Amergin's

Oct. 16th, 2016 12:27 pm
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Amergin's Revolt is an SCA ecvent in the Barony of Adiantum.

I drove up for it yesterday, wanting to try out some swordplay stuff that had been percolating through my "Elderly Swordsman" presona's brain.

The tournament was for the Baronial Heavy (rattan) Championship. I have no desire for jobs or titles at the moment, but they let me play in the tourney as a non-competitor.

I had a good long time to hang out and think about what it was I wanted to try: a more deeply relaxed offense and a softer, more yielding and movement oriented defense (a la Peter Ralston.)

Pursuant to that, I spent a big part of the time (when not socializing) meditating on the subject of relaxation. As sifu R says: "Let your mind return to its natural state of calm and
let your body return to its natural state of relaxation."

Socializing included a long talk with the Baron, and another with the Baroness (that was mostly me talking, since she asked about my writing...) and an interesting talk with my Squire Viscountess Vesta. I also heard Tales of Great Western War from those who'd gone, and had (as always) interesting conversations with the current Prince (Sverre Bjornhartta)

I noticed that every time I went outdoors, I tensed up. "Why?" I asked myself. The pelting rain?

But I am usually at home in the rain, I work outdoors after all. I finally realized that the tension I was feeling was so slight that others probably couldn't even see it: I was not hunched over or 'hiding' from the rainfall as so many people do... I only noticed the tension because of my otherwise relaxed state. I took such steps as occurred to me to reduce my tension even further, and I liked the results.

At long last we all armed ourselves and began. Simple round-robin, I had five quick fights, went 2-3, saw places I could improve.

Then I fought a bunch of pick-up fights, and really began to feel the thing I was looking for. My attacks were quicker than I'd felt them in several years. The time between blows was down as well, which makes it harder for my opponents to respond with attacks of their own. To the extent possible in such a small field I was moving instead of blocking. I did wind up with some tension between my shoulder blades, but otherwise felt good.

I'm sitting reading over this and realizing that I can't even describe in common terms what it was I felt. Hmm. Gotta work on that; when I start to write about Mr. Rothakis meeting his mentor Arrenji in training bouts, this has to be accessible.

Not sure how to do that.

Anyway, here's a short video of Sifu Ralston "boxing" with an opponent. Shows a little of why he's so revered by those who discover him.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T8mxqY2Ko_M

Swordplay

Sep. 26th, 2014 11:27 am
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Here is a report on the Elderly Swordsman’s most recent practice session:

I headed for Adiantum practice on Wednesday evening last with a bit of an agenda (for myself, that is). I decided to work on a particular tactical ‘thing’. As in: “Watch the sword hand; step (diagonally) towards the sword hand; attack an opening as soon as it appears; if no opening appears, cut anyway, to force a response.”

I am happy to say that I was not completely unsuccessful in the execution of the plan. I fought one, two, three, four, opponents until each called a halt. I took a very short break, then went out and practiced with Thane Durin.

That was my bad for the night. First, his style is not amenable to attack by that tactic. Second, I could barely move. I felt so old, slow, and tired. And yes, my foot was hurting. After a bit I gave it up.

Next I found myself facing Sir Ruland. Well, he cut me up good for a bit. Then I got a bit of a second wind, and fought him even for a short stretch. He called for a break, and then I faced Squire Sverre. “Five fights.” I told him. I won one of those, by trickery: attack at the sword hand, move to the left and attack off-side (he is a lefty).

By the time that was over, I had completely forgotten the first four guys; all I could think about was how tired and out-of-shape I was, and that, “This is unacceptable!”

Two days later, I remember that I did fight pretty well at the beginning of practice; I executed my plan with some élan and skill; I learned from my mistakes. So I’ll cut myself a little slack, and say: B- for the first part of practice, C- for the second.

AND I am still unacceptably out-of-shape, so a D- for that. I need to find a low-to-no-impact aerobic exercise that will keep me fit when I am between fights. I do have an idea about that, too…

Gotta go. See ya.
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Fans and writers had a blast pretending to be Romans. We didn't actually hit them, just scared 'em a little...

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One Photo

May. 9th, 2014 09:19 pm
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Photo of me at Norwescon at a lecture/demo on shieldwall tactics for fans and writers.

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Last night I went to Adiantum Fencing practice. For the first time in...I don’t know. Months. At least a few months. I had a good time, and I didn’t do any further damage to my shoulder. Fighting with my buckler-and-schlager style made my elbow ache, which is probably related. So most of the time I was doing Fiore-style longsword work against rapier fighters. Pretty damn good rapier fighters: including the current principality champion, Victor de Guerse. He it was who helped me clear up a problem I’ve been having with a particular play, which I use in both heavy and rapier styles. Thank you Xavier. I will try lying in Iron Gate instead of Boar’s Tooth, when executing (or trying to) that play.
Then I had a very interesting discussion with Miya, about Japanese and European styles. Since I find the comparison of Fiore with Musashi absolutely fascinating, I found that discussion equally interesting. Thank you my lady, for that and the ideas about Japanese dance. Now I have even more research to do.
As for the technical aspects of my own improvement, I think I need to get more upper-body-turn, and hence more force, into my parries, blocks, binds, and envelopes. The way I see and feel it, it’s sort of a tai-chi style twist, to put oomph into the movement without using more arm. This is something I’ve been drilling out of armor, and visualizing, and thinking about, for about a year now. If it ever emerges in actual full speed fighting, I will be very pleased.
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Last night, for the first time in a month, I strapped on harness and fought for a while. I stressed my shoulder at work this week, but didn’t hurt it or set myself back. So, I decided to give swordplay a try. All great sword, because of the injury.

Thane Durin was first out on the field to face me, and he very kindly took it easy at first, so I could get my head together. The other two guys did nothing of the sort, for which I say: “Thank you kindly, gentlemen.”

I am pleased with my footwork, since I felt like I was only ‘completely out of position’ a couple times. I completely failed to ‘stride through’ or pass, which I had in mind to try if I could create an opening. However, the reason I failed was because no opening appeared. I suspect the other fighters are onto me on that technique. Indeed, Brendan wouldn’t give me even one step to the sword side.

I fought for less than an hour all told, but quit when I started feeling cold, so that shows maturity. Right? I hope so. If I’m not mature at 58, it’s probably not happening.

Overall, C++ or B- for that practice.
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Last week at Adiantum Practice I did very poorly. I had been writing off and on all day, and on the drive over to Maple Elementary I was going over stuff from the fiction in my head, relating it to modern economic ‘theory’ and arguing with my inner voices about the cultural consequences of collective economic decisions in the novels. As a result, I was NOT preparing myself mentally or emotionally for swordplay. No visualization, no keyword training, nothing. Stunk the place up good, too.
This week, I deliberately put the implications of what I had been writing out of my mind and concentrated on preparation.
It didn’t work at first: I blame this on the fact that it was so cold I couldn’t feel my fingers, my gauntlets were therefore not secure, and that does tend to distract a guy. I got my hands warmed up eventually and then things got better. I was able to take the fight to my opponents at a higher level than recently. Coming back to greatsword after all these years, I am not concerned with win/lose ratio: a good practice is one where I am (mostly) doing what I want to do in terms of good technique, aggressiveness, footwork, etc. Ended the practice with an extended series of bouts with Thane Durin, which were revealing to me. I can feel my analytical sense of greatsword play coming back, that subconscious knowledge of ‘where to be’ and ‘where to step’ when an opponent moves.
Thane Durin was kind enough to notice that my skill set was returning, and point out to me several ways in which I have recently improved. All in all, a C+ practice.

12th Night

Jan. 15th, 2013 09:06 am
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At 12th Night: Viscount Ambrose was walking along the edge of the Rapier Field. He approached a Knight and his Squire, who greeted him cordially. The Squire then said:
"I love your hairpiece!"
"Hairpiece?" Ambrose inquired.
"Yeah..." said the Squire, reaching out and tugging gently at the Viscount's noble topknot: "oh..."
"Yes," said his Excellency: "I grew it myself."
Said the Knight, aside to the Squire: "Told ya."
"Did you win the bet?" asked Ambrose.
"No, I didn't bet him. I should have."
Ambrose saw Sir Garan across the hall, and desiring to speak with that worthy gentleman, he took his leave of Knight and Squire, right well pleased with the encounter.

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