Prepping for Poland-A retrospect on a trip to an IMCF World Championship-Part 2

So, you got your gear set, you’ve made travel arrangements, but you still need to make the team. Hows that start?

Well first off, learn the tactics. Hopefully we’ll have a basic tactics manual for the new guys but I don’t want post anything online without the captains say so. So till you get that, study footage, particularly the early parts of the battles to try and figure out the basic plans. After contact things often turn to chaos so individual tactics matter much more.

Speaking of, Learn to work with your friends. never go for a 1 v 1 when you can find a 2 on 1. Always approach at the 45. Don’t both beat on his head, it’s well protected. One guy should always work armor gaps(hips and back of thighs are great) and the other should work legs. Good team work can make up for a lot of lack of skill.

Still, you’re gonna want skills. So start practicing. You need to know how to strike with a weapon. Start here

There’s plenty of other guides on Youtube and other places. Most of the ones I know are for stick fighting and while many of the ideas apply it’s still not quite the same. I’ll try and find some good beginners HEMA videos about edge control and power generation. Those are the two most important bits of weapon strikes in this game, delivering power and hitting with the edge. If you plan on doing singles there’s a lot more. Far too much for this project.

You’re also gonna need to know basic punching, kicking, and knees. Sorry can’t help with that yet. I’m still learning myself so don’t want to recommend something without knowing how good it is. If you can get yourself to a kick boxing or muay thai gym once a week those are probably the best for teaching what can be used in this sport. Regardless get a heavy bag and go to work. You’ll notice I didn’t mention elbows. Currently I don’t really know anyone who really utilizes them in the sport. Not to say it won’t work, just I haven’t seen it and don’t know that it does. I have heard that some people don’t feel like the armor allows them to throw elbows the way they want.

Striking isn’t everything you’ll need, in fact for alot of guys it’s the last thing they need. It’s surprisingly technical to be able to deliver enough power to be relevant so unless you are a freak athlete or just overwhelmingly powerful, it’s gonna take awhile before your strikes do much more than distract people. In that time, you’re gonna wrestle. Fact of the game, everyone gets grabbed. Often by bigger dudes. So you need to learn to wrestle.

First technique, learn the “Power Squat(not the official name, just what I like to all it).” The most basic take down in armor is grab someones head, pull it forward and down and push on the guy crushing them to the ground. If you aren’t prepared that’ll break you real easy. All the weight of your armor plus the other guy moves your center of gravity real far forward and it’s hard to keep your balance. The counter is to drop your ass, pop your chest out, and brace with your arms against your knees. You are powerful here and almost impossible to take down with pure force. I’m 5’8″ 180 and I’ve held up against dudes well into to the 6 foot and 200 hundred if not the upper 200 range, with that position.

Next the clinch. It’s simple, You grab the back/top of the dudes head and pull down and to one side. They are now off balance. Continue pulling down and twisting till they fall over. Unfortunately if they get a clinch first it’s real hard to pull this off. So get in armor, no weapons to start and work grabbing a clinch, your opponent breaking it and getting his own, than you break it and get your own, ect ect. Than try with weapons.

Basic throws and trips. Basic throw one. Pull head down, twist body, step out of way. It’s real simple, you overbalance them pull em forward and twist them down while spinning yourself out of their grabbing range as they fall. Throw two. Grab em from behind, spin em to the ground. Again real simple, grab by their armor or shoulders, spin hard and fast and direct them to the ground. Pretty much only works catching someone unawares from behind.  Basic Trip one. Grab them in a clinch. Pull them forward walking backward, yank to your right and swing your right foot into theirs as hard as possible.

You probably don’t want this stuff to happen to you right? Best way to prevent it is good footwork. Luckily we got that too.

Key point, keep your shoulders, over your thighs, over your feet and you won’t over balance. Other than that put on armor and just get used to move in it. We do tire drills, lay out some tires and step inside as fast as you can. This has the added benefit of getting you used to moving over obstacles like bodies and dropped weapons which sometimes take out more fighters than the other team.

Lastly and most important. Get your fitness up. These matches are short but draining in the extreme. Armor is heavy. Helmets restrict breathing. Wrestling is one of the most physically intense activities without an extra 50-100 pounds of gear. So get ready. I recommend HIIT training. You can do your own research and come up with your own routine, but this workout has been doing great things for us. Tabbata method. 20 seconds of work 10 seconds of rest.

That’s what I got on beginning training right now. One final thing, not exactly training related. One thing that happens to a large number if not the vast majority of fighters when they first try this sport is helmet panic. The first time you really put on a helmet and start taking a beating, wearing all this extra gear, with your vision barely able to register anything you may begin to panic. It’ll become hard to breathe, you’ll start to overheat, you’ll get claustrophobic in the helm. Lots of people go through it. Just pop your top, breathe a bit, get some water and realize, You’re ok. You didn’t die despite a dude hitting you as hard as he could with axe, sword, or mace. You can do this. Put the helm back on and go kick some ass.

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