Pennsic XLI: Part 3 – Champs fight   3 comments

Since the champions had been rained out on Sunday, it was rescheduled for Wednesday after the 5 Man Tournament (y’all can all chime in on that, but congrats to the Kappellenfechters on making it to the quarters, again, with a team full of blue scarves!)

Before I talk about mine, I want to give mad props to Baby Provost Caitlin, who celebrated the day of her Scarfening by obliterating her opponent.  It may have been a full second after Lay On that her attack landed on him, she moved when Lay On was called and simply stuck him like a pig.  It was amazing.  Find video if you can, and frame-by-frame that.

I was told two things:

1)My job was to crush souls.  “It’s okay to one-shot my opponent then?”  “Yep.”

2)I would either be one of the first fights, or one of the last, depending on the armored champs fights.

I set about getting my grrr face on.  I found a shady spot where I could watch the fighting, and started doing my pranayama.  Then I realized that the stack of fencing gear next to me had leopard print tape on the scabbards.  “Oh, really, one can not be this fortunate,” thinks I.  The opportunity to get the measure of my opponent long before we’re introduced?  Remember, win the fight before Lay On is called.  If you can watch your opponent move and estimate his height, and get a look at his weapons, without giving him the same, well, the Fates have smiled on you.  So I hung out, waiting, and after the first ten fights I realized a couple things: I would not be fighting early, and my opponent was not coming back to his gear any time soon.  Not so much smiling.  But I still checked his weapons out, nothing longer than a 40 or 42.  Good.

I wandered over to where the other Atlantians were milling, in the sun (why, guys, really?  WHY?  IN THE SUN?), and found out I was DFL.  40 out of 40.  It wouldn’t even be worth warming up for another hour, until they were in to the last ten.

I watched the fighting, and when #32 or 33 rolled around, set about my prep work off to one side.

First, the purge of all other thoughts, everything that had been going on, everything keeping any part of my body ready for something other than murder.  Sitting in diamond pose (on your knees, legs under you).  Breathe out, breathe in, think only of the breath.  Get all Tai Chi/Yoga about breath mysticism.  In and out.

Second, build heat: This is the pranayama.  Short, hard inhales, slow exhales, for a minute.  Then switch.  Get the lungs warmed up, the core muscles warmed up.

Third, warm up the rest of the body.  A series of sun salutations (which stretch EVERYTHING), then jogging a few hundred feet, then a few pushups, so that blood flowed to all of the limbs.

Lastly, double checking the mind.  A return to “diamond pose” (sitting on your knees) and more slow, controlled breathing.

And then there were another, like, four fights to wait through.  Sweet merciful Spike.


Then, finally, they summoned Sir Ix and Provost Wistric Oftun, and I finally got to look at him.  Taller than me by a few inches, okay, and predominantly left handed.  And here’s where the photography begins…

Paying our salutes to the gathered crowd.  I take my time and make it showy, partly for them, but partly because it makes my opponent wait.  I tend to be patient on the field, and have some built in rituals in my pre-fight that prey upon any impatience inherent in my opponent.  The more impatient they get before Lay On is called, the less patience they’ll have when they need it.  Sir Ix’s swords are still held by the guards, he was being more perfunctory in his salutes, probably less patient than me.


Fencers ready? Neither of us giving anything away at this point, but his stance confirms he’s predominantly lefty.

And then I had a fly in my mask. For reals. So the whole rhythm of the fight broke before it even really started, I popped my mask off, chased the fly out, and put it back on. Now, I would NEVER fake that, but back to the whole “using up my opponent’s store of patience” plan, it probably contributed. Having long hair means that stray hairs can cause the same end result. This isn’t me saying “You should pull lame ass tricks like pretending something’s in your mask to get an edge.” This is me saying “You should develop an infinite well of patience to get an edge.”

Lay on. And my opponent immediately assumes a proto-guard: left sword forward, right sword pointed vertically behind his head. That slight tilt to my head is me thinking “WTF?”  I am almost entirely unmoved from when Lay On was called.  We are so far apart that there is no reason to both assuming a guard, and any motion gives your opponent information.


My opponent began to circle to his left, still with his swords in pretty much the same position. I barely adjust my feet to maintain my orientation towards him. Otherwise, my primary sword is still point-down, my legs are straight, my back is straight, my feet are together in “First Position” from ballet. Easy to hold, and sells nothing


Another photographer started taking pictures at this point. You can see how far away from each other we are, and very clearly both my inexpressive stance and his sword positions. As he circles, he’s moving slowly towards me.

He’s beginning to move directly towards me. You’ll note that in response I have put a slight bend in my back leg.

Now he approaches closer, and as we start to near measure I widen my feet and bend my knees somewhat, and my sword tip raises up slightly. I am frankly amazed at this point by his right hand sword, and this may be about the time where I looked at it, then dismissed it from the rest of my fight planning until such time as it should move.

Almost to measure, and my weight shifts back.  Sword still down.  He’s beginning to develop an upper body lean.


A few inches outside of measure, my sword starts to move. He’s leaning far more forward now, has a wide and weight-forward stance, and that right-hand sword is still way back there. Thought process: “If you wanted it to be a single sword fight, you should have said so.”


And now we’re at measure, my sword is inline, my body weight is back, my legs bent. My torso is vertical right now. I skipped my usual Giganti guards. My opponent has shown me so much, I’m a little chary to even the score.

I took a gentle beat at my opponent’s sword, not moving my off-hand sword so as to keep my body protected.  I’m measuring his response: Does he shift his weight back, take away that forward lean, anything else?  He doesn’t change his body, just counter-beats, with strength, and resumes his guard.

Okay, so now I’ve got it: He relies on fast, strong sword work, and his stance has him committed forward, and oh yeah ignore the right-hand sword.  I’m going to draw his left-hand sword to the outside to open up that center line and strike.  In other words: Feint, cavazione.  Everything after that is just making sure he’s dead.

What happens next takes a second, there are a few pictures, but I broke it down from memory and going frame-by-frame through the two videos at the bottom of this post.

I initiate the slow beat motion again but it becomes the extension for my feint, he begins to yield back and makes his beat-parry to the outside, which I’m already disengaging, and follow through with my foot to complete the lunge and hit in the high left pec/upper arm area.  He has surprisingly quickly started to void his body weight backwards, I’m re-doubling my lunge.  He brings his left-hand back across in a panic parry that catches my sword and brings it horizontal at head height, where it now blocks any direct counter-attack from either of his weapons.

The start of his counter-parry

But he’s finally bringing his right hand in to play in an attack circling around my sword to come in low.  I pass from my redouble and bring my off-hand sword in to block, and his attack lands on my left hip.

Acting the leg shot I let my legs go under me, and pull my sword across his right upper arm/chest.

Sexy sexy knees

My momentum carries me forward and I end up sliding on my knees as my opponent, off balance and pulled along by his sword now stuck on my thigh, dies to the ground next to me.

Fight prep begins in diamond pose, fight ends in diamond pose, close the loop.

Video 1:

Video 2:

Posted September 3, 2012 by Wistric in Events

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