Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Self-reflection including advantages and disadvantages of the way I fight, and a break-down of Monday's practice in which I learned stuff. And things.

I believe I've mentioned before how different I fight than far more than most of the rapier combatants out there. I fight with my blade unengaged.

There are some advantages to this:

  • It keeps my hand (mostly) out of harms way of getting sniped. 
  • I'm very fast, so this will usually allow me to slip in with a quick shot to the chest if I can catch it right.
  • Go, go Gadget Arms!My arms seemingly stretch forever. I have a very long reach. Usually I'm able to reach all the way to my opponent without having to lunge. 
  • I get fun angles to work my opponent with.

We will now run down the list of disadvantages and the trouble associated with them:

  • I need to catch my opponent unsuspecting for my preferred attack to work. At this point, everyone at practice knows what I'm trying to do, and it doesn't land nearly as often as when I started practicing with them. I can still make it work, but catching them unsuspecting is very difficult now. During tournaments, that shot is outright useless unless I'm fencing someone who has only been fencing a short time. 
  • When I need to make parries, I need to spend a lot of energy moving my blade a long distance to get it first to my opponent's blade, and then move my opponent's blade away from me. This also leads to over-parrying, and tough to riposte. I also can't (for the lack of better term) "seal off" my opponent's blade when I make the parries. I have too much momentum in my parry to then stop by blade to cut off their secondary attack. This is usually where I will parry and make my riposte, only to double with my opponent. No wonder I focus on my voids more than my parries. This also is easily dealt with when my opponent learns how to time me and then just disengages the parry.
  • There are many people faster than me out there. Fighting someone faster than me leaves me at a huge disadvantage if I fight like that. I'm a sitting duck. See the parry issues.
  • There are many people out there not only longer than me, but using longer blades than me. I use a pretty short rapier: 35". To anyone not familiar with weapon length, that's short. That's less 3 feet of blade on front of me. Many people I'm fencing lately have anything between a 37" and a 42". There are even some folks who use a 45". That's a full ten inches longer than my blade! Because of my outlandish stretchiness, the average fencer using anything small than a 40" blade usually has the same reach as me. Some small people are actually still outside of their reach and in mine. Longer weapons seem to be becoming more and more common (from my experience, anyways). And there are some fencers out there using long weapons with reach almost as long as me to start. How can I play my way when I literally cannot reach my opponent with getting shanked? Again, see the parry issues. 
  • The last disadvantage here is one I've never mentioned to people before. It has nothing to do with my abilities actually in the list. It is completely health related. What I do puts a lot of strain on a lot of my body. My wrists move far more than they should be. My elbows take a beating from the rapid extensions. It's hard on my whole body, really. Not only in the long term, but it directly leads to my lack of stamina. 

So now on the fencing practice on Monday (thanks for sticking with the post this long). I decided to warm up with ab it of single, which I haven't fought in over a year, probably. I wanted to start focusing on constantly threatening my opponent with my blade rather than fighting like me. I felt like a mess. I was able to see everything my opponent was doing and take the appropriate counter-measure, but I couldn't make anything work. After a few minutes, I just gave in. I told him I needed to take a break. I feel a bit bad that I had to walk away from the fight, but whatever I was doing wasn't teaching me anything.

I then decided it was in my best interest to learn things properly instead of making it up as i went. So I spoke with Donovan. I explained what I've been wanting to do and the reasons why. He then had me come to guard and tweaked the hell out of it. Everything down to how I was holding my weapon. Thus began rewriting 10 years of muscle memory. He taught me a lot, unsurprisingly. It was all related to the new guard, and then how to "find" and "gain" a blade. Also taught me how to properly lunge. There's an extra step in the lunge I never knew was there: lean forward.

All this week I'm working on muscle memory for it. Holding the blade was surprisingly way more comfortable the new way. I felt way more in control. He wanted me to work on it this week, and then meet up with him at practice next week to see how I'm doing. I'm pretty excited with the potential here.

After getting my learning on, I wanted to fight one more person before gearing down for the night, see if I could implement stuff. The person I fought fights a lot like me. Fast, long, and kept his blade low and off line. I died to him a lot, but the difference between here and the start of the night was dying taught me things. That is what practice is really all about. And I was able to make a few good lunges stick without dying myself. Obviously, fighting someone who fights like I usually do makes it a lot tougher to make these things work like they're supposed to, but knowing me weaknesses made it a bit easier to trap him into making mistakes. I was only running myself at half-speed so I couldn't always capitalize on it, but this is all part of the learning process.

So drilling this week, and seeing how things go this week. Sunday there seems to be a good-sized practice in Carolingia. A lot of people from the North and South will probably be stopping in, so I'm planning on heading up for it as well. See if I can work with a few people to learn more. I've never been one for drills, but they seem to be working this time around.

Again, I'm looking forward to the prospects here. This may be the turn-around of my fencing career. I feel like I really haven't improved in a while, and this is where I have that potential. I'll keep you up to date as things progress. My goal is to be able to fight like I'm supposed to, only with my cloak in hand within the next month. I'm not sure if that's reasonable, but that's the goal I'm setting for myself.

Questions or comments, feel free to chime in. Hopefully I get the chance to work with a few people reading this come Sunday.

'Til next time