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.