Last night was a brutal practice. I went into it without my head in the game, so I feel like I fought like shit. I tried using the guard Stephan showed me, but was leaving my arm too vulnerable and paid for it quite a few times. I also tried working on footwork and not over committing my shield when blocking, but fell short of the mark nearly every time. I was definitely outclassed, for sure, but I also didn’t feel like I was in the right zone.
Then there were the nut shots. Though I was aiming for leg shots, I ended up hitting others in the cup more than once. I debated just gearing down and walking off because of how furious and embarrassed I was over the whole thing. I ended up throwing far less leg shots, and almost no body shots, from that point on. I also took two full shots to the cup, and one glancing shot, which were well deserved regardless of whether they were intended or not. I don’t know what it was. The first one I threw, I got. I was aiming lower, but he crouched more as I was swinging and I couldn’t pull the shot in time. The others I have no excuse for. I didn’t aim for it, my aim was just off and it got hit.
Apart from that, I pushed until I couldn’t lift my shield anymore. My sword arm and left leg took a beating as well, but I went until I had nothing left. Even in the beginning, though, my shots were slow and weak. I got a few in, but they didn’t have much on them. I just had no game. Couldn’t get around defenses, couldn’t put enough on shots, it was just a mess. I’m sure everyone has nights like that, and it really does suck. I’m hoping Thursday will be a little better.
There was some good, though. A younger guy at practice, who was filming some of the fights, was talking to me at the end of the night. Don’t really know much about him, or how long he’s been with the brood, but he mentioned to me that he was impressed with how I fought considering I’ve been in armor just under 6 months. I took it as a good compliment, even though I have my differing opinions on it. Still, regardless of whether I agree with him or not, or whether he was just trying to be nice and encouraging, it’s a cool thing to hear. I currently feel as though I’m not improving as I should, and that my current skill level is garbage for someone with as much armor time as I have. For me, positive feedback is always a hard thing to believe. If someone gives me positive feedback, I just assume they’re being kind and encouraging to keep me interested and positive. I don’t assume they actually truly mean the words. Negative feedback, however, is almost always taken at face value. What can I say, I’m a weird dude with shitty self esteem. I wouldn’t say to someone’s face that “oh, you’re just being nice”, cuz that’s kinda dick, but I can’t help but feel it. It’s something I’m working on.
Finally, someone on a Facebook group for fighters posted the following video, and it really speaks to me. It’s something to think about, and a direction I need to follow. I’ve linked it below, so check it out.
This week’s coloring:
So last night I went to Nutley for the first time with my buddy Ulf, another local fighter. I’ll admit I had some concerns going in about this being an elite only kind of thing, and that people wouldn’t want to spare any time for noob fighters like us. I’m overjoyed to report that this concern couldn’t be further from the truth.
We got there just as they were opening up, which was great. I met up with my buddy John, who gave me a run down of how practice usually goes. I geared up, and fought Arn, a fighter I’ve known for a while now. After him I fought Sir Douglas Henry, Sir Stephan, Sir Jan, and Duke Brennan. Every single person I fought was awesome with me. It felt very welcoming and comfortable. I never once felt like I was looked down on or that I was being smacked around for their enjoyment, which is something some newer people seem afraid of. I luck out that early on, after discussions with other veteran fighters, I was able to get in the mindset that I’d be ok fighting pretty much anybody without feeling intimidated. Sure, I know I’m gonna get my ass kicked, but squaring off against people at this level is well worth it. Everyone had very useful tips for me to work on. Footwork and mobility, moving my shield too much when I block, keeping my elbow protected, positioning my sword so I can more easily block onside head shots, and just overall working on my mindset when I fight. After each round of fights, my opponent would remove their gear and walk over to me to help me out. With all criticisms came equal praise of what I did that was right, which is huge to me. As someone who’s done martial arts for years, I always found that the best teachers were like that. It’s not just about the negative, it’s also about what’s being done right.
I know my reactions and footwork and issues I need to work on, as well as straight up pell work. My flat snap is more of a downward chop, which is something I have to work on over and over until I get it through my thick head. Also, for now I think my shield work is my main focus. My left leg is a general disaster right now from getting hit literally over a dozen times last night. I’m thankful that everyone I fought dialed themselves down, or it’d be far worse than it is. I can’t really say I have any complaints whatsoever, and just wish I was closer and could go out there more often. It was such an upbeat atmosphere, nothing like the member’s only club I feared it would be. I’ll be working on the feedback I was given that night and will hopefully improve on it for my next trip out there. I’ll wrap up with a few pics taken from last night.
I went out east last night for some more fighting goodness. Only two other fighters geared up with me, one of which only fought a few times before he had to leave. So mainly it was just me and my buddy Ulf.
I did ok last night, but some things REALLY need to be worked out. I’m able to see the openings a bit more now, but still can’t seem to get there in time. My fakes are getting a little better as well. My leg shots last night, though, tended to be a little low, which is odd for me. I need to work on flattening the blade so the tip doesn’t drop low enough to catch the knee. Also, I took a few leg shots on the left. This is one of my weakest parts of my defense. I’m ok with guarding my right side, but my left leaves much to be desired. My other problem that night was dealing with his aggression. He charges up and presses me a lot, and I can’t seem to sidestep or move fast enough to counteract it. I end up backing up and turtling up until he gets tired, and then attack while he’s tired. This won’t work on someone who can keep that shit up, though, so I really need to work on dealing with that.
My foot was OK for the most part. It still hurts, and by the end it was killing me. I went home and iced it and it’s back where it was. I made an appointment with the doctor for next Monday, so here’s hoping I get a better idea of what’s happening.
Finally, I spoke to Ulf about wanting to go once a month to the Nutley practice, and he’s down for the trip as well. He mentioned really wanting to up his game as much as possible, and hopefully become a knight someday. I really hope he does, he’s a cool dude, so we’re gonna carpool there next week and have some fun. Here’s hoping the doc doesn’t give me bad news on Monday so I can go!
Almost 2 weeks back, I went to the Thursday practice. The night started out normally. I geared up, chatted up a few people, and got to fighting. From the get-go, it was a shit show for me. I fought like crap, and kept giving up easy shots and not really delivering any of note. This went on until about 30 minutes before the end. I fought another newer fighter and legged him. While on his knees, I was having a hard time finishing him off. That’s when it happened. My assumption is that he went for an offside leg shot, but his aim was nothing short of abysmal. Instead of hitting my leg, of even my knee or shin, he struck unhindered on the top of my forward foot. The blow hit solidly on the side of my instep, and I saw stars! It was horribly painful. I gave it about a 20 count before just sucking it up and finishing the fight. In another minute or so he was exhausted and could not continue, so I sat down. The pain worsened. I decided to gear down, and another fighter was kind enough to bring me some ice. I sat and watched the fighting for a bit longer, then I packed my shit and went home. I iced it again, took some Advil, and went to bed.
The next day, the pain was still pretty bad. I couldn’t put any weight on it without sharp pain, and decided to go to the doctor. After X-rays they said it wasn’t broken or fractured, and to see a specialist if it still hurt after awhile. Over the next few days it started getting progressively better, and by the next Thursday I decided to try going to practice again.
This Thursday practice was decidedly better than the last one, but my foot was still bothering me and I think I pushed a bit too much. I was focusing mainly on my fighting and not on the pain in my foot, and by the end of the night I was in pain again. I iced it and took more Advil, but since then it’s been even more tender. I do feel like I fought better this time around, though. I was moving more and trying new guards, some of which worked and some did not. Overall it was a good practice, aside from the foot pain.
I’m going out east to practice tonight, so hopefully my foot will hold up. I’m also gonna contact a foot specialist to see what is actually going on with it. My fear right now is that a tendon or ligament tore badly and is causing the pain. My guess is that they’ll need an MRI or something like that to know for sure, but here’s hoping it’s nothing serious. More to come!
Last weekend was a local event that saw our existing baron and baroness step down, and a new baron and baroness step up. There was also archery, thrown weapons, rapier, and heavy list. The heavy tournament was also to determine the new baronial champion.
I started out concerned with my ability to even participate, since they wanted rotating forms and I’ve only really ever fought sword and shield. I was able to get authorized in the other forms, though, and people had enough loaner gear there (gauntlets, polearms, etc.) that I felt less like a dick participating. I’d honestly have felt weird going through the whole thing with sword and shield when others were all switching forms.
Starting off, me and another local fighter decided to warm up a bit before the tourney. We fought a few times, then another fighter swapped in, then a few more, and before long we had a bear pit for about 15-20 minutes. Then we started the actual tournament. It was round robin with about 9 fighters. I did as good as could be expected, and won maybe 2 or so fights. I’m happy with how I did. The majority of the fighters there were far better than me, and this being a champion tourney I wasn’t expecting to have a winning record as a guy who’s been in armor only 5 months. I stuck with my lessons as best I could, but was simply outclassed, and that’s fine. I also lost all but one of my other forms due to having very little experience and not knowing how to defend myself competently enough. The one fight I won was pretty much given to me, as my opponent was overheating and appeared to have just wanted it done with so he could cool down. That fight was absolutely hilarious. I fought polearm, he fought greatsword. He took my right arm, and then chose to fight one armed against me as a courtesy. Neither of us could swing with any power, and thrusts was tough due to the weight and us being tired. It was damn comical, and probably my favorite fight so far. Even the other marshal came over and was like “what the hell is going on here?!”. We were cracking up. My opponent, whose name I of course don’t remember, was awesome and gracious about it all. Definitely the best kind of people I find on the field.
I ended the day with 3 fights in a row, due to some confusion as to who fought who. I was exhausted at this point, and thankfully the first two tagged my pretty quickly so the fights didn’t drag on. The last one seemed more evenly matched, and I was able to pull out the win somehow. Afterwards, I popped my top and crashed. I was actually thankful for the end, as I didn’t have the stamina to keep going and I was overheating.
I actually enjoyed trying out the other weapons forms, even though I did terribly. I looked into possibly getting some gauntlets so I can do that again at other tournaments, but right now they’re all a bit out of budget. From the conversations I’ve had with other fighters, it seems as though gauntlets are the kind of thing you spend good money on so you get good stuff. Since I work with my hands quite often, I decided to follow their advice to the letter. In the meantime, I’ll have to see what else I can do to my current kit to make it more comfortable and easier to maneuver in. All in all, though, it was a great event. We saw some truly wonderful moments as people were given awards and peerages. We also attended our first feast, and the food was absolutely fantastic! I ate until I could eat no more, and went home tired, sore, and full. I could ask for no better!
Last night I went back to the An Dub practice for the first time since before Pennsic. They stopped holding them starting just before war until last week, though last week I couldn’t make it. This week I went and, to be honest, it was a shit show from the very start. Not practice itself, but my participation in it.
It began with me forgetting my fighting pants at home, so I went home after work to get them and then headed out. When I arrived, I was going through my bag and I realized that I forgot my elbow and knee pads at home. I was pretty pissed at such an oversight, but luckily two of the fighters there were able to lend me both so I could gear up. So I start gearing up, get my legs on, then stand up, look around, and realize I left my fucking CHEST PIECE, of all things, at home as well. I couldn’t believe how stupid I was, and for me that’s saying something. At this point I was furious with myself. I really didn’t want to go another week without fighting, I felt it’s been long enough as it is. Luckily for me, another fighter who wasn’t gonna gear up was willing to lend me his chest armor so I was finally able to fully gear up. The chest piece I borrowed was much more form fitting and smaller than the one I usually fight in, and I felt much better in it.
So I started fighting, and I definitely started feeling the steps I’d lost by not being able to fight for a few weeks. My stamina and strength took a pretty sizable hit, and my defense was spotty at best. I let in quite a few juicy shots, so now it looks like I fell down a flight of stairs. I felt slow and sloppy, and wasn’t able to get where I needed to be in time. Don’t get me wrong, I never expect to come out with a positive kill/death ratio at these practices. The fighters that attend are all more competent fighters than I am. Still, my performance was kind of a shit show, in my opinion. Anyway, I started out doing singles against a few people, and then we ended up doing a bear pit (winner stays until he/she loses). I don’t think I fought more that two in a row in the pit, but I did get the occasional win. After awhile, I gassed out and couldn’t hold my shield up anymore. I was relying on body and head movement to get out of the way instead of blocking with my shield. When that happened, I was pretty much done, so I pushed myself to fight two more times and called it a day. I’m just happy my sword arm was ok, since while on vacation two weeks ago I fell while skating and landed hard on my right side. My shoulder and arm were messed up for days, but it doesn’t seem as though there was any lasting damage.
I’m gonna try and get a practice together this week to get more time in armor, and hopefully I’ll start moving forward again. In the meantime, pell work is on the menu…
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!