Sunday, April 21, 2013

Back in full harness

After six months absence with my ruptured Achilles heel, I was able to partake in full armoured combat again on the weekend. It is hard to express the relief that nothing went wrong, and the joy of being out and able again.

I am an addict. Combat is my drug, and I feel better and more relaxed when I am regularly ingesting. I find the full contact SCA armoured combat to be the pinnacle of adrenaline rush with lowest risk and cost. It is not risk free. Computer games are risk free, everything is happening in a virtual world, and you may die in the game, but you won't feel it. In the SCA, when you die in the game, you have actually just been given a proper thump, with all the rumble and body reaction that entails.

Lacking that hit meant that I went searching elsewhere. I played a lot of World Of Tanks early on, and I really enjoyed the full on clan experience with Ogre. Simulated tank combat with the lads was giving me a little bit of a jolt, and the group dynamic. Unfortunately trouble with Telstra and someone pulling down a fence and killing our line put that on hold for about three months. I've only just got high speed, decent connection back, first time since January.

In the internet never-never, I returned to a bit of offline Minecraft, and lots of figure painting. If combat is cocaine, then figure painting is my smack. I can roll back into the groove, and just chew away the hours with a soporific combination of light concentration, physical co-ordination and creation/ artistic creation bliss.  

About two months ago, my brain demanded a real rush. I was nowhere near ready to fight armoured combat, but my body was demanding the real deal. I decided to have a tilt with the local foamsport/LARP groups.

Real combat ends up with real dead bodies. Each combat sport has to deal with this in a different way. SCA deals with it by making a full speed martial art where your armour saves you from the 1.25 inch stick that hits you with full contact. A real sword equals real dead bodies, so we keep the action, keep the violence, keep the armour, and remove the sword.

Foamsport/LARP removes the violence and the sword. The weapons are made from a foam with a fibreglass core, and combat is to the touch, making the impact less violent. They can be much better looking weapons than the SCA sticks, and the essence of 'cut the other person' is still there, with significantly lowered risk. The lower danger also means lower armour requirements mean that you can also do cool things with costumes. I enjoyed the bouts, there was a little rush there, and my body always ran out of energy or gained soreness before I ran out of will to continue. I think I will be back to LARPing again, when they have a big event and it does not clash with an SCA event or training.

The anticipation of the last week was intense. I was barely able to concentrate at work, and was babbling along about the weekend to my workmates. Friday I attended a fighting fitness class, and spent Saturday in the workshop cleaning everything up. Sunday morning, troubles emerged. The fitness class with Mr C. on Friday meant that I had used muscles in the dead lifts that had activated and gone stiff. I could barley lift my arms above my hips without pain. I called a friend (Pete M) who is a nurse, fitness worker and triathlete, and asked him what he would do. I had already tried the first two suggestions (Hot showers and Ibuprofen), however his third suggestion of slow 'star jump' motions with the arms was just the ticket, and got me able to move my arms smoothly by start time.

As well as being back to fighting at all, it was my first rounds of combat with my newest squires. Neachdan and I opened the account. I was swinging a bit hard to start with, and he graciously advised me to pull it back, and I was about right for calibration after that. One of my thought processes is to only comment on the most obvious weak point. I find outlining several issues only confuses the matter, as trying to correct several things at once is exceptionally difficult. We fought our bouts sword and shield, and Neachdan was taking his shield off line. Next week in our training I will show some drills to minimalize that.

Paidin has chosen Halberd as his weapon form. I have recently picked up a poleaxe, with a small axe head, a rear spike and double spear points. I gave away ten centimetres in weapon length. We spared about a dozen times. Both of us had poor orientation of the head of the weapon, both us throwing flat rather than blade on. I will be thinking on that and how to correct it over the week. Since that is an issue for both of us, it is one that we will work on together.

Anghous took his axe, and I took the pole axe. We only had about three passes, heavily to Anghous' favour, before I had to retire. He was circling back, and I could not resist chasing at speed, and this strained my ankle. We swapped out to hand and a half swords, and got busy. One of the advantages and disadvantages for Anghous is that I acknowledge him as a superior pole arm fighter to myself. I was frankly so busy in our fights that I did not have my analysis brain on, I was just fighting pure and hard. I had no particular lesson or point to be made. I simply need to kick myself in the pants and get my stainless gauntlets finished so I can look a bit prettier when having this much fun! My other squires received homework, Anghous helps me set my own homework!

I had plenty of other great bouts. Simon PD only had pass or two before my ankle sorta went 'ping' and I stopped. It was a feeling like the ankle had 'stretched' a little too suddenly. I spent about three rounds resting, and it came good. After that I fought several more bouts, messing around with a buckler and a small round shield and joining the king of the mountain at the end.

All in all, a great return, very pleased, and looking forward to a lot more fighting. 

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