So this was a pretty spectacular day. So many of my friends were recognized by their Majesties for doing what they love. Being on the Queen’s Guard, I am also lucky enough to hear the things spoken at the thrones and see the expressions on people’s faces. Oh yeah. Hey guys! I’m on the Queen’s Guard for this reign! So far it’s been fun, and there are six more months left of it. Congrats to all my friends!
Rowan and I invited a couple of our friends – Dave and Carolyn - to come with us to the event. They really seemed to enjoy themselves, and both want to fence in the future. Dave spent almost the entire day studying everyone, trying to learn everything he could without ever having any lessons at all. We haven’t even started footwork yet! He really wants to learn greatsword, so after he gets some basics down I want to get him hooked up with that. I’m really looking forward to teaching again. Hopefully this time those I teach decide to stick with it. Dave even helped the Queen’s Guard and the Barony tear-down once the event was over with. That was much welcome (as we straight-up smoke bombed that site and got out of there quickly). The downside to getting Dave and Carolyn involved is they are our dog-sitters when we’re out of town for events overnight. We’ll need to think of something new if they plan on going to events overnight at the same time as us.
Now onto fencing. The whole day felt good. I didn’t get out of my pool. It wasn’t an easy pool, but then again no pool was. I didn’t warm up for the day as I needed to keep my stamina there to last as long as I needed to. That wasn’t an issue. My first fight I stepped into the list and my body felt fine.
One of my big issues is my “tourney head”. Most fencers get in a very serious place during a tourney and drown out everything around them. Like most things, I’m the complete opposite. I need to laugh, joke, and have a good time in and out of the list. I was feeling good in the morning. My Don, Frasier, told me I had to go start working on my tourney brain, and I explained the situation to him. He was looking out for me like he’s supposed to, but I guess there’s finally something I don’t do just like he does. So like I said, my head was in the right place, I was excited to get started. And then I waited 45 minutes until the tournament started. It was very hard to keep my head where it needed to be for a full 45 minutes.
So the pools start to get called. The first three go by, and I’m wiping my forehead because they were solid pools. List four gets called – “Master Donovan, Don Devlin.” I start keeping one ear open because I want no part of this pool. “Lord Teo Cole Amici.” Shit. My brain talked too loudly, and I said it aloud. Frasier turned to me and said “Don’t worry about this. You’ve got it. Just go out there and do what you want to do.” Boom! I wasn’t worried anymore.
So from there the fencing went great. My first fight was Devlin, and I parried his blade into my own leg, like I am way too prone to do. That definitely hurt things, but I did make him work for the kill on me. Cloaks when you’re legged are fun. Hell, with the wind on Saturday, cloak was fun to use, period. I have a very small cloak, so the wind pulls that thing sideways with a small breeze. I was able to focus on the wind and use it according to how strong the wind was. At no point did I feel the cloak was a hindrance, even though several people told me I should consider a different form when I’m outside like that.
There was one fight I wish I could get back. That fight was against Donovan. I kept getting in my own way. Literally. For the first time in five or six years, I tangled my own blade with the cloak. Somehow, he didn’t kill me when that happened. Eventually he took both my arms, but only after I got in my own way (metaphorically) a few more times. Talking with Devlin about how disappointed I was with the fight, he mentioned that happens with a lot of people when they fight him. They focus so hard on bringing their A-game, they overthink it. It’s a mind fuck, it really is. I tried apologizing to him for not bringing my best, and he told me to “shut up. Fix it for next time. Don’t do it again.” So I guess I need to get mind fucked more often? Any takers?
I ended up winning three out of my seven matches. I didn’t get in as much fencing as I had wanted. There were a few people I had specifically wanted to fence because I wasn’t sure when we would see each other again with our gear, but that’s what happens when you have a job during events, right?
For the next few weeks, I need to start working on using my blade differently. I discovered at Coronation when sword-nerding with a group of people that my style is completely based off the way Frasier fences. It had never occurred to me before. The issue being that I’m not Frasier. Being a less talented Frasier means I get killed pretty easy. So the plan is to start working on more period forms and try to translate them to work for a lefty. I know it’s possible because I’ve seen other lefties make it work (for those still not in the know, I’m right-handed in just about everything I do other than fence. I fence lefty. I even knife-fight as a righty!)
Like other methods I’ve had to retrain, I always have it to fall back on when I need it. There are a ton of fencers out there that are tactile – they want to touch your blade to feel what you are going to do, how you react, and gain advantage on you. Those fencers can’t deal very easily with someone who fences like I tend to. When I fight those people, I can pull that dirty trick out, while everyone else I can fence like you’re supposed to.
Also, a lot more work with the cloak. The larger cloak I own will be getting a collar soon and I want to practice with it a bunch more. I want to be able to roll out into a list with either of the cloaks, depending on what I need to do in that fight. The last couple weeks I limited my use of voids. One void I put to tremendous use was against Devlin. He was using a crazy-long 45”, and he has arms as long as I do. That means he can hit people from three zip codes away. He went for a lung on my stomach, and I voided. He narrowly missed me (turns out he brushed one of my buttons), and I saw the slight frustration in his face. We all know it didn’t turn out in my favor, but knowing when to employ the voids and when not to was a thing I wanted to work on, and it has been successful.