was a good flight.

Second rest break. I don't know how many times I went to the line this time, maybe three. However, I just put together my longest run. Nine victories. Including Sterling. But no knights. I don't think. A blur. Two of them I killed with wavy rising snaps. At least two I killed the top edge hooks, the same thing I killed Thorson with. That's the first time today I won more than one fight. 

Third rest break. I really can't remember who I've been fighting in this round. I think I went to the line four times, maybe it was five. I had a medium length run. it was kind of fun because I lost my trusting tip during the first fight. I haven't put it back on and don't intend to. I'm fighting fine without it. The added tip speed is helping right now. I taped it back on so often it was really weighing the sword down. I had a medium length run, and a very long run, longer then the one I had last round. I lost count. Once again old-school stuff like top edge hooks, figure eights, and hesitation wraps are what I'm winning with. Fatigue is what killed me this time around. I lost to a madu fighter I should've taken apart. But I just couldn't put anything together. Good round all in all.

Later, after a long rest. Legs are heavy. Arms are heavy. Sat down for a long time. Not dizzy just really fatigued. That kind of "I'm not sure I can walk anymore" fatigued. Feeling better now, but still moving like I'm trapped in quicksand. Now's the time to suck it up and put the hat back on.

Fourth rest break. Oh my God I'm tired. I just did four multifight runs, the last of two which were very long. I lost count. During that last run I managed to work my way entirely through the line, fighting the same person twice in the same run. That's one of the big goals for Birka. I wasn't tired for a long time. I was putting on a clinic on old-school sword work for a while. I got somebody with Ed's butterfly, stutter wraps, top edge hooks, but also just really quick double taps and rib wraps. Then I got a fight against a polearm guy that lasted forever. I won, but I could barely stand after that. Killed two more people, then I died. Don't ask me who killed me. I know that Ryo killed me one of my earlier runs but not this one. Great round, really tired!

OK, last time out. I'm done. I dropped out with 15 minutes to go. I was starting to put my helmet back on, and then I realized that I didn't want to be hit in the head anymore. I don't think I have a concussion, but Evaldr one shorted  me and it was kind of hard. My last loss was to a polearm fighter, I had been on my knees for a long run, which is a good accomplishment, I'm very proud of it. Anyway I took his leg and we wrestled a lot till he gave me a double tap in the face with his butt spike. It felt like my neck jammed a little bit. I took off my helm and, got some water, rested, I was still really really really fatigued, they called 15 minutes, and I started to put my hat back on and I said "wait a minute, I promised not to push myself. This is it. I'm done." 

So that was it. I managed to kill breeder during that last run. earlier I had killed Willy. He killed me in another round. I probably had one or two more victories over knights, but the only ones I can recall are Breeder, Thorson, and Willie, once each. Some other odd stuff: without the thrusting tip, I fought really oddly in the A-frame. That's weird, because a lot of people without thrusting tips use an a frame defense. But for me that thrust out of the a frame seems to set up a lot more than I realized. The high closed form is still not so good against the chivalry. That's how Evaldr was able to one shot me. Another knight one shot of me earlier in the day, but that was because my shield was in an A-frame position and my sword was in a high open position. My shoulder felt great all day, but now it's freaking killing me. This was a very good Birka for me. It was helmet time, it gave me a lot to think about, and boy did I do some good sword work. 

So I just checked my results. 19. At first I thought that was the points they were giving me, which seemed low, but it was my rank. I had 105 points, 60 fights, I won 45 and lost 15. I am shocked. I am shocked because I didn't think I fought that many fights, and I'm shocked because I placed 19th even though I was at court when they started, I dropped out 15 minutes before the end, and I was coming off surgery six weeks ago. An even 3 to 1 win to loss ratio seems fantastic to me. 

The winner was Doug, then Arn, then Breeder, which is how I started my day. 

Crown has not been scheduled. My next time in armor will probably be next Sunday. 


Steve Muhlberger said...

Congratulations on stopping when you did.

barry1492 said...

Excellent post, Valgard!

F. Rogers said...

Enjoyed reading. Was surprised to see the wavy rising. Would love to talk to you to see if your interpretation is the same as mine. Sir Kurn, Trimaris. I'm on fb. Have a good one