It’s True, What They Say   5 comments

On Tuesday I was fortunate enough to make the local practice for the barony of Bryn Gwlad, kingdom of Ansteorra. Interkingdom fencing never fails to be educational. Bryn Gwlad follows the tradition of having everyone meet up at the same spot – heavies, fencers, A&S folk, socialites. The evening was made more enjoyable by the music. Props for the integration.

The first thing I learned: if you’re going to fight out of kingdom, it’s not a bad idea to bring garb. Fencing was not my primary reason for travel and I saw little reason to bear the expense and trouble of another checked bag; but my Underarmor and T-shirt did not impress, especially since most everyone else was in at least a doublet. Despite Caitlin’s talking me up to the locals and (I would hope) bearing that out-of-kingdom exoticism, nobody seemed to take me seriously until I started killing.

As I was getting armored, the question came: “shouldn’t we tell the new guy about Ansteorran conventions?” “Nah, he’s Atlantian. He’s not from the East.” Ansteorrans seem to like their fencing much as Atlantians do. Their calibration might be a touch lighter – nearly every iffy shot I inquired about over the course of the evening got an “I thought it was good.” Eh, not a problem.

There were a good number of those, however. I’m not sure if it’s local to Austin, or the influence of epee or of general inexperience, but a lot of my opponents seemed to prefer the larger species of parry. Pretty much everyone (even the lefties) seemed to heavily favor the inside, so I spent most of the evening in fourth; after tweaking my form following Dante’s advice, I had a lot of strength in that angle. They may have been fighting against the angle with more force. I think it’s Giganti who recommends dui-tempi actions against the forceful approach; I took the advice and adapted well enough but was having trouble re-closing the line completely after a large cavazione, and only a few of my fights were completely clean.

It might be this particular practice, but the Ansteorrans seem to love them some bearpits. We had 14 fencers at one point, with just the one ‘pit and a couple guys off singles fighting. It seems an odd approach to me, one that gives the least skilled fighters the least fight-time.

But it made for some good showing off. Twice, I nearly held the pit for a full rotation. Cardio would have made the difference, I think; the weather was only slightly worse than KBerg practices (despite starting an hour later) but I was tired from the previous day’s swimming and hiking, and flagged fairly quickly. My first run ended with a double-kill to a quick lefty, when I decided that closing the line fully would be too much work. In my second run, I got through Don Tyvar Moondragon’s guard three separate times, and three times, my tip slapped his head instead of going into it. Eventually he made me pay.

There were only two other Dons there. I enjoyed my passes with the first, a thoroughly welcoming and jovial fellow by the name of Avery. I think I went about 60% on him; he had a nasty trick of allowing me to come into a counterguard and advance, and dropping his point at the last possible instant to escape the lock-out, then burying it in my chest and voiding his head. The second Don, Connor by name, was not in armor but spoke to me at length about his WMA school. It’s always wonderful to see more HMA. Moondragon shortly went off to marshal a heavy tournament (another somewhat bizarre feature of this practice), and Don Pieter didn’t show. Maybe next time.

There were also a couple cadets. One of them was fighting di Grassi, and well enough from what I could tell, but seemed to take my extended sword as an invitation to attack it, to predictable effect. The other, a lefty, posed little challenge with a single sword, but also professed little practice and a strong dislike for that form; when he picked up a dagger all we could do was double-kill each other. I’d feint to open up the dagger side and disengage to find the sword, but he seemed to anticipate it pretty well and move his sword to a new line in the same tempo, and follow my body as I tried to void.

Despite having over a dozen fencers, there was no mention of melee. I think melee at practices might be an exclusively Atlantian thing. I cannot fathom why.

On the whole, a good time with good people. Highly recommended, and I hope to get a chance to see everyone again at Gulf Wars.

Posted July 24, 2013 by Ruairc in Musings

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