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).

Birka 2015

•January 27, 2015 • Leave a Comment

There are several topics my Birka blog entry that I had contemplated taking out that I can’t even attend to each of them separately in my mind. I have decided to keep them in, but will ask my readers to not draw any implications from them. I have done my best to leave my personal life out of this blog and have only alluded to it vaguely. This has resulted in people thinking I have issues with my master-at-arms (which is very far from the truth) and various other notions that are just as incorrect. I am still not sure if this is the correct decision, but I am going to publish this blog as is. I will state that the only things alluded to were to protect the privacy of other individuals and not myself. I rarely hold grudges for any reason, so nobody should have any reason to think that any statement is a retaliation for anything. As I was discussing this dilemma with a good friend, he suggested a disclaimer. He wrote one for me and I copied it verbatim. It’s a bit harsh, but gets the job done.

***Attention*** For those of you that might take this politically or personal or in any other way it’s not intended, SHUT THE FUCK UP NOT EVERYTHING IS ABOUT YOU! For those of you that will read this as it’s intended, I look forward to your feedback. ***

And now on to my actual blog entry:

For a few weeks, I wasn’t sure if I would be able to attend Birka. My (now) ex-boyfriend and I had reserved a room in September with the intention of sharing it. Then we broke up. Thankfully, he was kind enough to let me share it with him anyway, so I was able to go!

I always forget how much I enjoy Birka. I get to see so many of my southern friends, but I get to see my northern friends too! I wish Birka lasted longer because I never get to spend enough time with everyone I want to spend time with! Someone I ran into aptly called it a “drive-by hugging” event. There is a lot of truth to that notion.

Because I was so unsure about even being able to attend this event and because I’ve been pretty damn absent in SCA activities for a while now, I really came into the tournament with no goals or any plan whatsoever. I wasn’t even sure if I was going to fight lefty or righty. I brought both shields, just in case. I ended up fighting righty. I got on my armor and went to hook my sword under the chin strap of my helmet to help me carry it when the leather on the chin strap broke. As soon as I got down to the room with the tournament, a battlefield court was called and Tiberius Rufus (I feel so bad that I can’t remember his full SCA name!) was called into a vigil to become a pelican and I wanted to be there to see it, so I had to wait. Syr Marcus was very kind in offering his services or that of any of his house if he could help. Unfortunately, they couldn’t in this matter. Then the tournament was about to start. I asked Ivan if he could help me or knew anyone who could. Then he came up with this genius McGyver-type idea that fixed it quickly and I was able to use it throughout the tournament!

When I got on line for the tournament, I was oddly calm. It almost felt like I was in a meditative state. I just went out there, fought, lost, and reported it. Wash, rinse, repeat. By my third fight, I had already done better than I did the previous year, because I won a fight. I ended up killing Talon with a face thrust. He wasn’t the only one. I had five kills and one double kill. The weird part was that I stopped. Because the webbing holding my McGyvered chin strap in slid slowly out over the course of the tournament, I had to stop to take off my helmet to reposition it a few times. Then I thought it would be stupid if I didn’t stop and drink water while my helmet is off. I no longer had this weird misplaced pride about having such awesome stamina (my only real glory when it comes to fighting at Birka). Those drinks of water REALLY helped give me energy. In the past, I kept going by sheer force of will. I practically had to force myself to keep going by various threats, mantras, and whatnot inside my head. This time I kept going because I could. I had a totally different outlook on it. I’ve been trying to grow a lot as a person recently and this seems to be proof. I really enjoyed this tournament this year.

As always, there were some fights that stood out in my mind. I fought someone who used a pole arm to face-thrust me. After that fight, Sir Oscad took me aside to show me a guard that prevented pole arms from doing that. My next fight ended up being a different pole arm, so I used it and it worked! I got to fight several people I knew. My reputation as a lefty really threw some of them off because I was fighting righty. There were also several people I didn’t know but kept fighting them many times.

There were a few things that I noticed about my fights today. If I decide to continue fighting righty again I will need a different shield. I liked the length of this one, but I kept blinding myself with the top of it. I also have not decided whether or not to continue as lefty or switch to righty again, nor have I discussed it with Omega yet. I also realized that I’m a more aggressive fighter as a righty. I’m not sure if it’s because I’m more confident as a righty. Or maybe there’s a weird left brain/right brain difference in my fighting styles? I don’t know, but it seemed interesting to me. Another thing that happened that surprised me was that there were at least a few people who told me what a good fight it was. Or that I was a good fight. I rarely get compliments like that, so I was excited.

After that was the usual — hanging out, court, and the party. Several people I know got awards that (in my opinion) were well overdue. Dalla Olafskona was inducted into the order of the Maunche. Tiberius Rufus and Sir Gareth were inducted into the order of the Pelican. I was very happy for them!

Fionn and I had a long conversation about the fact that I’m overemotional. He was more on the side of “it’s who you are” and I was more favoring wanting to change who I am. I still see no way to do that, even though my life is steadily improving. My life bottomed out about a year and a half ago and because of that I made several stupid decisions. I am still reaping the consequences of those choices now as some people in my life thought what I did was not right and have yet to get over some of the things I chose to do. Actions are not without consequences, but it often surprises me the ways in which the consequences manifested. In several cases, they were right about my decisions being stupid. I have been steadily working to improve my life and myself since then and have finally forgiven myself for those things. It’s tough that they haven’t. Fionn was really insightful and always manages to make me feel better about myself by the end of our conversations.

I had a long conversation with Trentus about line tactics and command. I remember discussing that nobody had listened to me a number of years ago when I had first attempted command. He mentioned that I hadn’t made my commands seem urgent. I told him that I didn’t want to pull out my teacher voice because I didn’t want it to sound like I was demeaning them (which is how I assume my teacher voice sounds when I use it on an adult). He said that I should use it to covey urgency. I told him that it was a moot point anyway. Serpentius is so big there are plenty of capable people to command. And I’m unsure if that’s a place I should be in right now. As far as the tactics conversations, I felt like he had a lot of good points that could be implemented into War this year, which is why I’m not sharing them.

I also had a good conversation with Duke Konrad. I feel like he had given me some good pointers about fighting. Unfortunately, I had imbibed a fair amount of alcohol at that point and honestly don’t remember what the pointers were. I’m actually pretty upset about that because I recall him having good advice the last time I talked with him. I do remember he had encouraged me to return to his fight practice.

I also had told Ivan I would stop by his practice as well. I do intend to keep my word, but it may not be for a while. I was unemployed for a year and underemployed for another six months. I have a lot of debts and other things to make up for. Both my body and my car haven’t been attended to in quite some time and that needs to be rectified. What little extra money I do have will go towards making it to SCA events to support my master-at-arms in his reign. The only reason I was able to attend Birka because of the kindness of Bjorvig.

I was considering trying to sell some embroidery in order to get more money to attend things. I probably wouldn’t get paid for the time I put into it, but more money is definitely more money. It will still be a while before I can even do that. I have a big project to finish. I wanted to embroider Omega something nice because he has done a lot for me over the years. Since he is now Prince, it seemed like the perfect time. I consulted his Princess who came up with an AWESOME idea! I was very much looking forward to creating it for him. Then this weekend, I was told it was going to be for his Coronation tunic. Needless to say, I’ll be busy for a while!

For those of you who hadn’t seen, here are the results for the tournament at Birka: I was in 53rd place with 5 kills, 1 double kill, and 42 losses.

Rusted Woodlands Fight Practice 1/8/15

•January 9, 2015 • Leave a Comment

I attended a Rusted Woodlands fight practice. At the time, I thought it was the closest practice to where I lived because it was less than an hour away.

My first fight was Arn. Again I’m not sure why, but I really wanted to fight as a righty for this practice, so I did. I was able to take Arn’s leg the first thing. Eventually he recovered and killed me. I think he won most of our fights, actually.

Next I fought Rolf pole arm against pole arm. I did reasonably well, but I also believe he was rather new to it, so it makes sense that I would do better. After a few passes, he started picking up on some of the things I was doing and countering my moves. It was nice to fight pole arm again. I guess it’s counter-intuitive, but I always enjoyed the pole arm as a singles weapon!

Next they set up a Birka-style bear pit, to prepare for Birka. I can’t remember who I fought and when, but one thing I do remember is that I actually killed my squire brother Ionnes. I was very excited because I have never killed him before (that I remember) and that actually meant to me that I was improving. I got so excited that I was jumping up and down and ended up jumping out of the bear pit and killed myself! Lol! It was worth it though.

I’m not sure if it’s because I’m fighting righty again or if something happened in my brain that made me approach fighting differently, but it really seems like I did much better in this practice than I have in a long time. I was pleased with how things went. Unfortunately, I had to leave early because I had to work early the next day, so I didn’t get to fight as much as I wanted or even fight all the people I wanted to fight.

100 Minutes War 2014

•November 27, 2014 • Leave a Comment

I was a little afraid to fight at 100 Minutes War. For those of you who didn’t read my Pennsic post, I hurt my back on the battlefield so badly, I could barely walk. My frustration at not being able to take care of myself AGAIN didn’t help matters. I didn’t want to get hurt in the battle. I didn’t want getting hurt in the battle to ruin my good time at 100 Minutes War.

Due to a Thanksgiving Parade, I ended up arriving there after authorizations and I needed to reauthorize. When I got there, the war lord tourney was already in progress. I ran around trying to get trolled in, trying to find a marshal I knew who would sign my paperwork (thank you Ivan!), and finishing the paperwork myself. By the time I was ready to fight, everyone was already mustering for the battle. I had decided to play with a sword and shield (to better protect me and my back). Unfortunately, the only “war” shield I owned was strapped for a righty. So I was righty for the day.

My unit was on the left flank. It was placed on a road where one edge of the road was out-of-bounds. We were, in my opinion, placed rather awkwardly. Our unit was at the bottom of a hill. Whenever we charged them, we had to do it uphill. That wasn’t really a problem. The problem, as I saw it, was that we pushed them back to the point where we were much further into the opponent’s territory than the rest of our side, so our right flank became exposed and vulnerable. That is, of course, how I saw it. It is entirely possible that other people saw it differently.

In my first charge, I stayed near the edge of the boundary. I was killed, but was afraid to go down because I was afraid of getting hurt. I said “good” loudly. There was only one person to walk through towards the edge, so I raised my sword over my head and began to walk. Someone else slammed their weapon onto my helmet. I yelled “good”. They slammed the same weapon onto my helmet again. I yelled “good” as loud as I could (which IS pretty loud). Then I made it off of the field.

I survived the second charge and ended up in front protecting one of our spears. As such, I became a target very quickly. However, I had learned in years past how to hold my shield so that the only hope anyone had of killing me was from the side. I squatted down and rested the shield on top of my knee. I had three shots to my kneecap, presumably with spears. I yelled “low” for each one. I had one spear come in from the wrong side and hit the side of my knee. I again yelled “low”. It didn’t occur to me until later that even though my knees are marked on my armor dress, when I squat down, the markings are lowered, causing the other side to think that’s where my knees were,

Some time went by and I was told that the other side was complaining that I was “shrugging” shots. I was told that no matter where they hit me, I was to take that shot. I have an odd sense of ethics. It mostly follows rules and laws, but when I decide to follow them, it is almost a physical impossibility for me to not follow them. That’s how mentally ingrained following rules are for me. There have been times I haven’t known the correct rules and have made mistakes, but I always follow the rules as I know them. And it SERIOUSLY bothers me to break them. This seemed like one of those times. So I kept to the back of the unit for the second half of the battle, hoping that I wouldn’t have to call a knee shot good.

My plan mostly worked until we got in a charge situation where the few of us in the back were the only ones left. We stopped the charge and I stood up front with my shield up. It was blinding me, but it made me impervious to most shots. Unfortunately, they had charged and I hadn’t seen it coming, so I couldn’t brace myself for the impact. I was literally knocked off my feet. I also had someone walk on my calf using cleats. That was painful and bruised nicely. I wasn’t killed, just pushed over, but I still sucked it up and walked back to “rez”.

I still stayed to the back and again, somehow, ended up in the front lines. I was legged and went down to my knees during a charge. The charge ended and my entire unit had backed up, except me. I was taken out by a spear from the side, whom I thanked for relieving me from being in that awkward position. The leg shot also left a bruise, further proof that the knee shots were all knee shots. I have VERY little armor on my legs and tend to bruise from any shot that hits them. Anyway, I shouldn’t dwell on it, I suppose.

I was also retaining at court, so I got “prettified” and went to find Prince Omega. He was in a chivalry meeting, so I put all my stuff away in my car and chatted with a friend or two. This was my first time retaining in court, but it seemed simple enough. Follow them in and stand behind them during court. It did surprise me how many people were chatting behind them though.

All in all, it was a good day. I wasn’t in pain and I got to chat with a few friends.

I’m Back

•November 3, 2014 • Leave a Comment

It’s funny how life works. I find that there are often occurrences in life that tend to lead me towards a certain path. Call it fate, call it God, call it coincidence, but I find things tend to fall into place sometimes. Just like I find myself facing similar sets of circumstances in life until I learn my lesson from them.

What does any of this have to do with me returning to fighting? A few sets of circumstances have come across my path which have guaranteed my return to fighting. I think I have mentioned that I have moved recently. A local friend was trying to start a fight practice and asked me to look into having it at one of the schools that I work at. Everything worked out and the practices will be starting soon. I figured that being the contact for the practice, I should be there. And if I should be there, I may as well fight.

The other circumstance is the fact that I am now squired to the Prince of the East Kingdom. I have admittedly been a bad squire recently and haven’t fought or even spoken to Omega since Pennsic. I hadn’t known he was planning to win Crown Tournament. I honestly didn’t even know who was fighting in it. All of a sudden a good friend contacted me to extend his congratulations and everything changed. I remembered my oath from when I was squired and was ashamed of myself for not taking it more seriously. To be fair, life got in the way until just the past two months. My job at the time did not give me the time or the money to attend events and fight practices. Even so, I still felt like I could have done more.

So I am back in the game. It is unlikely I will succeed in fulfilling my 1,000 fights by the end of next March. I did the math and it’s probably not possible that I’ll get a chance to fight that many new people between now and then. I do plan to try and keep going until I at least get to 1,000. I figure with all of the events I will be at in the next year, I may be able to get most of the 1,000 fights completed. I plan to begin attending fighting practices and events again soon.

“Real discipline is an expression of respect for life and for yourself.”

Real Life Issues

•October 10, 2014 • Leave a Comment

I have realized that it’s not that I want to give up fighting that I haven’t felt like attending practice in a while.  It’s just that it’s taking me longer to get acclimated to my new place and new jobs than usual.  I am still unpacking my things at my new apartment and I seem to always playing catch-up at work.  For those of you who don’t know, I am working at two catholic schools.  I am used to teaching in public schools. In public schools, I usually taught 6 classes per day with a 40 minute prep period daily.  A prep period allows me to input grades and prepare all of my lessons.  So, a typical week would usually include me teaching 30 classes with 5 prep periods.  During that time I was usually able to get all of my planning and grading done at work.  This year, my one job requires me to teach 19 classes over three days with 1 prep period.  The other job requires me to teach 12 classes with two 20 minute preps (the equivalent of 1 prep period).  So essentially, I now have 31 classes with 2 preps.  I am also used to teaching a smaller grade range.  Usually, I’ll only teach 3-5 grades, so I’ll only have 3-5 lessons to plan for.  Now I’m teaching Pre-K-8 (10 grades) and some lesson plans cannot be shared between schools (one school offers recorders for grades 4-6 and the other does not).  Most of my classes are (surprisingly) not much smaller than public school classes. Needless to say, I have found myself taking a lot of grading home, which is why I have been unable to get everything unpacked at my new apartment.

Then there’s acclimating to my new job culture.  Between the two schools, I have four concerts to prepare for, one musical, and I will eventually have to lead the singing at mass (up front, at a podium, with a microphone).  For those of you who don’t know, I am not Catholic, nor was I raised Catholic.  Some of the interim songs are not written down (such as the Halleluiah [sp?] or the Holy Holy) so I need to attend enough masses to get what they sound like. And there’s the culture in general.  One of my schools has kids that are VERY well-behaved and I love it there.  The other school has kids that are close to public school levels of misbehavior. I actually had to ask one of my coworkers how to “cross” myself (“Is it left to right or right to left?”). They pray before faculty meetings, professional development days, etc.  The kids pray in the morning and a few other times throughout the day. I’m still getting used to the fact that I feel like I *should* include God in my lessons whereas in public schools I had to make sure to keep God OUT of my lessons. It’s just different. Some parents are VERY interested in their child’s schooling.  Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s GREAT that parents are interested!  But there is a point when a parent will get TOO interested and it becomes a hinderance to their child’s schooling.

Anyway, I do plan to return to fighting.  But it may take longer than I would like if I have to keep taking grading home every day. I’m hoping that in a few more weeks, I’ll get into more of a rhythm at work and will be able to have more free time to get what I need to done at home so I can actually get out for fight practices.

Returning to Fighting?

•September 23, 2014 • Leave a Comment

I have managed to find full time employment that allows me weekends off and most evenings free. I have had to move again and I am now living in the shire of North Pass.

I have finished moving and am mostly settled in. I still have maybe 15 boxes that still need to be unpacked, but I am almost done. I have gas money for traveling. But I don’t feel like returning to fighting. It’s an odd feeling. For years I was driven to work at fighting by something I could not name. Now I just don’t feel like fighting because of something I can, again, not name.

Several suppositions have occurred to me: I’m getting too old, I’m sick of the pain, I’m getting too frustrated at not showing progress, some people have been treating me differently in the past year (which I readily admit may be imagined on my part), or my life priorities may have shifted. But none of those things feels like the right explanation.

I probably will be back in armor again. If nothing else, to try and determine why I find myself avoiding events and fight practices. But until I get the urge to return, my blog entries and SCA appearances may be sporadic at best.



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