The Hundred Minutes War 2017

I’d been looking forward to this event for weeks. This would be the first time since Pennsic that I’d be with my melee unit on the field, and I’ve really been missing fighting with those guys. I drove in with Antonio, who was marshaling for the event, and got there just after site opened. I parked a few cars down from Colin and Todd, fellow snakes and members of my team, and saw our commander Trent not too far away as well. We chatted a bit and caught up, then got geared up. Eventually, we made our way down to get inspected and prep for the start of the war. There was a speed tourney to determine team captains, which I did not take part in, and finally we got ready for war. Just as we were lining up, the rain started, and it lasted until after evening court.

The war took place in 2 parts. First, we were up top and they had to come up the hill to us. Lay on was called, and my team hurled ourselves down the hill to meet them. We started out towards the bottom, and over the course of the first 50 minutes we went back and forth over a 20′ span of ground. It was pretty intense, with frequent pulses spaced out between sections of holding the line and letting our spearmen do their thing. I saw some truly inspiring pulse work by people on both sides, and got to run in a bunch of times. I also had my first true “oh shit” moment in a melee. I got legged, and instinctively dropped to my knees on the front line. The other side chose that moment to pulse…straight at ME! I got run over by a bunch of dudes, and lucked out that I was able to turtle up and get through it without any injury. I had some really fun pulses with my unit, as well as some with just random people, and floated around from side to side, and even the center a few times, facing different groups. Eventually, that half ended and we had a short break. We switched sides, and then moved the lower resurrection point higher up due to a medical emergency with a fighter. Luckily, it happened after the fighting was done, and I’m told she is ok and on the road to recovery.

This time, we were going up the hill, but the battlefield was MUCH shorter. This was a good overall adjustment, in my opinion, since the rain had picked up a bit and the hill was FAR more muddy and slippery. Lots of people were slipping when fighting, and especially during pulses. This time my unit stayed on the right flank and did our thing. This part of the war was a little more brutal for me. I got cupped 3 times, and took a pretty nasty shot to the guts with a spear. Still, apart from taking a minute to make sure I wouldn’t vomit after some of them, I stayed through to the end and didn’t take any lengthy breaks. Another thing of note was the combat archery. There were 2 or 3 combat archers per side, and they were absolutely killing it. There were also people throwing these axes, which was also super cool. One dude on my side threw one just over the other line, and hit a reserve dead in the grill. The guy threw his hands up like “oh come on, seriously?!”. It was hilarious! Finally, the end was called, and we were done. The timing was right, because just after that it started really raining in earnest for about 15-20 minutes.

As with every time I fight, I self analyzed the shit outta myself afterwards. Some things I did ok. When I was leading a pulse, I built up a good head of steam before clashing. I also got a few kills, which I’m very pleased about. I also feel like I called all shots on me that should’ve been called, which is something I consider very important. I never wanna be “that guy”, who doesn’t call his shit and needs to be taught a lesson. Also, most times I think I did pretty well against the spears, which I owe mostly to Danx and the others at the Monday practice. They focused on protection against spearmen, and it really made a difference. Aside from that, there were some of the usual downsides. Some of them are just from lack of experience, such as not being able to read the situation and understand where to go and exactly what needs doing. I fell back on the commanders for that, and tried my best to make myself available for them to put me somewhere. I think my biggest issue was hesitation. When a pulse was done by my side near me, I didn’t immediately follow it up and support. I followed what those around me were doing, and just sort of inched the line forward. In retrospect, more could have been done if I followed up and helped out. I also left gaps in my defense on occasion, and got legged more than a few times. It’s hard to tell what I did wrong to let those shots in, but the gap was there long enough to matter. I need to work on shield placement during pulses, as I got wrapped many times upon hitting their line when I wasn’t in front. Lastly, I need to work harder on the best shots to throw during a pulse. I was focusing mostly on scorpion wraps to whomever was in front of me, and didn’t do enough lateral attacking. I should have been attacking at angles, but that’s not where my brain went unfortunately. All stuff I need to really work on more.

After the war, I was able to throw down with my fellow unit member Sam and do a couple of passes. It was a shitload of fun, and really cool to see how different his style is from those I usually fight. I took note of some of his moves so I can try them at a later date. We finished up (mostly cuz I was spent), and headed back to the cars to gear down and change. I got dressed in warm, dry clothes and headed to the cabin for court. I hit the dayboard first, which was absolutely amazing! Had some delicious sausages, savory toasted cheese, and beef stew. There were also these pizelle-like cookies which were out of this world. My grandma would’ve been very appreciative!

During court, I was pleased to see lots of great things. Quite a few AoA’s, which now is probably my favorite award to see people get. There were also some of the amerigous awards for service and arts. Another big highlight was a gentleman, and fellow ginger, from the Mid who sang during court. It was totally awesome, and something I’ve never seen in court before.

After court, I made a b-line for the car and headed home. I had a smile on my face, in spite of how worn out and tired I was. I had a great time, and look forward to making this event every year going forward. Now it’s time to focus on upping my game as much as possible, and getting my ass to some melee practices so I can pull my weight in my unit.

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Demo day and fighting practice 11/16/2017

I know this post is late, last week was kinda crazy. On Wednesday, I did a fighting demo at a local high school. I got there, geared up, and when the time came we did a bear pit. There were 5 of us. Me, Conrad, Murdoch, Titus, and Antonio. It was super fun, and the crowd seemed really into it which was amazing! I did ok, fighting wise. I even won a few, which was cool! Apart from the fighting, I was able to walk around and have short chats with some students. It was overall pretty awesome, and from the feedback I got from others, it seems a few kids are interested in coming down to events and checking it out.

Practice on Thursday was more low-key for me than usual. I took it a little easier because I didn’t want to get hurt before Hundred Minutes two days later. We had Caitlin, Dante, and Conrad. I did ok, but I let it far more thrusts than I should have. Dante also gave me a ton of problems, as usual. I just can’t seem to get around his defense, and on the rare occasion I did I just don’t hit hard enough. Anyways, we did mostly 1 on 1, and finished off with a few 2 on 2 fights, which were great. Overall, it was good and I’m glad I went before Hundred Minutes. Gotta stay fresh!

Fighting Practice 11/9/2017

Even though my arm was still pretty jacked up, I decided to go to practice, and I’m glad I did. I luckily didn’t take any shots to my upper sword arm like last practice, but I did take a pretty wicked shot to the inside of my elbow that hurt like hell. I’m still feeling the effects of this days later.

Overall the practice was good. Conrad, Caitlin, and Brad were in armor as well, so we all traded off. As usual, I focused more on defense than on offense. I did ok in that regard, but my shots still need a lot of work. When I am landing shots, they’re light due to me arming a lot still. I need to focus more on my mechanics, both on the pell and at practices. I know I say that a lot, I’m just hoping that eventually it sinks the fuck in. I was also able to fight against a poleax and greatsword, which was awesome. I don’t fight other weapons like that often, and I’m still pretty crap at it, so it’s good to be able to try stuff out and learn. I thankfully didn’t take much in terms of leg shots from them, most kills were thrusts when I closed. I’m definitely getting better at fighting them, but nowhere near where I wanna be yet.

I’m starting to get more used to throwing combinations, though they seldom pay off. Most times it’s just wasted energy, which is something I’m also trying to address. I try and analyze how people react when I start a combination so I can change them up in response. I’ve gotten close to having that work, I think the only reason it doesn’t is because I’m slow. To work around that, I’m also trying to run my combos off-tempo. I haven’t gotten the hang of it just yet, but I think it might help.

Anyways, I’m taking almost a full week off to let my arm rest up and heal. In the meantime, I’m gonna work on armor in preparation for 100 minutes war. I’m also gonna do my first demo next Weds at a school out East.

Fighting Practice 11/7/2017

Last night was an interesting one, to say the least. The Monday practices are outside in a public park. When I rolled in and went to get my gear on, the field lights went off. We ended up working under the parking lot lights. This was said to be a melee prep practice, so there wouldn’t be as much one on one fighting, which was fine by me. I don’t get much chance to fight against spears otherwise.

There were four of us in armor, and another 3 in helmets with shields. At first, they were practicing formation drills, so I stayed on the side and let them do their thing. I’m not in their household, so it wouldn’t make sense for me to be involved. After awhile, they took a break and the other 3 armored fighters starting doing one on ones, bear pit style. The armored fighters were the young newer dude who I’ve been fighting with, an older guy I didn’t know, and the guy I mentioned in my older post who I said something to when he pushed me down. I jumped in and fought the newer guy first, and beat him. I then stood there waiting for the next person. Nobody stepped forward. I pointed at the older guy and asked if he wanted in. He said “Sorry, but I can’t fight you”. Oooooook. Then I pointed at the other dude. He said “No thanks, I’m good”. So I fought the newer guy again. We went a few rounds, and then I bowed out to give the other guys some time.

After a bit, we lined up to drill against spears. I took part in this one, and it was great. I definitely learned a lot, and it was great experience. I had to learn to chance my stance so I don’t get legged. Good stuff! We split up again later on, and another fighter showed up who I’ve known a while (Ozurr). I waited for him to gear up, and practiced with him while the others did their own thing. He fought 2 stick, and it took me awhile to get a handle on how to deal with him. Eventually I got a little better at defending against him. During this, I took a shot to the tricep of my right arm. It was pretty wicked, so I had to bow out for a few minutes, and let the other newer guy jump in. When I got back in, the same spot got hammered again, this time much harder. My whole arm went kinda numb, and it was pretty painful. I called it, at that point. I geared down, hung around to hear what people were saying, then said goodbye to everyone and headed out. A day later now, and my arm is still in rough shape. I’m hoping it’s better by Thursday so I can go to practice again. In the meantime, I gotta look into making some upper arm armor to protect myself a bit from this. As they say, the hits just keep on coming!

Fighting Practice 11/1/2017 & 11/2/2017

So much happened last week that I really dropped the ball on these posts. I went to Nutley on Wednesday and my usual Thursday practice the next day. Practices went like this.

I flew solo for Nutley. I had a good audiobook, so the drive wasn’t so bad. I realized once I got there that my sword was pretty much broomed. The end of it was split, and one half of the split part was splintering. I taped the crap out of it so nothing would get through, and fought.

\This was my first actual test run with my newly redone leg armor. I have catcher’s pads I’m using as greaves, with my articulated stainless steel knees attached to them, and cuisses my buddy made out of leather and plastic plates. Overall they worked pretty well. I was able to move better in them without having to adjust them the whole time. My belt is still a pain in the ass, as the back keeps riding up and getting stuck on top of the hockey girdle I wear. Gonna have to make a cuisse belt to resolve that. Getting hit in the legs was less painful now, except when I got tagged on the outside just above my knee wing where there’s a small gap in my armor. Seems to be a common place for me to get hit, so I’m gonna try and come up with something in the meantime to protect that area since I keep getting hit there.

This practice, I was trying to focus more on protecting my left leg. It seems as though when I was focused on it actively, it wasn’t bad, but once I got distracted by trying to throw shots and combinations, my attention slipped and I’d get tagged. This is definitely gonna be a work in progress, so I plan on mainly focusing on that until I get it through my thick head

I fought a bunch of people I’ve never fought before . One knight, a woman I’ve never met before, was my first fight. Fast shots, and someone I couldn’t afford to let into close range. It was good to see and learn how she was able to close on me and take apart my defense. The others I fought were all unbelts except for my last fight, I believe. I did fight one of the local fighters that I see at practice too. I was able to land shots on occasion against various people, but they had nothing on them. Overall, it was good, and I felt my performance was fair.

The next night I did about the same, or perhaps a bit worse. My shield arm was sore from the night before, so that opened me up a bit. I was able to do decently against someone with a greatsword, and it was cool to fight against the different style. I again ran into the same problem of cleanly landing shots that were just way too light. This factors into my next big hurdle: shot mechanics.

While I technically¬†can throw a shot, that doesn’t mean I throw them correctly when I’m fighting. Put me in front of a pell and I can blast it. Put me in an actual fight, and I’m hitting people with stalks of celery. The difference, as I analyzed on Thursday, is in my body mechanics. On demand, I throw with proper body movement and torque. In a fight, I’m typically either not set properly or just not focusing enough and my technique suffers. The fix: more pell work. Even though I set mine up, I haven’t devoted the time to it. Sure, I can list a litany of excuses as to why I haven’t done it, but they’re irrelevant. Even five minutes a day would make some sort of difference, and I just haven’t been doing it. I spent part of the weekend setting up a new sword for myself to use in practice, as well as one to use on the pell. Tonight I’ll go to practice, but if nobody shows because of the rain I’ll end up doing pell work at home. I also must start doing work on my off days when I’m not going to a practice. I think that if I can get my shot techniques better, while also working on my leg defense at practices, then maybe I’ll be able to hold my own the way I should be. I’ll try and follow up on that in the future to see how it pans out.

Meeting a legend

There was a time, when I was a kid, where I didn’t really listen to music at all. I didn’t ask to hear certain songs, didn’t ask someone to put on the radio, and I didn’t have a favorite song or band. I did enjoy playing music to an extent, and played in orchestra and then band in grade school, but it wasn’t a core part of me. It didn’t run through my veins constantly. This all changed the summer I was introduced to Iron Maiden.

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My first album, ever…

There was a kid in my class that I made friends with, and he came over my house to hang out one day. He brought a cassette with him to play for me. It was the latest Maiden album, Seventh Son of a Seventh Son. Whether it was just the music, or a combination of the music and the fact that I thought this was one of the cool kids, I got hooked. Some time later, I purchase this album on cassette, the first music purchase of my life. From there, the music exploded a bomb within me, and my life was quite literally changed forever. Maiden opened the door to other metal bands, as well as many other things in my life. Many of their songs had to do with history, books, TV shows, movies, broadway plays, and various other subjects. I learned from them while also rocking out to the amazing compositions. I was the only one in my class to ace the test on Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge because of the Maiden song of the same name. This band influenced my life in innumerable ways, and all for the better.

The biggest impact, hands down, was made by Maiden’s front man, Bruce Dickinson. From the first time I heard him sing, I knew I was hearing something special. Then I saw him perform on the video for Live After Death, and on a bootleg video my cousin got me of Maiden playing in Dortmund in 1983. From that point on, I wanted to be on stage. I wanted to be a singer, and front a band. I, basically, wanted to be Bruce Dickinson.

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From the World Slavery Tour in the 80’s. This is who I wanted to be!

I’ve since seen the band play numerous times. My first time was with the singer who replaced Dickinson, Blaze Bailey. After he left, I got to see them on their reunion tour for Ed Hunter, which was at the Hammerstein ballroom in NYC. I was maybe 3 people away from the band on the floor, and it was incredible. Definitely one of those shows I wish I could go back to and relive over and over again.

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Freshly autographed by the legend himself!

Now, fast forward to a few days ago. A local bookstore was hosting a signing with none other than the man, Bruce Dickinson himself. He’s promoting his autobiography, which was just released. I sat in the crowd and waited for him to come out and speak. He spoke for about an hour or so, and it was great. He was funny, a little quirky, and pretty down to earth about everything. Finally, it came time to do the actual signings. He was only to be signing his name, no personalization, no photos, none of that. While I waited in line, it looked like an assembly line, and fans didn’t really have time for much interaction. This was likely because he spoke for awhile, and had it gone slower he’d have been there until midnight for sure. Regardless of this fact, my mind raced with things I should say to him. How could I possibly explain to him in just a few short words the mountainous impact he had, and still has, on my life? Hell, I’m writing this post right now, and I’m already well over 600 words, and I’m still nowhere near doing it justice. The time finally came, and I walked up. He sat right in front of me, easily the only celebrity idol I ever had growing up (sorry Billy, not that kind of Idol), and the emotion finally broke and crashed into me. It was like being hit by a tractor trailer doing 100mph. He looked up at me, and perhaps realized to an extent what was happening in my head. He reached out his hand to shake mine, and we shook hands. All I could manage to say was “Thank you, it’s an honor.” My voice shook a little as I spoke. I walked away and felt the waves crashing over me again and again. I can honestly say that this is the first time I’ve ever felt like this after meeting someone. He inspired me to become a musician, then again to become a singer and front man. He’s why I try to be dynamic on stage. When I was going to a vocal coach, my goal songs were all sung by him. These are songs I aspire to one day be able to sing and perform. And it doesn’t stop there. He’s a fencer, an airline pilot, and even brews beer. He started an aircraft maintenance company and created jobs. He flew into countries during conflict to get people stranded there out and to safety. There’s so much here that inspires me outside of music, and inside of music he’s always been at the top of my list of influences and inspirations. In a way, I’m kinda glad it went quick. Considering how I felt at that moment, any conversation would’ve devolved me into a blotchy, emotional, slobbery disaster, desperately in need of some paper towels and perhaps a tarp. They’d have needed security to escort me out while my eyes and nose streamed horror, as I muttered incoherently through choked sobs and stream of consciousness ramblings inside my head.

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The men that made the biggest musical impact on my life.

I’m left with a surprising revelation. I’ve never been one to try for backstage passes to meet the band or anything like that, even with Maiden. In my mind, the last thing they probably wanna do after walking off stage is to hear my stupid ass grovel for half an hour in awe of their awesomeness and impact on my life. They’ve heard it before countless times, I assume, and probably just wanna shower and eat a sandwich or some shit. In spite of that, I think now I’d be interested in meeting them. Hell, I’d love to just bullshit with some of them over a few beers and talk about stories and what their take is on the whole crazy ride they’ve been on throughout the years. I think that’d be amazing. Still, if it never happens, I’ll be cool with that too. I’ll still always have their music and concerts, and that inspiration will certainly last me a lifetime, and hopefully I can pass it on to my kids. Hell, I’ve already introduced loads of my friends to them, creating die hard fans every time. It’s pretty easy when the band is that awesome.

TL:DR – Met Bruce Dickinson at a book signing, was totally composed, and it was fuckin’ metal! UP THE IRONS!!!

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Fuck yeah!!!

Fighting Practice 10.23.2017

There was a pretty good turnout last night as far as heavy fighters go. I think total there were five of us, and we all got to switch off. I spent most of the beginning fighting another newer fighter, who’s very good. According to someone else there, he’s only been in armor a few months, about as long as me, but definitely more skilled. I also fought with Conrad, whom I fight pretty regularly, and a few others.

Overall practice went well. I’m still having a lot of trouble keeping my left leg protected, and might need to consider a longer shield since my legs are so long. I ate that shot quite a few times last night, mainly from the newer fighter. I also helped him with his thrust shot, since he was having trouble getting it right. He improved on it at practice, which was awesome. It felt great to be able to teach someone something for once. I still seem to be having calibration issues, and many of my shots are simply not hard enough. I really need to focus on mechanics to develop that power. This is gonna mean more pell work at home, which works out because I just got my pell set up in the yard. I’m gonna skip Thursday practice this week to let my leg heal a bit before Nutley next week, when it’s probably gonna get blown up again, and will instead work on the pell to try and beat the technique into my head.

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Time to get to work…

Towards the end of the night, there was an issue between me and another fighter. I was fighting someone, who I’ll call Phil (no idea what his name is). He was very aggressive with his basket and shield, and kept punching my shield into me. I wasn’t sure whether that in particular was legal or not, but since other fighters were there and had fought him, I figured it likely was. I got legged, and while he was standing over me he started ramming down like he was when I was standing. I held on a few seconds until he made a big push and literally threw me to the ground. As I was getting back up, I said “throwing someone to the ground like that, not very chivalrous.”. I meant it as informational, but it was taken otherwise. Phil’s housemate, Hank (dunno his name either), stepped in to further discuss, while Phil geared down. I explained my reasoning and point, and was told that in their household such a thing isn’t said in that way. I vowed that while at their practices, I will respect the ways of their household and rephrase going forward. I didn’t get to talk to Phil about it after, and truly hope he harbors no resentment. Hank and I finished our conversation and had a few passes at each other. I went until I couldn’t hold my shield up and called it a night.

I felt bad that someone’s night got ruined as a result of something I said, but I was also taken aback that it wasn’t discussed right then and there and hashed out. I figure it was smoke from another fire, and I’m trying to let it go. Hopefully, if he’s there next week, Phil and I can hash it out and be cool.

Bruise gallery!

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Blocking needs to be a thing for me…