Decisions, Decisions

•July 23, 2015 • Leave a Comment

I haven’t fought since the demo on June 1st.  Sure, I’ve had a lot going on since then.  I had the end of the school year, along with its dependent concerns.  I had to move in a hurry, so there was the packing and lifting  and driving and unpacking to deal with.  I also went to Florida for a week.

I attended Northern Region War Camp, but did not fight.  It has been over three years since I had surgery on my back.  While I am grateful to be able to walk without pain, I have come to the conclusion that it’s not likely to heal any more than it already has.  I can bend over to pick up small objects, so long as I did nothing to strain it recently, it’s not going to precipitate in the next few days, or I haven’t repeatedly picked things up off the floor on that particular day.    I have realized that I have limitations now.  Fighting hurts my back beyond all other things I could do to it, including moving boxes all day.  At Northern Region War Camp, I had a choice.  I would be able to fight or I would be able to pack up my things (including my tent) in order to go home on that Sunday, but not both. I chose not to fight.   I think I chose wisely.  And I appreciate the lovely ladies who kept me company while I tried not to look too longingly at the battlefield. I also tried my best to be fun to be around and not bitter at having to make the decision that I did, but only others can tell me how well I succeeded in my attempts.

And now Pennsic approaches.  I am camping alone this year.  That is to say, that I have started my own encampment for 1 and called it Gunnvorsfjord.  It’s on block B02, so I’m close to Serpentius whose block (I believe) is full and my friends in Wolfhaven.  Now, before anyone gets any ideas, it was MY decision to camp alone and it has NOTHING to do with my relationship to Serpentius, my master-at-arms, or the reign, so please do NOT draw any incorrect conclusions.  I made sure that I have a tent that I could put up on my own and it had enough space for me to do everything I need to do (except shower).

I don’t know how much I wrote about this last Pennsic, but after the woods battle my back got bad.  Really bad.  Walking was painful.  Bending was excruciating.  I actually avoided eating several meals because I didn’t want to bend over to reach into my cooler.  I was too proud to ask for help (which I admit is my own fault).  Someone worked on my back and managed to make it bearable so I decided to fight in the Thursday battle.  Needless to say, that was a bad idea. My back started to hurt as soon as I put my armor on.  I couldn’t fight, so I guarded the flag.  By the time it was over, I was in so much pain, I couldn’t walk up the hill, even leaning on my pole arm, so I took the bus.  I had to leave directly after the battle, but my back physically wouldn’t allow me to pull up the tent stakes.  I was thankful that nobody was around to see my breakdown of tears on this occasion, as it would probably be assumed that I was at best self-pitying (which I may have been) and at worst attention-seeking.  Again, I was too proud to ask for help when people did show up, but someone offered to help anyway.  It was one of the most miserable Pennsic memories that I have, that I was unable to pack my own things and that I broke down crying at my lack of ability to pull up a simple 6″ plastic tent stake.

Now fast-forward to this year.  Yes, I will be camping alone.  I am very afraid that I will hurt myself so badly that I can’t take care of the things that needs doing.  I also felt like I had to choose between fighting and helping out with the reign based on my pain levels after fighting last year, when I was in considerably better shape.  I have decided to retain on Sunday and fight what battles I can.  I also notified the person in charge of the retaining schedule at Pennsic that if I was able to, I would happily fill any holes in the schedule.  However, given my experience last year, I didn’t feel comfortable signing up when it was possible that I wouldn’t be able to fulfill it depending on how my back reacts to fighting.  I really felt like I had to choose between helping out my house with fighting or helping out with retaining.  It was a position that I hate being in.  I really want to do as much as I can to help and hate how much I am limited in my ability to do so.

I just hope that if I DO hurt my back at any battle this Pennsic, that I will have the sense enough to avoid the remaining battles so I can pack up my own gear to bring it home without having to rely on the help of others who will, in all likelihood, be putting off their own packing to help me with mine.  I don’t know, maybe my independence of spirit is a hinderance, but I would much rather be able to take care of myself and help others rather than rely on others to help me.  Sure, when I put it that way, it sounds a bit hypocritical.

I AM looking forward to Pennsic for a multitude of reasons, but am also feeling frustrated of my limitations that my back has placed upon me.  I have to make choices and hope that I choose wisely.

***EDIT***
Based on some suggestions, I have made changes to my diet and started exercises specifically designed to set my back to rights, so I’m hoping that I won’t have a repeat of last year.  In short, I’m doing what I can.

Fighting Demo 6/1/15

•July 23, 2015 • Leave a Comment

While I attended Southern Region War Camp last weekend, I chose not to fight.  I knew my back would be in a decent amount of pain for days and I wanted to make sure that I was in good fighting condition for this demo, especially since I worked at the school that it was for.

Because it was held during the day on a weekday, it was relatively small.  I want to take this opportunity of thanking the two fighters who WERE able to make it at 9am on a Monday – Tom Don and Avron!  They could have stayed in bed and slept in, but instead they traveled a half hour to fight and answer questions in front of students.

This was actually broken into two demos — one for grades K-4 and the other for grades 5-8.  I explained less for the younger kids and made sure to iterate and reiterate that this was JUST A GAME so they wouldn’t get scared by the loud noise and violent nature.  I found out later that their teachers took it one step further and told them it was all just pretend, like a movie.  The older students got a more in-depth explanation of our personas and their histories.  We also explained more about our armor and what heraldry was.  They were also allotted more time, so we fought more for that group.

We each fought a few bouts with each major weapons form — sword and shield, long sword, two sword, and pole weapons.  There just wasn’t room to play with spears.  The thing that really surprised me was that  I actually did rather well.  I think I won close to half of my fights!  This is rare, but I’m glad I was able to make at least a decent showing for my students!

As predicted, my back hurt significantly for the next few days.  I could barely bend over at all the next day, much less pick anything up off the ground.

Nordenhal Fight Practice 5/27/15

•July 23, 2015 • Leave a Comment

This practice was so long ago, that unfortunately, I don’t remember enough to really write much about it.  It was well-attended with probably about 10 fighters.  I don’t remember who I fought first, but I remember that it was with sword and shield.  I was very happy that I was able to hold the shield longer than I had at the Bennington fight practice earlier in the month and was glad to see that my shoulder was slowly healing.

I fought someone with pole arm next and did okay, but I tired quickly.

My final fight was Sir Ivan.  I remember a bit of this one.  I fought him using two swords and he complimented my combos!  That meant a lot and it made me feel like I was actually naturally good at something that was fighting-related!

Bennington Fight Practice 5/9/15

•May 11, 2015 • Leave a Comment

Today I got back in armor to fight for the first time since Birka.  I had issues with my shoulder and I needed a new chin strap for my helmet.  As strange as it sounds, the longer I’m out of armor, the more difficult it is for me to get back into armor.  That’s why I decided to drive so far to attend this practice.  After driving for so far, there was no way I’d come up with a lame excuse to not fight.

When I got there, I saw that the practice was well-attended.  I think there were probably 8 other fighters there!  I got my gear on, strapped my shield to my right arm, and grabbed my sword with my left hand.  My first fight was Joaquin.  I told him that it had been awhile since I fought and he offered to go easy on me because I’m “knocking the rust off”.  I gratefully accepted and still did very poorly.  He reminded me that my shield kept drifting outwards leaving my whole left side open.  Then someone came over (I can’t remember who it was) and suggested that I just hit his shield a few times.  While embarrassing, I knew he was right.  I wasn’t throwing any shots that were worth anything.  I tried to throw at his shield a few times, but I couldn’t hold up my shield anymore.

I felt very frustrated.  I had driven all this way, gone through the effort of putting on armor, and got out there only to have my shoulder not be ready for it.  I sulked by myself for a good 10 minutes.  Fealan  (I think I’m destined to always spell his name wrong) suggested we fight using single swords — no shields.  Ian offered the use of one of his swords to fight two-stick with.  I managed to pull my head out of my ass and walked over to where the majority of fighters were talking to a family who had come to watch us fight.  As I walked over, I saw the mother point at me and say “Look, there’s a girl”.  One of the other fighters kindly said that often women make the best fighters.  I decided to take up my pole arm, my best form, and try to make a good showing of myself.

I fought Sir Alex who proclaimed it his worst form.  I did pretty well and even killed him once or twice.  I tired quickly, as did my right shoulder.  I got some water and fought Fealan with single swords.  I found myself at a loss of what to do.  I started squaring myself up — halfway between the stance I probably should have taken and the one I usually take with sword and shield.  Fealan advised me to take a “fencers stance” so I turned my body with my sword forward.  I focused mainly on defense.  I did a poor job of it and any strikes that I attempted were pretty half-assed.  Fealan told me to give my all to any blows I attempt.  I found myself flailing a lot, but I tried.

I took another break and I saw that Colin was starting to get out of armor because his right wrist was injured.  I managed to convince him that he should stay in and fight single lefty sword with me.  To my surprise, he did!  We both flailed around pathetically at first, neither of us managed to strike a single “good” blow.  Then I started to remember the things I had learned a long time ago from Duke Sir Paul and tried to use some of it.  While I felt like I was leaving myself completely open as I attempted to do a very large teardrop return, it was the first blow I delivered that had any kind of power in it.  I tried to do a few more and they also generated power, but I had a difficult time controlling where they went.  The style may have merit for me after all!  We had a lot of fun!

There was still some time left and then borrowed that sword from Ian so I could fight with two swords.  His sword was the opposite of mine.  It was very bottom-heavy and heavier in general than my sword.  I put it in my right hand.  He fought me using a sword and a great-sword.  I used my right arm to try and tie up the great sword he was using for defense and hit him with the left.  After a few more attempts, I found myself trying to alternate shots with both swords.  I thought I did pretty well, considering I rarely fight two-sword.  Again, I had fun!

After we fought, a bunch of us went out to eat.  At one point, I had rehydrated myself enough to use the bathroom.  While I was in there, I was very surprised to see that I had a very large purple bruise across my abdomen.  I didn’t remember getting it and it really didn’t hurt.  My hip hurt where I had been hit twice, but that was barely even red.  I returned to the table, asked who had hit me in the stomach and showed them all the bruise.  There was a chorus of “ooo!”  Colin claimed credit for the bruise and we returned to our food and conversation.

While I was writing this blog, I tried to go to past blogs to figure out how to spell Fealan’s name.   I realized that I really hadn’t done much fighting since 2013.  My motivation for fighting then stemmed from some really unhealthy things that were going on in my personal life.  I need to fix that and stop being so sporadic about attending practices.  I also need to find a healthier form of motivation.

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My bruise, day 2

The Latest

•April 26, 2015 • Leave a Comment

I have not fought since Birka. Other than one fight practice where I learned some sword stuff, there really hasn’t been that much for me to blog about.  It took me a long time to get my chin strap fixed because I had an embroidery project with a  deadline.  I spent all of my free time working on it.  I plan to update my embroidery blog soon for anyone who is interested.  I finally managed to get a new chin strap after my project was finished and was looking forward to fighting at the Tourney of the Daffodils yesterday.  Unfortunately, I ended up having to arrive so late that I didn’t fight.

I have been asked why I haven’t posted blogs about the other events I have attended.  After all, in the past month, I have been to Coronation, Balfar’s Challenge, and the Tourney of the Daffodils.  I haven’t fought and this was meant to be a blog about fighting.  I do plan to be writing more in the future as my local canton’s fight practice (hopefully) builds up and I attend more events.  I have not given up on fighting, but I have taken a break from it.  I had a lot going on in my mundane life for a long time.  I believe it’s time for that break to end.

I would like to put a plug for my local fighter practice.  It’s held in Tuckahoe, NY on Monday nights.  If anyone wants to go, please attend!

Here are the events I plan on attending in the next few months:
War of the Roses
Southern Region War Camp
Northern Region War Camp
Pennsic

Unfortunately, I have work obligations during Crown Tourney and Rattan Championships.  I may attend other events, but these are definite.  Also, in the end of June, I will have A LOT more time on my hands, but less money.  I am still trying to figure out what I’m going to do with myself, but if I have the money and the crash space, I  am thinking about attending more fight practices and possibly events.

And while I’m assuming this doesn’t need to be said, I’m going to say it anyway. Yes, I am squired to the King. No, I will not be commenting on politics on my blog other than to occasionally congratulate people I know who get awards. Nor will I go into the details of my non-fighting time spent at events unless it seems relevant to my fighting journey. It took me a long time to figure out what should and should not be shared and I am hoping that I have finally figured it out!

 
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Updates

•April 4, 2015 • Leave a Comment

One thing I had failed to mention from my blog about the Canton of Northpass Fight Practice from 3/2/15 was that Count Brennan tested me (and coached me) on being a marshal.  He decided by the end of the practice that he would recommend me to Sir Jibril to become a marshal.  I did not mention it because it was not a sure thing.  Now it is.  I am officially a marshal so I can marshal the fight practices for the Canton of Northpass.

I went to Mudthaw two weeks ago and did not fight.  I was quite sick and really only attended for two purposes: to hand off some embroidery that I did that NEEDED to be given at that event and because my squire brother Ivan was getting knighted.  There are not enough good things I can say about Ivan.  He was always there for me, coaching me, helping me with armor, and helping me with other things. To me, he had peer-like qualities for as long as I’ve known him.  I wanted to be there for his day.  Unfortunately, I slept through my alarm and missed when he got sent on vigil.  I also missed my squire brother Tiberius getting his well-deserved OTC.  I tried to get in to see Ivan while he was on vigil, but kept getting bumped back in line by the many peers that wanted to talk to him.  I wanted to stay for court because I knew I could at least congratulate him then, but I felt too poorly to stay.  I was told that my naturally pale skin had turned a disturbing shade of gray.

I vaguely remembered trying to converse with people in a coherent manner. but have no idea if I succeeded in doing so.  I really felt horrible.  I think I spent a lot of time showing off my embroidery to people, just because it was something I felt like I could talk about with some sense of ease. Congratulations again to both Sir Ivan and Tiberius!  I wish I could have been there to actually see you in court and congratulate you in person!

Canton of Northpass Fight Practice 3/2/15

•March 3, 2015 • Leave a Comment

I had been talking with some other like-minded individuals from my new Canton who were interested in starting a local fight practice. I was mostly responsible for the task of getting the use of one of my schools as a location for the practice. The biggest trick has been finding a marshal. We had our first fight practice last night and Count Brennan (I think that’s his title now?) had offered to attend and be our marshal. Of course it was on the one Monday of each month where we didn’t get the cafeteria to use, so we used the music room.  It easily had enough space for one fight at a time.  Since there were only five of us, it wasn’t that big a deal.

I have not yet had a chance to fix my chin strap from Birka, which is one of several reasons why I have not fought since then.  I tried the helmet on and the chin strap was a little loose, but it passed the leaning-into-someone’s-hand test.  After some deliberation, I decided to give it a try anyway.  The people there tend not to do much in the way of face-thrusting anyway.  My right shoulder had been bothering me since Birka, so I fought as a lefty.  I have had shoulder problems on and off for the past 10 years, so this was nothing new for me. My first fight was Steven, a newer local fighter.  I had blocked a few of his shots when I found myself having problems holding up my shield.  My right shoulder was so messed up, that I couldn’t hold a shield.  It wasn’t even a heavy shield.

I was about halfway armored down, when it occurred to me, I could at least practice with my sword.  So I settled in to doing slow-work.  I saw Brennan watching me, so I asked him to give me any advice.  He asked me to hold my sword straight out and asked how long I could hold it.  My answer was, “Not long.” He handed me his sword, had me hold it straight out and asked how long I could hold it.  My answer was the same.  His was lighter and was weighted significantly differently, though.  Mine was very tip-heavy.  His was very hilt-heavy.

He lent me his sword to work with.  He had me bend my knees slightly more and I got a lot more power out of shots.  We talked a lot about hip movement and body mechanics.  Honestly, I think we just tweaked a few things, but it made SUCH a big difference!!!  One thing that I found particularly beneficial was that he had me hold the sword maybe a foot away and challenged me to hit him with a “good” shot.  I thought it was impossible, but found that if I used my hips the right way, it could be done.  He also helped me with my half-wrap.  I finally think I got it by the end!  The only problem was that when I pulled out my own sword to do these things, it didn’t work NEARLY as well.  The half-wrap with my own sword was a disaster.  I should look into seeing if I can barter for a heavier hilt.  In the meantime, I will see what I can do about lopping a few inches off of my own sword.

It was a REALLY good practice for me, even if I didn’t fight, because I learned so much!  Hopefully, my right shoulder will continue to heal so I can actually fight soon and get to some of those practices I promised people I would attend.  Also, hopefully, I’ll become a marshal so we can have regular local practices in the Canton of Northpass (Westchester County, NY).

 
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