Tuesday, October 21, 2014

King and Queen's Rapier Championship - October 18, 2014

So this post is going to be highly critical and from a very internal perspective.  If you think I'm about to whine, I'd ask you to go look at something else.  This is me venting.  You have been forewarned....

So this past weekend was King's and Queen's Rapier Champions in the East.  While I fought my way undefeated to the semi-finals, I keep thinking back on the weekend, and I'm just not happy with my performance.  I've been feeling burnt out on fencing and the SCA for a bit.  Practice has felt like a chore.  Going to events has felt somewhat the same.  I wasn't even sure if I wanted to fence at the event.  If it wasn't for my friends, I think I'd be taking a long break from the SCA.

Last week, I had to travel to Austin for work.  I brought some of my fencing gear with me, so that I could hit their local practice and maybe change my perspective and outlook.  I had a pretty good time fencing some different people.  So I figured, hell, I'll go fence at K&Q and see how it feels. I didn't expect to make it out of m pool, so I only brought a sword and a dagger with me.

The first round was a round robin with 7 people in my list, so 6 fights.  I lost to Ogedai (theme for the day) and Yehuda.  Against Ogedai, my foot would just not foot.  I went for a lunge, and my foot never came off the ground.  It was odd and a little unsettling.  Against Yehuda, I approached the bout like it was at practice where we face each other regularly.  I went 4-2 in the pool, tied with Orlando for second place.  Since I beat him head-to-head, they gave me the tie breaker so I advanced to the Sweet 16.

In the first round of the 16, I faced Malcolm.  Again, someone I fence regularly.  Hell, I'm to be the best man at his wedding, and hope that this bout did not change that.  I beat him two straight, though both bouts were very different.  The first was like fencing in slow motion and the second was fought at hyper-speed.

In the second round, I faced Sorcha.  She tried to close with me in both bouts, getting in but without control of my blade.  I legged her in the first round and got my dagger on her in the second round.  Thus I advanced again.

In the third round, I faced Wyatt.  He hit me good in the face in the first round.  In the second, I popped him in the face.  In the third, I'm not sure what happened, but I took the bout.

Thus I made it to the semi-finals undefeated.  In the semis, I faced Ogedai.  He had to beat me in 2 bouts which were 2-3, while I had to just take one.  He got me twice in bout sets of matches, while I was only to get him once, thus I was eliminated, while he advanced to the finals.

Antonio was on fire, and I'm somewhat glad I didn't have to face him, since we fence so often.

So I finished high in the tournament and lots of people congratulated me and said I was fencing very well.  Problem is, I can only think about how sloppy I think my fencing was.  Internally, nothing seemed to be crisp, yet I was winning bouts.  It felt like my blade was all over the place.  So while I should be happy for a final four appearance, I feel like Eeyore.  Its possible I'm holding myself to a higher standard, but I don't think so.  I've finished lower in the tournament and felt better.  I think I'm so burnt out I can only see the bad and not the good.  I was moody after the tournament, not because I lost in the semi finals, but because I was just not really that happy.'

I'm just not sure how to overcome this burnt out feeling.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Time to get motivated

Wow, it's been quite a while since I posted on this blog.  I have not really fenced as much as I would have looked to since Pennsic.  I have been busy but that's no excuse.  Since Pennsic, I've gotten married,, went on or honeymoon to Disney World, we are expecting a baby in 2-1/2 months.  We are currently getting the budget together.  I autocratted Mudthaw this year, and since that event I've had a natty cough I just can't seem to shake.  I missed k&q rapier due to illness this year. 

Still no excuses.  I've gotten fat.  Maybe not fat but certainly out of s shape.  I have no endurance and my strength is not what it should be. I'm near my heaviest I've ever been at 198.  I need to lose weight and get back in shape.

I saw the results my friend, Scott Alex, has had with P90x3, the 30 minute work out version.  So I ordered it yesterday.  I wasn't this for me.  I want to be healthier.  I want to be able to run around and play with my son.  I know I sit to much, so as Yoda said "Do or do not, there is no try!"

My goal is to get back to 160 by Pennsic.  That's 38 pounds in a little under 100 days. 

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Rapier Peerage Proposal

So the more I’ve come to think about it, I think including rapier duelists into the chivalry is a bad idea.  I know many of you support the notion that all combat activities should be included into the chivalry and dislike the notion of a separate peerage for rapier.  Here is why I think what I do:

Within the laurels, there are many diverse arts, so diverse in fact that none are a master of all.  When you are inducted into the laurel, it may be for one specific art or many different arts.  But say you were inducted in based on one specific art, and then you take up another.   How do you know how you will compare to the others out there.  Arts and sciences being so diverse a topic, it would be ridiculous to have a peerage for each area of study, especially when new areas of study are found.  Is an expert on Viking wire weaving going to know about 13th Century fonts or 16th Century Venetian glass?   No, but they can hopefully base decisions about a person’s skill and knowledge on their research as well as interpretation.

When it comes to marshal activities, we have a much more defined set of activities.  For combat against an opponent, in the SCA we have two different forms of adult combat: armored combat and rapier combat in all its forms.  Mastery at one activity will not necessarily translate to mastery in the other.  We have many people who enjoy both activities.  Now yes, if rapier were included into the chivalry, like with the arts, you could have someone knighted for general combat, as opposed to specific form.  You could also have divisions within the chivalry: one for armored, one for rapier.  But the second option is much like what is being proposed; a separate order for rapier. 

The current Prince of the East has made it one of his goals to be inducted into the Order of the Golden Rapier.  He is a renaissance man:  a top archer, a knight, soon to be a duke, he made the East Kingdom’s Pennsic Rapier Champions team, he’s an artisan; he can do it all and well.  By including rapier into the Chivalry, he would have no goal for which to shoot for, as he’d already be included into the terminal award.  Yes, he could still be inducted into a “lesser” award once peerage was granted to rapier.  But how would he know where he is viewed?  How would one know the difference between a knight trying out rapier for the first time, or a person knighted for their skill as a duelist?  If we segregate the rapier fighters from the armored combatants within the Chivalry, how is that any different than a separate peerage?

Just my random thoughts…

Monday, August 5, 2013

Pennsic - Part 2

Monday morning I awoke, butterflies in my stomach.  I grabbed something lite to eat and then headed to Carillion to pick up my tithe for the OGR meeting.  Jehannine made me a keg of home brewed porter.  I carried the keg out to the field and waited for the day to begin for me.  I felt I was warm enough and decided not to do any pickups in the morning.  I found out I had been paired against the baby Midrealm Warder for the champions bout.  Getting to the East Kingdom tent, I was in a good mood.  I dropped my stuff and then from across the tent I spotted my ex-wife.  My mood shattered and I started pacing.  I know I should not have let it affect me so, but it did.  When the tournament started she was no where in sight, so my mood started to improve.  I was the 15th fight out of the 20 single bouts.

I can recall my opening shot.  I thought I had him.  My tip placement was perfect, right inside my opponents right shoulder, no parry, no movement from his buckler.  Unfortunately, I just dimpled his fabric, not scoring a touch he could feel.  Then there was an exchange of blades, and somehow my blade got trapped in my opponents guard.  Not the tip, but about 4-6" behind the tip.  It was wedged in good.  Once I noticed the blades were entangled, I dropped my blade and my opponent dropped his.  We tried to work my blade free but were unable to.  The marshals took over trying to free my blade.  While watching them, I figured I should unscrew my pommel and drop the furniture off the blade, so that it would take weight off the back end.  Eventually after about 2 minutes they got my blade out, and with no damage to it (surprisingly).  The tip popped off so it was re-taped on.  The bout was restated and I just was not the same as I was prior.  I knew I was not sharp, though I tried.  I was back on my heels and my opponent landed a beautiful light thrust to my throat.  It took me a second to realize it as the calibration was spot on (plus through an over the mask hood, the bib of the mask, and my gorget).  Eh, so I lost my bout.  And we lost the war point by 1 bout, with the final score being Midrealm - 11 / East Kingdom - 10.

So thoughts from champions:

  • What a freaky thing to happen, with getting bound like that.  Next time I need to remember I had a dagger in my offhand and close for the kill.   (kidding... I think I did the right thing.)
  • I had thought about taking out a longer blade.  I had been using the 39" Darkwood since March.  I had thought prior to the fight and as they were getting my blade unstuck that maybe I should think about switching to the 43" blade.  This had me second guessing myself through the remainder of the bout and afterwards.  Next time, go with my gut.
  • Redouble and second intentions need to become a better part of my game.  My point was on target with my opening shot but just a hair short.  Had I made the step in with the shot or even afterwards, the point would have been mine.
  • I was saving myself for champions in the early part of war.  I'm glad I did not injure myself before I had a chance to fight.  I think not doing any warmup bouts was the right call for me on that day.  Each day will be different.
 After Rapier Champions, we had an unofficial OGR meeting.  This being my first meeting, I brought some booze, as did Davius.  Jehannine made me a 5 gallon keg of porter that was amazing.  Davius made a bucked of 1-800-mess-you-up or some such concoction which hit you hard but tasted damn good.  I love a good beer, but normally cannot drink a lot.  I wound up having 5-6 mugs of the porter.  Needless to say, I was drunk.  We discussed a few things with the prince and princess.  And of course there was much drinking too... oh, and cookies.  Now I can neither confirm nor deny who ate the cookies the prince allegedly left behind, but had I partaken of said cookies, they must have been tasty.

Having not had much to eat, a bunch of TOAD went to the food court.  Drunken times in the food court was hilarious.  After food, I retrieved the remainder of the keg and brought it with me to Sharc Pit so that it would be a little lighter to carry.  We brought the keg to a Midrealm camp, where I shared the beer and they shared tiramisu.  Finally with the day being done, I dragged the keg back to Jehannine's camp.  It was reported to me that the remainder filled just over a growler.  I'd say that was a pretty good day of drinking.  No clue what I did that night other than pass out.

To be continued.... Part 3 - Rapier Woods battle

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Pennsic - Part 1

This was a slightly odd Pennsic.  Jennie was not able to join me so I was flying solo this war.  We had a smal group of TOADs camped in our usual spot:  Edmund, Emeline, Firebow, Mable, Junior (Christopher) and myself.

I left from work on Friday around 4:00 PM to start the drive.  I was expecting to stop somewhere along the way to sleep, but wound up making it to Cranberry, PA where I found a room.  I wasn't tired, so I figured, why not go check in at Troll, so I made the drive up to Pennsic and got my medallion, this way I could avoid the lines in the morning.  I headed back to the hotel.  As I was just about to turn off the light and fall asleep, the power went out for the whole area, nit just the hotel.  I spent a few minutes in the lobby trying to find out what was going on (as there was an alarm chirping in my room), realized that I would be sleeping in a tent with trucks blowing their horns nearby, so I trudged up the stairs to the room.  The beeping had stopped, so I opened the window and went to sleep.  About 90 minutes later the power went on, so I then had to turn off all the lights and fell back asleep.  In the morning I drove to the storage unit to get my yurt.

Arriving at camp, I unpacked the yurt.  Firebow arrived just a few minuted later.  A couple of the DeLondres kids (can I call them kids since they are now over 20?) helped me start setting up the yurt.  We had trouble with getting the rafters in and the roof ring.  We needed to make the band around the top tighter to support the roof.  Additionally, I got a ladder so 'bow could stand on it with the ring as we got rafters in place.  Thank you Magnus for the help and advice.  With the structure up, the roof and walls went on easily.  By that point I was able to get some of the furnishings for the tent from storage before heading to the airport to pick up Chris.  I was running late, or thought I was for the airport run, so I was doing a bit over the speed limit.  I got to the airport about the same time as his flight and met him in baggage claim.  We headed up towards site with a stop for food and at Walmart for supplies.  I thought I had extra bedding for him in the storage unit, but when we checked, it was not there, so we drove to the other Walmart in the rain.   Getting pack to site, we finished setting up the tent and with our storage runs.  Saturday night was somewhat relaxed.  I was going to try and make it to opening ceremonies so I could guard HRM Ian'ka of Atenveldt, but was still setting stuff up.

Sunday was the belted, unbelts, heroic champions and allied champions.  As I was prepping for the rapier field battle which was to follow, I got to see Brennan called before the thrones and be given a writ for his induction into the Order of the Chivalry.  The field battles were over pretty quickly.  They were run three times.  I wound up with nine kills over the course of the battle, which was a lot considering how badly we outnumbered them.  But our opponents gave a spirited fight.   

Part 2 - rapier champs and the OGR meeting... (coming soon)

Monday, June 3, 2013

Southern Region War Camp & #95

Wow, what a weekend. I'm still kind of in a daze from everything.  This weekend was Southern Region War Camp.  To say it was hot and humid would be an understatement.  We set up a household garage sale to get rid of some items that people no longer need.  I was able to sell off a bunch of items.  I hope their new owners are happy with the purchases.

Friday night, I got confirmation that a household member was being inducted into the Order of the White Scarf in An Tir on Sunday, so I was very happy we were adding another don to the household.  Little did I know we were adding two.

Fencing was interesting.  I didn't warm up prior to the tournament starting as I was trying to set up my stuff and sell it off.  It was somewhat of a lazy tournament.  I fenced pretty well I think.  Good bouts against Thomas, Caine, Griff, Jean-Michel, and Davius among others.  It was fun and relaxed.  Something nice, I was not pressing, which has been good for me.

After the formal tournament, I did pickups with Lissa and Christofel.  Lissa you cannot give your blade to as she's developed a good inside game.  So I denied her my blade holding it very low to see what she'd counter with.  She had trouble with it.  We talked about it afterwards and I offered a suggestion to try out.  I then did some pick ups with Christofel.  He was rolling his disengage off the shoulder which I was able to take advantage of it.  I also gave him some new ideas to try.

After that, I suited down and drank a lot of water.  Duke Edward taught classes on melee, but as my ankle was bothering me, I sat in the shade, continued to drink and drink more water.  Archery champs was taking a while, so court was moved to where the final round was shooting.

Thor was called in and surprised when they inducted him into the Order of the Maunche.  It was well deserved, and I am so proud of all that he has accomplished.  Thor is an inspiration and one of the best people I know.

Molle and Charity were called into court next, as both received awards of arms.  If you've never met them, they are two incredible women.  I'm marrying one in October, and the other makes one of my best friends very happy.  They do a lot more that they think, and both are humble, beautiful women who make the world around them a better place.  I knew about both these awards.  What I didn't know about was the next one....

So I get called into court.  I tried to plead my case by stating, "What happens in Canada, stays in Canada,... or so I thought."  After explaining to me that he had a bone to pick about my absconding with his wife and scurrying her out of the country with a bus full of nefarious characters, she then must have had Stockholm Syndrome as she made him watch a movie, which Mabel brought on the bus.  Anyway, soon thereafter, they call into court the Order of the Golden Rapier.  The best words I can use is, I'm humbled.

Its been a long journey, and its not over yet as I still am not the person I want to be.  But I have a ton of people to thank for helping me along the way, and hopefully, I can help others as much if not more so, because if we are not giving back, all we are doing is taking away.

So in no particular order, thank you to the following people:

  • Shawn Waggoner for putting the first rapier in my hand and teaching me the basics of fencing while I was in college.  Without having met you at the Florida Renaissance Festival in 1996, my life would be very different.
  • Jody Livingston and Christopher Umbs, for running the fencing booth at NJRK in 1997, and so much more over the years.
  • Scott Lubin for getting me involved in the SCA.
  • Hank Salvacoin for teaching a kid on crutches how to break down a fight and what to look for
  • Murray Blehart for inspiring me to get into SCA fencing after recovering from my broken ankle.
  • Those who attended the South Orange and Piscataway practices and really helped me along the way at the start.  You all pushed me hard.
  • The East Kingdom Fencers everyone needs "an enemy" who push you to get better.  Its true friends who help you along the way.
  • The Dancing Goats of Atenveldt for making me feel at home across the country at a foreign war.
  • TOAD, for the best family of friends
  • Kirsten Lotano & Matthew Lecin... for believing in me when I would doubt myself.
  • Jennie Ertle... for seeing in me a better man and making me a happy person.'
I know there are people I am leaving out but its to everyone I owe thanks, so thank you.  As I tell everyone, we are a volunteer society, without people helping people, it doesn't work and will collapse.  Help out your friends, someone new, or even someone you don't like.  Your world, and ours, will be a better place for it.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Practice Report - May 30

Last nights practice was a little weird... not in a bad way, but more in an unexpected way.  We had some people show up to practice that I would not have expected to see.  Gryphon, Xavier, and Alys all showed up.  Alys was doing drills last night with people to work off her rust from life.  Gryphon hung out and Xavier just popped by.  Others in attendance were Malcolm, Mabel, Jane, Firebow, Scrooby, and Diego.

I showed up early because Antonio was not going to be there.  Edmund had Gabriel for the night, so he swung by to open up the site, but Malcolm, Jane, and I were already there.  Mabel showed up and we started by doing some stretching outside on the grass, which I led.  We then moved back inside to fence.

Malcolm and I continued with rapier and dagger drills and then did a couple of passes.  I did notice while drilling that my hand was cramping, but it went away as the night progressed.  Next up was some passes with Jane.  She took a buckler, and I went single.  The last time I faced her prior to her showing up to practice a few weeks ago was probably 6 years ago.  They were some fun passes last night, but I felt like the distance we were fighting at was to my advantage, as she seemed to be hovering in that middle ground where I could hit her at extension but she could not hit me.  I was very surprised by her hand speed.

After some rest I fought Firebow.  We got locked up at one point and I took the end of his quillion right into the tip of my thumb.  Dumb mistake on the close as I don't want to be that close to any opponent as bad things can happen.  I much prefer to fight at distance.  After that, I put the dagger down for a bit, told him to keep his.  On our last pass, I picked my dagger back up.  The interesting thing was he did not notice that I have been fencing with a much shorter blade.  He was using his 40, I was giving up distance to him.  We talked for a bit afterwards about the passes and more.

My last fight of the night was Scrooby.  Fast, energetic, but he was either giving me the flat of his blade and had his dagger in very close.  

Overall, I'm feeling like I'm getting back to near where I was a few years ago before the shoulder injury.