Barleycorn 2016 (a.k.a. Adventures in Marshaling)

•November 6, 2016 • Leave a Comment

As knight marshal of the Canton of Northpass, I was again asked to marshal the heavy fighting activities. This was an investiture and as such the scheduling was extremely difficult. There were four courts on Saturday and fighting could really not happen during those courts. There was a tourchlight tournament scheduled for Friday night. I showed up, but nobody else did. Honestly, I didn’t expect anyone. Most people worked all day and then drove at least a few hours to get there. Those fighters that were in attendance were probably busy settling in.

The next day, the only event that I was responsible for marshaling was the melees, which were scheduled for 9am. The schedule was extremely tight due to the four courts that were apparently required for the investiture that was being held at Barleycorn this year. Unsurprisingly, no heavy fighters showed up. One fencer showed up and mistook me for the fencing marshal (what do people keep doing that?). I was getting ready to leave when one heavy fighter showed up and asked where he could put his armor. I found a place and he asked about the fighting. I explained the problem. The outgoing court of the Viceroy and Viscrene was about to start. We could certainly not have any fighting activities there. We walked and found a small field where it was far enough away that it shouldn’t disrupt their court, but not far enough away that people couldn’t find the fighting if they were so inclined.

They stayed there until noon when Sir Edward’s Tournament was about to start. He had brought his own marshal. I started chatting with one of the other fighters who was also a marshal. That fighter told me that apparently according to curia law if I was marshal in charge at an event, I had say on all marshal activities that happened at that event. I was to be given a list of marshals ahead of time and if I wasn’t happy with the way things were being handled, I could chose to stop all heavy fighting activities or refuse to have them there. I have since checked the marshal’s handbook and skimmed through EK curia law. I saw nothing of the kind.

There was something important that occurred throughout the day that I was not listened to about and I was not happy. I also had someone try and pull rank on me on an issue too. Seriously, it’s enough to make me not have any desire to help out and marshal again. It’s hard enough to find people to marshal because most of the people who marshal prefer to fight. Then add some of the extra bullshit that I had to deal with on top of that and it’s no wonder why many people would prefer not to do it. I discussed the happenings with the event autocrat and I was assured that it wouldn’t be a problem in the future, so I’ll guess I’ll give Barleycorn a try for one more year.

Nordenhal Fight Practice 8/?/16

•November 6, 2016 • Leave a Comment

We had a new fighter in our canton that was interested in attending a local practice. Unfortunately, with the problems we had with our location and the lack of active fighters in my canton, we haven’t had a local practice in a while. I offered to carpool with him to any of the nearby practices. He decided he wanted to go to Nordenhal. I was looking forward to trying out my new set of armor.

When we arrived at Nordenhal, we were the first ones to arrive with armor. We put it on and started to fight each other. I grabbed two swords, figuring it would allow him to have some visible target areas. At first, I played a completely defensive game to allow him to practice shots. It didn’t take long for him to request that I try to hit him back. I still played a bit defensively, but at least gave him a bit to dodge. Then I got bored and started fighting more aggressively. He did pretty well. It turns out that he had been to a few fight practices before but this was the first time he had armor to use.

I took a break and fought someone else. I can’t actually remember who I fought second. I also fought using my two swords. He grabbed two swords as well. He was more of a challenge to fight. I did well at first, but then he did better later in our fights. I wish I could remember who it was!

I was tired and my arms were sore, so I was considering taking my armor off when Sir Ivan came over and asked me to fight him with my pole arm. Ivan never requests to fight me, so I was flattered and excited. He had a large great sword that he was using. It was almost as long as my pole arm! As with before, I did well at first, but at the end he did better. The biggest problem was that he tried a chopping motion on the top of my head, but from the way that my helmet is built, all of those motions slid right down my helmet and onto my shoulder. This was the shoulder that wasn’t that great to begin with and I hadn’t worked on the shoulder lamellar yet, so it wasn’t well-armored. After about three or four hits there, I really couldn’t move it. I thanked Ivan for the fight and armored down with difficulty.

I had some very nice bruising on my shoulder the next day. Also, it took me a day later to realized I should have tried that cross-block and hit combo that Shiro showed me at Pennsic. Well, a thought that’s better late than never I guess!

War Week of Pennsic

•November 6, 2016 • Leave a Comment

Having not had secured anyone to fight with (although several people have told me “you can fight with us” and then I never heard from or saw them again), I decided to just show up to the battle and fight. I woke up uncharacteristically late, so I got there just as the battle was starting. It worked out well for me. It was the town battle. I just found who was wearing the blue tape and joined in. However, as I was just walking out onto the field, they called a hold. After a long wait, I walked further out onto the field. As soon as I arrived they called “hold” again. We were on the attacking side. I didn’t get to do anything. Then there seemed to be an extremely long wait between us attacking and defending. Finally, the battle started. I hung back at first because the directions started with “Go with your unit.” Eventually, I found a hold in our defense and plugged it. Then I felt someone tapping on the back of my helmet. I turned around and he said “you’re dead”. I most certainly was not dead, so I hit him in the head. He either ignored my shot or didn’t think it was good and he moved on. Then he thrusted the side of my helmet over a hay bale. He walked away, assuming I was dead, so I hit him in the head twice more. I can’t imagine none of my shots were good, but he looked at me and told me I was dead. I was so dumbfounded by his stupidity that it rendered me speechless for a minute. In that time, someone else hit me with a good shot and I walked away. The more I thought about this idiot, the angrier I got. I realized that I shouldn’t continue fighting so I just walked away.

I don’t know if that guy truly didn’t know the rules or he was just trying to see if he could get anyone else who ho didn’t know them, but it was amazingly ridiculous. Everyone out there, especially if you’re new, read the Pennsic melee rules. Read the marshal’s handbook. Know your rules. And above all, don’t be an asshole. Okay, there’s my public service announcement for the day.

I awoke and started armoring up, but I had stomach problems. I also never was a big fan of the bridge battles, especially since my back had always acted up after getting thrown over a hay bale in the past, I decided to sit this one out. Instead, I decided to go and do some pickups. My boyfriend and I went out to the pickups field. He asked me what my main form was, because he wanted to fight me using that. I told him I really didn’t have one. Sure, I spent a lot of time using a sword and shield, but I switched which hand was considered my dominant one, I switched up my style more than once, so I never really got good at it. Everything else I fought so sporadically, that I really couldn’t consider them to be my main form either. I decided to fight with two swords. I did okay. He instructed me to keep my “threat hand” back. The problem is, I really don’t have a threat hand. I’m better with my right, but my shoulder is currently messed up. Shiro stood by watching us. When I needed a break, I took a minute to go over and talk to her. She advised that I try and cross-block some of his hits. When I do that, I can turn and have access to most of the back of his body to hit as I choose. It was a really neat idea. It worked when I was practicing with him, but I couldn’t quite get it to work much when we were fighting at full speed. I’m not sure if I just need to practice or if he countered the possibility because he knew it was coming. Shiro also mentioned that female fighters tend to just hold their swords out in front of them and that they tend to isolate body movements rather than use their whole body naturally as most guys seem to do. I wonder why. It is interesting because I know I have that problem. My boyfriend and I practiced what she taught us. He said I learned rather quickly.

We got lunch and returned to fight some more. This time I picked up the pole arm. He was rather aggressive with his fighting style so I started fighting very defensively. It was probably a little too defensive because I really didn’t hit him all that much. Then he managed to dig a thrust into my shoulder socket. While trying to demonstrate something, he did it again. It hurt so badly that I was done for the day.

I didn’t fight today. I mostly just hung out, went to herald’s point and submitted a badge, and hung out in camp.

The woods battle was cancelled and was replaced with something else. I don’t remember what, because I never got to fight it. I armored up and blew a rivet in my leg armor. I took it to Nightshade Leather who fixed it for me and solved one of my other armor problems for me as well. Unfortunately, I missed the first half hour of the battle and by the time I got back to my camp, armored up, and returned to the battle, it would have been too late. The battle was scheduled to last for 90 minutes, so I was surprised when I heard the cannon go off at about an hour into it. I found out later that it was so hot, there were at least four people carried off of the field for heat-related ailments. They shortened the battle and closed the battlefield to all martial activities.

I had to pack because something came up in the real world causing me to leave early. I had to leave on Saturday morning. I did my best to pack as much as I could and said my goodbyes. We slept in my mundane tent tonight so it would be easy to just pack up and go.

I woke up early and left. Pennsic seemed so short this year. I didn’t get to see even half of the people that I wanted to hang around with. I knew I would miss it, but it seems to be different every year. This year was good, but it went so fast! I hope next year will be good too!

Peace Week of Pennsic

•November 6, 2016 • Leave a Comment

I arrived on Friday evening of land grab. It was nice that the land agents had a separate line, but it was unfortunate that those with families couldn’t have their families check in early there as well. Our land grab negotiations were completed in record time. We were done by 7:30pm on Friday! I set up the frame for my tent, put on the canvas, then raised it up so I could put the side poles in. I was very proud of myself (and how far my back had come since last year) because I was able to lift it by myself! It hurt and it was it was a bit of a strain, but I could do it! Then I realized that I messed up something in putting together my tent frame, so I had to do it all over again. I swore and took apart everything. This time, I couldn’t lift it up to put in the side poles, so I had to have some help (thanks Olaf and Arinbjorn). I emptied my car into the tent and went to sleep.

Over the next few days, I finished all of the little things that needed to be done around my camp, like digging drainage around my tent. I also completed a number of errands such as food shopping. I visited the few friends that I knew were here already and I did some shopping at the vendors that were open. I took a class on tinsmithing and made a hurricane lantern. I also went out partying one night, but it really isn’t my thing much anymore.

Then I discovered that my boyfriend was able to get time off of work for Pennsic, so I drove up to pick him up and drove back to bring him to Pennsic. Over those few days, I’m not sure if it was the driving or what, but I seriously hurt my back. It had reached levels of pain that I hadn’t experienced even before my back surgery. I hoped this would not continue or I would not be able to fight.

When we returned to Pennsic, we were visiting my gypsy friends at Casa Nuestra when I ran across an old friend. He had been out west getting training in massage therapy, acupuncture, and other related fields. As I had previously mentioned, my back was in a lot of pain. He offered to help fix it. I was willing to try anything. Chiropractors didn’t work. Clearly surgery hadn’t worked either. He poked at my knees and my ankles with his finger and waved a stick of mugwort in front of my knees and ankles. I have no idea what he did, but my back felt markedly better.

YMCA Camp Demo

•November 6, 2016 • Leave a Comment

A few weeks ago I had attended one of the Midland Vales fight practices. Someone there had mentioned that there was a demo in a few weeks on a Friday during the day. I knew many people probably worked at that time. Since I didn’t, I offered to help out. The night before, I looked up the address on my phone to see how long it would take me to get there. That way, I could figure out what time I needed to get up and could plan my morning accordingly. My phone surprisingly said that it only took a half an hour.

I got up the next day and did the things one normally does in the morning. I was almost ready to go, when I looked up the directions on my phone and it now said it took over an hour to get there! I would certainly be late. I felt bad, but there wasn’t a lot that I could really do other than send a Facebook message to the organizer to let him know that I’d be late. When I got there, it looked like things were starting to wrap up. The fighters were walking among the kids and the kids were touching their armor and asking them questions. There was quite a stir when I showed up. I was the only female and many of the girls in the audience seemed very excited that a woman was going to fight with the guys. There was only one big melee left. I did pretty well for myself and the campers were divided for some other activity.

I chatted with a few of the guys there and discovered that I wasn’t the only one late due to a GPS malfunction. I asked where I could find water and was pointed in the direction of a pavilion filled with kids. I took off my helmet and gauntlets, placed my shield and weapons on a picnic table, and got some water. The kids asked to pick up, touch, and play with my things. I figured since I was so late, that I could at least do some good things by letting the kids touch my gear. Eventually, one of them didn’t follow the directions I had given the kids about the save handling of my gear, so I took it all back and started on my way to my car. One boy asked if I wanted help. I told him I would love some, but that he needed permission from an adult. He asked a counselor who looked like he was an older teenager. The both of them helped me to carry my gear to my car, asking questions the whole way. They joked that they were my squires. I laughed inwardly at how, while a period-accurate notion, it was all wrong with the SCA’s way of doing things. I thanked them for their help and they returned to their activities.

Afterwards, the YMCA camp fed us and let us use their pool. I drove home feeling like I was doing a good deed just by being female, fighting, and showing up to the demo. It felt good to be looked up to for doing what I do, but it also made me sad because it shouldn’t matter.

Northern Region War Camp

•November 6, 2016 • Leave a Comment

I am very backed up with blog entries and this event was the reason why. I struggled for a long time to figure out what to write and what not to write. I had taken a year off of fighting and had been fighting sporadically for a number of years before that. I think I may finally take the time and write a blog on the reason for this and what I am trying to do to get back into the game, but that’s an entry in and of itself.

As many of you may have already read, I have left House Serpentius and have severed my squire relationship with Duke Darius. This was my first melee event back in armor. Who could I fight with? I have no desire to get into another squire relationship right away or join another household. Most of my friends fight with the 3rd division of the Northern Army and thus with Serpentius. My problems were solved when I was at the Bennington fight practice and Sir Alex offered to let me fight with him and “his boys”. I knew a few of them and liked the ones that I knew. It seemed like a good idea and a good fit for me.
I had initially planned on camping at Northern Region, but decided at the last minute not to. I was glad that I did because I heard that they had not only bad thunderstorms, but a tornado watch. I drove up that Saturday in high spirits, looking forward to enjoying a melee again. As I found Sir Alex, he told me that Sir Kettil was in charge. I knew who he was because I had seen him around, but I don’t think I officially had met him until that day. However, I’m not sure if Sir Kettil realized he was in charge of the group, whether his leadership style is very loose, or if he didn’t realize that I was part of the group, but I felt a bit out of place. That feeling grew tenfold when I realized that they fought with the 3rd division of the Northern Army and Serpentius as well! How did I not already know this!?

I had committed to fighting with them for Northern Region War Camp, but, as much as I liked them, I knew I wouldn’t do so in the future. I went out there amid some surprised looks from some of the folks in Serpentius. I tried to ignore them and focus on the fighting. The first thing we did was an interesting town battle scenario where one side attacks with unlimited resurrections and the other side defends with only one life. The idea was to time the battle and see who took the longer time to defend and shorter time to attack.

I had brought my pole arm out. It seemed we’d be a unit of pole arms, because if I recall correctly, there was nobody there with sword and shield! We really didn’t stick together as a unit, but maybe that’s just because we were so small. So instead, I just focused on killing the other side. I did quite well, killing two before I died. When we switched sides, I went out there, eager to be on the attacking end of the game. I was killed very quickly. As I walked to resurrection point and back, my leg armor felt funny. I realized like my knee armor was now protecting my upper shins. In hindsight, it probably could have been fixed with duct tape, but it seemed like a good reason to quit, so I did. I armored down and drove the 2.5 hours home.

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!