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.


Pat Harrington said...

Victor is from house silver Dragon, the last Squire of Feral Von Halstern.

M.A. Cramer/Valgard said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
M.A. Cramer/Valgard said...

Well, whoever he is, he kicked my ass.