Monday, April 24, 2017

Nutley and Iron Bog, with Video!

Fight practice is a commitment, and training for Crown more so. For instance, the good practices around here are in Jersey. Being one of those New Yorkers who don't own a car, getting to practice is a real hassle. (when I first moved here, and for several years, there was an excellent practice in Union Square, but the City closed us down by renovating the park, turning where we fought and parked into an event space/market, and now the only good practices are on the other side of the Hudson).  For instance: to get to Iron Bog practice yesterday, I left the apartment at 9:00 AM. After a set back (I got to the subway and realized I'd left my wallet at home) I had to take a cab from Brooklyn to Penn Station ($40) in order to catch my train. There being no traffic on Sunday Morning, I got there with enough time to grab coffee and breakfast at Pret a Mangier. Catching the 10:07 to Rahway ($10) I started to Jersey. However, there was both a busted switch and some single-tracking due to maintenance between Secaucus and Newark, so we were 45 minutes late. Practice? Great! Dinner with my camp-mates afterword? Fun (and $22)! I caught the 8:42 back to Penn Station ($10) and made it home at 10:30 PM. So (and this was counting dinner) practice yesterday cost me 13.5 hours of my time and (counting dinner) and $82 (counting dinner). While I was there I picked up a set of Cet's leg splints, but that's $80 I was going to spend at some point anyway. Take out the dinner (yes, I would have eaten anyway, but I would have cooked for myself), and it's only $60. So, it's a commitment.

Oh: I had a great time, and a great practice.

I finished the century drill on the last day of Spring Break. I've kept up the same workout, save that on Thursday I did not run. But I *did* run after I got him from Nutley on Wednesday night, of which I'm kind of proud. Just now, I went down to the gym at school, did my workout, with 20 minutes of yoga, then ran (in my 5 fingers) a mile and a half.

I have transitioned now into a modified A Frame/High Guard like Gregor uses. I can take that into a standard high-guard if need be (like against Arne, because it defends my off-side better). I have mostly but not completely abandoned the Bellatrix High-open form that I'm most comfortable with. I am using Gemeni's technique of being in high open form when I'm out of range or right at the edge of it, and closing up when I move into range.



At Nutley on Wednesday I could not get in enough fighting. It was a great practice once again, with about 20 people in armor. I only fought five people, and only three of those were with sword and shield.

For the most part, I stank.

I started out fighting Jan Janovich. My first fight against him was great. I worked him till I took his leg, then killed him. Then we more or less traded fights till he nailed me in the cup. And not one of those annoying little tip shots either. This was a full on cleave you in two shot. Thankfully, the cup worked.

Next I fought an unbelted fighter from ICOD named Michael. He nailed me. Then he nailed me again. I killed him three times, all with a hook/thrust. I was bad!

Then I fought Gregor. He said my defense was really good. Ha! I got him once with a hook thrust.

Wanting to get some training for Crown I fought Eric Hundeman with his preferred style, sword and "broken lance" with a thrusting tip on one end. Here's the thing. If I fight it like I'm fighting sword and short sword, or case, like my usual two weapon gig, I do well. If I fight it like he and Radnor do I'm doomed.

Then I fought James, a Tribal fighter from the West. We fought Sword and Buckler. That was fun.

I fought Sir Harold. Sir Mord, Sir William, Arne, and a polearm fight with Dan. However, before getting into armor, I did my whole workout-- pushups, squats, yoga, and a run around that big fighting field (I did my pell work at home). I was beat! I wanted to be tired out. It worked. My targeting was awful! My power was weak!

Harold was SUPER Tough yesterday (he was knocking Arne around). We only made it through two fights, and we split them. He was bringing a lot of heat and I couldn't get near to hitting him.

Mord killed me once. I killed him more than once. My targetting sucked and it felt my blows were really slow.

Against Bill I had a great set of fights, but that light sword was starting to broom, so a couple of times my technique worked to get an opening but didn't kill him.

Against Arne I fought really really well.

I went against Dan with the pole arm because big choppy things is one of the forms for finals. I fought it like Diablu, with downward chops from a vertical guard and did ok. Then I fought my normal pole style and did much better.

So check it out, Video!

Here's me and Gregor. Note how the "tight defense" he mentioned. Especialy at about 1:12. It reminds me of the great Michael Pope's comment about my fight with Michael San in the Cynaguan Novice Tourney, AS 13 (the coronet where it snowed--you know....). "So Valgard here says to Michael San "here Mike! Use my shield as a coffee table?" Michael said "Thank you very much sucker, eat flaming rattan death!"

More of me and Gregor:

So here's me and Bill at Iron Bog. Check out how terrible my targetting is. I'm way way off! Note how I gracefully slip and nearly faceplant right in front of him!

And finally my first fight with Arne. This was a good one, but not my best fight of the day.

It's 12 days until Crown. My next time in armor will be Wednesday at Nutley.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Iron Bog, 4/9/17

Best laid plans and all that.

I had planned to step up my training over Spring Break. I've unfortunately been frustrated by Ostgardr, and by God.

I've added Yoga and running to my daily routine of pushups (50) squats (50) and pell work (100 strikes). I'm currently on day 95 of the Century Drill. The yoga is just a warmup. I've got set yoga combinations of 5, 10, and 20 minutes. I've mostly been doing the 10 minute one. That will increase soon, and I'll start taking full classes eventually. My runs have been either a mile, or a mile and a half, or the one day I did wind-sprints, though the day of Iron Bog my run consisted of getting off the train in Newark to change trains and realizing that I'd accidentally left the station, and had 5 minutes to run around the block, across a busy street, back into the station and then up to the platform, all while dragging my armor. I made it. It was a workout.

The problem was with helmet time. I planned three days in armor--Iron Bog on Sunday, Midland Vale on Tuesday, and Rusted Woodlands on Thursday. I made it to Iron Bog. On Tuesday my trainee up in Midland Vale was hurt. Midland Vale is a 4 hour trip by four different trains--meaning I'd have to stay the night--so I decided to go to my local practice instead. Trouble was, I was the only heavy who showed up. Then on Thursday (today) somebody posted that, due to Holy Week, there'd be no practice at Rusted Woodlands (it takes place in a church).  Frustrated. One goal not met, and lots of good helmet time missed.

I am trying to guard my right side more, fighting more in a high guard than in an A Frame this week, and practicing more overhead returns. I had not replaced the bolt on my shield, and I didn't have a spare. It's the bottom bolt on the palm strap, so I can still use the shield, but it doesn't hang correctly and leaves my leg open. I borrowed a shield from Thomas for most of my fights. This was kind of awesome, because it was well balanced and guarded my leg well most of the time (I did over block once), and really forced me into a high guard the way it was strapped. It also just wasn't my shield, so it got me killed more than once.

First up I fought Mord. He killed me twice, mostly because I was using Jonathan's shield. I found my attack from the high guard felt a bit slow.

RON: I used my own shield against Ron. He was being very careful and very precise, so he basically carved me to ribbons. He took my leg twice out of three fights. I felt my defense improving against him. I could not quite get my sword moving. I didn't lay stick on him.

MATT: Against Matt I did very well. He had gone back to his heater shield, which I don't think is his best form--he fights me better with his center-grip kite. I took his leg a couple of times, I killed him with slot shots and with a rising snap.

RORY: Fights with Rory were great. One of the forms for Crown semis will be sword with broken lance, which will have a thrusting tip on one end. We both went out with sword and bastard sword held upside down to simulate this. These were vicious fights, because it's not the best form for either of us. My best kill was when I struck at his leg, stomped my foot, then hit him with the thrusting tip in the chest. He tagged me with a good face thrust and with a slot shot. I accidentally punched him in the face reaching for a top-edge hook.

JONATHAN: Great way to end the day. Jonathan is a great fighter with hand speed and good judge of measure. We had some awesome fights. I took his leg a couple of times and killed him with a hook/wrap and a butterfly. He pounded me at least once with a haymaker. Really good fights.

The list for crown is out. It's thin at the top, with only four royal peers, but very heavy in the middle. There's 39 fighters in the list, and at least 16 of them have a legitimate shot at winning. Thankfully, I'm one of them.

Duke Ronald Wilmot fighting for Duchess Bronwyn Dawntreader
Duke Randal of the Dark fighting for Duchess Katherine Stanhope
Duke Achilles son Asia fighting for Shaunna
Jarl Valgard Stonecleaver fighting for Lady Gracia Vasquez de Trillo
Sir Wilhelm von Ostenbrucke fighting for Mistress Vienna de la Mer
Sir Zhigmun Czypsser fighting for Bannthegn(Baroness) Aleyd Czypsser
Sir Sichelgaita von Halsstern fighting for Sir Harold Hakonson
Master Ryan Mac Whyte fighting for Mistress Kay Leigh Mac Whyte
Sir Culann mac Cianain fighting for Mistress Aneleda Falconbridge
Sir Cedric of Armorica fighting for Mistress Brid ni Sherlais
Master Ãvaldr Valbjarnarson fighting for Mistress Eva Woderose
Sir Pellandres, dit le frere fighting for Baroness Mari Clock van Hoorne
Sir Ivan Ivanov syn Dmitriev fighting for Baroness Matilde DeCaden
Master Dmitri Stephanovich aka Deacon de Chatillion fighting for Mistress Nadezhda Voronov
Sir William MacCrimmon fighting for Lady Susanna of Dragonship Haven
Master Sigurthr Vigurhafn fighting for Baroness Medhbh inghean Ui Cheallaigh
Baron Jonathan Miles fighting for Baroness Teresa Perez
Lord Donnan Fitzgerald fighting for Lady Aurelia Alfaiata d’Alcáçova
Baron Duncan Kerr fighting for Mistress Eleanor fitzPatrick
The Honorable Lord Richard Crowe fighting for Lady Ameria Browne
The Honorable Lord William RavenHair fighting for The Honorable Lady Albreda Aylese
The Honorable Lord Turi Mac Kinnon fighting for Baroness Marguerite de Sainte Nazaire
Baron Rory Maclellan fighting for Baroness Astridr Sigrun Ulfkelsdottir
Lord Ingvar Thorsteinsson called Critter fighting for Lady Hasanah bint al-Kalil ibn Habib
Baron Vachir Artslanjin fighting for Sarvuu Arslanjin
The Honorable Lord Gawyn O’Clery fighting for Maeve O’Clery
The Honorable Lord Klaus Winterhalter Von Wallachia fighting for Lady Anastasia Wolfe
The Honorable Lord Arne Ulriksson fighting for Lady Anna VonBaden
The Honorable Lord Galvyn Lockhart fighting for Lady Rhiannon of Ayres
Lord Dorian Kalogero fighting for Lady Aziza al Shirazyya
Lord Martin Wasser Speier fighting for Master Donovan Shinnock
Lord Berkhommer Von Nuemburg fighting for Lady Auriora de Bianco
Lord Brick James Beech fighting for Lady Nadia Hart
Lady Vasia von KÃenigsberg fighting for Lady Ãesa Sturludottir
Lord Patrick Lumhalghs fighting for Lady Melody
Lord Abel atte Watere fighting for Ãesa assa
Luthor Von Eisenfaust fighting for Lady Mabel Fortune
Onryo fighting for Esmeralda

It's 23 days until Crown. My next time in armor will be at Nutley next Wednesday. 

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Nutley, April 5

At Nutley, they hit real hard.

So I needed to get back into armor to humble myself after Mudthaw. If that wasn't the intent, that was certainly the outcome. It was a really really big night, pretty deep, very painful.

None. All I wanted to do coming into the night was to relax and let the fight come to me. I didn't want to o A-Frame or Bellatrix style, I just wanted to go out and fight.

I've been working with dumbbells and indian clubs a bit, but not much. I'm just doing my dailies: pushups, squats, steps, and 100 strikes on the pell. I'm on day 88 of the Century drill.

Oh, wow! There were seventeen people in armor at Nutley last night, included seven knights. It was a deep night. I fought a good variety of guys, but I played in the deep end of the pool quite a bit.

DUNCAN: He's a guy I don't now very well. He hits hard on his first shot but then loses power. I got him with lateral movement to my left.

ARNE: This was tougher than Mudthaw. I had some great fights with him. I managed to take his leg twice and I won those fights. I avoided the thrust. He took my arm and my ribs once each, but I was guarding the off-side much better overall.

ALEXANDROS: He uses a heater and fights very tight. His defense is good and he doesn't fall for fakes, but you can freeze him with double pumps.

KING IOANNES: As I've said on this blog before, I wear a lobster-tail gorget because my biggest fear is a neck injury.  Last night I got all dressed up to fight Ioannes, then realized I'd forgotten to put my gorget on. Good thing, too! He was out their grand-standing and posing, trying to throw me off. I don't think it worked. I mostly stayed on my game and came after him. Once I mirrored him, but that was the worst it got. I don't think I laid stick on him at all. He has that wicked high shot that Duke Anton from Atlantia used o throw, which is nearly impossible to guard, but he jumps into the air wen he does it. Twice he hit me with it, and the second time was right across the lobster tail of my gorget. When he's air born, it lands REALLY deep.

ERIC HUNDEMAN: I manged to get him with a couple of thrust, including when I was on my knees, thrusting him in the belly. That was satisfying. I also got him with a top-edge hook. Nonetheless, most of my plans were not working at all, and he took my head off a couple of times.

STEPHAN: When you fight Von Dresden, you have to be prepared for the thunder to rain down upon you. He hits harder than anybody at that practice. In fact, he also hit me on my gorget, and it was so hard I felt it in the palms of my hands. He also got me with one of those short-stick strikes he trows, which are his hardest blow. The thing is, both the really ard shots he hit me with were follow-up shots. When Stephan hits you, you kind of go limp for a milisecond, or maybe its just that you cringe. Whatever. It means you are totally helpless for a second. If he thinsk you took his shot he will stop fighting, but normally he's so fast that his second shot has landed before you can get "good" out. To me a very good practice is one wherein I land a stick on Stephan somewhare. I did not do that. However, when we went toe-to-toe (literally--it's a game he likes to play, stand with your toes touching first one to step back or get hit loses), it was savage and I did great. When we were done everybody watching went "whoa" and somebody applauded.

HORIC: I mean, how could I not wait to get a shot at Horic? Those were very good fights, and I won them both. I almost got him with a butterfly. I did get him with thrusts twice, once with a hook/thrust when we were both on our knees. His is such a great fighter!

It's 30 days until Crown Tournament. My next time in armor will be Sunday in Iron Bog.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Mudthaw 2017

Everybody keeps telling me what a great Mudthaw I had, how I made an incredible run, how I had some epic bouts. All of this is true. I did great. I fought well, I think I fought honorably, I had a great time. But when it really comes down to it, I had two fights against two unbelted fighters, one of whom I'd just beaten, and that was all it would take to get me into the semi finals--and I couldn't get it done.

Mudthaw, if you've never fought it, is one of those big tourneys that rival Crown's for size and quality. In most kingdoms (the West, with three crowns and six coronets a year is an exception) have one or two tourneys that are as big or bigger than Crown Tourney, and as hard fought. Mudthaw is one of those. There were 70 - some odd (I heard, but all I remember was 70 something) fighters--bigger than most Eastern crowns. There were four royal peers in the list, plus Doug Henry, who is one of our two non-Dukes (he's better than nearly every duke in the kingdom, he just doesn't want to be king. He usually wins Mudthaw and always wins Birka). And there was a passel of knights and the usual hungry unbelts. It's a very tough list. It also draws from all over. We had a couple of guys down from Montreal.

They fight it as a double elimination list, but did something odd this time. They started out as though they were going to fight a winners and a losers list, but they forgot to front-load the byes as you need to in that situation (to make that work you need both the winners and losers lists to be powers of two by the 3rd round). So they were mixing the lists up, but they still wanted to get down to two fighters with one loss and two with none, so they could run the semi final the way they usually do. More on that later.

I can't recall all my fights in detail at this point. What I can recall is this: I went in without a plan. I fought some A Frame but a lot more of a traditional high-guard and some Bellatrix. Bellatrix attacks lost me two fights, but I was more relaxed, moving better, and was fighting my own game, not anybody else's. I got compliments from both Ron and Viz on that.

As far as I know, Eric Hundamn and I were the only knights paired with another knight in the first round. This was a tough fight, as is taller than I and uses an odd sword and spear (ish) style. I managed to kill him with slot shot but it was hard and very close.

My next fight was against a bastardsword fighter, I was warned that he was very sharp, so I was cautious. I used the same modified A Frame I use against pole arm fighters and, when he attacked, I stepped in and just pounded at his leg till he went down. I actually got a hook on his sword then I hit him in the body.

My third fight was against an unbelted fighter named Godric. He was really good, but had no idea how to handle an old-school figure 8 attack. I got him with a back hand.

I think fourth round was my bye. This was what really lost the tournament for me. They were fighting byes and I got Tiberius Naughtious Maximus, a scutum fighter who is taller than I and who put a loss on me at the Crown Brion won. We fought and took each others arms. Called that a double kill and fought again. Called that a double kill and fought again. I won, but I was so winded I could barely stagger back to camp. No we were in 5th round when things start to get hairy. Sure enough I went right into my next fight. I draw Brennan. As I said, now is when it gets tough.

So Brenan has been taking my off-side leg very handily of late. I knew that going in. I'd been thinking about it for two weeks--if you fight Brenan watch out for the off-side leg shot. After some feeling out and cautious range games, I attack. I want to get him with a hook thrust, but I've been killing him with that too much lately, and he knows it's coming. He is countering by twisting his body out of the way and leaning to his left every time he feels my hook. He throws a blow at the same time that almost gets me. I then decide to use an aggressive Belatrix style attack: I throw the off-side head, do the tear-drop return to the on-side head and step forward as I do, and as soon as I take that step he nails my (off-side) leg. Ok, that's a ducal move and I just did what I swore I wasn't going to do, lose my off-side leg. After that we have a very long fight. I almost get him with a hook thrust from my knees but he dodges it again. I almost get him with that slot shot to the belly. My head and off-side are well guarded but he works me over till he lands a (hard) wrap to my shield-side ribs. Ok. That was an epic fight against a duke.

Next I draw a really fast, wiley fighter from Canada named Reinhardt who just blew up Bill in the first round. That was a hard fight and, to be honest, I was tired and don't recall how I won it. I probably took his leg. Maybe?

Next round I drew Arne, who is the toughest unbelt in the list and finaled here last year after taking my arm when I knew better than to throw the foot-stomp thrust. This fight was truly epic. We went for a long time. I knew the off-side was coming, so I had that guarded. Unfortunately, he's also developed a very good attack down the middle agains the A-Frame. He nearly took my arm. He usually leaves himself open to high wraps when he steps in, but with my brand-new fairly light sword I couldn't get those to stick. Finally, in one of our more violent exchanges, I got his leg when he over-blocked and I moved off-line to my left. Then I worked him for awhile until I got a good shield hook and snap on him.

That was 7th round, unless I'm leaving something out.

Now it comes down to this. There are two fighters without losses, Doug and Horic. Did I mention Horic? This is a song about Horic.....

Well, not really. Horic is a count from Long Island, he was Gendy's squire, he's Gui's grand knight and was Von Dresden's knight. He's a great guy but he dropped out of the SCA for awhile. Oddly, I was the last guy to fight him before he dropped out, at a practice in 98 at Kisena park, and the first guy to fight him back in armor, at a barbecue at his house 18 months ago. He's been going to the Wantagh practice that Gui and I go out to sometimes, mostly to see him and Mordreth. So he decided to drop 45 pounds and come out of retirement. He's still got amazing hand speed and great reflexes, and he shocked a lot of people (but not those of us who'd been going to Wantagh). He did great. I never fought him. This is just a shout out to him for the great day he had.

In addition to Doug and Horic there are five fighters with one loss: me, Arne, Thorson, Brenan and an unbelt named Victor. Now there's lots of things we can do at this point. We can keep running it as a single-tree list, like many kingdoms do, until there are two fighters for the final round. We can fight three more rounds with the unbelts, which will give us two from that group. Thorson pressed hard for a roman style melee. But, in the end, they decided to fight a round robin among us five, mostly because Arne wanted that instead of the melee option. That's right, at the END of the tournament, we had to fight a five person round robin. It figures the youngest kid in the bunch would want the option that was the most tiring. Oh joy.

My first fight was Count Thorson. Thorson is the reason I adopted the A-Frame. One, he makes it work so well, but two, it was the only defense I could find against his quick off-side face shot, which every A Frame fighter uses (when he threw it, and I was in an open guard, it just sailed down the top-edge of my shield and there was nothing I could do about it). We fought hard for a minute or two, but I took his leg then killed him. That, killing Thorson in a tournament, is one of the great moments for me lately.

Then I got Brenan again. This time he did not get my off-side leg. Again I threw the hook thrust and again no dice. My defense was much tighter this time. Eventually he got my shield-side leg, then we fought a long time before he got me with a  wicked shoulder chop.

And that was the moment when I looked around and said I can do this. I've got a win and a loss. Brenan has a loss (to Thorson) but Thorson just lost to Arne. Arn'e has lost to Brenan. If I win these next two fights against Arne and Victor I'm in semis against Horic.

I settled down to fight Arne. I worked out of my A Frame. We had a couple good exchanges. He almost got me with that slot shot once,. The second time he threw it is caught me solid in the belly. Not really hard but good and clean and just enough.

Then I fought Victor. That was a short but powerful experience. I don't remember having fought him before and had no book on him. He was using a tear drop kite. I've been having good results using a Belatrix attack against that form. I threw the first blow, started the second, and he stepped into my advance and hooked my shield. Nobody in this kingdom uses shield hooks but me. And apparently this guy. I'm like "Oh shit" he bends around and cuts me off, then brings a hammer blow down on the top of my helm. Great technique, and I am out.

Adendum: Victor tagged me in this photo on Facebook of the moment he took my lunch money. You can see the hook, the blow, and how fucked I am.  I never should have let this happen.

Semis was Brenan against Horic, with Brenan needing to win twice, which he did. Doug made short work of Arne, then Brenan beat Doug in a one-fight final with single broadswords that included at least one double kill.

So yeah, I had a great day. Yeah, I could have done better. I was totally gassed at the end, which I know is why Arne got that shot in, and probably why Victor beat me as well.

Oh, then I served high table at the feast, because royal peers and barons should do that sort of thing. Fighting Mudthaw and serving feast equals 17,800 steps according to my fitbit.

I feel tired this morning but it was an awesome day.

Addendum: so I couldn't find any video of me, but I found some great video of Brenan fighting Victor. Victor uses a hook/thrust!! Yay! I developed that technique about five years ago, and have had real success with it. I don't know if Victor figured it out himself or saw me do it, or if he reads my blog, but he's only the second person besides me I've ever seen use that technique. Yes, it was unfortunately against Brenana whom, as I noted above, has a counter for it.  But good on Victor.

It's 41 days until Crown. My next time in armor may be this Thursday in Hawthorne. If not the following Wednesday at Nutley.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Iron Bog 3/19

You know, I carry a phone with me everywhere I go. My phone has a camera. It should be easy to get video of my practices, but I never do. I tell myself this all the time, and have been since long before we all carried a camcorder in our pockets. You'd think now it would be automatic. Nope.

All of which is to say that I wish I had video of my last two practices (there is video on FaceBook of me at Aedult Swim. It's humbling).

Radnor is a disciple of Musashi. He believes in fighting without attitude. Worrying about my stance, guard, wards, etc. is fighting with attitude. At some point you have to stop worrying. Fighting should be the same as walking across the field. So I was trying to fight without attitude, without technique. It was more or less working. The one blow I specifically decided to work on was Ron's off-side leg shot. It's a simple shot off a wavy on-side head fake. I landed it twice.

I've been getting to the gym. What I've been doing there is simple: my regular work--50 push-ups, 50 squats, century (in this case I use a heavy stainless steel bar and do 50 1/2 combos with each arm in the mirror)--plus some yoga, and some dumbell work. That's it. No barbells, no weight machines, no heavy lifting. I did get on the treadmill the other day, just to get my steps up.

Ah! Iron Bog! One of my best days in awhile.

Whether or not to use the A Frame or the high closed guard, or even the high open guard, was incidental. Count Gemini taught that you can use the high open guard when you are out of range, but as you get into range you should close to either an A Frame or a high closed guard, then at close range always be in a high closed guard. But the movement between them is fluid and without attitude, just like your steps. This is how I approached all my fights.

I fought Quintus first, as a warm up. I mostly fought him at medium range and used a high closed guard, looking over the top of my shield, but also an A Frame. I went in without a plan and tried not to care. I took his leg several times and he killed me once.

The reason I'd gone down to Iron Bog was to fight Ron. I fought him next. We only had two fights, fairly long, but I won them both. They were great fights. In the first fight I took his leg (maybe with his leg shot, maybe with an upsilon leg fake, I can't remember) and then, after a time, beat him with an arm and body fake that went left, then right, then struck straight down the middle. I was almost out of range, so I slipped inside his sword block and struck him in the chest. In our second fight he took my leg really easily with his off-side leg shot, but my defense was very good. I threw a wavy rising snap and shifted my weight, hitting him in the face--a shot that was pure Houghton. He was impressed. He said I was nowhere near so predictable as I had been two weeks ago.

Next I fought Gavin (Dave Goldstein). Those were really good fights, but Gavin uses a fairly small center-grip heater shield, which is pretty easy to move around. I just worked on controlling range and moving his shield around with combos, creating openings. We double-killed a couple of times, and he took my arm twice. He also short sticked me REALLY HARD in one of our double kills--hardest blow I've taken in awhile (love my new helmet!). My best strike on him was a hook/thrust to the body.

Next I fought Bill McCrimmon). Our first fight I totally channeled Radnor--High open form, strive for height, wavy the sword around behind my head, fakes from long range, option shots, etc. I took his leg with an upsilon leg strike and then killed him with a butterfly (but Gendy's version, not Radnor's). Our other fights I was a bit closer and tightened my defense up. I beat him 3 to 2 at that point.

I wanted to fight Mord and Harold as well, but they both were beat up and got out of armor, so I fought Harold's squire Matt. He's gone to a center-grip kite and more of a VDK style (good choice for him. I made that work for awhile and only gave it up because the center grip kite was giving me tennis elbow). unfortunately, hes really really wild. His first couple blows are ok, but then he starts to stick his shield too far out in front of him and move around behind it, and all sorts of angles open up.

For the end of the day I got in a polearm fight. I borrowed Harold's light 6 foot glaive, and the guy I fought (I'm sorry, I forget his name) was using a seven footer. Oddly, the thing that usually work best for me--opposed thumbs and swim moves in close--wasn't working and caused the two losses I took. But everything else was working. I wound over the top of his pole and cut him. When he switched to a left hand grip, I faked high to his right and cut his left hip. I shortened my grip and got him with both thrusts and shoulder cuts. I beat his glaive aside and came over the top of it. Then I used my money-shot, the fake face thrust, circle disengage as a leg fake, then real face thrust with a step. That worked too.

My big problem is the same--A-Frame vs high closed form, tight defense with few offensive options vs more open defense with more options, counter punching versus attacking--in other words, everything. Oh yeah, and (possibly due to the soreness I've been having in my back, which flared up in one fight) I've been doing the old-man fighter things of squaring up to rain blows down on my opponent, which cost me my arm twice, my off-side leg at least once, and my ribs a time or two. Really, I think that accounted for all of my losses, come to think of it. But not worrying about any of that stuff--which is always the est place to be mentally--was what worked.

It is 45 days until Crown Tourney. My next time in armor will be this Saturday at Mudthaw.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Barren Sands Schola

There are lots of ways to work out. Lately, I've been a minimalist: 50 push ups, 50 squats, 100 sword, strikes, every day. I haven't always made the steps (and I do it by average, so 70,000 in a week--usually I rest on Sundays, and this week we had a snow day).

It's the century drill that is hardest. I am on day 66 as I write this. For 100 days you hit the pell 100 times. If you skip a day you start over at 1. If you loose count you start over at 1. There are variations. Radnor, who taught me the drill, suggested that if you can't hit a pell use the knife edge of your hand against a pillar doing slow work. I can't get to my pell due to some construction in the courtyard so I've been using a concrete pillar in the basement and some old broomed swords. I started out using my flex bar for days I traveled and doing slow work on a door jam. At the gym one day I did swings with a heavy steel bar used as a handle on the cable machine. Lately, I've been striking a soft target with my Indian clubs. But 100 strikes a day for (so far) 60 days.

There was a small tournament last weekend in Barren Sands. I mean small. There were five fighters and Gui and I were the only knights. The good of this tournament was that I got in some great sword and pole arm fighting. I lost the pole fight to Collin (I had a borrowed  halberd and he just beat me on speed). The greatsword fight was in the finals against Gui. And time you get to fight Gui with a greatsword it's a good thing. It's his best form. But beating Gui in a finals with a greatsword is a great thing. He went for a leg shot, tried to duck my blow but didn't. Pretty as that.

The best stuff was the fights at the barriers. In the first one Gui and I were given a total of three lives--not each, just three lives. I resurrected once, he did not. The unbels got three resurrections each. That's 12 to 1. We lost, but it was epic. Then we did some single sword at the barrier, a game I'm really good at and we had a blast.

This was at their Witner Schola. It was a very fun event, and I'd recommend it to anyone.

It is 50 days until Crown. My next time in armor will be Sunday in Iron Bog.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Iron Bog

There were five knight's besides myself at Iron Bog practice: Duke Ronald, William, Harold, GUI and Mord. My plan was to work with Ron and maybe fight two more guys, but I ended up fighting all the knight's there, plus Bran, a bruiser with a center grip. 

I fought like ass. 

I'm half way through my Century Drill. I've been doing 50 push-ups and 50 squats daily. I haven't made 70,000 steps a week every week, but I hit 78,000 last week. 

At Nutley, Brenan helped figure out what's wrong with my snap out of the A Frame. I was cocking the tip before throwing it, instead of punching to the shoulder like I should. This was my main technique on Sunday, and I focused in it too much. I also tried a bit of weak (goofy foot) A frame.


Warmed up against Bran, and found lateral movement at the edge of range was best. He wants to bull rush. When he pulls his defense in he's very vulnerable. 

He dissected me. He said I was being predictable, which is bad. My only real grace is *not* being predictable. It was probably because I was working on that A Frame snap so hard. Too focused. I did get him with a nice hook thrust and with Martin the Temperate's leg shot (which he was really impressed with), but then he killed me. As with Brenan, my off-side leg was easy for him. I was squaring up too much and floating my shield out to protect the on-side leg. My sword is brooming, or I must get have gotten him with one deep wrap. 

I had corrected my shield issue. Bill tried several off-side shots that I blocked. Like Ron, he scored a big hit with a simple snap as I was throwing a combination. Bad. I won most of our fights, but my mistakes were huge and costly. 

I couldn't take Harold's leg to save my life, but I was winning most of our fights. After the first two I switched to a weak A Frame, working some of the Lucan techniques (with the wrong shield). This was really effective. I did set him up for a beautiful rising snap. 

I did well against Mord. Most of my kills were timing shots from the high guard. He got me with a couple of back hands. 

All of the problems of fighting a left handed fighter are magnified when you fight Gui. Then they're magnified again when you fight him with a greatsword. He totally tattooed my right hip. I got a few double kills when he did it, but mostly he timed it off of blocks and ducked real well. I could not get the thrust I kept looking for. I did best with downward cuts along the line of his blade to his right shoulder. Fighting Gui with a greatsword is awesome, because it's a *fight.* It's more violent than most Sword and shield fights. I put my body armor on. It was a great way to end the day. 

It's 60 days until Crown. My next time in armor will be next Sunday at Iron Bog. 

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Nutley, Ash Wednesday

Nutley! Odd thing. I journaled each of my first 13 sets at Aedult Swim immediately, as I came off the field. But looking at some of the video, I still got a lot of things wrong. 

Tonight was Nutley and I really needed some helmet time. I only had four opponents, but that was enough.  I fought Stephan, then Arne, then Aquila, then Brenan.

The only technique I was practicing was remember how to fight. Somehow, i had forgotten. 

Ok, that's not true. What was really happening was that, per Brian's advice, I was trying to find ways to end the fight quickly. This meant abandoning the thing I've been working on most over the past five years, defense and counter punching.  I am back to being aggressive and taking the initiative. Not really a good plan against Stephan.


Stephan, as usual, hit me so hard I wanted to re pad my helmet. I never laid stick on him. He said Immade him work, but I think he was just being kind. 

Arne won our first two fights, then I bore down. He's improved his snap, meaning there's something else to guard against besides the off side body now. He's still susceptible to wraps and an only school figure eight attack rattles him. 

Aquila, being an inch taller than I, takes away all my good angles. He's tough, but I managed to take his leg  three times and kill him a few times.?

Brenan was a great fight. He is also great at breaking down a fight and analyzing it. 

I know how to throw the right uppercut, and how that becomes the right cross with a broadsword. I teach it. It's the same shot Brenan was drilling me on tonight. But I can't throw it. Not from the A frame, which is where it comes from. That's, as Brenan puts it, the Master Farrell boxing style. I've been working it into my pell work. Brenan and I spent some time going over it. 

Brenan's advice was not to cede the center. I can control the center with my thrust, but I went away from that for the practice. 

Anyway, great practice!

There are 65 days until Crown. My next time in armor will be this Sunday at Iron Bog 

Monday, February 20, 2017

Aedult Swim 2017

Five hundred fighters converged on Milton Pennsylvania this weekend for Aedult Swim 2. Sir Agro came the farthest, flying in from Australia. Really, what more need be said? 

In a large way, Aedult Swim was a bit of a failure for this year. I did not seek a lot of people out. There were kings there, but I never fought any of them. I think I fought one Duke (maybe more, I fought a few other knights). I missed my shot at Branos. A lot of this was because people were seeking *me* out, which I guess is kind of cool. I kept getting challenged the minute I got on the floor.

I only fought on Saturday because of a minor injury. I had hyper extended my elbow at Birka and not fought since. The second fight it flared up. I was worried I wouldn't get to take advantage of the big smorgasbord of fighters in front of me. But I got it taped up and it didn't bother me again till much later in the day. 

I don't treat Aedult Swim like other practices. I'm not there to work on a specific technique. I'm just there to fight a good variety of fighters and to work on my endurance. I fought the first 13 fighters between 4 and 8 fights each. After that I broke for pizza. I had a new goal: fight more fighters than I'd fought the first day at last year's Aedult Swim. That meant I needed eight more. I was feeling sore and wanted to quit. The elbow was a bit sore again. I wanted to quit--so I fought on. I just put my helmet on and went out to fight two or three fights with eight fighters so I could call it a day. 

The big technical take away, if there was one, was that pell work is helping. In particular with my old-school Bellatrix attacks. I tend to start with that style against fighters who don't use an A Frame, because I don't have to worry about that quick back hand that I can't block with my shield in my normal stance. I was doing REALLY WELL with simple Bellatrix attacks--the off-side head/snap with a tear-drop return, and the snap/off-side body with a tear-drop return. 

1) Sir Kelick, Midrealm
He was *not* a good warm up fight. He was all over me. I was breathing heavily too fast. My wind was restricted. Got him twice with hook wraps, once with a great short stick as I side stepped. He window parries and leaves himself open to a face thrust.  I figured that out right at the end--fake the leg then throw a short thrust at his face. Big hole there. 

2) Herodotus from Aethelmearc
He's a big guy and a hard hitter but he leaves his off side open a lot. Got him with a snap/off-side body, a slot shot, a shoulder shot, and a slot after taking his leg. This is the fight in which I hurt my elbow. 

3) Sir Silverthorne, Midrealm 
Good two sword fighter. Mean off side thrust. Killed me twice with that. I killed him with slot shots to the body and twice with a butterfly. 

4) Teague AEthelmearc
Only fought four fights iwht Teague. I won 3. He rushes forward and stops his shield. Patience wins a slot shot or back hand. 

5) Sir Baldrik, AEthelmearc
He has an incredible off side. It's strong and he times it well. But that's all he's got. He will fall for a rising snap or a double tap to the legs, and that off-side can be timed to take his shoulder once you know it's coming. . 

6) Ozar (kingdom unknown)
He is a very wiry 2 stick fighter. He favors the off-side thrust. Jerky movement. He tries to stay at range and pick at you, so I killed him by rushing forward and jamming his swords. 

Training with my Man at Arms, Patrick. Ron and I worked with him for a few fights.  

7) James Edgersom, Ealdomere
Tall heater fighter. Was having knee trouble, so we just called out leg shots. He is about my height and my range. I got him with slots. I got a good leg shot on him I'm proud of because I saw the opening, I set up goofy foot, threw the head shot, passed off left, and hit the leg, like Lucan's body shot. It worked really well. 

8) Wulfar, Atlantia
He has an odd problem. His follow through is so strong it carries him past me, opening him up completely. Killed him several times that way. Also got him with the trick that's been working a lot lately--the rule-of-three trick throwing a rising snap after setting up with two double-striker to the leg. 

9)  Olaf, AEthelmearc
He's a two-stick fighter. His tips drift apart when he's unsure where you're going. He has a deep basket hilt block for his leg. I won all our fights by coaxing those tips apart. 

10) Sir Evander Ealdomere
He wears a very nice german kit, with a globose over a waffenrack and a wide-brimmed helmet, with a small heater. He's very wriley.  I won our first fight and our last three, and we traded in between. I beat him with that same rule-of three set up rising snap, a hook wrap, sanp/off-side body, and closed with a butterfly. 

11) Sir Galen Midrealm
Galen is a fomrer squire of Duke Stephen of Beckenham. Beck and I are from the same town, and we authorized on the same day (1st Mists vs. Cynagua War, AS 13). We use a lot of the same techniques. Before I changed to a more Eastern style, I probably fought more like Beck--at least when I was fighting with a heater--than anybody else. We have the same molinee, use some of the same combination of Radnor/Rolf/Bellatrix inspired technique, and a lot of the same fakes. So, naturally, I used my super-secret Beck knowledge on his former squire. I used some old-school Bellatrix technique on him, the off-side/on-side head combo, and it worked. I anticipated his blocks well. Then I started setting him up with some Beck techniques, hoping he'd anticipate where I was going. He did. Best one was our last fight, when I set him up with a Beck style millinee, doubled it, knowing h'ed thing it was a leg shot, stepping off-line to my left and short sticking him in the face. Too much fun. 

12) Duke Cygnus from Aethelmearc. 
Great fights! We'd fought last year, and it had been one of the highlights of my trip. He still uses a fairly wide but short Scutum. Cat got good videos of our fights. Once again, going old school Bellatrix worked best. I was proudest of breaking down the opening he presented when he threw his deep leg shot and hitting him with a cut from a high guard. 

13) Elkhart, Calontir
Wow! He's a great curved heater fighter. Tight small circle offense, super defense. I could not beat him on the inside at all, but on the outside he couldn't beat me. Bellatrix technique was best--I got him three times with a Bellatrix style back hand/snap of a tear-drop.


Fighters 14-21 were in fairly rapid succession. My goal became fighting more people than I'd fought last year. So I stayed out till I'd fought at least two fights with eight more people. Meg, Lothar, Sir Tash, Wulfstan's son--can't remember the rest of the names. Now I'm done. That was just fighting through. My sloppiness by now was getting sloppier. The soreness was getting sore-er. It was such a fun tired.

Sunday I did not fight.

There are 75 days until Crown Tourney. My next time in armor will be Sunday in Iron Bog. 

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

BIRKA! 2017

Still the same. I'm on day 24 of my century: 100 strikes on the pell daily for 100 days. I'm back up to averaging 10,000 steps a day (last week was just over 70,000). Also, I'm still doing 50 push ups and 50 squats every day.

Stay alive and fight fast.

You've got to be careful at Birka. It can overwhelm you if you're not careful. It's easy to take it too far, lose track of how tired you are, and pass out from exhaustion.

I don't actually try to win Birka.

If you're unfamiliar, the tournament at A Market Day at Birka is a holmgang inspired "bear pit." There are ten "oxhides" -- 10'x10' squares, numbered, laid out in two rows of 5, the inside edges touching. Each fighter has a number taped to the right side of his or her helmet. One fighter starts on each oxhide and they feed fighters in to the oxhides constantly. If you step one foot off the oxhide you lose your leg. If you step both feet off you are dead. If you win, you stay in. Wounds are retained. If you lose you report to the MOL and give them your number and the number of the person who beat you. If there's a double kill both report to the MOL. The MOL and several assistants sit at a table recording losses and wins on laptops. You get one point for each fight, one point for each win (or two points for a win and one for a loss). Each fighter in a double kill gets one point. Once you have reported to the MOL you can get back in the line to fight again. It cycles through very fast. This goes on for three hours. There are a lot of fighters (124 this year). Total number of fights recorded was 3,091 (17 fights per minute). The people who win Birka (usually Sir Douglas Henry) have very short fights and almost never take a break. This year he fought 177 fights in the three hours. A few people had a higher winning percentage than he did, but didn't have as many fights.

I pop my hat every three times I die, sit down, and drink water.

My goal for Birka was simple: have at least one run of ten fights (which means 9 straight victories). In fact, I had the best Birka I've ever had: 10th place, 85 fights, 68 wins, 14 losses, 3 double kills, for an 80% win rate. I had a run of 15 and another of 13. Only once did I walk in and lose my first fight. Only once did I lose my second fight.

I won maybe 5 of my fights by using the space. I realized that I was starting too close to the edge of the matt, while my opponents were rushing in to take over the center. So I started closer to the center. I managed to hold my ground against three polearm fighters and maneuver them into stepping out (without pushing--no bull rushes allowed). Of course, with 68 fights, I can't remember most of them, but I do remember a few things.

I killed one guy with the same technique I'd killed Bill with at Iron Bog last week: Double strike to the leg, then another, then a leg blow followed by a rising snap. Rule of three.

A-Frame kept me alive but was taking too long. I fought a lot of Bellatrix style because, win or lose, I wanted the fights to go quickly.

I kept seeing the same three polearm fighters from Canada over and over and over again.

A fighter from Trimaris threw a hook/thrust at me. I dodged it, but it was the first time I'd ever seen anybody but me use that technique .

Most of my kills were simple snaps from a hanging guard.

People were ignoring my leg shots.

I killed Pelandreas twice (at least), once with a technique similar to the one I taught at Iron Bog last week. I engaged his sword with mine as I closed, squared up and pressed. Then I side-stepped to my right and threw a snap a la Bellatrix. Duke Kenrick looked at me and said "you're really sharp today."

I killed Donnan twice, because he couldn't back up.

I killed Avaldr.

I lost to Doug once, then killed him.

I killed Willy with a hook/wrap.

I killed Arne.

I am pretty sure I killed Zippy.

I killed Herjolf, a big tall lefty knight from Northshield who was Lars' squire (so in our lineage).

My worst loss was to Cullyn. I was just too tired to do what it would have taken.

Here is the best part: I was the last man standing. As it came down to it, after they'd closed off the line and everybody had fed in, they started to consolidate the fields. I had to beat Arne, then Doug, then another fighter, then I was the last one left. I never in my life thought I would be the last man standing at Birka.

The results are located at . Be sure to look at "expanded results by fighter."

It's always a good idea to take a week off after Birka. I'm still sore.

There are 93 days until Crown Tournament. My next time in armor will likely be next Thursday.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Iron Bog and other stuff

It's good to be back in armor. Yesterday was only the second time I've fought since Crown. But it's not like I have been idle. Two weeks ago, in honor of Kido, I began doing the century drill. I haven't done it in years. It's quite simple: you hit the pell 100 times a day for 100 days. If you lose count on any day you start over again from blow #1. If you skip a day you start over from Day #1. It is about discipline as much as it is about form.

There's lots of ways to do pell practice. I have a pell in the back garden, a concrete pillar in the basement, and various items upstairs in the apartment. I've got old swords, sticks, and a flex bar. So far, I've used the flexbar twice, just as an experiment. The rest of the time has been in the basement. Sometimes I do the 1-6 drill (which, when I do it, comes to 78 strikes) plus 22 other strikes. Sometimes I just throw 100 of the same blow in succession. It's important right now because power generation has left me for the moment.

On Saturday, I also took another German Longsword class.

Yesterday was practice in Iron Bog, and we were essentially practicing for Birka. I held a short class on closing range, then we warmed up, then we did a bearpit.

Have been great. In addition to my 50 push ups and 50 squats everyday, I have been throwing 100 blows at the pell.

There are many ways to close range, but as Firoe and Liechtenaur and Silver and everybody else explain, you always want to move the hand before you move the body or the foot. I refer to this as clearing a path then following it. In SCA combat, we usually have a shield, this means that, in contrast to what Silver teaches, we can step without striking, so long  as we step behind our shield.

I used two exercises to demonstrate this point. The first was a silver-like cut and step (time of the hand, time of the foot) using an exercise Duke Paul teaches. From just outside range, throw a blow at your opponent's shield, and let the momentum of the blow carry you forward into a step. You are advancing behind your sword. Once your sword impacts their shield, step forward with your left foot, so you are now square to them, bringing your shield up to crowd them and fame them. Then step out tot he right, opening up a new angle for you to attack, either with a snap or a wrap to the head.

The second exercise was following the shield. When someone throws an off-side body shot, block it, then follow the block, by first stepping off line with your left foot then passing with your right. Essentially, you move the shield into the block then follow behind it. As you pass on the right, you again square to your opponent, throwing a snap or wrap as you do so. This also has the advantage of demonstrating Old Castles technique of attacking on a tangent.

I was fighting without a thrusting tip, so I was working on edge technique. I was unfocussed otherwise, and it lost me a few fights. I was intending to work mostly on the A Frame, but I found I needed more offense. I was having trouble generating power, and the A-Frame only exacerbates that problem, so I worked in some technique from the sword behind my head, but I was tentative a lot.

This was a great practice. Brennan, Harold, and William were the other knights there, and I fought each of them at least once going through the bear pit. My wind is such that I will have to be careful at Birka. As expected, I can barely remember most of my fights. A few stand out. Brenan took my leg then pounded me, inspite of my knowing it was his plan. Still having trouble with leg blocks. I had a couple good fights against William, including one where I beat him with a "rule of three" game: fake high, strike low twice, then throw the wavy-rising snap (fake high off side, fake low, strike the on-side head). This worked. I killed someone else with a rising snap too. I beat Harold at least once with a backhand. My best fight was against Donnan. I use paul's technique, were you square up to the pole arm and sort of waddle toward him with short steps. It worked extremely welll, especially considering that Donnan is taller than I am and has a wicked back edge cut. I managed to take his leg then hit him with a body shot.

I also looked lost out there too. I fought a different pole arm fighter and tried to wait for his attack before I rushed in. I peaked over the top of my and he snapped my head back with a face thrust. Terrible technique. Since I didn't have a thrusting tip, my mind was not always where it needed to be, including in that fight. I was thinging that I couldn't use most of my recent attacks against polearms, because U body thrust them a lot. Also, mys usualy ward agaisnt a polearm presents the tip, which you shouldn't do if you don't have one. After my fight with Donnan I was incredibly winded, and struggled through three more opponents. However, some stuff was working great, especially my cuts from a high guard.

There are five days until Birka, which will be my next time in armor.