This was my first Birka as a fighter. I’ve heard quite a lot about it being a brutal meat grinder of a tournament, so there was definitely a bit of trepidation and anxiety about it. Since I’ve done a bear pit before (though not on this scale), I figured prep work was my friend. I made pieces of armor to protect the areas of my legs that normally get blasted, and they made a huge difference for me. Anyway, I’m getting ahead of myself.
Going in, I was definitely nervous. I didn’t really know how brutal it would be to survive this to the end. For those who don’t know, the heavy list at Birka is a bear pit tourney. 10 pits, 10 foot square each. Each pit has two fighters engaged in singles combat. Winner stays, and loser reports the results to scorekeepers. Once the loser exits, a new fighter from the line steps in and fights. If you step one leg out of the ring, you are now legged and fight on your knees. Two legs out, and you’re dead. It’s always moving, and it’s a timed event set for 3 hours of non-stop fighting. I had a few goals going in, and they varied in likelihood. The usual goals were there, such as having fun, fighting with honor, and being positive with everyone I encountered. Then I had others such as putting up a tough fight with everyone, not stepping out, and not making foolish mistakes. Finally, I had my two ambitious goals. These were to last until the end (be on line or fighting in a pit when the tourney ended), and make it to the top half of fighters in the points rankings at the end. The last one was kind of a dream one, since I seriously did not think it would ever happen. To my surprise and amazement, I achieved every goal I had, though some with limited success.
I started out rough. Took me a bunch of fights just to get my head in the game, and that killed a lot of time. Those first 5 or so fights I didn’t put up much of a fight at all, and made some stupid mistakes. I really should have done a few pickups beforehand just to get the nerves out and settle in. The new armor worked great, and helped me last until the end. I only really took three shots that hurt. First was a wrap behind my right knee, second was a thrust I took in the noodle, and third was a shot to my shoulder. None of them were day enders. I had a few runs of two wins in a row, which left me both elated and exhausted. I’m pleased to say that I did NOT step out of the pit at any point during the day. I remained aware of it at all times, and didn’t let anyone bully me out. I believe I fought with honor and integrity. I called my shots honestly, regardless of my frustration with my own defense at times letting them in. I was also very positive with everyone I encountered. Finally, I not only lasted until the end, but I managed to rank 61st place out of 152 fighters! Keep in mind that this has a lot to do with people either gassing out, having equipment issues, getting hurt, or just wanting to have a few fights and gear down. Regardless, though, I’m proud of how I did. I ended with 10 wins, 25 losses, and 1 double kill. Fighters are awarded 2 points per win, 1 point per loss, and one point for a double kill. To me, for someone who’s been in armor 9 months now, I’m super happy with these results. I also walked away with loads of stuff to work on, so it was a great learning experience as well.
There were a few other things of note that happened which bear mentioning. Foremost to me was an act of kindness from His Highness Duke Brennan. The setting goes like this. I was on break from fighting, so I could sit for a few and have some water. I saw my buddy Arne’s lady, Anna, working on his shield. She had been water bearing for me when I was on line throughout the day, as the Lish was showing someone around who was at their first event. I went over to see what was up. The handle of Arne’s shield broke, and she couldn’t get the zip tie through to repair it. I worked with her on it for a few minutes, but couldn’t figure it out. I geared back up and got back in line. Sure enough, halfway through the line it hit me. I knew how to fix it. I got through the line, got destroyed by a knight, and went back over. As we were working on it, Duke Brennan walked by while on line. When he saw me, he immediately came over and said “If I give you my shield, will you go back out there and fight?”. He assumed I was working on my own shield. When I told him what was happening, he was like “Oh, ok cool” and walked away. I got back in line a minute or so later, leaving the shield fixed and ready to go. The fact that he was willing to give his own shield away just to get me back out there meant a great deal to me. Moments like this are what shows other fighters, new or not, what chivalry and honor are all about. He didn’t care if he did well, he cared that I was able to get back out there and keep having fun. That’s what it’s all about, and it left me grinning like an idiot. Little moments like this make all the difference, because it’s a true sign of who someone is. This wasn’t a calculated thing, this was a reflex. We should all have such reflexes.
After the fighting was over, Arne saw me and called me over. He thanked me for helping out his lady, and congratulated me on staying in the whole time. Because of this, he gave me a gift: a medieval rosary, which he likely made himself. I was honored by the gift, and didn’t really know what to say. I hopefully didn’t come off like an ass about it, but who knows. I’m humbled he chose to do that for me, and it’s something I’ll keep with me when at events.
I must also say, I’m pleased that I only had one fight with questionable calibration. A few other fighters mentioned calling light on a few of my shots, and those I 100% agree with. One fighter I know I landed blows on, and they were as solid as I can make them, but nothing was taken. He waiting until I threw a bunch of shots, then figured I was tired and unloaded on me. Took him awhile to get in, but eventually he did, and his shot was solid so I took it. Can’t say I was thrilled with his calibration, but that’s on his honor, not mine. Thankfully, that was the only issue I had all day as far as calibration goes.
Finally, my self analysis. I started out weak, and my defense was sloppy early on. A few fights I didn’t even throw a shot, just got blasted quick. My head just wasn’t in it. I saw some videos from later on, and while they weren’t of my fight specifically, I could see that my stance was better and my footwork was better. My shots were ok, but my accuracy and speed weren’t as good as I’d have liked them to be. Hard to tell for sure if that’s just where I am, skill-wise, or not simply because I was just so amped up and it was far more intense than my usual practices. My biggest weak area is being able to deliver a killing shot against a legged opponent. I really need much more work on this, as I had a ton of difficulty with legged fighters in the lists at Birka. This wasn’t at all a calibration thing, either. I couldn’t land a light shot, let alone a good one. I also didn’t control their sword arm with my shield as much as I should have. This is just another instance of having my head in the game. Focus is something I’m really gonna have to work on, as well as my overall skills.
Still, I’m pleased with where I am from a skill standpoint. I don’t personally feel I’m where I should be given my time in armor and how many practices I go to, but I’m getting out there and working on it. I still feel that I’m slowly moving forward, which is all I can hope for right now. I attended the unbelts meeting after the fighting, which discussed making the Unbelted Champions melee team for Pennsic, which will be the best we have to offer. Do I plan on trying out for it? No, I’m nowhere near even consideration. Again, not a low self esteem thing, just facts. In the meantime, I’m gonna work at practice and events to learn stuff and get better. I know I’ll hit a plateau at some point where I just can’t get past something, so I’m just trying to push as hard as I can to get there sooner. The sooner I get there, the sooner I can work on getting past it. Hopefully my body keeps pace with me, or it’ll be one helluva short trip!
I traveled down to Wantagh for some fighty goodness. I was lucky that I didn’t get too beat up at Nutley the night before, so I could try out some of the tips I learned. Tonight it was me, Dante, Caitlin, and Conrad. Conrad had to bail early, but we got in some good passes.
I spent the majority of the practice focusing on keeping my right leg back and not bringing it too far forward while advancing. I was also focusing on keeping my shield held at the correct angle and position as shown to me by Sir Horic the week before. I had some fairly decent success on both counts. I did end up getting tagged a bunch of times, but much less often in the areas I was getting hit before, and my opponents seemed to have to work much harder instead of being able to one shot me. I still need work on closing the deal when someone is legged, but I’m sure that’ll come in time.
Now, onto Birka prep. I didn’t attend practice the week of the 21st because I didn’t want to risk getting really damaged right before Birka. As you may recall, I made that mistake prior to my first bear pit tourney, and I paid the price. For Birka, I wanted to be able to go the distance, but that would mean making some armor changes. First, I re-edged my shield. The old edging was coming apart and chewing up rattan. Second, I made two new swords, as the ones I was using were both pulpy and cracked at the tip. I also made a cut off sword to use if I get armed in a fight at practice. Third, I had to mount the upper arm protection I made to the shoulder on my chest piece so it didn’t roll around so much. I just punched some holes and laced it together with some paracord. Finally, I had to address my two biggest injury spots. My hips and the spot on my left leg just above the side of my knee. These are the spots that have taken me out of fighting for the day (or week) before, so I can’t let that happen. For my left leg, I took a knee pad and riveted some hardened plastic to it. While not pretty, it should protect me enough to not cripple my leg. For my hips, I still need to make something. I was thinking of throwing together some tassets made of leather and plastic to take some of the stink off the shots. I know I’m gonna get a lot of shit for it from other fighters, mainly because the mantra they preach is “don’t add armor, practice and get better”, or more simply and sarcastically “learn to block”. Well, here I am, 9 months into this, and I’m still getting blasted. Normally that wouldn’t bother me, as I still get hit in the helm a lot as well, however getting tagged in these areas of virtually no armor will take me out of commission. Hard to get better when I can’t fight, or even walk properly. Besides, the repeated trauma to these areas can’t be good, physiologically speaking.
So, I’m armoring up, and to be bluntly honest, the snarky commenters can go scratch. While I’d love to be a natural at this, and pick it up seemingly overnight, the fact of the matter is that I’m not, and I won’t. I’m starting this late in the game for me, and I’ve never been adept at anything physical. I’m ok with this taking me awhile to grasp and get good at. Also, let’s face some facts here. I’m in this for the fun of it, the camaraderie, the affirmation I get when I do well, and because I get to be encouraging and helpful to others on occasion. Have I considered the path to peerage? Of course I have. I overanalyze the shit out of everything, and sure it’d be great to earn awards for fighting, if for no other reason than for the simple affirmation from my fellows who would be saying I’m actually worth a damn on the field. For the peerage, of course I’d enjoy being a mentor and helping other fighters move up and have fun. Now, the facts. On the average, a new fighter goes from AoA to OTC is 8 years. I got my AoA in 2015, before I started fighting. There is also newer amerigous award for fighting, the Silver Tyger, however this is not the “participation award” that the AoA is. So, from now to OTC would be 8ish, maybe more since that’s just an average. OTC to Chiv is, on the average, another 5. That’s 13 years total. I’d be 52, unless I have a setback which would pad that out. So, in my opinion, while it’d be cool, it’s just not realistic. I’m not being self deprecating or having a case of the “poor me’s”, these are the facts as they stand. As such, I’m fine with the pace at which I’m learning. I think maybe in a year or two I’ll be an asset on the field, someone people would want fighting at their side not just because we’re friendly with one another, but because I can truly help deliver the win. If I can get there, and stay there until my body tells me it’s time to throw in the towel, I’ll be overjoyed. Sure, it’s a bummer that I started so late in the game, but such is life. I’ll make the best of it while I can do it, and enjoy the friendships I build along the way. If nothing else, I’ll have a bunch of stories about the dumb shit I’ve done in armor to tell people while we drink and laugh together for years to come.
Another two in one post because I’m lazy as hell. First, some backstory. In the SCA right now, there is a Chiv Hunt happening. The rules are basically like this. An unbelted fighter will fight as many different members of the chivalry as they can during the course of the year. 3 passes minimum, get them to sign a book. The people with the most win a prize. For those who just participate, they get a custom coin. I push to work with as many belted fighters as possible already, so for me this just gets me a sweet coin! Anyways, I’ll be keeping my tally updated here as well so I can have better documentation.
Thursday of last week got me my first name, and it was someone I’ve been trying to work with for months but it just never worked out. Earl Horic. He came down and worked with Caitlin and I, and it was great. We spoke about suppression, rotation (rotating wrist to throw combos instead of moving the arm), how my shield is strapped, and how to improve my guard. Overall it was a good practice, though my left leg just above the knee on the outside got punished yet again. I’m gonna make something special to protect that area until I get better at defense, since I was limping by the end of practice.
Last night at Nutley, we did some Birka style bear pit in the beginning, since Birka is only a week away. I went to practice with Ulf, and because of the bear pit I actually got to fight him again. We haven’t fought since maybe October. The bear pit was exhausting, and a great learning experience. One tip I got was to meet my opponent in the middle when they step in, and not let them come to me like I normally do. I fought three belted fighters last night. I fought Sir Douglas Henry, who gave me tips on inside fighting. Definitely something to work on. I didn’t give up my left leg as much overall this night, which was good. I fought Sir Beatrix, who furthered my education in inside fighting. She’s very fast and aggressive when inside, and has a pretty devastating leg wrap. The last belted fighter I fought was Sir Stefan, who helped me with throwing shots while legged and not letting my opponent just close in and do what they want. Arne was there blowing up my right leg, and he told me that when I get ready to do something I square up, which is making my right leg vulnerable. Something else added to the list. Finally, I fought another guy who I’ve fought a bunch of times, and still can’t remember his damn SCA name. His real name is Jay. He was a good fight, no doubt. I’m hoping soon to be able to go 50/50 with him. right now we’re like 70//30 at best, so I really need to up my game.
My focus for Birka right now is just to make it through to the end without having to bail due to injury. The last bear pit tourney I did was only two hours, and I had to bail after 80 minutes due to my right leg getting blown up. I’d like to be able to make it through to the end for Birka. I’m well aware there’s a good chance I’ll be at the bottom of the list, and that’s fine. I have no delusions of ending up in the top 50% for the day, though it’d be super cool for that to happen. Another silver lining is that even if I need to bow out, I’ll be able to spend more time with the Lish, getting loaded and being silly. I’ll be attending practice tonight in Wantagh, and then will take next week off so I don’t risk being injured for Birka.
Finally, the tally.
Total chiv = 4
Total kingdoms = 2
Royal peers = 1
Knights = 4
Masters = 0
This post is a bit late, mainly due to the holiday craziness and me being a total space cadet. I went to Nutley a few weeks back, which will be the last time for me in 2017. This time, I ventured out with the Lish and Ulf. We rolled up, geared up, and got to work.
Attendance was lighter than normal this week, though I still got in some great passes. HRH Duke Brennan was there, Sir Douglas, Sir Yan (sp), Arne, and a few others whose names I can’t remember because it’s me and I suck at that. Brennan fought glaive this time, and overall I think I did ok against him. After our fight, he and sir Douglas came up and told me about an issue I didn’t even realize I had. When I move, I swing my arms, ya know like normal people when they’re walking. Problem is, I have a shield on that arm, so when I walk I open up my defense in a rhythmic way, which he was able to exploit over and over again. I also didn’t react enough when he switched handedness, leaving my right side more vulnerable. I made it a point to focus on that the rest of the night.
I got some nice compliments as well, people noting that I’m still improving, which is a great thing for me to hear. I know in time I will hit a wall and stagnate a bit while I figure out how to get over or around it, but for now I’m still slowly pushing forward. Another big issue I have is that I don’t do any pell work. I need to establish the habit of going out and doing a little bit every day, regardless of weather.
The following week, I went to the Wantagh practice to spread some holiday cheer. There were four of us, me, Caitlin, Dante, and Conrad. I did about as good as I usually do, though with better leg protection. I’m still leaving my offside leg too open for my liking, though I didn’t realistically expect to have figured that out in a week of sitting on my couch. I also feel the lack of pell work more and more at these practices, since the fighters here leave more open than those at Nutley. Problem is, I have a helluva time trying to get there accurately while keeping enough force, so practice practice practice!
I also spoke with my cousin about fighting. He doesn’t really know much of the SCA, so I was explaining what fighting in our society is like, and he told me that he’s actually a 2nd degree black belt in Kendo. We spoke about the similarities and differences between the two, and he mentioned some suggestions on how to improve. What I found most interesting about this was the similarities in training. His suggestions were to have a dummy to practice on (like a pell), and only to practice in full armor. The reason for this, which I totally agree with, is that it makes me used to throwing shots exactly as I would in a fight, with the same limitations and restrictions. He also suggested working out different combinations, as well as footwork and movement. Lastly, he said to work on speed. Now, while SCA combat isn’t at all like point fighting in terms of force, the speed drills would absolutely help, in my opinion. Once my form and technique are on point, I’ll be working to build up my speed.
If I can keep this up, or hopefully even step up, my dedication to practice over the next year, I feel like I should be able to get to my ambitious goals. For me, I have two goals at the moment. I would like to be on par with the average SCA fighter in the east kingdom by my two year mark, which includes being competent at sword and shield. My other goal is to work in another form and not be a human pell with it by the same point. Sure, I have other shorter goals, like sticking with it, getting footwork down, working on my technique, etc, but these are my lofty ones. Whether I hit them or not, I think they’re ambitious enough to keep me pushing for at least the next year and a half. After that, we’ll see how things are and what I need to focus on.
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.
This is difficult for me. This past Saturday, we said goodbye to Sophie. It was one of the hardest decisions we’ve ever made for many reasons, which I’ll get into later. For now, let’s talk about the beautiful life of Sophie the Monster.
When we moved into our first house, we adopted two dogs, Yuna and Cosmo. Yuna had an issue where she’d chase her tail constantly, and we thought maybe if she had someone to play with (Cosmo was a grumpy old fucker) that she’d snap out of it. So we went to the local pound and looked for someone in need of rescue. That’s when I saw my monster. She was a 3 year old American Staffordshire Terrier that was supposedly rescued from somewhere where she was overbred for puppies. The vets said it looked like she had quite a few back to back litters, one of which was recent. The catch? According to her temperament profile, she was not good around men. When I asked about that, they said that she did not like the male employee that helped do the profile, and that she might not be good with a male owner. I wanted to meet her anyway. We met, played, walked, and she seemed to be ok. We had her meet our pups, and they seemed fine with each other, so we took her home. This was Father’s Day weekend, so I stayed home all weekend with her.
We bonded that first weekend in a big way. We played, snuggled, napped, and really fell in love. From that moment on, as the Lish would tell people, she became “my dog”. While Lish claims Sophie merely tolerated her presence, she only had eyes for the dad. So much for her hating men. Pretty soon we noticed something else interesting. Her and Yuna would roughhouse and play a lot, and from that moment on, Yuna stopped chasing her tail. The only caveat now was that sometimes their play time would get a little too rough, so we had a dog trainer come in to evaluate Sophie. She was very standoffish to the dog, and didn’t like that Sophie was a dominant dog. Her official recommendation to us was that she could not be trained to not be dominant, and that we should put her down. I was fucking devastated. Lish and I spoke about it for hours, and in the end, decided “fuck that bitch”, and we kept her.
We moved to our next home, and eventually things escalated between Yuna and Sophs. They had a terrible fight one day while the Lish had them outside, and it resulted in Sophs having to alpha-roll Yuna to get her to stop attacking. She just pinned her down and then let her go. From that moment on, however, we had to keep them separate to avoid any future fights, especially with a newborn on the way. Sophie was always wonderful around my children. There was never any hint of aggression or whatnot. They’d pet her, pull on her when they were very little, and feed her. She loved the kids so very much, and seemed rather protective of them.
Over the years, we played, laughed, got licked in the face, almost died from the farts, and loved that little pup. We named her Sophie after Princess Sophie from the DaVinci Code (her original name was Duthie…yikes!). Since she looked fierce to some people, due to her breed, but was actually a love muffin (my other nickname for her), she got the name Monster, an ironic jab at those who thought all pits were horrible and dangerous. We’d play with her favorite toy, this round rubber ball that she was never able to destroy, and absolutely loved. We called it round and fun, just like Sophie. We’d also call her Chewie sometimes because instead of barking she’d make Chewbacca noises sometimes. She loved snow, and would go outside and just eat it, which would sometimes make cold walks in the winter frustrating for those pansy humans who were shivering. She was like a bull in a china shop, and we’d joke that she was “beauty and grace” when she would barrel through something. She was a great pup.
Over the past year or two, Sophie lost quite a bit of weight, and at one point she seemed sensitive on her back towards her tail. We brought her to our vet, and we left with bad news. Sophie had liver cancer. In the months that followed, we watched her get worse slowly. She had trouble with her back legs, and eventually was falling very often. We tried medications to help, but it didn’t make a difference. She also lost her ability to hold her bladder and bowels, and was having accidents in the house pretty much daily. We had to keep her in a diaper at all times when she was in the house. She went completely deaf in both ears, and blind in one eye. We couldn’t leave her out of her crate unless we were downstairs in the room with her. Otherwise, she’d pace around the house, get into things, and have accidents that would go through the diaper and leave deposits around the house for us to find later.
Still, on occasion she was try to hop around and play with the same playful energy she always had. This made it extremely difficult to consider letting her go. I’d think to myself that she’s still got lots of life left in her, and how could I do such a thing. I didn’t think she was ready to go. When the time came recently to make the terrible call, it was with pain and overwhelming emotion. The fact of the matter is that her quality of life was poor due to the pain, lack of function, and lack of control. She ended up starting to snap at us, thinking that our hands near her face were us trying to feed her. We couldn’t risk her nipping one of the kids, and it wouldn’t be right to keep her crated all the time unless the kids were upstairs. Peanutty said to the Lish a few days earlier that he misses the old monster, and liked the old monster more than the new one. It was time. We gave her a long life, she was 13-14 years old, and would have been put down in the pound had we not taken her in, and though that should have given me some comfort, I can’t really take any at this time.
Our vet came to our home with an assistant, and we said our goodbyes to our beautiful little monster. I can’t begin to express the depth of my sorrows, my anger, and even my guilt. While a big part of me believes that what we did was right, I’ll always feel guilt about putting a dog down. I don’t think there will be a day where it won’t make me feel like some sort of murderer, someone who did away with a beautiful life without that being’s consent. I was the love of her life, and loved her so very much. A part of me hates myself for this. I loved her, more than words can accurately describe. I want her back, the old her, who played with me and roughhoused with me. I want to hit things and scream. I’m crying while writing this and can’t stop. We were there for her when she left this world, and I held her head and cried into her fur. I will miss you always, my love. Always and forever. You were my monster, my love muffin, and one of the best friends I ever had. I’m so sorry about everything, and I truly hope you are at peace. I will miss you always. I love you.
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.