Sunday, March 17, 2013

Early days of fighting

Yeah, I really used to look like this... I thought it was the coolest.
Master Harald was one of my first fighting teachers. He had been a fighter for many years, and before he was recognized as a peer, he was squired to Master Randall of the Dark.
Physically, Harald and I could not be more different. I'm fairly short, he is tall, he weighed at the time nearly 400, I was near 130lbs. When I first squared off against him, I was like "Big guy! I'll be faster!"
Harald said "I'm going to hit you now."
"Did you see that coming"
"Ummm... I saw it right here." *indicating my eyebrow.

We laughed, and then he began to teach me. Proper stance, body mechanics... though he was big, and strong, he didn't rely on power, he taught me that the fundamentals were important.
Harald shared my love of melee fighting, and I learned a lot from him there as well... when to charge, when to countercharge, shift to refuse or wheel to envelop. Others joined in this education... Baron Ishido from Freehold, Sir Thorson, Master Tearlach. I may not have been the most apt pupil, but I was constantly watching, trying to pick things up.
Watching Thorson and Ishido was where I picked up spear, and that was pretty much a baptism by fire. Picked it up at a Northern Army practice, and authorized with it... then jumped right into it at Pennsic. I was in love. Now don't get me wrong... I love to slug it out in the shield wall. I fought, at that time, with a Byzantine kite... think an oval with a tail. I loved being "in the trenches", the shock of slamming through a wall, shield to shield. Probably why I loved playing kickoff team in football... it was the closest I could get to that feeling.
But spear... that was just such a different experience. Do it wrong, and it's just ugly. Poke away at the opposing wall and spears till somebody stabs the shit out of you. Do it right... and you can be a game changer... make the enemy react to you, read the energy of a line, put your point in the right persons face, and BAM... charge stopped before it starts. I always love running with the spear... though I don't always get it right. :)
I mentioned before that I have had a longstanding love affair with axe. When I began fighting, I was told that it was nearly impossible to make a usable axe, as it had to be all foam (except for the handle) and I would be  hard pressed to get people to take shots from it. They had a point. There came a change in the rules, however, that changed all that... the allowance of "clackers". These are just rattan strips added over the foam. They don't really increase the weight, or even the power... but they do make that "CRACK!" sound that we all know and love when they hit. This made axe a viable weapons form... one I vowed to make my own. Since my early axes, I have been through several incarnations. My early ones were like what Icefalcon sells now... foam all the way around the haft, and a clacker on the edge. They were followed by the ones abpve... a combo of kayak foam, leather and rattan. I now use premade By My hand designed heads with a rattan clacker, and they are my favorite. I have used them to decent effect. I took a real steel Dane axe out to play, and found that it was a much more fluid and agile weapon than I expected, and that changed how I fought the axe. Not a brute force smashing weapon, but a quick graceful cutter.

I switched stances somewhere along the way... I began fighting with my sword foot forward. I'm not sure when it started, but I do think I picked it up from watching Duke Lucan, as he fights that style. I have drawn influence from many fighters... Sir Thorson, Sir Stephen Grandchamps, Ian from here in Outpost. Sir Rhys and Viscountess Jimena moving to Outpost helped as well... both by exposing me to different fighting styles, and as added push to improve. I have stopped trying to be just a brawler, and tried to become a smarter fighter, using range, speed and technique.

I have a ways to go. I look forward to the journey. :)

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