Fighting practice 8.16.2017

I held fighting practice at my place this week. The Thursday practices for Acre haven’t started back up yet, and the Monday ones take a few weeks off after Pennsic. I didn’t want to wait until September to fight again, and luckily two people felt the same way and came down for some sparring.

We didn’t fight very long, since with only 3 of us we gassed out in about 60-90 minutes or so. Still, I felt it was totally worth it. Following Pennsic, I feel much more comfortable in armor, and I’m starting to feel more relaxed when fighting. I did fairly well against the other fighters, who were going full tilt at me. Sure, I got blasted a few times, but I was able to return the favor as well. Both are very encouraging, and praised me a few times on my improvement, which was great. I tried correcting some of the issues I saw in the videos of me during the novice tournament, and I had mild success at best. I need to bend my knees more and tighten up, be more mobile and avoid remaining static, stop blinding myself with my shield, and learn how to properly change the angles of both my attacks and those of my opponent. I discussed this with Sir Zippy and Rory at Pennsic, and found the information fascinating and very scientific, so it was right up my alley!

I’ll probably try and hold another practice next week, and then I go on vacation before the start of the school year. Once September hits, fight practices start back up. Speaking of which, I’m going to try and make it out to the Nutley practice in NJ at least once a month. It’s a haul for me, and makes for a late night, but everyone I’ve spoken to said it’s more than worth it. At this point, I’m trying whatever I can to get better and not totally suck. I’m trying my best to hold onto this fire and not let it go out. In other news, I’m gonna pick up some shin protection and try changing up my leg armor to help with my comfort and mobility. I felt it a lot at practice, and I think my stance and movement will improve once I get this sorted out. After that, I’ll move onto torso armor so I’m not a big barrel. More to come!

Turning the tide of war

We returned from Pennsic this past Thursday, and there’s so much to talk about that I almost don’t know where to start. This will very likely be an exceptionally long post, and as I’m long-winded to begin with, that’s saying something. So buckle up, buttercup (“as you wish”), cuz you’re gonna be here awhile.  I guess I’ll start with some background and basics to put all this in perspective. One thing to mention is that if any of what I say is confusing, or you have any questions related to the SCA whatsoever, please don’t hesitate to ask me in the comments or in person if you know me. I have quite a bit to say on the subject…

Our first Pennsic was 10 years ago. Our dear friend told us about it, and we decided to check it out. We went for a long weekend, watched some fighting, partied, shopped, and had a blast. Then, children happened, and we didn’t go back until 2013. When we were ready to go back, that same friend was now part of a different household and invited us to stay with her again. I must say, we were apprehensive at first. The Lish and I are certainly not everyone’s cup of tea, and we didn’t want to screw anything up for our friend who was now very involved in the society. Luckily for us, our fears were unfounded, and we were welcomed with open arms. We joined the household the following year, and camped with them every year since, with the exception of this year. This year our dear friend was Queen of the East Kingdom, and she invited us to stay with her at the royal encampment, something we consider a great honor.

Prior to this year, we weren’t really too involved in the society. We attended events when we could, much more so during our friend’s reign and when our head of household won crown a few years back. We played the annual Pennsic Assassin’s game run by the East Kingdom Royal Assassin’s guild the past few years. Lish was waterbearer during war and events on occasion.  Aside from that, though, we weren’t deep into it. We didn’t do any Arts and Sciences stuff, we didn’t fight, didn’t help set up and/or run events, etc. This year, some of that changed. This year I started fighting, which brought me into a whole new level of involvement. Also, I’ve started learning more about leather working and armor repair, and might try some metal working as well.

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Our home away from home…or home while at home…damn this shit’s confusing…

As I said before, we camped at EK Royal this year, and we knew only a small number of people there. We again felt nervous about it, even more so now that it was a royal encampment. Our dear friend, I’ll call her bamf (bad ass mofo), has known these people for a long time, and we had concerns that they would approach her during our stay and be all like “who the fuck are these two, and why did you let them in here?!”. Instead of that, we soon realized that we were camping with some of the kindest and most truly awesome people we’ve had the pleasure of interacting with. No drama, no snarkyness, no bullshit, no attitudes, just cool people all helping out to make for a good time! It was pretty amazing, and at no time did I feel out of place. I got to talk at length with almost everyone, and the conversation was fantastic! Also, the camp was run by our camp mom and dad, both of whom were incredible. I really could fill an entire post extolling the awesomeness of these people, it was that good.

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I’m the black barrel with the pony tail…

Onto the fighting stuff. I started off by fighting in the Known World Novice Tournament. They split us up into different pits, and each pit did a round robin so I fought everyone in my pit once. I met some great people at the tournament, one of whom I ended up running with during the bigger battles until he hurt his ankle. In my pit, my wee lad and campmate went undefeated so he moved up. Since they were taking the top 2 seeds from each pit, they had to evaluate second place in our pit because there was a three way tie. Me and two others were 5-3, so we had to round robin again. We all went 1-1, much to the dismay of the marshals, so we went around again. This time, a polearm fighter bested me and my war buddy, so he moved up. I have videos of the fights, and watching them later was educational. This is the first time I’ve seen myself fight, so now I’m picking it apart and seeing what I’m doing wrong so I can correct it. Overall, though, I’m very happy with how it turned out. It was super fun meeting and chatting with the other fighters, and I think I did pretty well considering I’ve only been in armor for 3 months.

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I’m the dumbass throwing up the horns, cuz METAL!!!

Next up is the field battle. This was I think 4 waves of mass elimination. At first I was just kinda running around with no real direction. I tried to do what I could, but didn’t have much of a clue. Later on, I hooked up with a commander and his group, and that made ALL the difference. We had orders, goals to shoot for, a specific plan. THAT I could do. I ended up staying with this team for the rest of the war. I was fighting with the northern army, and my team was referred to as Running with scissors, or as I called it, the suicide squad. After the field battles, we did the bridge battles. Our team was recruited for specific tasks during these, and we rocked it! Briefly, there are 5 bridges with “flags” in the middle. The side that has majority control of the bridge flips the flag to their color. At the end, the side whose flag is flying on each bridge earns a war point. First bridge battle we went to bridge one, ran up the bridge to the center, exited left and ran around to flank the siege weapons (ballistas). These are huge crossbows that launch massive arrows. We took them ALL out, as well as some archers. Sure, we ended up dying, but we got the job done. Another notable event was when our side was slowly being pushed back and about to lose bridge three. They sent us in to hammer the other side with a pulse up the middle. We ran full tilt up the center and creamed their line, pushing all the way through to their backfield. Eventually we all died, since now we were surrounded, but that charge gave our side 20 more feet of breathing room on the bridge, and we kept it. The last I’ll mention was my last death. We were on the front line of a bridge holding it, and ballista bolts were raining down on us. I managed to dodge them and call them out for others for the most part. Eventually, I needed to step aside to let a spear through to the front. I ended up stepping right into a ballista bolt, which hit me dead in the grill of my helm. I can’t help but smile, thinking back. I was cracking up at the irony of it while walking off the field. Here I am calling them all out, and I get nailed with one. It was pretty awesome!

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These dudes are from the same group. Their majesties are in the middle. I got to jump in so the sides would be even! 😉

The last bit of fighting I did was the woods battle. This is a 90 minute resurrection battle that took place (drum roll please) in the WOODS! Shocking as fuck, I know. Once again I was on the sprint team Running with Scissors (which kinda sounds like a messed up native american name), so we were totally goal oriented. We started out by just running full tilt as far as we could into enemy territory, and then harassing their troops enough to stretch them out for when our troops arrived. Once that was done, we proceeded to flit around and apply pressure where it was needed. It went great, and I had an amazing time! The team aspect of being on the field with other fighters, even those not on my side, was great. Many times people were congratulated on their kills, especially those done with great skill and precision. Even during the holds, when we all had to stop fighting while the marshals resolved an issue, we crossed the lines and chatted up our “enemies”, exchanging names, cracking jokes, and just enjoying the camaraderie. When lay on was called, it was straight up back to killing. This all kind of reminded me of tough mudder, since people were very positive and encouraging. I must admit, I had different thoughts of what it must be like to be a fighter. I thought it’d be more like other sports where people are a bit more elitist, where the veterans hoard information or techniques unless you’re “worthy” or in “the club”. Sure, there are some folks I’ve met who are kinda like that, who may say they aren’t that way, but I know they’re full of shit. Sometimes you can just tell that people really think they’re hot shit, and that they consider you beneath them. This lack of humility isn’t surprising to me, but it’s surprising how many people were NOT like that. It’s more like “oh, you like this awesome thing I like as well? Then let me tell you everything about it I’ve ever learned so you can appreciate the awesomeness as much as I do!!!”. I dug that in a big way!

My fighting wasn’t without its issues, though. I’m not even gonna talk about the mistakes and shit I made, cuz for once I’m gonna cut myself some slack and chalk it up to being a feckin’ noob. Most of my issues were either getting a feel for being in a melee, and armor problems. The former resolved itself somewhat over time. I need to get more of a handle on how to assess and approach situations with multiple opponents. With one, it’s much easier. Distance weapon, get it close. Close weapon, stay away. When there is a mix, and they’re arranged in different ways, this gets more tricky. I don’t think it was too big of an issue, since everyone I fought with was really cool and cut me a ton of slack, but it’s something to be mindful of over time. The armor issues were more problematic. My leg armor doesn’t fit all that well, and it hangs off a belt I wear. Even though I have suspenders holding up the belt, the weight on my lower back took quite a toll during the woods battle especially. Also, because of the hockey girdle I wear underneath, the straps tend to get stuck in weird spots and restrict movement, which makes it worse. I’d also prefer to have more form fitting torso armor. Right now it’s like being in a barrel. I think maybe I’ll start saving for some gear now so maybe by next year I’ll be able to get something better. In the meantime, I’m gonna look into cheaper do-it-yourself options.

Surprisingly, we didn’t do much bog trekking this year. With the daytime fighting, general roaming and shenanigans, and pain from not having good footwear, we weren’t as inclined to go and party it up much. We went down twice, got a little loaded, and came back by midnight to pass out. Part of this had to do with us attending to their majesties in the evenings, which was cool because we saw different aspects of what they do. The last time we were part of a reign, we only attended during the day, which was mostly court and fighting. This was attending vigils and visiting people, which was a whole other animal. Still, Bamf and Kamf (kick ass mofo, aka his majesty) were there and it was cool hanging with them whenever we could. The whole vibe was totally chill and awesome.

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Be vewy vewy qwiet…

Finally, the assassin’s game. Sadly, this year we didn’t have as good of a showing as last year. While we solved many of the riddles in the first salvo, we made some key mistakes. We mistook one event for another, and some of the players involved didn’t tell others about our game, so we got kind of stunted. I saw the heads of the guild at midnight madness while we were out shopping, and they said the other team had similar woes, and the game was kind of a bust. Lots of moving parts, and many demands on their time made for some logistical problems. That said, though, we had a great time playing. Figuring out the clues, walking around and talking to random people at camps, and racking our brains for ideas made for a fun time. I was just sad I never saw anyone from the other teams. No shanking this year. There was a huge silver lining in all this, though. The heads of the guild told Lish and I that they would allow us to officially apprentice to be part of the guild if we were interested. I am totally psyched about this, and can’t wait to see how that all pans out. I’ve read what it entails, and I think it’d be a really awesome thing to do, and it’s right up my alley!

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I belong here…with this delicious cider in my coffee cup, cuz I’m classy as fuck…

Overall, this Pennsic resulted in a shift for me with regard to the SCA. Before, I always had a sense of kinda being on the outside looking in. It was as if the sliding glass door to the house was open, but I couldn’t come in cuz I was soaking wet or covered in mud. Now, I feel like I’m finally able to put a foot inside. Mind you, nobody ever made me feel unwelcome. It’s just how I felt because I brought nothing to the table, and was surrounded by people who ALL brought something. It’s like being that one douche at the party who doesn’t bring anything, and then proceeds to eat and drink and have fun at the expense of others. Now things are finally opening up. I’m learning about working on leather and metal a little bit, I’m learning to fight, and I’ll be an apprentice of the assassin’s guild. It’s a relief to find my place, aside from just being the crude sarcastic prat who just drinks, parties, and makes lewd and inappropriate jokes the entire time. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still a ways off from really feeling like I’m worthy of a seat at the table, but at this point it’s nice to feel worthy of coming in the house to use the shitter! I’m left with a desire to progress in everything. I want to work harder to get better at fighting, creating, and learning, much more so than ever before. I’m even planning on taking a class with a world famous impalement artist so I can learn about doing thrown weapons. So much fun to be had, and we’re just getting started. Stay tuned, fuckers!

TL:DR

Pennsic was fun, people were cool, fighting was cool, apprenticing at the assassin’s guild, and I now feel more at home in the SCA. Also, I took some truly noteworthy craps at war, probably gave the poor bastard after me brain damage as a result. YAY!

Novice Tourney & Tough Mudder 2017

Well, I survived the weekend…sort of. Truth be told, I took so long writing this cuz I ended up with bronchitis and an ear infection right after Tough Mudder last Sunday. Today is the first day since then that I felt quasi-human, which is pretty much my status quo. Anyways, enough about me, let’s instead talk about….well, ME….

To be totally honest, my weekend started Friday night when I saw Iron Maiden at the Barclays center in Brooklyn. It was a pretty late night, so I was tired to begin with on Saturday morning before the novice tourney. Quick review, Ghost was great, Maiden was great, the venue was fucking garbage and the sound guy should’ve been dragged out and beaten with dirty socks filled with mushy pickles. Now, moving onto the tourney. To say I was nervous as fuck would be a gross understatement. I got there nice and early, geared up, and got ready to fight. We presented ourselves to the royals (clothed this time), and I got my first assignment. Duncan in queen’s far. He was a lefty, and I was nervous as all hell, so my head really wasn’t in the game at all. I fumbled my way through the marshals asking me questions (totally guessed at the answers), and started out. He legged me, I legged him back, but I positioned my shield all wrong and he stabbed me in the grill of my helm for the win. Since this was a double elimination tourney, I was 0-1, and on the verge of a super quick elimination.

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The dude in the front ring on the left is the guy I fought in my second fight. I’m in the back with my sword on my shoulder, wearing the black armor with red trim.

My second fight was against a gentleman whose SCA name I don’t know. He fought with a two handed ax. I was much more relaxed during this fight, and though he hit like a truck, I was able to get my sword past his guard and land a shot on his stomach for the win, just as he legged me (not the hip, mid thigh). I was elated to actually score a win, which was my best case scenario for the weekend. Now I was 1-1, still on the chopping block, but doing far better than I expected.

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Second fight, I’m the guy on the left. Yes, I’m wearing doc martins…

My third fight was against another whose name I don’t know. This was, by far, my longest fight of the day. The entire thing lasted about 2 minutes of non-stop wailing on each other, but in the end I came up wanting. He got me with a good shot to the head, and I went down. Still, even though I got eliminated, I was happy to have at least put up a fight. I know I showed how green of a fighter I am by the mistakes I made, and my inability to close on that fight, but I’m pleased with my performance given that I’ve been fighting all of maybe 2 full months or so total, with 3-4 weeks off in the middle due to injury and moving.

I geared down and enjoyed spending the rest of the day talking to the other fighters, trying to motivate them to kick ass and do their best, and retaining for 2 of my favorite people. The kids were there as well, and they had a blast with the other kids. It was a fantastic event, and I’m excited to be fighting at Pennsic this year since this was so much fun. I’m also looking forward to doing some pick-ups at war and learning from the many fantastic fighters that will be there!

The next morning I woke early again and went to Tough Mudder. I decided to take it a bit easier on my legs and hips this year by not running/jogging much, and that paid off. Unfortunately, I made up for it by helping WAY more with people going over obstacles. I started with skidmarked, and after that I became a staple for people going over the wall, letting others use my shoulder as a step and pushing them up and over the wall. Later on we got to pyramid scheme, and one of my teammates was trying to pull me up and wrenched my left arm pretty hard. During the Hero Carry, since the lovely Lish wasn’t able to join me due to a knee injury, I ended up with some random dude. This year, much of the run was in the woods, and I carried him on level ground to the swap point. When we switched, he had to run up hill and an extra third farther. I felt kinda bad for the poor fucker, but better him than me! At least I had a dude as a partner, cuz if any of the other people nearby wanted to partner up (all were rather thin females) I fear I’d have crushed them to death under my fat old sweaty ass. I managed to escape with dignity mostly intact. Mud mile was easier for me this year, and block ness was fun. The worst, though, was at the end. It took me about 5 tries to get up everest this year. Last year I nailed it in one. Later on, my buddy had to make it up, but he was spent from the day, and clocked in at 6’5″ and 330lbs or so. He was able to grab the top, but we at the top couldn’t do it alone. Suddenly, groups of people rushed under him and made a human pyramid to push him up. It was certainly one of the coolest and most amazing Tough Mudder moments I’ve ever seen.

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After cleaning myself off

At the end, I was done. I was a little sore the rest of the day, and completely exhausted. The next morning, my throat was sore and I was coughing. As the day wore on, I felt more and more like crap. I called in the next day and went to the doctor first thing. Bronchitis and an ear infection. Took the next day off too, and I still feel like ass. Coughing up junk and feeling overall plague-esque. Note to self: Don’t let the water from the Tough Mudder obstacles get in your mouth…

So here we are. I made it through the gauntlet, and though I’m a little worse for wear, I’m pleased with my performance this weekend. Now onto prepping for war, and making sure I can manage fighting in a battle of that scale.

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Let’s do this!!!

The poor me’s

Following yesterday’s revelation about fighting, I developed a wicked case of the poor me’s. There’s actually a phenomenon called the poor me syndrome, however that’s more of a thing manipulators do to get what they want, and people exhibiting that behavior tend to blame life or others for treating them unjustly. I don’t feel like anyone or anything is treating me unjustly, I just have shitty self esteem and seem to feel that wallowing in misery is my “place”, so I keep myself in it. Now, if you read this far I feel you deserve a disclaimer. Pretty much this whole post is gonna be me whining and complaining about shit, so if you’re among the 99% of people who actually have better things to do, then you can safely bail now. For those 1% peoples, buckle up.

Yesterday I found out that yet another thing I’m trying is not going well for me, and I’m not where I should be skill-wise. I’ve been trying, and giving it my all at practices, but it’s just not enough and my progression is very slow. For most people, I assume, this wouldn’t be much of an issue. Can’t be good at everything, right? For me, it’s another reminder that I’m not actually “good” at anything. I’ve tried things time and again, and nothing ever comes naturally to me. For most things, I plateau pretty quickly and never really get any better. Examples: I’ve been a gamer for over 30 years, and I still suck at it. It’s not from lack of practice, it’s from lack of skill. Skating, I’m OK for the most part, but even after skating for over 20 years I’m still lacking in ways that I really shouldn’t, and again it’s not from lack of practice. Even the field in which I work, I feel like I’m OK, but nowhere near where I should be with the years under my belt. Fact is, I’m a Jack of many trades, and mediocre at best.

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Better call the waaaahbulance…

For the remainder of the day yesterday, I walked around with my guts in knots. Being pretty much shit at everything is kinda punishing, and doesn’t really help in the self esteem and self image departments. For me, I feel that being good at things increases my self worth, or rather it would. Anyway, this is what led me to spiral once again into the chasm of the poor me’s. It all just reinforces what was told to me throughout my youth by pretty much everyone around me. I’m not good enough, smart enough, strong enough…basically, I’m not enough. I’ve been fighting against that stigma my entire life, so having it reaffirmed is a kick in the dick. Not that I blame the messenger, especially since I’m the one that asked their opinion, I just wasn’t prepared for how strongly it affected me.

Last night I sat down with the Lish and talked about these feelings, and I’m glad I did, cuz I’ve been a total fucktard about all of this. These feelings of mine all stem from me wanting to stand out, to be admired for my skill at something, because in my warped mind the only thing that makes me worth a damn is to be thought highly of by others. My own opinion of myself holds little weight, since I did have a healthy opinion of myself at one point and had it soundly beat out of me throughout my childhood. Still, a part of me deep down feels as though I should be more, so I keep searching for things that I can do well. Currently the only talent I have is music, and by that I mean being able to sing cover songs. It certainly didn’t come easily, and I plateau’d a long time ago, but it’s enough that I’m fair at it. She reminded me of this, and of what she’s been going through the past few years. For those not in the know, the Lish plays roller derby. When she started, she was one of the worst on her team, and none of it came easily to her. However, she stuck to it and fought for it. She went every week, pushed herself through soul-crushing practices, read up on it, and did everything in her power to get better. And she did! Now here we are three years later, and she’s awesome! Easily as good a skater as I am, if not better. She told me that I can’t compare myself to those around me. Everyone progresses at a different pace. I responded to this by stating that I understand that, but when I’m on the lower end of the spectrum it hurts and is kinda demoralizing, so she told me to quit. This is when the pride kicks in. No, I don’t just quit without really trying. So that left me at an impasse, and with things to ponder.

I meditated on this for awhile, and discovered that the real problem goes all the way back to grade school. I have the irrational fear that I’ll plateau early, and thus be a profoundly shitty fighter, and be mocked for. I’d become a laughing stock, and considering I’m in a fighting household with some of the best fighters in the East, I’d be an embarrassment not only to myself, but to my household as well, and the thought of that pains me. Yes, it’s irrational and I’m overthinking. I’m well aware. But that doesn’t change the fact that these feelings legitimately happen. They can’t be stopped, only dealt with.

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Probably best to NOT say that to their faces, though…

So the real question is this: If I DO plateau early, and end up being a pretty crappy fighter, do I stay with it or pass my gear on to someone who may take to it much more easily. The answer, at the moment, is “I don’t know”. What I do know is that the Lish was 100% right with what she said. I just started, I need to give myself more of a chance, and convincing myself early on that I’m complete garbage and don’t belong creates a self fulfilling prophecy that will surely come to pass. Hobbies like fighting, whether it be martial arts or SCA heavy list, are not just physical. The mental aspects can make or break even the most physically gifted. Get it in your head that you’re worthless, and you’ll never be anything but that because you’ve made up your mind. Strive to be positive, fight for what you want, and be the inspiration to others that my Lish is to me. She got beat down again and again, and continued to fight for what she wanted and she fucking did it. She earned her place doing something that did NOT come easily, and I can do the same. I was there pushing her to keep at it, telling her similar things that she’s now telling me. If for no other reason, I owe it to myself to do the same and not be a hypocritical little punk. So I’ll fight. Whether I succeed or fail, I’ll push and push until I get where I want to be. If some day I decide to step back, I can do so with a clear conscience and know that I gave it my all, and nobody can honestly say I didn’t have enough heart for it. Now if you’ll excuse me, I think I need to go watch Rudy…

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The Lish is wise like Morpheus…

Fighting Practice 7.18.2017

Last night was the final practice before the novice tourney this weekend and Pennsic. Before practice, I swung by Dick’s Sporting Goods to pick up a roller hockey girdle, which is basically just a pair of padded shorts. I wore those while fighting, and wow what a difference! Shots to the leg had most of the stink taken off them, and though I did get hit, I didn’t get all bruised up.

I fought a few people last night. The older gent, two young newer fighters, and a much more experienced fighter towards the end. One of the newer guys I did OK against. The others I did pretty poorly against. I can see the openings, but I have trouble getting there. Also, while I previously thought my defense was decent, apparently it’s just not. I let through a fair amount of shots that I really shouldn’t have, and I’m pretty weak against very aggressive fighters, which will likely be most of those fighting at the tourney.

Still, regardless of this I’ve been trying to stay positive about the whole thing, even though I’ve felt that I’m behind where I should be as far as skill. I’ve been doing my best to talk up other fighters I know who will also be there, and help motivate them to do their best. Unfortunately, such tactics don’t work for me unless my skills are legit there. To gauge where I am, I asked someone who attends practice and is a more seasoned fighter to let me know, honestly, if I’m where I should be, advanced, or behind. My suspicions, unfortunately, were on point. I’m indeed behind where I should be, and not progressing on par with other new fighters. Now, I do my best to not get my hopes up with stuff like this, especially given my track record with martial arts and whatnot (I totally sucked at fighting there too). This time, like an idiot, I actually got them up and hoped I was better than I thought, and that I was just being too hard on myself. Wrong again.

Before some of you start messaging me with stuff like “you’re new, give it time, everyone progresses at their own pace, etc”, know that I totally get that. The logic is sound. That doesn’t change, however, the gut punch. I don’t have any problem with what they said, I asked for an honest opinion and they gave an honest answer. Still, I’d hoped that maybe I’d take to this well and surprise myself. Instead, I’m just as I’ve been in many other things before. Mediocre at best. I’m still gonna stick with it and give it all I’ve got, and I’m happy to know exactly where I am before the tourney so I won’t be surprised and blindsided when I get obliterated right off the bat. So worst case scenario for the tourney hasn’t changed, just the best case scenario. Now, if I end up winning any fights that day, it’d be a gorram miracle. I just hope it’s not painfully embarrassing like my first martial arts tournament, whose video I deleted because of how embarrassing it was…More to come next week.

Fighting Practice 7.12.2017

This Monday past I found myself back at fighting practice for the first time in about a month. After my last practices, my hand was in pretty rough shape. From what I read online, and spoke about with a few people, I either strained it pretty badly or tore a tendon or ligament. Still not sure what it was, but I decided to take some time off and heal up. I’m at about 95% or so now. It still twinges a bit, but nowhere near what it was. Time to get back in the ring.

Practice this Monday went pretty well, I think. I worked with the seasoned fighters/teachers there, and learned some great stuff. I took it pretty easy, and didn’t go too crazy. One of the things I realized that night is that my injury was likely caused, in part, by my trying to pull shots once I realized they weren’t gonna land. I need to learn to just commit to a shot, good or bad. This way I’ll learn to choose better and not just throw. My biggest problem of the night is where I look. I tend to look at my opponents face, or rather through it, so I can catch all his movement in my periphery. This may work when going slow, but isn’t working for me when facing someone who throws quick shots. I got blasted a few times in my upper leg just under my ass because I wasn’t focusing where I should be. I should be watching the elbow of the sword arm, since that can’t ever lie. My mistakes were paid for, as evidenced below.

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I call this piece “I still suck at defense”. This is the result of only 2 or 3 actual hits.

Another thing we did was melee charge drills. This I found very helpful, as it gave me a brief glimpse into some melee mechanics. We alternated charging at each other, then charged one another at the same time. I didn’t do well at this drill. I tend to remain too high, and wasn’t getting low enough to get under my opponents center of gravity. I didn’t get creamed, but then I don’t think my opponent was really trying to put me on my ass. One newer fighter, the older dude who fought many years back, did SUPER well at this. Dude is like a freight train! I hope I can learn his technique and apply it so I can better hold my own. I did learn something super important during these drills, though. I learned that I should NOT be wearing sneakers! During the drill where Conrad (from the Thursday practices with Acre) and I charged each other at the same time, my left foot and his right foot kicked each other at the same time with full force. The resulting pain and numbness made me think I broke my toe, but it turns out it just jammed my toenail into the cuticle really hard. Now my toe is all bruised, but it couldn’t been FAR worse. My good friend John told me to check out the carbon fiber tipped boots, so I’ll be picking up a pair before next practice.

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I call this one “Reasons to have proper footwear”

All in all, I’m excited to be back in it and will be throwing my hat in the ring at the Novice Day tourney later this month. I’m trying to not be nervous about it, so my main focus is to just do my best and fight with honor. If I can manage that, I’ll call it a win. I’m not expecting miracles since I’ve only been fighting since the beginning of May, with a month break thrown in there. It’s tough for me to gauge progress since I can’t really see myself when I’m fighting to see what I’m doing wrong. That’s something that the mirrored walls in a martial arts school would help with, as I used them a LOT during the years I trained for correcting my form and technique. Also, I’m not surrounded with many new fighters, and the few I’m around seem to be well past me already. Those around me have been very encouraging and have said I should do well, though for my personality it’s hard to take that at face value and not just as others trying to be optimistic and positive. I’m not being negative, I just don’t see myself improving enough to justify such an attitude. I’m more of a realist, and don’t see much point in getting my hopes high so early in the game. I will try and be centered, and approach this with as little emotion as I can muster…aside from my desire to not completely embarrass myself or make my teachers look bad, that is. If I get at least one win during the day, I’ll consider that a huge accomplishment for me! More to come.

The current emotional war zone…

I haven’t posted a fighting practice blurb in awhile, and there are reasons for this. Well, not just reasons why I haven’t posted about that, but also reasons why I haven’t been posting much in general. I spoke to a dear friend who writes fantastically well, and realize a criticism I had regarding one of her recent pieces was perhaps more projection than anything else. As such, it’s time to strip down and give a look into what I’ve been going through the past year or so.

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Whiner alert, call the whambulance!!!

WARNING!!! This entire blog post is basically just me ranting about shit and complaining. If that doesn’t whet your appetite, then you might wanna pass on this one.

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Felt it all the way from my chest down to the grundle…

First off, the search for a new home. You might remember that I had quite a difficult time last year. I had to say goodbye to the home we started our family in. Even now, while writing this, I feel that churning in my guts about the whole thing. We finally closed on the sale (which was a profound debacle), and months later I drove by. This just happened to be the day the new owners demolished the house. I saw what was my home, full of memories, laughter, and love, broken and being carted away in dump trucks. The big and beautiful old trees were also taken down. I was momentarily paralyzed by the sight, with many emotions vying for dominance within me, like pack animals choosing a new leader. I drove away feeling devastated, and have had to make peace with the thought that I could never pass by the house again and see triggers of beautiful memories ever again.

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Me every day while hunting for a house…

At the same time, we began the hunt for a new home. In short, this entire process was absolutely brutal. On the plus side, we had a fantastic realtor, one who went above and beyond to help us find a new home. Still, the whole thing was a gorram mess. Over the past year we saw literally dozens of houses, and placed bids on a few, only for that to ultimately fall through in spectacular fashion. We did, however, finally find a place a few months back, and we moved in last week. We’re still in the process of clearing out everything from the rental, and are trying to balance that with unpacking enough stuff to both live more comfortably while also making room for more shit. Meanwhile, the entire process is just punishing. It feels as though no matter how much work I put into unpacking, very little gets done and we’re still drowning in chaos, at least from my perspective. Once we’re mostly settled, I’ll have to jump in and do it again when I move my wife’s mom out of her house and in with us, which will be a whole other bag of challenges.

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My pretty little monster…

At some point within the last year, we also found out that our eldest dog, Sophie, has liver cancer. She’s got weak back legs, a weak bladder, is blind in one eye and stone deaf. We’re not sure how much time we have left with her, and are trying to keep her as comfortable as we can. For me, it’s frustrating and I’m stuck with a lot of anger that I don’t know what to do with. I’m gonna lose my friend soon, my sweet little monster, and there’s fuck all I can do to stop that. The entire thing is like being on extended death watch, where every time I see her asleep in her crate or on the couch, I wonder if this is it…

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Pretty accurate, except that I’m not a blonde…and my boobs are bigger…

Next, we add on financial fears. Fears that I somehow miscalculated and we’re in too deep with the house we bought. We won’t know for certain until maybe 6 months from now, but that doesn’t stop me from freaking out about it. As it is, we do have some money for renovations for the house, and there’s stuff we absolutely MUST do within the next year or so. As such, I’m gonna be saying goodbye to my beautiful Victoria (my 1968 Ford Fairlane 500 fastback). Having a classic car is something I’ve always wanted, and I’ve had her for most of Peanutty’s life now. That being said, she needs work done, and I just don’t have the loot to make that happen. I also don’t need another money pit hobby, especially when all I really get out of it is the joy of driving such a wonderful piece of historical beauty and American muscle around. Selling her would get us halfway to a bathroom remodel, which is much more desperately needed than cruising around in the car. Besides, I’m not exactly a spring chicken anymore, and nowadays I look less like a cool young metalhead cruising around in a badass car, like the older brother in Phantasm, and more like some pathetic old fucker pretending he’s still cool while going through some sort of midlife crisis.

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Guess it’s the difference in motion, just need to find the right rhythm…

Now back to the SCA fighting stuff. A few weeks back, the knuckles on my right hand started to really hurt. I figured it was just a padding issue, as well as the result of being a sissy with no physical strength in any part of my body. So I dealt with it. Fast forward to 2 weeks ago this past Monday, and my hand was INSANELY bad after practice. I decided to take some time off fighting to allow it to heal. It’s mostly there, but I still get a twinge if I clench my fist. Now, though, I’m getting all sorts of other pains, and at this stage in the game it’s increasingly hard to compare what should be investigated vs what is just me being older. I see so many people start fighting at various stages in their lives, and none seem to end up with the discomfort I have. I’m sure it has much to do with my lack of fitness, and the fact that physical activity NEVER came naturally to me. I understood that going in, but it still bums me out a little when I don’t see myself improving as I should. Those teaching me have been really good, and very patient and giving of their time, for which I’m eternally thankful. Still, I don’t think it will last, and I would never blame them for stepping away. I know the frustration of spending time to teach someone who just doesn’t get it, and isn’t meant for it. So if you’re one of my teachers, no worries. When you need to step away, please do so with a clear conscience. I’m just thankful to have had the time with you.

Now I know what you’re thinking (I really don’t), why not just talk about these issue with friends and whatnot. Well, that’s another problem for me. Not a new one, per se, but one that’s gone on for ages. I have difficulty with friendships. I tend to get close and drift away from people over time, and the only one I’ve ever been consistently close to is my wife. All others either rub me the wrong way, don’t reciprocate the same level of friendship, or just aren’t trustworthy enough for me to invest in. I have MAJOR trust issues, some of which grew from a self-esteem deficiency and others that were the result of being burned too often and too deeply to ever move past. It’s brutal. Sometimes I’ll be close with someone for years at a time, only for them to do something that goes against the very fabric I’m woven from, at which time I need to check out. Other times it’s just people being a little shitty because of their own issues, which they may or may not even be aware of. These times I’ll take a step back and take it as someone who needs space. Occasionally I’ll ask what’s up, if it’s something totally out of character, but usually it’s just a trait that just bumped up a level, so I step back and let things settle, lest I confront it and end up losing a friendship over saying something stupid or out of line. I also know that I tend to rub people the wrong way a LOT, but I’m actually not aware when I do it most times. I don’t know if people would rather not  confront me about it for risk of a friendship ending fight, or if they think I’m well aware of what I’m doing and don’t give a fuck. Truth is, I DO give a fuck. I actually try to live my life by a code of honor, and do right by other people, so if I have a shitty habit that hurts people, FUCKING TELL ME! I know it sounds hypocritical given that I mentioned earlier that I tend to back away, but in all honesty I do bring up shitty behavior when people do it. What they do with that information is another story. I’m not gonna beat a dead horse here…

I’m sure there are other little things that pile onto this mound of crazy, but if I listed all of them this would be far longer and you’d either bail out of boredom, or drag yourself to the end, at which time you’d be praying for the sweet merciful release of death…or maybe some comfort tacos or something. Mmmm, tacos…

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Let’s do this!!!