Journal, July 26th   Leave a comment

There will, eventually, be discourse upon the first sections of Giganti’s instructions on the use of dagger, however since my Giganti book is now at Pennsic, without me, on a quest for Tom Leoni’s signature, it will have to wait. And now that I think about it, I should have sent a dollar bill instead. I have a collection of obscure signatures on 1 dollar bills (The Capitol Steps, Ray Benson, Roger Ebert), and this would seem a wonderfully obscure addition. Hindsight, 20/20, eh.

What to do in its stead, because I know how many of you wait with watering mouths, rapt attention, unable to concentrate or even find satisfaction or a comfortable sitting position, until you read the mental effluvia that results from me having a keyboard late at night.

But first: I REALLY wish there was an armored river battle at Pennsic this year. Not that I’ll even be at Pennsic, but the possibility would exist that I could bribe/coerce a knight into shouting “Look at your hand, you have a sword. Look at my hand, I have a sword. I’m on a horse. HIYA!” Thus do all my great ideas usually result in other people doing shit for my entertainment.


Practice this week was pretty spiff.  We had our quotae of provosts and free scholars, and a slew of scholars and even new comers.  In roughly the order I fought them:


We warmed up with each other, which of course is a great way to have a bunch of wasted passes that don’t accomplish much.  Still, after the first five or ten, the joints and muscles are ready to move, so that’s when I started commenting on Gawin’s single greatest need for improvement: Lunging.  He needs to do it more, and needs to do it better.  The lad, and this has been mentioned to him, processes most input quickly and applies it so that we can throw lots of ideas at him and basically play a game of “See what sticks”.  The stubborness of his lunge, though, is verging on making him do drills all practice.  Not that I don’t need to do exactly the same thing myself.  Too many passes, not enough actual lunges/quick recoveries.  The quick recovery is the focus of lunge drill for, pretty much, this entire month for me.


We had a new guy, 16 years old, show up at this practice.  He’s a friend of Adam (the less-feral fencer, nowadays), who’s fought Letia at the gym sparring sessions.  So I took him out for a quick checkup.  He’s got pretty extensive strip fencing experience, which was pretty funny to see.  Stuff that works on the strip just doesn’t work so much on the rapier field, and the difference in momentum of the weapon was putting him off.  On the other hand, his calibration was perfect, light and delicate, better than I can imagine mine ever being.  I hope he doesn’t change that at all.

He set up, and stayed, at “long measure” plus two steps back.  It would have taken a lunge and redouble to get to him.  He didn’t attack in all that much, so there were quite a few times where I didn’t bother really standing in a guard, being so far out that it was safe.  I’m not sure if he was just mimicking me, or if he had his own plan, but he usually also assumed a sword-lowered stance when I did that.

At one point I was watching a car pull in while we were fighting, and he “appelled” at me, causing me to tense and back up.  I think that gave him the idea that appelles were effective, as he kept doing them.  But they really just aren’t useful.  In foil, where motions really are fast enough, they do tend to work as a feint, but very rarely on their own in rapier (I occasionally… more than occasionally, do an appelle-lunge, but he was so far out of range there was nothing gained by him stomping his foot).  I think next time I fight him I shall simply sit down and wait for him to come in to range.

Mostly, and I’ve found this against a lot of strip fencers, his shots came in to my inside, right in to my left hand parry.  I was feeling actually pretty bad that all his shots were so easy to swat away.  I remember when I first heard about the SCA, and again this was when I was a sport fencer, it was in the context of “Yeah, they don’t know anything about tempo or anything, you can just disengage and kill them.”  And, maybe it was true only specifically for the part of the Outlands where I was hanging out, but I’m always a little wary of using cheeseball techniques on newcomers that might discourage them.  The top-end fencers in this kingdom have mastered all the skills of high-end sport fencers, at least those skills not dependent on the specific mechanics of the weapon (no, really, Dante, throw a flick.  It’s easy!).  I wonder how the person who expressed that opinion so many years ago would react fighting in an Ymir or Sapphire Joust.  Or maybe they just had their ass handed to them and were bitter and trying to mask it.


Letia’s boy toy is being a good lad, so far, and taking interest in her interests.  Which means: NEW FENCER!  Hopefully he’ll stick around.  He’s been to three or four practices, and is coming along nicely.  He’s one of those naturally athletic types, with a background in dance, so the first step for him isn’t getting him moving, but getting him moving LESS.  He exhausts himself with wasted motion, too much body twisting in his lunges and too much dancing around.

I was watching two of our armored fighters go at it, one of them at his first practice and throwing horribly inefficient shots, and thinking “That boy needs to drill a lot more before he armors up.”  And then, fighting Jason and noticing his inefficiency of motion, I thought about glass houses and whatnot.  So perhaps he and I shall drill ourselves stupid on Thursday.


Started the fight with a “tired old provosts” sob story, and I fell for it.  He then proceeded to bounce around like a three year old on a pogo stick after three shots of espresso.  My fight was a bit sloppy.  I’d blame having already fought three times, but balls to that.  I just need to train myself back into fighting form.  To that end I did three runs last week.  I’ll do three more this week.  Damn the heat, but also nuts to it.  That’s what warming up is for.


Took her 20-10 in our thirty passes.  She surprised the hell out of me a few times, especially in buckler she was able to setup in my range (usually a fatal mistake on her part) and deny me target area long enough for her to land a shot on me.  I shall have to be wary of that, and possibly find a different way to screw with her when we fight buckler (does a Fabris-esque guard lend itself to buckler?)


Adam and I fought at the end of the day.  I was pretty well bushed, so we went for just five passes.  I had watched him working with Jason earlier, and he’d been in really good form, not squared up at all as he usually is.  Normally, he fights almost in horse stance, and throws evil punching blows.  We are working to get rid of these, but bad habits are hard to kill.  Against Jason he looked like an honest-to-god fencer.  Against me he slightly squared up, and I said “Try fighting me from the same stance you had fighting Jason”.  And so he squared up more.  *sigh*  He’ll also be drilling with us.


As is always the case, my first opponent when fighting is me.  I think Adam’s reaction to me is something I see in myself: This opponent is less challenging, my form shall be balls awesome.  This opponent is more challenging, I shall sacrifice some of my control in favor of more aggressive fighting.  Horrifying idea, but it’s a subconscious switch.  I think it shows up most in my fights against Percy.  I can turn around immediately after wildly flailing at him and fight somebody else, never moving my sword more than a few inches to either side as I parry.  Hmmmm…

I need to work on my ability to maintain stance.  I need to work on my ability to lunge precisely and RECOVER immediately.

A small rant about the pharmaceutical industry

Lastly, I need to get a new preventive inhaler prescription.  I normally take Advair once a day to help relax my lungs, which otherwise are less than happy when severely stressed.  I also have Albuterol for specific asthma attacks.  Albuterol’s a generic, it’s dirt cheap.  But Advair is not, and it’s expensive.  The new job’s health benefits get real sucky when it comes to prescription meds: brand name meds have a co-pay of $140 from the local pharmacy, $100 if I get a three-month supply from the HMO’s contracting mail-order pharmacy.  All of which boils down to a great big “WTF?!?!”  No other health insurance I’ve ever been on has ever been that ridiculous (and it’s not like the premiums are stellar, either).  The Q’s, State of NC, the temp agency, all had brand name costs between 20-35 for about the same premium and deductible.

All of which reminds me that, yes, there are some consequences to having a pharmaceutical company fly me out to Stockholm, Sweden at the end of September to attend a few hours of a meeting, stay in a posh hotel, and hit up as many museums as I can.  The Vasa (17th century 64-gun ship), the Royal Armory, the Army Museum, I shall get my little historical jones sated.  And, that I will get a prescription for some generic preventive inhaler.  Because seriously?  Fuck that noise.  $140… jebus.

Posted August 2, 2010 by wistric in Journal

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