Alright been way too long but I’m back. Time to breakdown some sweet steel fight action from the Knights Hall. Today we have Brandon Alan Ross, 2 time world veteran of the USAknights and captain of the Nashua Knightmares fighting Jon Calderone, who’s new to steel but has a strong martial arts background, in a 5 round Knight Fight. In case you don’t know what that is, I did a write up about it almost a year ago. Basically Knight Fights are the ACL’s version of a UFC match. Instead of scoring based on number of weapon strikes, it’s scored subjectively by 3 judges who take into account weapon usages, aggression, ring and pace control, domination, number of strikes, power of strikes, ect ect.
Anyway, lets get to it. This is only round 1 is after reviewing everything the whole fight is some 5k of words, just as an outline and no one wants to read that much at a time. So I’ll be putting the rest of the fight out in pieces. In order to follow along you’ll need two videos I’m gonna reference. The first is a long cut of the entire fight minus breaks between rounds. The second is another angle that is just the first round.
You’re also going to want to view in Chrome or another browser that supports variable speed on Youtube. It’s helpful to watch this in slow mo. so you can see the subtle movements. And now, to the action.
Right off the bat Jon take the center and Brandon is trapped in his corner. :22 in the second. You can see Brandon has almost no where to go to his left, no real room to back up, leaving him essentially one area of free movement. This is great work by Jon that allows him to pick the pace of the fight, the measure of engagement, and where the fight will go. However it’s not as big an advantage as it seems.
At :23 in the second video you can see Brandon in a hanging guard protecting his head and most of his torso. Jon is not really sitting in any guard. You get a better view in the top video at between :18 and :20. Watch in .25X. Jon’s sword bounces up and down not really setting up in a way to block any lines and tends to flatten out so it’s almost parallel with the ground, which blocks literally nothing.
Enough of that boring positioning bullshit, though. The First engagement is a great start for Brando. Lets use the bottom video. :24-:27 Both throw for the leg, Brandon’s shot keying off of Jon’s. Now, Jon has to throw to the leg because that’s all that’s open. Brandon doesn’t catch the block because he’s trying an advance technique where you move the shield forward to intercept the blade or arm before it gets to the target. If successful this is better as it lets you control the weapon and is faster than trying to follow the blade as your opponent throws combo’s to different locations. However it’s harder to get that initial block.
It’s possible Brandon would have been better server just dropping the shield down to full arm extension. There are a number of problems with this being a default block. It doesn’t block below the knee, you usually lose sight of where the sword lands on the hip and have to guess to place the shield correctly, someone with quick enough reaction or who has watched you use that block multiple times could throw towards the thigh and as the shield came down, bring the sword up into the arm, or possibly even the head. As a tool that you use occasionally in your repertoire it works though and this was probably the situation to pull it out. Brandon knew that’s the only spot he was exposed, saw the blade coming down, and hadn’t thrown it enough to be worried about being caught in a trap.
Now Brandon misses the block but gets to throw anywhere he wants because of Jon’s lack of guard and that basically guarantees Jon won’t catch the block. Brandon chooses the leg when he probably should have picked offside head, offside arm, or armpit as those are all quicker shots and would mean he’d be have recovered as Jon was landing. He still manages to pull of a good combo though stepping in to make a second shot to the head. Note as he steps in, :25, he pumps that shield out which basically checks Jon’s ability to bring the sword to bear. Jon tries to land a jab as he’s backing out, but Brandon has greater reach using the blade and after going up decides to leave. Well done by Brandon. Part of why this went that way though is because after Jon through he never recovered to a good guard leaving him open again, basically everywhere.
Alrigh, Top video now. :26 -:30 Both fighters circle, foot work needs work. Both of them bring their feet together before moving the second foot, which really compromises your balance and ability to move. Jon also is bouncing on his steps, which makes it easier to predict his movements. It may be Brandon’s lack of that that explains how Jon whiffs his shot. Brandon is sliding his foot in so his body has not moved when Jon decides to throw. But by the time the sword is moving, Brandon is already shifting his back foot and weight backwards, which makes it simple to lean out of range.
Now while that little dodge is slick, I would have liked to see Brandon use his guard to his advantage here. Jon through right towards it. If Brandon had caught the incoming blow on his sword he could have easily thrown an inside cut to Jons open arm. Or after catching the block, used his shield to control the weapon and thrown a number of unanswered blows. Maybe lift the arm and put a nasty offside into the armpit even.
Jon loses his sword here, so even though Brandon has some excellent work I’m going to skip it as it’s not really the same as a fight with the weapon in hand.
Still in the top video ::43-45. Things are reset Jon once again gets the center. Brandon, trapped, decides to simple step straight in and throw. Note at :44 you can see Brandon pump his arm up. Jon keys off of this and throws at the same time. Without that tell this next exchange could have been all Brandon instead of starting with a trade.
Switch to the bottom video :47-:51. They both throw, they both land. Jon does a neat level change, a trick both myself and Cat Brooks use to great effect. However his recovery leaves something to be desired. Brandon was using his shot as a way to move forward and take space. When Jon drops and pops back up, he plants himself and basically leaves himself open…which leads into that giant punch Brandon lands and the follow up chop as Jon is still recovering. Had Jon either stayed low and tried landing as many shots as possible to the leg that might have worked or as he came out of the crouch he had moved to the side off line. Moving off line after you land a shot is a key still that is lacking in most of the fighters in the sport. You see it from time to time but isn’t a regular thing.
Brandon actually pulls it off very well on his follow up second punch, though as we’ll see in later posts, he doesn’t keep this practice up the whole fight. It’s worth getting both angles, so watch :46-:47 on the top video. That step basically causes Jon’s punch to slide off with no power and allows Brandon to easily step out from Jon’s follow up swing.
The next exchange is interesting. Brando looks like he’s over extending himself to put the pressure back on, but still lands a shot. However after getting in he just leaves not really doing anything. Jon’s play right after much better I think, even though he doesn’t really land anything. He misses a punch, then rather than rush in, backs out to take stock. He does this a number of times through out the fight to good advantage. However he also gets way overly aggressive out of range as we’re about to see.
Quick shout out to having a good corner man. @ :54-:56 bottom video you can hear Lane telling Brandon to reset, I.E get back in guard. Brandon immediately does. When you get tired and you’re brain stops doing the right things, it’s great to have someone there who can keep you focused on those little perfections that win fights.
So the next bit has something really subtle in it that you kinda need both videos to see. First in the bottom video you can see Jon take a step with his left and then decide to turn it into a huge lunch. Brandon backs out and slips away. Jon’s step there has signaled to Brandon he needs to adjust and he’s started moving as the lunge starts. Now at the top video :55, you can see Brandon moving his weight to his front foot and as Jon steps in Brandon’s back foot moves. The back foot moves, but the torso stays mostly where it is. This is key. Because as Jon is coming in he has an idea of where Brandon will be and all his movements are being calculated on that. If he notices Brandon moving he would have been aiming for the spot Brandon is moving into, but because Brandon’s torso is stationary he doesn’t prepare for that. Now Brandon’s foot lands at :56, right as Jon punches. Brandon is already set to dodge and just has to shift weight to that back foot, punch goes whizzing by.
After the reset we once again see Jon take the center and hold it. For once I disagree with this move. Jon is down this round and needs to make up for it. Time to get aggressive and push right in. On the flip side this is exactly the time Brandon should be ok with him controlling the center. All he needs to do to win the round is keep away and block well. Instead he makes the tactical error to jump in. This is compounded by the body mechanical error of making a giant lunge from out of range.
In the bottom video watch 1:05-:07. Brandon takes a step almost as large as he can. This is a big, slow, obvious move. Jon easily catches it and prepares, chopping nicely at Brandon’s neck. Not only did this expose Brandon though, but you can see how off balance he is at 1:07 where he turns his hips to deliver power and it basically crosses his legs, never a secure position. We have a mantra at the Hall. Shoulders, over Thighs, over Feet. This keeps you balances, powerful, and quick…This was the exact opposite of that.
The end of the fight is mostly more of points we’ve covered above. Jon makes the conservative decision to not follow Brandon after he loses his balance, which is the safer choice, but since he’s probably still down maybe not the right time to be safe. Early round though so maybe worth it. When he does decide to step in, Brandon steps off line with a chop to the fact and Jon whiffs big time with a punch. There’s a neat little spin here, which lands cleanly. It’s a great recovery move by Jon to salavage something from that miss. Brandon of caught by that because he made three mistakes, one, kept backing out straight instead of circling, two he didn’t have his guard up, three, he didn’t fire as he left. Always Always Jab or Strike on your way out.
The end of the round is essentially just a pushing match. Nothing really interesting there.
Big take aways from this round: Step off line whenever possible or Always Be Circling and Cut down on big movements as they are tells or Be Subtle. Hope this was helpful or at least enjoyable. As always tell me where I fucked up in the comments. See ya in the Lists.