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.