SCA fighter challenge day 1 of ?

So there’s this SCA fighter challenge going around, practice SCA heavy list combat everyday for 30 days and write about it. Since Pennsic is coming up in just over a month I’m starting to really focus on my stick fighting over my steel, at least in the short term. I’m also going to be fighting in my first crown and while I don’t think I’ll win, I do hope to and wish to put forth a decent effort that will really test those who are more likely to earn the throne. To that end I’m joining this challenge, with the added benefit of it will get me writing everyday again. However because I need to be special I’m doing it my own way. Instead of 30 days I’m going to try to practice and write everyday, until I can’t anymore. Hopefully this will last at least till crown.

So, without further ado, my thoughts on last nights practice. Lets get the bad out of the way first, I did no footwork drills, no pellwork, no weight or cardio training beyond sparring, and my nutrition was absolute shit throughout the day(yes eating isn’t part of practice but it’s crucial to improvement of body function). The good, I got a lot of time sparring with my axe against some great opponents and some time playing sword and shield as well. The lack of steady practice in a more rigid structure, for lack of a better term, is not great, because it’s harder to drill perfect from while sparring, but overall I think it was a good day. I got compliments on my measure and power, both areas I’ve struggled with (and am still not happy with if I’m perfectly honest) but it was good to hear. I was yet again unable to bring Lucan’s foot work into play beyond entering moves. I do think I’m using passing steps correctly by default now, but I’m not utilizing half or full steps as I should and I don’t think I executed a single pivot despite there being at least two opportunities it might have given me the fight. Also I seem to be leaving my sword leg very exposed. Most of my better opponents were able to smash it reliably.

Those were the highlights of the good and bad, but I had some thoughts on things that were more meh, than well or poorly done. My level changes were working well but I believe they were probably telegraphed and rythmic. Sir Pilan(spelling?) was able to time them very well against me last weekend and they felt the same last night, so I think my success was do to not using them against as skilled opponents. I was able to time quite a openings for single shots, but I don’t think I ever strung together a series of blows, meaning I tended to let my opponents dictate the style and speed of the fight. I was able to transition through guards effectively, rarely leaving any static opening. However more than once I caught a block only to have my guard crumble under the power and fail to actually protect me from the blow. My endurance seemed to hold out as long as anyone else’s but I did feel myself begin to tire and slack.

Despite my numerous flaws I felt pretty good. Sir Mathew, Micah, and Maguiver all beat the crap out of me, but I felt like I did pretty good against everyone else I faced. I think I internalized a few ideas I’ve learned awhile ago better. Spinning shield men to open up the back, hooking the shield and sword with the axe, utilizing hand and guard changes, not fighting with the Axe to put it back into position(thanks Olaf). I also picked up a few new techniques to try in the “clinch” with an axe, based off of checking a shield man. The one I’m most excited for is checking the shield using a thumbs in grip, hand up near the axe head, and using the axe head to yank the shield forward while spinning out to open up the swordmans shield side. I’ll play with that a bit tonight at the knights hall. I’m hoping that with some work I can actually get this to transition into a useful ACL technique.

Anyway, overall impressions, I’m improving. I feel like I’ve made some big steps recently, which I actually attribute to Poland more than anything. I’m in better shape so that helps, but things just seem a bit easier to see. I’m not quite thinking while I fight yet, but the shadow of thoughts show up. Everything feels more natural. I think all the cross training has just put my head in a better fighting space in general, which has improved my SCA game despite taking a few months essentially completely off for practice. I’m excited to see where my game gets to in the next year. With luck and the proper amount of work I’ll be OTC level before next birka.

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