This past Sunday, I had the pleasure of fighting in a bear pit tournament in NJ. I traveled there with a local fighter, Ozurr, and we got there just in time for the fun to begin. In total there were 18 fighters, and there were 2 pits. Winner stays, loser goes, wounds retained. Winner gets 2 points, loser gets one point. Pits ran for 2 hours straight.
I started the day with that massive bruise on my leg, and though it was days old now it still hurt to the touch. I soon found out that I’m still leaving that side too open, as shot after shot came in right on that bruise. Eventually it hit critical mass about an hour and twenty minutes in, when a particularly hard shot blasted that same spot. The pain jumped up and I had to take myself out for the day so I didn’t risk more serious injury. Still, I ended the day having fought 36 fights, and I went 13 and 23, something I’m pretty proud of. I learned quite a bit, too, as other fighters were able to let me know what I was doing wrong that left me open. I also received praise from a few people on how I fought, which left me grinning like an idiot. I’m pretty shitty at accepting compliments, so I probably came off like an ass when in fact I was humbled by the praise and the fact that they went out of their way to say something to me. I even got in some shots I’ve never been able to land before, which was super cool! Also, I finally got to fight some members of my household. I fought Sarvu, Travis, and Darius. I got to fight Darius a few times, but only the other two once each.
All in all, it was a good day, and I needed a good day after the day before. I think I fought relatively well, and I got some great feedback on stuff I need to work on. I had the pleasure of fighting mostly people I’ve never fought before (Zack was the only person there I’d fought before), and all my passes were clean and excellent. Now I just gotta wait for this Africa shaped bruise to heal a little before I get back in armor again for a practice. I also have to work on my cardio if I’m gonna get through Birka.
I ventured out into the wilds of Jersey again for some combat goodness, and again wasn’t disappointed. I was a little bummed that everyone that was supposed to be joining me for the ride bailed last minute, but what can you do?
This time, I fought some people I’ve never fought before, which was great. First was a fighter from Montreal, who was actually on his honeymoon with his wife. He brought his fighting gear with them so he could attend the practice. He fought 2 stick, and we had some great passes. I followed that up with Arne. I had some good passes with him as well, and during our last pass he blasted me in the right leg. I knew right away that was gonna be nasty, and it hurt like hell despite my armor. I also ended up fighting Sir Culann for the first time, which was awesome and a little bittersweet since it was his last practice before moving to the west coast. One notable pass was when he went for a thrust that I tried to parry, and instead I pushed his aim right into my cup. Oof. I fought Sir Stephan again, which was fun. So far he’s still the only one whose head shots on me actually hurt a little. I fought another local unbelt who gave me some great passes, but I can’t remember his name for the life of me. I finished up with his highness, Duke Brennan. I tried to apply what he previously told me, and went for as much as I could. I did manage to leg him, though only when I was already legged, and I’m pretty sure the shots were light. He let me know, in a not-subtle way, that I’m not defending my right leg enough now. He blasted me a few times there, right where Arne hit me, and I ended the night with a welt the size of a football on my leg.
Arne mentioned to me that I’ve gotten better, which is awesome. I still need to work more on my defense, such as keeping the point of my shield up (which Stephan told me that night), and learning to stick block a little more. I also need to keep that right leg protected, so I’m gonna have to figure that out as well. Finally, another fighter mentioned to me that I’m not putting my hip into my shots, which harkens back to something I’ve said previous: My shot mechanics are absolute garbage. I’ve watched myself hit the pell, and it’s downright shameful. I need to focus on defense when I’m at practices, and on shot mechanics every other day. Without that, I’ll never be worth a damn in a fight.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.