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Fighting Practice 10.19.2017 – 6 Month Checkup

I actually considered skipping practice last night. My arm and leg and still pretty beat up and tender, and my sword is now cracked at the tip and getting a little pulpy. Thankfully, I couldn’t bring myself to stay home. I figured I’d go and if I got too beat up I’d just head out early. Prior to practice, a local fighter who hit me up on Facebook posted a message on my wall telling me that I’m doing really well for the amount of time I’ve been in armor. A few other fighters at my regular practices have recently told me the same thing. This, of course, goes counter to how I’ve been feeling as of late, that I’m not where I should be. I can’t even begin to explain how humbled I am that people are going out of their way to help me along and praise my efforts. It shows the truest nature of the fighter community, for sure, and I’m honored to be a part of it. I’ll get more into that later, for now let’s talk practice.

Sure enough, during my first fight, I got blasted in the right bicep…EXACTLY where I got hit last week and on Monday. I took a minute, and then got back in and took special notice of my defense so I wouldn’t be hit there again. This worked for me, and I didn’t take any more shots there for the rest of the night. I decided to try some new things this practice. For one, I watched the pell work video shown below and tried doing what he said in the beginning. I struck, pulled back to block the most likely shot, then went in again. I had varying results, but overall it helped more than hurt. Here’s the video:

I also tried moving around a lot more. I’d go in, back, to the sides, crouched, and this I think helped me quite a bit. If for nothing else, it kept my opponent on their toes. It also made it a little easier for me to get shots in, though my lack of speed and strength made most of them light. One thing that was also a challenge was the changes I had to make to my own guard when moving around. I opened myself up quite a few times because I didn’t adjust when I moved.

Overall I had a decent practice. I was able to fight a bunch of people and went against some different weapons I don’t usually encounter like a hand ax and a big pole ax. I wouldn’t say I did really well, but I didn’t embarrass myself or blast anyone in the pills, so that’s a plus!

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Tired? Yes. Quitting early? Not an option.

Now, my six month checkup. It’s been about 6 months since my first practice in armor. I had done pell work for about 2 months back in 2014, then stopped going until I could actually get loaner gear and fight. This took me quite awhile, but I eventually got all my shit and made my way to my first practice the last week of April 2017, a little under 6 months ago. I went until late June when I had to take 3 weeks off because I was moving and also to let me hand heal from an injury. After that, I’ve been mostly nonstop, only missing weeks where there were no practices being held and I couldn’t get people to my place to fight.

Overall I think I’ve improved quite a bit, having started from knowing jack shit about what I was doing out there. My shot speed, power, and precision have gotten better, though still have quite a long way to go. Still, I can deliver a killing blow on occasion. My defense feels fair to decent, and I don’t get one shotted too often. I’m still easy to open up and exploit, but I’m getting a little better at reading those moves and adjusting. My mobility is also starting to get going, and I’m getting more comfortable moving around and not just standing there like a pell waiting for someone to wail on me. The biggest stride I feel like I made is my comfort level. I feel much more comfortable and at home in my gear, and I’m a lot more relaxed when I’m fighting. I still need to work on my breathing, though.

So I think I’ve come a fair way thus far. I’ll take the word of others that I’m doing well skill-wise considering my time in armor, simply because I have no frame of reference. They’d know far better than I would. In my mind, though, I still need a ton of work. My biggest focus is to get good enough to pull my own weight in my melee team. I don’t wanna be “that guy”, who’s on the team cuz we’re buddies and household-mates. I wanna be there because I get things done, because I help my team achieve goals. I wanna feel I’ve earned the place I’ve already been given, and the honor others have already bestowed upon me. I’m on the right road for that to happen, I just gotta keep practicing, keep fighting, and keep learning. Realistically, from what I gather from other fighters, I’ve got a few years to go before that happens. I just hope I don’t plateau before I get there.

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A funny thing happened to Saint Andrew…

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!

Fighting Practice 9.11.2017

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…

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!!!

Fighting Practice update 6.7.2017

Last week I ended up bailing on both practices. The Sunday prior I came down with the plague, and it lasted until this past Sunday when I finally started feeling better. This Monday past I went to practice again, and it was a good one. Duke Brennan came to practice, so quite a few fighters also showed up. Since I’m absolute shite with names, I couldn’t list most of them, but I did know a few. Some were guys from the Thursday night Acre practice like Joe/Dante and Conrad. The only other fighter there I kinda know is an older gent who’s getting back into fighting after being away for many years.

This practice I tried something different. After previous practices, my sword hand would hurt. On this hand I was using a Dark Victory demi that had about 1/2″ of padding on it, and a batting glove. My sword used the hard polymer/resin cups many people use. This was bothering me in 3 different ways. First, I’d get a blister at the base of my pinky. Second, the outside of my thumb knuckle where it meets my hand would get scraped up and a little raw. Finally, and worst of all, the knuckles on my index and middle finger where they meet my hand were getting swollen and very painful. I didn’t know if it was from the padding being too stiff and the pressure being put on them from it or what, but it was painful and still hurts, even after not fighting for a week. Turns out, part of the reason may be that I was death-gripping a bit. I haven’t hit the comfort level to stay totally loose when fighting, and a good part of that is because I’m a very defensive fighter. I tend to wait for an opening, relying more on my defense to keep me alive and grant me opportunities. Might not be the best strategy, but it’s what I’ve got at the moment.

The change I made was to remove the demi padding, and instead use a street hockey glove on that hand. This change is definitely an improvement. The first two issues I mentioned before went away, and my knuckles aren’t nearly as sore as the last few times. I still have stiffness and pain, but I think that’s more due to lack of strength than anything else. I’m still working against being out of shape, and I’ve been physically weak pretty much all my life. Once the move I’m going through right now is done, I hope to do some strength training at home to make things a bit easier. In the meantime, though, this change appears to have definitely been for the better.

Over the night I fought a bunch of people. Some of the much more experienced and aggressive fighters made quick work of me, while others toned things down to give me some pointers and some sort of fighting chance. Duke Brennan was one of these people. He worked with me for awhile and helped me with my shots and power, and his suggestions paid off. I definitely felt an increase in power, and throwing shots was easier. Initially, I’d hold my sword with my thumb, index, and middle finger as lightly as I could, and when firing a shot I’d close the other two fingers to generate the power. His suggestion was that instead of closing my hand, to just swap fingers. Close my ring and pinky, but loosen my thumb, fore, and middle fingers. This felt more natural and gave me enough of a boost to throw a good shot. Landing one, of course, is still quite the challenge, and it should come as no surprise that it didn’t really happen while we sparred. But that doesn’t matter to me, to be honest. I’m glad to have had the instruction, and his grace was mad cool about everything and great to work with.

My other fights that night were the usual fare. I get a good shot in maybe one out of 8-10 fights, depending on who I’m against and how easy they’re going on me. According to Dante, my defense is getting better, which I’m happy about. There’s still much I need to work on, so I’m taking it practice by practice and trying to focus on working one or two things in particular each time.

Finally, I found out that the EK novice tourney is the day before I do Tough Mudder. I’m debating whether or not I’ll do it. I’d like the experience, even though I’ll very likely get eliminated in my first fight or two, depending on the rules. Then again, I don’t know if I wanna risk injuring myself right before TM. I’m gonna play it by ear, as I’m of two minds about it. The rules for fighting in it are that you can’t have been initially authorized more than 2 years prior. Sure, this makes skill levels tough to gauge, since someone can be attending practices for a year or more before being authorized, or like me only a few months. But I don’t know that I’d get too beat up. I’ll likely just get beaned in the head as usual, which is a really safe place to get hit. We’ll see. I have another practice tomorrow, so hopefully I can work on some more shots and start really nailing that shit down. More to come!