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