Hazlet Fight Practice 4/21/14

•April 23, 2014 • Leave a Comment

I had been busy working, packing, and moving for a few weeks and my funds were low, so I hadn’t had a chance to attend any fight practices lately.  Then I saw on Facebook that my Master-at-arms was going to the Hazlet practice, I realized that I had the day off and the funds for the trip, so I decided to go, on a whim.  I was surprised to see that it was essentially a Bloodguard practice. Other than me and Omega, I think  everyone else there was a member of Bloodguard (until Bjorvig showed up later in the practice).

As I put my armor on, I could really feel the 7lbs I had put back on while I was sick. It was because I didn’t feel well enough to cook, so I stopped following my Paleo diet. Well, I could feel my armor weighing on my back as soon as I put it on, but I hadn’t driven all that way for nothing, so I fought.

This practice followed a bear pit setup. At first Duke Konrad and Duke Omega were the only ones everyone got to fight because they kept winning their fights. I fought Omega first. He killed me with a blow to the spot on my head that I tend to leave open. He reminded me to lean back to avoid that shot. What I didn’t tell him was that I tried and got a lot of back pain as a result. I was too busy focusing on controlling my reaction to the pain, that I didn’t react to his suggestion.

Next I fought Duke Konrad a few times. At first I was intimidated (he IS a Duke), but he played a defensive game which was probably his version of taking it easy on me. I am not good enough as a lefty to get much benefit from being piss-pounded, so I preferred his approach. He hit me in the same spot Omega did, but I didn’t try to lean back, knowing what would happen. He, too, advised me to lean back. This time I was able to explain why I couldn’t. He showed me how to block it with my shield. The next time we fought, he complimented me for executing the shield block perfectly (I wasn’t even aware that I had done it). It was good working with him! He didn’t give me too much information at a time and chose to show me things I was able to grasp immediately!

There were three lefties there, including myself. I tried using the tricks other people had taught me for fighting other lefties. One of them worked consistently on me, but I couldn’t get any if them to work. I guess I need more practice.

One benefit of the bear pit format was watching everyone else’s fights. I started seeing patterns in the way some of them fought. One waited until you threw a shot, then took your arm or shoulder while it was out there and vulnerable. Another threw almost exclusively onside shots. Another had three combos that he knew well and used very effectively. I couldn’t see patterns at all for some of the better fighters. But I was just excited that I was finally able to start seeing patterns. In one case, I managed to learn to react and block one of them!

My lefty shots are still exceedingly weak. As such, I can only really kill people with a thrust. I managed to kill three times with a thrust and once with a blow to the head where I swung my sword too far around for good form, but it hit solidly enough. There were other times where I was told a hit would have killed if it had any power in it.

I was pleased that I was able to fight more than just five fights with a few people near the end before my back insisted that I stop!

Another comment I got a lot is “your sword is too long” or “your sword is too heavy”. I was using the shorter stick King Brennan gave me, so it measured up pretty equally with their swords. Most people who picked it up agreed that it was light enough. So what that means is I’m wielding it like it’s too big and heavy for me.

While chatting with Duke Konrad near the end of practice, he had some good advice: take a very short stick and practice your shots in the mirror. It has the double advantage of not wearing my arm out and I have seen enough fighters to know what looks right and what doesn’t.

I enjoyed this practice. Most of them people were friendly and helpful. If I had the time/money, I’d come back to this practice again!

Quest fights at this practice: 32
Total # of fights for quest: 104

Concordia Fight Practice 3/31/14

•April 2, 2014 • Leave a Comment

This blog post was written in two stages. I completed the first half of the blog the day after the practice. The second half was written almost a month later. Please excuse any inaccuracies due to the fading of my memory with time.

As soon as I had arrived at the practice, I was happy to see a decent turnout and people I knew there.

My first fight was Joachim. I had fought him before, but he had changed his gear so I didn’t recognize him. As soon as he said his name, I remembered it and him. I also remembered that every time I heard it, I wanted to pronounce it “Wah-keem” as a former student of mine did. Anyway, when I fought him, he mirrored my style of waiting for the other person to take a shot. It was a good plan because I didn’t have the strength to hold up my shield that long. After a while, I made the first move and he often exploited it. I saw him fighting other people later and realized that he was taking it easy on me.

I think I fought Asgar next. I had often fought with him in melees back in my Northern Army days, but rarely fought against him. He was clearly better than me, but at least I was able to make (most of) our fights last past one shot kills.

I fought Wilhem next. He beat me quickly and in a different way almost every time. After hitting me in the abdomen twice, he stopped to show me how he did it. His explanation was easy to follow and I was able to easily duplicate the shot. I would just need to remember to start it “goofy foot” against lefties.

Sir Yosh had a great sword. It was rare that I fight a great sword with sword and shield. Usually I’d pull out my pole arm instead. I always enjoy fighting him for two reasons. He possesses the rare gift of being able to take it easy on someone, still be able to fight in a way that they learn something, AND have fun in the process. The other thing I enjoy is his technique. There’s something about the way he fights that reminds me of the year I took Tae Kwon Do. I find his style of fighting more familiar and (comparatively) easy to deal with. That’s not to say he’s easy to beat. The opposite is quite true. I just found his style more understandable in my brain than the typical fighting style, if that makes sense.

I had to stop fighting in the middle of our fifth fight because my vision in my right eye started to blur. For whatever reason, my one contact was giving me trouble. I removed my helmet and gauntlets and took care of my contact. That’s when I realized that my back had started to hurt. I had fought four people in armor and NOW it was starting to bother me. I had lost 7lbs over the past week and a half and it was clearly a weight off my back.

I fought Tomas next. He had improved from the last time I had fought him. I used to be able to take his legs. He was very difficult to fight when I got him there, but in the past I could take his legs. Now, however, the only time I was able to get close to killing him was with a face thrust. Even though the last time I fought I got hit in the legs quite a bit, this time, I found myself blocking them almost instinctively.

I fought Carl next. I didn’t know him, but that’s how he signed my book. I actually killed him once, so I was happy about that. He killed me the rest of the time.

My last fight was Master Wulfstan (the unshod). Since he’s such a skilled fighter and I tend to get frustrated when I fight him (which is my own fault) I decided to save him for last. He kept hitting my lower abdomen, letting me know afterwards that I was angling my shield out too far at the bottom. During our last fight, he hit me in the cup.

Someone there who was watching commented at one point that I wasn’t using my hips/core to throw a shot. He was right. When my back hurts, I know I don’t. The question is, do I do that when my back is not bothering me? I suppose I will need to have more time in armor with my back not bothering me before I can make an accurate assessment on that count!

Fights fought at this practice: 35
Total # of fights for quest: 72

Mudthaw 2014

•March 23, 2014 • Leave a Comment

My back had been giving me problems on and off throughout the week. Until Saturday morning, I was unsure if I would be fighting. Thankfully it had subsided enough for me to fight.

I arrived at Mudthaw in a bad mood. I had worked both jobs and closed at the second one the night  before. I had gotten less than four hours of sleep. I was tired and cranky and showed up much later than I wanted to. I tried my best not to let my crankiness show throughout the day. I hope it worked.

I geared up and chatted with some members of Serpentius while waiting for them to start the tournament. They called my first fight against Bjorvig when they announced the fights. I was looking forward to fighting him. I know him, but hadn’t fought him before, so I hoped I had a chance at winning. However, when they called my name for the fight, I was to fight Sterling. I was annoyed that they had switched things around.

My fight with Sterling was over pretty quickly. I knew he was too good for me to beat him. He circled around me a bit. I attempted a few shots that he easily blocked. Then he changed up his guard, which confused me. After that he legged me and killed me.

My second fight was against Sir Matthew MacBain. It, too, didn’t last too long. I did manage to block his first few shot, but that was about it. As I walked away from the fight, my squire brother Tiberius had seen the fight and complimented me on those first few blocks. He explained what the knight I fought was attempting to do that I had instinctively thwarted. Perhaps I AM too hard on myself sometimes about sucking at fighting.

After that I got out of armor. I think I had mentioned this before, but I am the exchequer for my shire and had to meet with the kingdom exchequer to do a review of books. That lasted about two hours. By the time I got done, very few people were left doing pick-ups.

Despite my tiredness and unpredictable mood, it WAS a good day! I enjoyed seeing many people I hadn’t seen in a while.  I am also two fights closer to my 1,000, so it’s a start!

Rusted Woodlands Practice 3/6/14

•March 10, 2014 • Leave a Comment

I think I mentioned a while ago that Prince Brennan had (very kindly) given me a sword blank.  I had attached it to a basket hilt, maybe in December or so.  I didn’t practice with it because I thought it would be too late to get used to it before Birka.  Since then, I HAVE been practicing with it.  It’s a few inches shorter and round compared to my sword blade which was a bit longer and had the rattan shaved into a square-like shape.  It was surprisingly heavier, but hit with more force. Thursday night was the first time I used it for fighting, but I plan to play with it at more practices.  I want to give it a fair trial to see if it will improve my game.

I am on a quest to fight 1,000 fights in a year.  I can have up to five fights with each person.  I started that quest on Thursday.  As soon as I put on my armor, I knew that something was wrong.  My back was sore immediately.  I don’t know if it’s getting worse or just responding to the extra 10lbs I seem to have put on since I fought last at Birka. But I had a quest to fulfill and I did my best.  This all happened 5 days ago, so I’m going to do my best to remember the events, but I may confuse which fights happened with which people and whatnot. If my memory is inaccurate, I apologize in advance and will fix anything I write in error here. I will also note that it was difficult to read some people’s handwriting, so if I misspell their name (I added titles where I knew them), please correct that as well!

My first five fights were with Arn Ulrichson.  I know that there’s an opening from my eyes up on my helmet.  I managed to dodge the first few times that Arn threw a shot there.  As I fought him more, the less likely I was to block that shot.  I lost all five bouts, mostly to the same shot.  I realized that I started feeling that kid in A Christmas Story in my armor.  You know the one where they deck him out so heavily in snow gear that he can barely walk?  I don’t know if it was the extra weight and having to squeeze into my armor or what, but I felt very constricted, slow, and clumsy.  That feeling got worse throughout the night.

Sir Jan was next.  I should have fought him later in the night because he really wore me out.  He circled me and with the defensive way I’ve been fighting, I didn’t take a first shot.  As such, I kept my sword and shield up for an extended period.  Sadly, my muscles were screaming with fatigue by our fifth fight and I was just hoping for him to hurry up an kill me rather than wait, since I wasn’t sure how much longer I could hold up my shield.  I suppose it’s a testament to his prowess (or my lack thereof) that he didn’t kill me the same way twice.

I fought Jonathan Miles next. I wish I could my fights with him better justice, but I can honestly remember very little of our fights.  All I remember is Gawyn coming over afterwards and advising me to be more aggressive.

Sir Tanaka Raiko gave me the opportunity of choosing which weapons form he fought me with.  I chose sword and shield.  He also gave me the choice of whether he fought me righty or lefty, but I let him decide on that one.  He chose to fight me righty. He had a stance I had never seen with sword and shield and that threw me off immediately.  I tried to be more aggressive, but my left arm was sore already and my shots were not going anywhere near where I intended them to.  And that’s not even counting for Tanaka’s impressive dodging abilities either!  He kept hitting me in the left leg and following it up with a head shot before I hit the floor.  He wasn’t the first one to hit the opening on my left leg, but he was the first to do it repeatedly.  It REALLY started to hurt at one point.  I NEED to start stepping out of leg shots!

I took a decently long break to breathe, get some water, and give my back a chance to rest.  While my thigh stung, my back pain increased with each person I fought. Then I fought Gawyn O’Clery.  I tried to be more aggressive. I did!  My brain seemed to limit my shots to onside head, onside leg, offside head, and face thrusts.  I attempted a few wraps, but couldn’t get the timing right (as always). I was shocked to find that I actually won one of my fights with him.  I managed to face thrust him once!  It was a bit light because I was moving backwards at the time, but he took it!  He was a fun fight, but I was having such issues battling back pain and muscle fatigue in my left arm, I had to stop to breathe after almost every fight.

There was a new fighter there.  I’m not sure if it was his first time in armor, or just one of his first times.  His name was Tim. I won most of the fights, but he managed to win one.  There was another time where his killing blow to my ribs came not long after I had killed him.  As sad as it is, it was nice to win for a change.  Maybe it’s just me getting down hard on myself, but I almost feel like I’m getting worse at fighting sometimes!

My final fight was Erich Hundeman.  He fought me with a sword and dagger.  I wish I could do him justice by talking more about our fights, but honestly, the only thing I was focusing on was my back pain which had reached levels where it hurt to take a step. My focus was on trying to move with the least amount of pain possible. There was also a small portion of my brain trying to figure out what the f*** I was supposed to do to fight a sword and dagger fighter and it just kind of shut down in confused resignation of my imminent deaths.

There were two people in armor there that I did not get to fight, unfortunately. I got a total of 35 fights in and some good advice written in my book that the fighters signed. I can’t wait until I get my c-belt in! I have been told by several people that it’ll take the weight of my leg armor off of my back.  I bartered for one and sent the tunic I made him so it would be in time for Gulf Wars.  He said he’d make it when he got back, so I’m hoping it’ll arrive soon!

Oh, and on a side note, I’m starting another blog under the Gunnvor name to discuss my weight loss and training efforts.  For anybody interested, you can find it at http://gunnvorsfitness.wordpress.com/.

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Accountability for the Week of 2/24/14-3/2/14

•February 28, 2014 • Leave a Comment

It has been probably close to a month since I have last posted.  I have not been to a fighting event or a fight practice since Birka due to monetary reasons.  I am still unemployed and my unemployment benefits have run out.  I DID follow my workout program for a little while until my body ended up protesting in a big way.  My knee and hip joints hurt from my weight from running.  I experienced sharp shooting pains in my right shoulder blade extending up to my neck.  So I stopped and took a break for a few weeks to heal up.  I decided that I will need to lose weight before I will do anything more vigorous.  Previously, I never really cared much about the number on the scale.  I more cared about how I look.  Now, the number on the scale matters.  It matters in the amount of pressure that I put onto my joints. So I started walking since that would wreak less havoc on my joints.  I hope to start doing pell work again next week. I will be taking a break form any kind of strength training until I weigh less and it doesn’t mess up my joints as much.

I also am starting on a new eating plan.  On a recommendation from my sister, I’m going to start eating a paleo diet.  I am currently preparing for it in stages.  Having so little money, I couldn’t just throw out my food.  By the end of the week, I’ll be done eating all of my wheat products.  I have found that eating highly processed wheat products actually affects my mood and my weight.  The one day I took a break and made Swedish Meatballs, I dropped 3lbs which came back when I went back to finishing off my bread and pasta.  Next, I will finish off the rest of the grains: rice, quinoa, rice noodles, and rice crackers.  After that, beans, legumes, and potatoes that aren’t sweet potatoes.  Finally, it’ll be milk, cheeses, and non-paleo sweeteners.   It will also be tough to eat paleo on a budget, but I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it!

Also, it took longer than I would have liked, but most of my personal issues are finally starting to settle down.  I also had a few interviews this week, so I am hoping I will be able to work soon.  Fingers crossed, anyway!

Monday: Walked 3.77 miles
Tuesday: Walked 2.08 miles
Wednesday: Walked 2.05 miles
Thursday: Walked 2.25 miles
Friday: It was too cold to walk (negative numbers with wind chill that was even colder)
Saturday: I don’t anticipate walking, but if I do, I’ll record it here.
Sunday: I don’t anticipate walking, but if I do, I’ll record it here.

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Accountability for 1/20/14-1/26/14

•January 29, 2014 • Leave a Comment

I didn’t do a lot this week.  It was mainly because I wanted my body to not be fatigued for Birka, so I refrained from doing anything for a number of days ahead of time.

MONDAY: Day off

TUESDAY: Running – 5 minute warmup, alternating 1.5 minutes of running with 2 minutes of walking for a total of 21 minutes, then a 5 minute cool down.

Pell – I practiced what Omega taught me doing onside shots to a thrust.  I focused on making sure my sword was parallel to the ground when it landed.

WEDNESDAY: I didn’t do anything in preparation for Birka

THURSDAY: I didn’t do anything in preparation for Birka

FRIDAY: I didn’t do anything in preparation for Birka

SATURDAY: I fought 2.5 hours of the 3 hour bear-pit tournament at Birka.

SUNDAY: I didn’t do anything because I was WAY too sore to do anything physical.

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Birka 2014

•January 27, 2014 • 1 Comment

I had a goal in the tournament to do just as well as a lefty this year as I did as a righty last year. I figured that should be an attainable goal. I won no fights last year (despite what the results say), but I fought the entire tournament without taking a break, like I do every year. If I fought the whole tournament this year, I’d reach my goal.

Someone once remarked to me that Birka is a lot like a giant fight practice. I prefer to look at it that way. The alternative would be to look at it like a giant pissing contest, which I prefer not to do. As I was looking at it like a fight practice, I decided I was going to work on my attitude. I think my attitude and my offense is what is holding me back right now in my fighting. I can improve the one with pell work. I decided to work on the other as I fought this tournament.

My first few fights I did very poorly. The down side to getting out more is I know more fighters. So every time I encountered an opponent, I thought, “Oh f***, it’s _______, they always kick my butt in practice.” My first fight was Fergus. I didn’t even remember or notice he was a lefty and got butt wrapped as a result. My first fights were all one shot one kills. Every time, I talked myself up in line, then I got out there and thought “Oh f***, it’s _______,” and then I got killed in one shot.

After going through that a bunch of times, I started getting at least one swing in before I lost.

There was one fight against a pole arm that went bad for me. I got short hafted in the forehead. It wasn’t excessively hard. I’m not sure why or what happened, but I lost time. The next thing I knew, I was crying and trying desperately to get out the following phrase, “I know it was haft, but I’m going to take it as good.” I must have looked disoriented because one of the marshals, who later introduced himself as Ken, kindly escorted me to the MOL and left me with my friend Heather who promised him she would give me water. He left and she poured me a cup, but I was afraid that if I took off my helmet, I would stop. Nobody had water with straws, so I continued fighting without drinking. I later found out that someone who was nearby when this occurred was talking about the incident with other people. He apparently said he didn’t see what the big deal was and made it sound like I was making a big deal out of nothing. I will explain by saying that crying was a natural reaction to the pain I felt and that I was trying to make as little a deal as possible so I could get back in line and keep fighting. It’s sad that there are people out there have nothing better to talk about than judging me based on negatively misinterpreting my actions.

I was a little out of it, but got back in line. I ended up behind the guy who had just hit me with the pole arm. He apologized. I said that it’s part of the game and my tears are just my body’s reaction to pain. I held no grudge and didn’t have any hard feelings (in case that wasn’t clear already).

Most of my fights after that lasted longer. I don’t know if my attitude improved, if other people were getting tired, if I was out of it and numb from the head shot with the pole arm, or my adrenaline kicked in and was causing me to feel less. I hope I wasn’t being numb. Almost all of my fights blended together. I vaguely recall fighting my squire brothers Tally and Ivan. I also fought Omega who suggested I move more. I also recalled fighting a young Bloodguard fighter twice in a row. He killed me the exact same way twice. I was really annoyed with myself for falling for the same combo twice.

At about 1:30, two and a half hours into the three hour tournament, something weird happened. I don’t know exactly why, but I found myself walking back to my room instead of getting back on line. I was very out of it. I think people talked to me, but I don’t remember who or what was said. When I got back to my room, it hit me that I didn’t finish the tournament and didn’t win a single fight. That meant I didn’t reach my goal of doing as well this year as a lefty as I did last year as a righty. I was very upset about it.

Then I tried figuring out why I left the tournament early. My two theories are that I was extremely dehydrated or that I had a mild concussion from that pole arm shot. I didn’t pay much attention to hydrating before the tournament and drank champagne the night before, so it could have been that. My pupils were normal, I didn’t have double vision, and only had a slight headache. I have never had a concussion before (to my knowledge) but it didn’t seem to fit the description.

I lost 42 fights this year before I quit. Last year I lost 45. I heard unofficially that I ranked 58 this year. I also heard, unofficially, that my squire brothers did well for themselves. Ioannes came in 2nd place (even though he spent 20 minutes out due to an injury) and Ivan came in 11th! Even though I didn’t do well, I can still take delight in the fact that they did well!

In other news, Honig, who is in my household, was elevated to a well-deserved Laurel! Her elevation was wonderfully planned. Everyone who escorted her in to court had a peacock feather (her heraldry is a peacock). Someone even handed them out to the royalty! It was a wonderful way to show our support and I am very happy for her!

It was nice to see so many friends and family! The only down side was I didn’t have enough time to hang out with everybody as much as I would have liked. I also am extremely grateful to one friend in particular who was kind enough to not only drive me to and from Birka, but also share a hotel room with me, allowing me to attend! Overall, I enjoyed myself and hope to do better in the tournament next year.

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