A Temporary Setback

•May 8, 2016 • Leave a Comment

I had plans to attend the Nordenhal fight practice this coming week.  Then I put on my armor and discovered that my body armor and my gorget no longer fit.  This seems like the perfect time for a GoT reference:
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Seriously, though, it’s pretty prohibitive.  I can rework the body armor, but it’ll take time that I don’t currently have.  I’d have to make a new gorget.  Or I could just lose a few inches and 10-15lbs and be fine.  So I have resurrected my Gunnvor’s Fitness page.  For a while I had turned it into a page for random thoughts, but I have now brought it back to its original purpose.

So, on the down side, it’ll be a bit longer before you hear about me getting in armor again, but hopefully not too much longer.

The Beginning of the End

•April 18, 2016 • Leave a Comment

I think I’m starting to reach the end of my break from the SCA.  Several things recently happened that made me feel like I was at the end of it.  For several weeks now, I have contemplated attending a fight practice.  It never ended up happening, but the fact that I even felt the desire to go on a regular basis was a big step for me.

I was approached by someone from my local Canton and asked to marshal the heavy fighting activities for Barleycorn again.  I am still technically the Knight Marshal of the Canton of Northpass, though I was at the point where I would happily pass it along to someone else if they were so inclined.  We lost the location for fight practices and they weren’t really well-attended anyway, so it’s not like I really had much to do anyway.  I have lately been thinking about trying to reclaim the location (it was a Catholic school and they got a new priest and there was a merger, so there were several factors that occurred).  Maybe I could even hold unofficial practices in my backyard now that it’s staying lighter later.

I also have left House Serpentius and severed my squire relationship with Duke Darius.  It was done amicably and I still think of several of them as family, even though I’m not in the household anymore.  I do not intend to discuss my reasons, either here or in person.  I just felt like I should mention it because it’s easier to announce it here rather than to have to tell people over and over again.  Plus, I will be writing about the changes, how it affects me, and how it affects my fighting.

Now that I’m on my own again, I have been doing a lot of thinking about fighting.  Once upon a time, I had a lot more fighting self-esteem.  I’m not sure where it came from because I was probably the worst fighter at my starting shire of Northern Outpost, and all of the other shires I lived in as well.  Maybe it was because, as time went on, I usually stayed the worst fighter in every practice I attended.  For a time, there would be a new fighter, but within less than a year, they always overtook me in skill level.  I need to get that sense of bad-assery back, but I’m not sure how to do it.

Now that I’m no longer affiliated with any household, it’s partly freeing and partly scary.  I do not doubt that what Darius was trying to teach me was what he thought was best for me, on the track to a possible knighthood.  However, I have since realized that knighthood was never really what I was interested in.  What I really wanted to do was become a good fighter and get taken seriously.    The problem was that I wasn’t becoming good.  I put too much pressure on myself that I alternated between over-emotional fight practices and taking extended breaks due to burnout.  Worst of all, I didn’t take myself seriously.  I wasn’t having fun.  I wasn’t getting better. I was in physical pain that was associated with more than bruised flesh.  That’s why I decided to take my break.

Now that I’m somewhat back, I have the freedom to choose my own adventure fighting-wise.  At first, I debated whether or not I wanted to fight righty or lefty.  My right shoulder is still not great.  It’s likely that it’ll never be in pristine condition again.  However, having fought for so much longer as a righty, I am better as a righty.  Then I thought about it.  I don’t have to even fight sword and shield if I don’t want to.  I always enjoyed fighting pole arm.  And not long before my break, I discovered an odd propensity for two-sword.

However, it’s still going to be an uphill battle.  I’m not the spry 21-year-old I was when I first found this game.  I’m now 36 years old.  I’ve had back surgery.  While that was years ago, it’s looking like I will always have sporadic pain there.  I am over 60lbs heavier.  While there are plenty of excellent fighters on the heavier side, being heavier seems to be really problematic for me.  The extra weight isn’t good for my back and it causes knee problems when I run or attempt any kind of cardio heavier than walking.  I am not in good shape anymore.  I also have hypothyroidism which means it’s extremely difficult to lose weight.  I used to (naively) think that anyone could lose weight if they really put their mind to it.  I was wrong.  It doesn’t help that whenever I start a new eating plan, my hunger hormones go into overdrive.  Plus whenever my thyroid hormones fluctuate, I often face brain fog and fatigue that is sometimes so bad it’s all I can do to take care of myself and my cat and show up to work on time. It seems like there are so many things stacked against me right now.

I want to go out there and fight again and I want to succeed, but I guess I’m afraid to fail. As it is, my first practices will probably last less than the time it will take me to drive there because of my current fitness level.  I will have to deal with that and likely a number of other things as well.  But this break has taught me a few things:

  1. The biggest and first improvement I need to make is in my attitude.  I’m not sure how, so I’m willing to accept suggestions.
  2. I need to figure out how to lose the weight. I don’t want to wreck my knees or back any more than I already have and the less weight that is on each joint is a help.
  3. I need to figure out how to get into better shape. I am in very poor condition and find myself having to take a full day to recover after a day where I just take a hike for a few hours.
  4. I need to figure out how to overcome my list of medical weaknesses, in general.
  5. Most of all, I realized that, for whatever reason, I really missed fighting. I really want it to be a part of my life.

It will still probably be a few weeks before I even make it to a fight practice.  I am nearing the performance date of my musical production at work, though I would love to have the opportunity to hit someone with sticks to help relieve the stress!  It just means a lot of extra work, late nights, and stress until it’s over. Plus it’ll give me more time to work on #1, my attitude!  As always, if anyone out there has any advice, I’ll be happy to hear it!

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EK Coronation (SP 2016)

•April 11, 2016 • Leave a Comment

As I have previously mentioned, I have been taking a break from the SCA. I still hadn’t made much headway into the reasons why I was taking a break and started to wonder if maybe the SCA just wasn’t for me anymore.  I went to Coronation because my good friend Olaf was getting elevated to a Pelican. It was well-deserved and about time he was recognized. I had only intended to stay long enough for morning court and then planned to leave. I decided to go grocery shopping afterwards since there were bigger stores with more selection near the event site than where I live. I put the envelope with my grocery money in my bucket (my SCA equivelant of a purse) and drove to the event.

When I got there, it was great to see some old friends, albiet briefly. I had to use the bathroom badly, so the lady at the gate kindly let me in with the promise that I’d pay later. Well, due to people using both bathroom stalls to change, I waited close to 20 minutes to  use the bathroom. I barely had time to get to court on time. I set my bucket on a table while I processed up with Olaf, forgetting that my grocery money was in there. I listened to the speeches about Olaf and congratulated him. Then I grabbed my bucket and went to pay on my way out. 

Only when I went to pay, the envelope with my grocery money was gone. I ran to my car to grab some more money, hoping against hope, that I took the envelope of grocery money out of my bucket and left it in my car. It wasn’t there. I was upset, but found $20 to pay the gate fee. In my emotional state, I told maybe 4 people that someone stole an envelope labeled “groceries” with over $80 in it from my bucket. I started to wonder if this was a sign. Maybe I should be done with the SCA. I carefully thought about the food I had lying around my house and realized that I wouldn’t starve before I got paid on Friday. I think I was more upset that I had thought of the SCA as a safe place and it wasn’t. On my way out, a woman told me to come with her. She had overheard my plight and pressed some money into my palm. I thanked her for her generosity, but told her that I’d be fine. She insisted that I take the money. She also insisted that when I see someone having a bad day, that I help them in return. I accepted, though I usually have a difficult time figuring out how to help someone in need, though I generally want to help others. I figured I’d come up with something. More than just giving me money, she reminded me what it was that I valued about the SCA. While I enjoy the embroidery and fighting, it’s about the wonderful people who will stop to help you out, even though they don’t really know you. It’s about the people who make your day just to see, even though all you have time for is a smile and a hug. It’s especially the ones who are like family, who are there for you no matter what, regardless of household, barony, kingdom or political  affiliations. They are the reason I know I will be back, when I am ready. 

 

Taking a Break

•January 20, 2016 • Leave a Comment

Not long after the reign ended, I announced on Facebook that I needed to take a break from the SCA for awhile. I had been doing a lot of self-work and was doing really well, except at SCA events. I originally thought it might be because of one person, but it turned out that wasn’t the case. I had no idea what my problem was.  I decided to take some time off to figure things out.

It only took a month or two to start missing it. But it seemed like every time I felt like I wanted to start up again, something would happen that would prevent it. Everything from me planning to hit a fight practice and finding out that I had already had something planned that day to having a disagreement with a good SCA friend, but things kept happening.

I still don’t think I’m ready to return, though my mundane life is going amazingly well. I just received an email notifying me of a comment on this blog from someone who said I was kind of their heroine. I didn’t think I was worthy, but I realized that I had just stopped writing here without any indication as to why, so I decided to write  this post trying to explain what’s going on.

I just got notification that a good friend of mine would be getting a writ at one event and being elevated at another, so I hope to attend at least one of the two events, but my primary goal will be to show up to support my friend rather than to fight or do anything else.

I still expect to be back in armor when I’m ready. I am surprised that I’m still not ready yet. I had only expected to take a short break. And no, I don’t yet know when I’ll be ready, but I still feel like I’ll know when I am. I know that’s pretty vague, but I really can’t explain it better than that.

Bhakail Fight Practice 8/27/15

•August 29, 2015 • Leave a Comment

My friend Nicholae, who I had known for several Pennsics now, had just gotten his armor together and had invited me to come to attend his first fight practice with him.  So I drove down and we went to the Bhakail fight practice.

I started with sword and shield.  Because of my shoulder problems that I had earlier in the year, I did not expect to be able to hold the shield for long, but that was not a problem.  I fought both Gunnar and Vachir and I discovered that I was VERY rusty.  I fell for all of Gunnar’s fakes. He offered to give me pointers, but I refused.  I didn’t refuse because I didn’t think he had anything worth teaching, but because I felt like I wasn’t going to retain anything until I actually fight sword and shield regularly again and knocked enough of the rust off of my game to actually benefit from it.  Although he was a good enough fighter for him to remind me of the areas I constantly left open.  And time and again I did not do what I needed to in time to actually avoid being hit in those two weaknesses in my defense.  Vachir was difficult to fight because it seemed every fight he did something different, so there was no pattern to follow.  I think I maybe had one or two kills when fighting sword and shield.  That was it.

Next, I took out two swords.  I ended up fighting both Todd (whose SCA name I forget) and one other person, who I forgot.  I did well with two swords.  I think I actually killed more often than I was killed!

Then, several people took out two-handed swords.  I did not bring mine, so I brought out my shorter pole arm.  I did okay.  I got killed more times than I was killed.  Again, I felt very slow.

Then there was a spear drill led by Barry (again, forgot his SCA name).  Even though I’m authorized for spear, I really have had very little experience fighting with it.  My car is too small to fit a spear, so I don’t own one.  I didn’t do terribly well.  The spear seemed quite heavy and I didn’t have the muscles built up for it.  It didn’t take me too long before my muscles lost their strength and my shoulder started bothering me.

Sadly, when my friend put on his armor, he discovered that several modifications were still necessary, so he didn’t get to fight at all.  But I was still glad to get to go to the practice!

Midland Vales Fight Practice 8/25/15

•August 28, 2015 • Leave a Comment

I attended the Midland Vales fight practice.  It was the first time I’ve fought since Pennsic and the first fight practice that I had attended in months.  They had a theme for this practice.  It was initially supposed to be two-weapons, but pole weapons were added at the last minute.

I started fighting with my pole arm.  The first thing I realized was that either I was really rusty, or I wasn’t as good as I thought I was.  I was killed more often than I killed for everybody I fought with a pole arm.  I also felt like my movement was exceedingly slow.  I’m not sure if it’s just because I’m rusty or if something else was going on.

Then the two-weapons came out.  I fought two people using two-swords.  I found that I did better with two swords.  I think it’s just because of two things.  Most people who use two swords will strike blows with their dominant hand 3/4 of the time.  I no longer have a dominant hand, per se.  As a result, I go back and forth between the two hands.  My right has a weakness because of my shoulder issues while my left has a weakness because I’m less accurate.  I suppose if I work on both of those issues, I’ll get significantly better!

Afterwards, I took off my armor and lent it to someone who was interested in fighting.  She was about half my size in almost every respect.  I guess it shows just how versatile my armor is that it was able to fit her!  It was a good practice and I had a good time, though I wish I could have done better.

Barleycorn Heavy Combat

•August 23, 2015 • Leave a Comment

As you all know, earlier this year, I became a marshal.  Then I was made KM of the canton I now live in. Then I was asked to organize the heavy combat activities at John Barleycorn.  Having never been to one, I really knew very little about this event, so I did some homework.  Apparently, this event used to be known for its fighting, among other things and has had years with attendance of over 600 people.  It used to be a regular RP event as well.  In recent years, the attendance has diminished as well as the fighting activities.  This year’s theme is “John Barleycorn Goes to War”.  The idea was to promote more fighting activities.  I know the fencers have some interesting activities planned as well.

Here is what I have planned for this year:
“Friday evening there will be a torchlight tournament to test your skill at using weapons other than sword and shield!  Bring your pole arms, axes, great-swords, two swords, or anything other legal weapon(s), but shields will not be allowed (including bucklers).    The tournament will be a round-robin format and your weapons form does not need to match that of your opponent.  Prizes will be given for first and second place in this tournament.

On Saturday morning, the armored fun continues.  There will be a tournament to determine the warlords for the melees to follow.  It will be double-elimination with the first round being swords and shields and the second round using pole arms (can be provided, if necessary).  The following rounds will be the contestant’s choice.  Prizes will be given for first and second place in this tournament.  The first and second place winners will also become the warlords and will choose not only their teams, but the melee scenarios for the remainder of the day.
Following the tournament, there will be three melee scenarios chosen by the winners of the tournament.  The winner of the tournament will choose the first and third scenario while the second place winner will choose the second scenario.  Choices could be field battles, bridge battles, castle battle, capture the flag, warlords (when the warlord dies, the melee ends) and woods battle, with the warlords choosing whether each will be a resurrection battle or not with a maximum of 30 minutes on resurrection battles.
Pick-ups will follow the melees for any individuals who are so inclined.”
There are also going to be a few tournaments run by other individuals as well.
I’m looking forward to it, but I’m also a bit nervous because I’ve never been in charge of heavy combat activities at an event before.  I would LOVE to make this a fun day of fighting for all attendees and I would LOVE to get a good turnout.  If you are free that weekend, please come.  I would also recommend that you pre-register, not just to save the $5, but to ensure you get a bunk in one of the yurts if you’re planning on spending the night.
Here is the event’s website: Barleycorn Event Page.
Also, if anyone has any tips on running the heavy combat portion of an event, please post them in the comments section below.
 
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