Northern Outpost Fight Practice 6/28/16

•July 1, 2016 • Leave a Comment

I was up in the Potsdam area visiting some friends. However, I had been to two different practices in the past week and my shoulder was sore simply by existing. I worried that I wouldn’t be able to fight today. I decided to at least give it a try.

Northern Outpost is the shire I started in. Whenever I go back, I always wish that I’ll come back showing how far I’ve come, but it never seems to turn out that way. Honestly, there were only two fighters there who were there when I first started fighting, though I knew everybody at the practice save one.

My first fight was with Master Olaf. We were both fighting with sword and shield. I don’t recall doing very well, but I also recall it didn’t last long. That’s one advantage of taking a defensive stance, I didn’t waste sword movement. However, it wasn’t enough. It wasn’t long before my shoulder was screaming with pain. I managed to go a few rounds. I told him I expected it was a sort of a problem with technique. I suspected that I was fighting differently than I was doing my pell work. He asked me to show him how I threw a shot on the pell. He watched a few times and told me that I’m still leading with my shoulder. He recommended that I try sword foot forward. He said that’s what he started doing because he didn’t have the build or shoulder strength or something like that when he first started fighting. Honestly, I have fought him so much in my life and I never noticed. I wondered why I was so oblivious to stuff like that that would be so helpful in my fighting. Anyway, back to sword foot forward. I realized that I do that when fighting with two swords. Yes, I realize that of course I’m fighting with sword foot forward if I’ve got two swords, but what I meant was that my right foot was forward in my stance for two swords.

I switched to a sword foot forward stance. Shots were easier and they didn’t hurt my shoulder. However, Olaf told me that I was exaggerating my hip motions, but I suppose it’s something that will improve with time. The biggest problem with fighting sword-foot forward is protecting my sword foot. The way my shield is strapped, it was impossible to move it over far enough to cover it. Olaf thought that my armor was getting in the way of my shield arm. I thought it was my chest. I checked when I got home. It’s my chest. I’ll have to see if I can figure out how to re-strap it. Or maybe I should switch to a shield shape that would more easily cover it.

I pulled out two swords for another fight. It ended up being against Olaf again. I did okay, I think. This fight didn’t last long either. Olaf managed to get me with a shot directly to the back of my right shoulder blade. It stung. Oddly, the pain in my shoulder went away, but I couldn’t lift my arm very high either. Sir Rhys came over and told me I should hold my swords further apart from my beginning stance. I’m sure he was right, however, it made my shoulder hurt just thinking about it. He demonstrated how a simple rotation in that stance was very effective and yet conserved the energy of the fighter. I’m sure the technique will be useful and I will give it a try in the future. I hope I didn’t appear rude, but I just wanted to get my armor off before my arm locked up even more.

I armored down, though I struggled with getting my battle dress off. I’ve also been thinking that it’s time that I retire the battle dress. It’s not that I dislike wearing a dress on the field. Quite the contrary. Dresses are easier to make and provide for a great air flow. However, there is that rule that came out a year or two ago requiring the knees to be either obvious or marked. I initially did mark my dress. However, the linen has been stretching or my weight has changed and the marking is no longer in the correct place. I am considering learning how to make decent pants and fight in Viking men’s clothing instead, simply because I don’t have to worry about the movement of the marking of the knees on my dress. But it’s just currently a thought. No fabric has been ordered yet.

I had wished that I made a better showing at this practice. It WAS good to see everyone again. Hopefully when I return again I’ll fight better!

Bennington Fight Practice 6/25/16

•July 1, 2016 • Leave a Comment

I left home early and drove a little over two hours to the Bennington, VT fight practice. I was happy to live someplace where it was at least a little closer to attend because I always enjoyed this practice. There really don’t seem to be any “local” practices. And while I am the knight marshal of my canton, there aren’t enough fighters and there isn’t a good location for us to have practices currently.

When I arrived, it was good to see familiar faces that seemed glad to see me as well. One surprised me. I had seen him at Dancing Fox over the years, but never seen him fight. He gave me three different names. As such I’m not sure I remembered any of them, but I believe one was “Mar”.

He was my first fight. Given what had occurred at the Middletown practice earlier in the week, I decided to take my lighter, tip-heavy sword. Mar used a mace and buckler. Even though I was rusty, he said the last time he was in armor was a long time ago, so I was better. It boosted my confidence to be able to easily kill him a few times. However, my confidence was short-lived. He has an ability to quickly adjust his game to counter who he’s fighting. Honestly, it’s an ability I wish I had! After the first few wins, I couldn’t get a hit on him. My right shoulder started hurting very quickly, so I couldn’t fight him too long.

To give my shoulder some rest, I picked up the pole arm next. I ended up fighting Mar again. He had a great sword or katana or something similar. It was the same fighting him with my pole arm. Once I killed him a few times, he knew exactly how to counter everything I did.

The next person I fought was named Hrutger. He was also coming back from a long break. I fought with two swords and he fought with a mace and round shield. I did pretty well against him, but I don’t remember who got how many kills. I do remember his round shield was difficult to get around, in general, though.

My last fight was Sir Alex. We both fought with sword and shield. It seemed like my shoulder had received some sort of second wind. It had stopped hurting and was ready to fight again. Surprisingly, I won a few, but I think he won the majority. Then he threw a beautiful J hook. It went up under my armored skirt and hit the back of my leg just under my ass. In the past, this sort of injury would have caused tears and the tears would cause embarrassment. I decided to stop then to prevent the embarrassment.

I was surprised that my first reaction was not to cry. That has been my first reaction for years. It took a lot of soul-searching, a lot of self-work, and a lot of shit that I had to go through to get here, but I finally feel like I’m back. I finally feel like I got my attitude back! Of course there will be a ton of work required to reach my goals. I also think that there will still be roadblocks along the way, but now that my attitude has finally returned, I’m at least on my way!

Middletown Fight Practice 6/21/16

•June 22, 2016 • Leave a Comment

I arrived at the fight practice wondering if I was in the right place. I didn’t see anyone I recognized right away and there were just a bunch of people sitting around with no semblance of armor in sight. Finally, I recognized one person and walked over. They seemed downcast and said they were waiting for a marshal. I told them I was a marshal and a few went to get their armor. Since Mark wasn’t there yet, he had brought the equipment I needed to fix the rivet in my chin strap, I had nothing to do. I stood around and various people introduced themselves to me. I’m very bad with names, but I did my best to remember what I could.

As I stood there chatting, one of the guys seemed surprised that I was a heavy marshal. He thought I was a fencer. I was immediately annoyed. Years of being told that I “didn’t look like a fighter” caught up with me. I asked it if it was because I was a girl. He immediately backpedaled and apologized, so felt bad.

The chin strap was a quick fix and I was able to fight. My first fight was with a guy whose name was Dirk, I think. I grabbed my hilt-heavy sword to start with. I had been playing with two in practice — one that was tip-heavy and one that was hilt-heavy. I had been experimenting with both and was unsure which one I liked better. My arm got sore very quickly. I think I killed him twice and he killed me once before I had to take a break. I’m surprised I actually did that well because I saw myself flailing around with my sword more than I wanted to. I had been practicing with a pell and I had managed to get more shots off on the pell than I attempted against him. I wondered if I was using poor body mechanics and relied too much on my arm muscles or if swinging a stick in armor made the difference.

During my break, I decided to try the tip-heavy sword next time. After a decent rest, I grabbed it and saw that everyone on the field had pole weapons. I had forgotten my pole arm at home, but thankfully Mark had offered to loan me one. It started out as a sort of round robin. It was my turn first and Dirk got me with an axe blow to the ribs. Then, the next fight took a long time, so Mark asked me to fight him. He was fighting with a significantly smaller weapon and he was able to get in close and kill me. I made a mental note to turn it around and use the butt spike. He did it again. This time, the butt spike, which had strapping tape on it, caught on my armor as I tried to turn it around. That happened the next two times I tried to do the same thing. The third time I changed my grip and choked up on the handle. It seemed counter-intuitive, but it worked and I killed him once or twice before I was too winded.

I was too tired and sore too quickly, but I’m hoping that will only be temporary. I’m hoping I’ll be able to knock the rust off quickly and get back to it. Now I just need to figure out what my next goals are going to be!

Middletown Fight Practice

•June 10, 2016 • Leave a Comment

I went to my first fight practice back a few weeks ago.  I was a little nervous and a little excited to be back in armor again.  My first fight was against someone I never met who introduced himself as Little John.  I was fighting as a righty, but I was rusty.  I was surprised when I killed him 2/3 times!  I think they were both thrusts that I won with, but I still did better than I expected, so I was pleased.  It was also good chatting with him.  He used to fight with the Northern Army, but a different division and he recognized my helmet as a Tearlach immediately! It was still nice reminiscing of old times and talking about the few people we knew in common.

I took a bit of a break and then decided to play with my pole arm.  I was the only one there with a pole arm, but my friend Johne Haggis wanted to fight me with his sword and shield.  It didn’t take long before he got in close.  We both struggled for a time to try and get a strike in.  Finally, I felt a hard hit on my face grill and called it “good”.  My helmet seemed to be sitting a bit strangely, so I took it off and realized that I busted the rivet on my chin strap.  I could not fight any more. There is a a video, but I couldn’t figure out how to get it on here.

I tried to contact a few friends with anvils so I could take the (probably) two minutes it would take to re-rivet the chin strap.  However, with our busy schedules, nothing got worked out yet.  Once the school year is over, I should have more time and hopefully I’ll be able to fix it and get to more fight practices. I’ve been wanting to visit the Nordenhal and Bennington practices sometime in the near future.

I’ve also been thinking about Pennsic.  I signed up, but I started to wonder who I would be fighting with.  Sure, I have friends, but I didn’t want to be the awkward one to ask if I could fight for them and force them to (even more awkwardly) come up with a reason to turn me down for whatever reason.  Maybe I’ll be a mercenary and see if I could get someone to pay for my services.  Well, now that I’m fighting as a righty again, its at least not THAT far a stretch.  There’s still time, I suppose.  Hell, I could even wait until I get to Pennsic to figure it out.  But still, it bears thinking of!

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 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.