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.

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