Hey, guys, girls, gringos or whoever the fuck you are that read this thing. Rocking a real quick Friday Fight Break Down, over an interesting Singles Match between Simon Rohrich and Micah Nelson, both using Short axes. Just a head up, this is mostly me talking out my ass as I haven’t really fought with short axes in singles. They are mostly meant to be a melee weapon and alot of the stuff that works in melee will not transfer over to singles(in this case I don’t believe the reverse is true though). I’m going to be trying to analyze it as a hybrid pole arm/longsword fight but I might get alot wrong. Take everything in here with a heavy dose of salt.
Before I get to that, a quick little note on the new format of the blog I’m going to be trying. This is mostly just a way of hopefully forcing myself to stick to a schedule but every monday I will be putting up some form of rant, possibly fighting related, possibly RPG related, possibly political, probably somewhat offensive. Every Friday I will be putting up a fight analysis, mostly focusing on steel fighting but any type of weapon combat may end up in here. Definitely looking for suggestions so if you want me to break down a particular fight you saw or were in, or a type of fight, just let me know either in the comments or through private contact. The current queue is definitely malleable but it looks like this
-Eagles(USA 5 man) Bronze medal fight against Denmark in 2015
-2016 Denmark England 10 man final
-Eagles semi final v Poland in 2015
-2016 Lionhearts(USA 10 man) v France Bronze medal fight(3rd round only)
-Eagles vs Spain 2016
– Gabe vs Krakenslayer Knight Fight
-Eagles semi final v Poland in 2016
-Scott vs a guy I don’t kow
-Eagles vs England 2016 gold medal fight
-Scott vs Mangler.
Anyway onto the fight
So Simon, the one facing the camera with the red Gambeson, and Micah, the other one obviously, start facing off well out of range but move to engagement relatively quickly, each circling to their own left. Note each has left hand high on the axe, which means the easy shot is left to right, landing on their opponent’s right side. Both of them want to get to the left of centerline, to have an easier more unobstructed shot. It also means they will be throwing directly perpendicular to the shaft of their opponent’s weapon, which makes their basic shot really easy to block. Whenever possible you want to throw a shot parallel to your opponent’s weapon. It becomes a much more exaggerated motion to block at that point.
Anyway, because they have both taken this tactic they need to get their opponent to move their weapon out to the way before they can land a strike. Simon does this by bringing his axe head around to his right as if he’s going to throw an offside and when Micah reacts, brings it back to throw a more vertical strike. Now it looks like he does land the blow but not well and if you slow it down you can see all the things that cause it to be more glancing than solid. The shot starts at :11 seconds. Simon throws the fake and Micah recacts. However Micah doesn’t pull his guard over. He shifts up slightly. This means what actually opened up was Micah’s left hip, the area Simon was theoretically faking at throwing towards. Watching Simon’s hand’s we see there is no pause after he gets the Ax over to the right before bringing it back to the left. It’s possible he’s reacting to Micah’s slight movement and trying to come back and capitalize but to me it looks more like he’s planning on coming back the whole time. It’s a very smooth seamless motion, setting up the down cut. Had he brought it over and then from that position made a choice whether to throw offside or on, he could possibly have landed a killer hip shot. There is a problem with trying that though in that, as you make the judgment, your opponent is able to correctly act and bring their guard into place in time. A fake that’s always a fake the whole time is quicker and smoother, more likely to beat a trailing block, but also slightly easier to read and not able to take advantage of a new target. A fake that is the start of a blow, where the angle changes based on your opponent’s reaction is much more easier to use to take advantage of an opening, but is slower and more likely to be caught by the trailing block. Personally I like the easier fake the whole time, but that may because I’m at best a journeyman fighter.
The fake is only half the story though. The other half is made up of a decent block by Micah and an over cocking by Simon. Note how before he swings the Axe goes fully behind his head? This gives you more power but is about a half second slower than just swinging from a more vertical Vom Tag. In a Melee this is probably worth it or even against a shield fighter where you know your are likely to be blocked and you want to power through it. In a straight up singles axe fight I’m thinking it’s a waste. In that time Micah is able to shift his weight and move his body back about half a step and get his head off line. Simon had taken a step in before Micah moved and his axe had made it back up to vertical. It could have landed by then. Micah was also able to drive a block up under the head, and extend his arms out taking alot of the power on the shaft instead of against the side of his head or shoulder where the blade seems to land.
Simon keeps the pressure up. Notice how much quicker his second cut is? I think that is what the first one need to be. It still displaces Micah’s block indicating he can get alot of power on it. Also note the difference in how he uses his head. After the first block he pushes the axe along Micah’s handle and rotates till the Ax is horizontal allowing him to easily untrap it. On the second swing he applies pressure downward making it harder for Micah to get his axe out. He then pulls him across the floor, and though unable to capitalize this time shows dominance in the fight. He’s able to do this because he recognizes he’s in a better position the second time.
Note how his right foot is up and not braced in the first shot? And his arms are up almost at shoulder height and mostly fully extended? Now look at the second scenario. His legs are planted square, his ass is dropped and while his arms are still extended they are much lower and not at an awkward position.
After the throw, we’re once again we’re at Zufechten(out of range). The fighter continue to circle left. Note they both have hands up near the head. This is a more defensive stance and better in close. Even more defensive and close fighting would be if both hands were palm facing down, but we won’t see that this fight. Instead we see Micah throwing what looks like the second type of fake as mentioned above. As he goes for a big over head chop, Simon brings his gaurd up to block leaving that left hip exposed again. You can see what looks like Micah change directions and try to throw an offside. However because he was moving away he can’t quite get the body mechanics right and it looks real awkward(not the off side axe cut ever looks that smooth anyway) and actually misses. Now part of that may be Simon’s footwork when Micah started his attack but he had planted before the real throw started so I think it’s more a process of not being able to fully regain control of the shot after changing direction.
The exchange ends in neutral again as Simon pushes him out neither able to really land anything meaningful. The Next reset is interesting as the line up right in front of each other and then Simon come straight in. It looks like he may have been trying to hook Micah over the head for a throw, using his haft for leverage. Or he might have simply been lifting a block to catch the over head chop Micah’s stance is threatening. However in doing so he opens his face to a vicious pomel and is driven back. Micah does everything right there, stepping in so his whole weight is also behind it and after connecting continuing to drive forward which often will unbalance your opponent, much like here, though Simon is able to catch himself.
Micah gives up his advantage driving Simon back to try and land a shot with the head, but Simon wisely keeps exiting the fight, because he is unable to reset yet and as always leave if you can’t figure out what else to do. He throws up a block on the way out and Micah’s head ends up catching behind the haft. Micah is out of position at the start of this and unlike Simon, was unable to unhook the blade. Simon quickly pulls down into much the same position he had before, only reversed which side of the axe he was on. And again is able to yank Micah around.
Note how both of them react very quickly to this. Micah drops a hand from his axe realizing fighting a bigger and stronger man in a pulling match is not going to help him and instead use the power to launch him forward with a punch. Simon, after getting the head past his body, reverse the direction of his power and pulls his shaft out from the head, hoping to bring the weapon to bear on Micah. If not for the punch he likely would have too, but is half a second late. Still it’s enough to throw Micah off balance as him momentum completely shifts. The punch is robbed of much power by moving into it, before it can get enough extension to pick up speed. A quick axe shot after this lands, though looks like with middling power. It does hook Micah’s arm and Simon once again yanks him around.
Micah can’t find his head, tries two ineffective things: a one handed axe swing before choking up to punch with the axe. Both are never going to do anything, even if he wasn’t completely off balance and falling. The whole time he’s eating punches as well. The problem is that he is thinking about offense when he has no way of providing any meaningful threat. He tries to pull directly back away from Simon, which just wedges the axe further. This is a moment you need to realize you’re fucked and simply work on getting your arm out with everything you got. Hard to do when you’re getting punched in the head I know from experience. But that’s the only good option.
There’s a break for Micah to fix his armor and it starts up again.
The next exchange starts much the same as the last only Micah tries to land to the right hip instead of the left. Even with Simon lifting his guard his left hip is still basically completely guarded. There are unblocked lines from the low thigh down on the left but shots that low are dangerous because of how long they take. When axes are involved though it might be ok as they move so much slower than Longswords. They each throw some shots in the next few exchanges but it’s mostly just hacking away, both mostly trying to power through hoping something will slip in and actually do damage. Not the worst tactic with short axes as they are hard to use with finesse and unlike swords can do significant damage even through armor on a single shot. I’d like to see either of them trying to use the weapon to leverage each other when they get in close, particularly Micah, who instead seems to prefer punching, which means he’s basically making his weapon useless till he can recover his grip. Figure out how to punch with the axe if the punch is that important. Also zero kicks seems foolish. There is absolutely no guard below the the sternum if you get your opponent to bite high, leaving gut, hip, thigh, etc all available for targets.
The fight ends on an interesting exchange https://youtu.be/baiLQ23EPR0?t=1m54s
Micah commits hard to a shot to the right hip and Simon compensates with a fully vertical guard on the right. Micah has to pause and while looking for a new opening Simon sees one he wants to take and starts to reset his hands to swing. However Micah sees the open hip and fires. At that point Simon had already lost his chance to block and should have traded blow for blow, but fighter instinct kicked in telling him to move to block. He gets caught in between and eats a shot with nothing really to gain. He throws a half shot that glances and Micah follows with a punch but isn’t close to range and barely taps him. One or both may be winded at this point. Micah pulls Simon’s axe down and and the tries to wrap his haft around Simon’s back. Simon’s exit here is classic and exactly the right response for when someone tries this move if they are close to your height or taller.
Simon pushes up on his arms, getting his weight up, possibly putting him on his toes and bringing the axe hire up the back. Once he has his hands placed right, mid chest or higher, he explodes forward with his chest and arms, while simultaneously dropping his ass by bending his knees. Note how his head comes forward so the axe will just slide along the back of his helmet? That’s a key piece. After the push however his axe head got caught on Micah’s axe and his grip strength was not enough to hold Micah’s weight. Honestly that’s a good thing. If that happens let your weapon go and run for a new one. There is a good chance this push will drop your opponent.
So, the fight ends there with Micah losing a thumb on his gauntlet. Overall take, short axe fights are interesting. There isn’t much defense but attacks are so slow and not subtle that it can be hard to land anything solid. I think the key to this is mixing in very low shots, more offsides, particularly to the body, kicks, and possibly hand changes to allow for new angles. Regardless of whether that’s right or not, there’s some interesting lessons for other forms as well as few great melee lessons in this fight. Well worth study. Sorry I went so long. That was meant to be a quicker one. I’ll work on making these tighter in the future. Till then, see you in the Lists.