July 8

July 8

Had a fun practice time on Thursday.  Lions Gate practice has been moved to two hours, so it now runs from 8-10pm.  I still have to head home at about 9 in order to be home and functional the next day, this created a problem in that I would only get an hour of practice.  So I went over to Blood and Iron on Front Street in New West (not that far from Saperton Hall where Lions Gate Practice is).  I hung out with Lee, the head instructor there and talked rapier and research, then did some warm-up and drills.  I did cutting drills for about an hour, and worked on accuracy and control.

After that I went over to Lions Gate practice and did sparing for about 45 minutes total, against Godfrey and a gentleman I hadn’t fought before.  I had a blast, working on integrating cutting, and trying different things.

When I started this fencing journal I had a few goals:

  • To learn to use the advantages of a shorter blade against the disadvantages of a longer blade
  • To learn better use of the dagger in both defence and offence
  • To increase my aggression

Since then I’ve added a few goals:

  • Knowing my thrusting range better
  • Controlling my cuts better

I believe that I’m working effectively now with the shorter blade.  It is rare that I lose because of a range differential.  That is for a few reasons.  One, my defence has tightened up immensely; two, I am aware of and use the advantages and disadvantages of a shorter or longer blade; three, I’ve learned concepts which work regardless of my opponents range.

My work with the dagger has improved immensly.  I am now effective in using it in attack and defense.  I am able to use it in a refuse guard without always losing my left hand.  I have some more to learn on the defense aspect, but with my shift to more interception parries, and a better use of my quillions it seems to be working.

My aggression is now back up to at least where it was before I stopped fencing, if not higher.  Godfrey and my friend Jason have been working me hard on that.  So much so that I surprised a fighter who hadn’t fought me in a few months with my aggression level.  This of course results in a need for better control as aggression increases, which I have also been working on.

Thrusts are still a work in progress.  The 1″ short is happening less and less, and a miss is now more of a result of being pushed off line than of not knowing my range.

Cuts are also a work in progress, but with some work in the last weeks on employing my body to do the cuts instead of my elbow I am finding that they are a lot cleaner, and a lot more controlled.

I would say that I am now a lower mid level fighter.  On a scale of one to ten with one being brand new fighter, and ten being a White Scarf I’d say that before I stopped fighting I was about a 5.5.  I believe I am now a 4.5.  I’d say that when I started fencing in November again that I was about a 2.5.  So definite improvement.

My overarching goal now is to improve to a 6 by Novemeber of this year.  That will mean that over the course of a year I want to have improved enough that I am a better fighter than I was when I started.  I have some goals that I will use to measure that achievement by:

  • Being able to win 50% of my fights in a Tir Righ championship level tourney
  • Having my lunges be effective, efficient, and accurate
  • Having my cuts be controlled and accurate
  • Being able to parry the first shot of any but the best fighters
  • Having a plan in every fight that I step into
  • Not hesitating between seeing an opening and taking it

Dom Alvaro has a good list for evaluating fencing skill:

BASICS

The core mechanics of fighting.

  • Guard
    • Does the intial postion solve a lot of problems? Are they fit, able to move quickly? Are they comfortable? Do they look like they know what they are doing? Do they have basic problems like wonky knees, bad foot placement, unatural balance, etc.
  • Measure
    • Do they understand how far away from someone they are standing? Do they control that distance, or do they consistently start to close or to far away? Do they use their feet and hands together with body movement to sneak into range, or make the opponent just miss?
  • Line
    • Do they defend in a way that protects themselves while threatening the opponent? Are they able to capitalize on the strengths of their initial guard position? Do there attacks always seem to land in a place unexpected or undefendable by the defender?
  • Tempo
    • Do they hit the opponent when the opponent is napping? Do they use mulitple speeds to confuse and confound the opponent? Do they use complex or simple timing in attacks at the appropriate time?

TACTICAL

How the person handles themselves under duress

  • Speed
    • Raw explosiveness. Bothin footwork, handwork, attack and defense.
  • Agression
    • Do they dictate the pace of the fight, never giving the other guy a chance to try his game plan?
  • Confidence
    • Do they just assume what they are doing will work?
  • Awareness
    • Are they aware of why they are winning or losing? Do they see what the opponent is doing? Do they know what they themselves are doing?
  • Control
    • Can they change an action half way through? Do they hit like a brick? Do they get hit like a brick a lot?
  • Adaptability
    • When something goes wrong, do they fix it, or do they just keep trying the same stupid thing? Do they see weaknesses in the opponent as they happen, and exploit them?
  • Tactics
    • Do they come in with a plan, and execute it? Do they come in with a plan for every single person they will face in the tournament?

So, to break that down into easier to see I’ll put it in a table.  One will be a new first time fighter, and five will be an upper level fighter.  Not a White Scarf, and not an Uber fighter, because by including that it will scew everything in the chart low.  Because I want to improve over the year in all aspects this will help me see where I’ve been and where I’m going.

BASICS Nov 2009 July 2010 Nov 2010
Guard 1.5 2.5
Measure 1.5 2.5
Line 1.5 2
Tempo 1.5 2
TACTICAL Nov 2009 July 2010 Nov 2010
Speed 1 2
Agression 1 3
Confidence 1 2.5
Awareness 1.5 2.5
Control 1 2.5
Adaptibility 1 2.5
Tactics 1 2

I ended up with an average score of 2.36.  So, lower mid level fighter.  By november I want to have everything at three or higher.  To achieve that I will be attending all of the Lionsdale practices, and between one and two of the Lions Gate practices a month, and at least once a month with some friends (untill the weather turns).  In early November is Baronesses Birthday, which is also their Rapier Defender’s tourney.  That will be as good an event as I will get to test my self to see how I have improved.

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