gurdymonkey: (Default)
 A peer doesn't say, "You'll never be as good as me." A peer says, "How can I help you do better?"

Yesterday, one of our Western White Scarves wrote a heartbroken and heartbreaking post to his Facebook. This person told him "I know you're trying, but you're too old" to ever be a MoD." This person also told him that cut-and-thrust will not get him considered for a MoD - which is horseshit. The WWS lives in a relatively remote area and has to care for a disabled wife. This does not prevent him from driving long distances to try to get to events both in the West and An Tir. He loves to fight. He loves to teach. If I know he's going to be at something, it inspires ME to drive long distances so I can go fight him and his cadet - because they're so much fun to work with. He's done research on period fighting styles that adapt well to cut-and-thrust as we do it in the SCA. 

While the WWS did not mention names, the offending MoD outed himself with a post on his own timeline about having hurt a friend. When I saw who it was, I was not at all surprised, because it proved all over again that a white collar does not make a peer. (The irony is that the FB cover photo of this "master" is of him fighting me at the event where he refused to die to me.) 

This guy was told that he'll never be a MoD by a schmuck who he'd just killed five fights in a row. He was told he's too old by someone who is at least as old as he is and who always seems to manage to be too tired or too injured if he feels like ducking a fight. He was told he'll never be a peer by someone who just keeps proving over and over and over again that he does not know how to be a peer.  

I'm gonna go to An Tir West this week. I am going to beg as many fights with my friend as I possibly can because he will teach me, he will beam and laugh when I kill him, he will give hug me when we are done. He will be the peer that Schmuck MoD is not. 
gurdymonkey: (gurdymonkey2)

Busy weekend. I had agreed to give Brogan a ride to the Newcomer's Tourney so his lady could have the car to go see her mother on Saturday, so we loaded the loaner rapier gear into my truck after practice on Thursday. For me it was a meh kind of night. I was experiencing rolling hot flashes so my concentration was off and I just was not up for Staffan's plan of having us all critique each other because I had to think too hard to do it.

Met B at West Oakland BART Saturday AM with coffee and bagels from Levy's and drove down to the event site, a public park in Cupertino. It's official: I have to go all Mom on both Brogan and Thomas (aka JT) about putting on sunscreen. Left to their own devices, they will forget, particularly Thomas. Got there early enough to help with the set up of one of the sun shades, help kit out a couple of new people in loaner clothing and I hung out in the shade trying to conserve energy while Caterin and Thomas put them in masks and jackets and taught them some rudiments of rapier fighting.

It's a small event with some classes and demonstrations, and both a heavy combat and rapier tourney for relatively new fighters. Brogan and Thomas fought to fill out the field, but their wins would not count in the tourney standings as they have both been fighting for more than two years. I fight them and Caterin regularly, but Sunara and Allan were new to me. She was coming back from a shoulder injury and he had some saber experience back in college but was new to SCA style fighting. (Which didn't seem to stop him from thinking he knew more than he did. Brogan warned me to be aware of that.)

I died quickly in the warmup melees for the most part. Then I went out onto the tourney field and won every bout except the one with Brogan - and I missed a kill shot on him by about half an inch. (For those of my readers who have not witnessed SCA tourney fighting, the person struck is supposed to verbally acknowledge the blow, e.g., "Good arm," or "I'm dead," etc. if there is any question in either fighter's mind about a blow, we'll stop and discuss it.) He says he saw it coming in but didn't feel it and I didn't feel it touch at my end either. I was mildly frustrated for all of three minutes after he killed me back, then got my mind on being ready for my next fight. I don't remember the exact fight order, but Sunara took my hand while I was sizing her up, so I had to kill her left handed. Allan managed to tag me in the leg at the same time I killed him with a shot to the mask. (Brogan took this as a teaching moment to elaborate to Allan on calling blows, etc.)

I honestly wasn't keeping track of my standing, just trying to concentrate on each fight as it happened. I told Caterin to kick my ass right before we went into our last fight. I got her. Then I got called up to fight a best-out-of-three with Brogan and I lost two, which was completely silly and incongruous as I still was named the winner because his wins didn't count.  At the end of the day I was awarded a pair of black leather gauntlets which are too big for me and a place setting of Cost Plus "feast gear." Both will be re-gifted at some point as I don't need them.

For my own part, I was sort of surprised at how well I did. Then again, my percentages against Thomas and Caterin are improving and B assures me I've made good progress in the time I've been fighting, even though it often feels like I'm climbing a steep hill in cement shoes.

Attempted a little calligraphy practice instead of more fighting, managed to socialize a bit with Brigit and Aasa. Oh, and the gourd canteen performed admirably and got some compliments. Holds more than I could finish by myself in the course of the day and the paraffin coating assured no weird taste was imparted to the water.

We helped the event staff with tear-down, then went to an Indian buffet place B knew in the area called Sneha. Ate VERY well and I could've happily binged on the carrot halva dessert if I'd a mind. Then I took him home so I could drop off the loaner gear at his place as I was not going to go to Sunday practice.

Spent today at the Asian Art Museum visiting the Terra Cotta Warriors again with Urtatim and her daughter - hence the sore feet.

gurdymonkey: (gurdymonkey2)
It is a good hurt,
To wake a bit sore, thinking
Of yesterday's bouts.
Four wins only, but each loss
Was a far better lesson.
gurdymonkey: (Default)
As I catalogue
The current bruise collection
I have learned a truth:
No one has ever called this
The Way of the Borrowed Sword.

(Brogan couldn't make it last night, so the little 37" Zen Warrior munitions grade rapier wasn't there. Instead, Staffan attempted to teach me feints with The Freakin' Crowbar he favors against his dagger. I cannot handle that monster with any subtlety.)
gurdymonkey: (Default)
Struggled with sinus headaches all day and was seriously contemplating blowing off BART practice - until I got a text from James indicating that he and Sylvia were not going. Given that Staffan and Brogan both have to come some distance at $4+/gallon of gas to run practice, teach and bring loaner gear, I pounded down yet more Advil and picked up an iced coffee on the way. Yeh. I guilt-tripped MYSELF.

Brogan never made it with the loaner gear (later saw a FB post that he and Lady James have been trading germs back and forth and are under the weather). Eilis and Tom did, which meant we had to juggle Eilis' and Staffan's gear between the three of us (and Staffan ended up in my gorget when I hit my limit). We worked on the concept of invitations: what this means is looking at your opponent's guard and seeing where he/she is "inviting" you to try to strike (or conversely where you are open to attack). Staffan was not wrong when he pegged me as being more tentative than usual. I think it was a combination of (a) feeling like crap and being painfully aware/guilty of finding myself thinking while in range of being hit, (b) tiring quickly from using Staffan's crowbar of a sword and (c) and wary of Tom's old epee fighting habits which have gotten me hit pretty hard two or three times, though his calibration is improving. (He's also all arms and legs and I'm not fast enough to get past his guard most of the time when I'm not feeling like my head is in a vice. That said, I was staying alive longer than in the past against him.

Eilis is an interesting fight. She's all defense and a relatively small target. She likes tying up people in melee with her big ol' steel buckler, so she's the complete opposite of Jackrabbit Tom. In fact, she does some interesting things with slow timing. I managed to kill her a couple times, but she made me work for it.

In short, I sucked. At least I got out of the house and went.

I have just been given a reason to blow off fall Collegium. For one thing, I wasn't sure what I wanted to teach. Then Tamsin/Yoko sent me an email introduction to her friend John, along with the program and registration information for the 2012 San Francisco International Conference on Chanoyu and Tea Cultures over at SFSU. The scheduled presentations are on various aspects of tea aesthetics (calligraphy, flower arrangements recorded in early Edo documents, utensils and so forth), so this is going to be far more scholarly than the usual Obon festival tea demonstration! Speaking of which, there's going to be a demonstration of Korean tea ceremony, about which I know zip.

Off to meet the League of Evil Geniuses gang down in San Gregorio in a little bit. We're camping the Best Buck In The Bay rodeo this year.
gurdymonkey: (Default)
Thursday practice went ok. No Staffan, but Brogan had us do some work with both rigid parrying objects (read "sticks") and then taught us about dagger. Between him, Staffan and Sylvain, the brain now has a lot of dagger related information that needs to be programmed into the hands. That said, when I sparred with B at the end of the night, I felt like I wasn't doing too badly.

The other plus: my kit is complete except for actual weapons. The new mask gets an A for being easier to see out of, particularly when we have to fight under the BART station's orange sodium lights after sundown. Sylvia wears glasses and still had depth perception issues in hers, but I noticed a marked improvement in what I could see. The padding gets an A for fit - I took a couple of stout shots to the head and throat and it didn't budge and a D for being made of thick foam and slick synthetic fabric which doesn't wick perspiration and forms a heat trap. I'm glad I made the hood from linen.

I put my gusoku shita on James out of curiosity and proved that one-size-fits-many when it comes to Japanese garment construction. I need to make the sleeves a couple inches longer for him, but other than that, I can knock his out by patterning off mine.   

Saturday was James' birthday. To celebrate, we went to the Exploratorium to check out their replica of the Mars Rover, Curiosity. The Exploratorium is eventually moving to Piers 15-17 on the Embarcadero, but right now it's still out at the old Palace of Fine Arts. Getting there via mass transit involved one BART train, one Muni bus and then a hike of about a mile to the museum.

There was a lot of Americas Cup activity on Marina Green with a regatta starting this week. And it being a halfway nice Saturday, the cavernous Exploratorium was hopping with people, but that's what it's for. The light conditions were kind of interesting, so I shot some photos in black and white of the interior, Curiosity, kids playing with interactive displays, James geeking out with one of the enthusiastic young "Explainers" and playing a vintage Atari Lunar Lander game. We also got to meet and listen to a planetary geologist who was manning the Curiosity presentation area.

James' birthday dinner was at Hana Japan out on the Berkeley Marina, a Benihana knockoff. It was fun and the Birthday Boy certainly enjoyed it.

No rapier practice Sunday as Brogan had picked up bronchitis from his lady, so the trip out to GG Park was kind of a waste. Got some reading done, socialized a little with the Cloondara gang and got home in time for my weekly dose of WTF on "True Blood" which has gotten more ludicrous with each season. This is balanced beautifully with the well acted, intelligently written "The Newsroom."

gurdymonkey: (Default)

Before you cry, "Gesundheit!" the term refers to a shirt-like garment worn under Japanese armor. I decided to use it as a model for rapier "armor" which I should be able to wear under pretty much any existing or new Japanese garb I own that I might want to fight in.  I look like a potato in it as it's made of unbleached heavy weight linen. The body is composed of two full layers of linen. The sleeves have a double layer from the armpit to elbow, as required by SCA rapier rules.

EDIT: When I was considering the design, it occurred to me that the seam between the migoro (body panel) and okumi (overlap) was one more place for potential wear/tear/puncture failure. As I had sufficiently wide fabric to work with, I simply cut the body panels to include the material for the overlap

Ishida-dono tells me he had sewn the waist tie to the body only to have it tear away. So mine isn't sewn on. I don't expect a double knotted himo to untie when I move.

Debating whether to add additional ties inside at the waist like some gi I've seen, but I want to see how it behaves when I wear it tomorrow evening.

The toggle is formed by a boxwood ojime of the three wise monkeys, the loop is a bit of round shoelace. .

May try to get better photos tomorrow, when there's a bit more natural light in the living room.

gurdymonkey: (Default)
Had a cracking good practice Thursday night. The new gorget fits well, the new gloves fit well and don't smell like someone else's pheromones. First few minutes of each practice it takes me a few minutes to get my brain in gear, but after that, I seem to be getting a little more effective. Emphasis on "little."

Sylvia's getting over a tweaked back, so she didn't play. Got some fighting in with Staffan to start, including some clueless flailing with a belaying pin and little cluage clues offered by Staffan, who probably just wanted to see what I would do with an object in my left hand.  (There's a stick in my hand! What do I do? O-daiko solo Duh, try to parry with it, dumbass!)

Had a blast fighting Brian. Brogan and Staffan have been oh-so-careful about not chasing me around because they know about my old knee injury. Brian's been playing maybe as long as I have, experience-wise, but he's young, quick, likes to fight in close and didn't know not to rush me. I'm pleased to say I was able to deal with him reasonably well (we killed each other about the same amount) and prove to myself I can move a bit faster than I thought.

Fought James a bit, but he was headachy and tired and knocked off a bit early. Brogan put a dagger in my hand and taught me a little about what to do with it, then called everyone in and did a tutorial on various parrying implements for those of us who are still traveling the road to authorization. After that, he suggested I fight Sylvain.

Sylvain is Brogan's White Scarf. For non-SCA readers, take that as "master," "sensei", "Legolas with a freaking rapier." He's that good. I've seen him fight before and I should've been way more intimidated* than I was because I know he could hand any of us our asses quite easily should he choose to.  Then again, he teamed up with me for those bridge and gate mini-melees at the event in Napa a couple weeks ago. He pretty much let me dictate the pace because he wanted to see what I could do. It was toward the end of the evening, so we didn't do a whole lot, but we ended things on a good note.

*Part of it was definitely him, of course, but I haven't been particularly intimidated by anyone I've faced yet. I've experienced some bruisingly hard hits and it wasn't traumatic, I'm sufficiently inexperienced that I KNOW anyone can "kill" me at any time, and I'm so busy trying to remember what to do I just plain don't have enough room in my brain for intimidation too.
In an exchange of messages yesterday, I discovered that Lash thought Debardchery was THIS week. They're going to come down for that in a couple weeks instead - save themselves some gas money and get more stuff done at his Mom's place. I'm going to get a little sewing on my rapier gi done this morning, then meet James and Sylvia at the Oakland Museum of California as there's a show there we want to check out.
Drove down to Santa Cruz last night, picked up Dad and had dinner at the Davenport Roadhouse on Hwy 1. As per usual and his amoebic time management skills, he's renting a car today and who knows when he'll appear on my door step as he has friends in Berkeley and Sacramento that he's going to see. Might be tomorrow, might be Monday evening. I'll hide a key for him and we'll figure it out. He calls it spontaneity, I call it lack of plan..... At least there's fresh fruit in the fridge for him to snack upon and I'll leave the coffee and French press on the counter where he can find it if he turns up while I'm out.
gurdymonkey: (Default)
Got a message from Brogan on Wednesday to call him, so I did - he had to go out of town suddenly and would I be willing to portage loaner gear to rapier practice and then bring it to the event on Saturday? We made the exchange on Wednesday, I got it to BART last night and we were able to kit out the Usual Suspects.

James had checked out Young's Trading Co. (where I got my jika tabi) and showed up with his new kendo gi and hakama, jika tabi and a red martial arts belt. (Yet I am not allowed to order linen for rapier armor because I don't know how much we'll need for whatever it is Sylvia is intending to wear to fight in. I'm going with a modified shitagi for me and James - lengthening sleeves to provide underarm protection and necessary 3" overlap with gloves and other garments. WANNA SEW!)

Without Brogan there, it was just Staffan doing marshal/coaching duty. I fenced with Sylvia, Brian, James and Emma (but somehow missed fighting her dad). We're all in various stages of rank beginner and it's hard to know what to do sometimes. Still not seeing things fast enough, if at all. Finally got some work in with Staffan towards the end (of course, when it was getting hard to see and when I was tired). One thing I have seemed to figure out and use with reasonable effect is the draw cut - if all else fails, I drag my blade against whatever part of my opponent is handy as I try to retreat. I also came home with an exercise on practicing disengaging my blade which involves me, my trusty wooden dowel and a nearby doorknob.

Both the guys are good coaches - always have positive, encouraging things to say, so one feels like one is making a little progress.  Brogan tends to keep things simple, while Staffan doesn't mind getting a little more technical. Technical is actually good - I'm not a natural athlete, so being able to break down a process into more than just, "Do this!" is as useful as "Do this!" to me.

Met up with J&S at their place Saturday AM and headed up to Napa for the War of the Relic. James got authorized as a rapier marshal. (I watched and paid attention as I may very well do so myself at some point.) The rapier tourney used a positively diabolical format (designed by Staffan), a round robin in which each participant had to roll D12 dice which would determine which weapons they had to use in which hand for a given round. Crazy, fun and plenty challenging for the four authorized fencers who played. They also decided to do a few barroom brawl scenarios on the gazebo.

More photos here

It was easily in the 90s, so J&S had brought several flats of water for everyone to avail themselves of and I'd contributed some snacky bits. When asked if we still-unauthorized fighters wanted to do some pickups, James and Sylvia declined - they're still relatively unacclimated to the hotter, drier inland microclimates, but I felt fine, so I geared up (I was wearing my linen hakama and plaid kosode over a sports tank and capri length yoga pants, so I just dropped it all, stepped into Lady James'* modern fencing jacket and pulled my stuff back on over it). We went down the hill to a shady spot on the trail with both a rustic gateway and a small wooden footbridge for some two-on-two melee. Sylvain was kind enough to pair up with me, and Brogan and Angharad were our opponents. I died a lot, but did manage to trade my life for Angharad's a couple times and even nailed Brogan with a sneaky slow thrust while defending the gate - I just waited for him to be focused on Sylvain and then slowly closed with him. I may never get away with that one again, but it was pretty neat at the time. It was also a good test of fighting in existing garb - the hakama didn't trip me up or get caught on anything and I felt comfortable, if hot. (*Brogan's lady's SCA name is James Bacon. It's completely documentable as a female name late in period and it suits her - it's just going to make this blog entry confusing!)

We all went down the street after the event to the Black Bear Diner. Plans have been made for a field trip to Victory Fencing in Millbrae next Saturday so J, S and I can get masks, with a gorget-making party at their place to follow. I got measurements and put in a linen order last night before bed. After wearing a nylon fencing jacket under my garb on a 95 degree day I WANT MY LINEN! And James has been very kind and tolerant about my stinking up her kit, which makes me all the more conscious that I should get my own together as soon as possible so she doesn't need to share it with me. (Though she had just finished a heavy linen leine to fight in.)

Gonna meet Sylvia at Civic Center BART at noon and take the bus out to Golden Gate Park for the Cloondara practice this afternoon. Should be a beautiful day for it.

Yeh, I'm hooked, can you tell?

In other news, my phone bleated at me at the diner. It was Ishida, texting to tell me he'd received his AoA. (Still can't believe it hadn't occurred to anyone locally to recommend him, so I was glad to instigate.)
gurdymonkey: (thought)
Biggish turnout at BART last night for rapier: Eilis was back after being laid up with knee surgery to do a little light fencing and see how she felt. Looked like she was doing ok as long as she takes it in small doses. Me, James, Sylvia a new guy named Tom who had prior epee experience and his own kit with him and another new guy whose name I didn't catch. Of course, Brogan hadn't packed the loaner swords this week, so there was a bit of equipment rotation involved and Staffan and Brogan sat out a lot while we paired off. The boys have much heavier swords that what I played with last time, so that took a bit of adjustment. Staffan's cut-and-thrust sword ("Hold it like a hammer,") wasn't bad, but took some getting used to.

I did some attack-riposte stuff with Sylvia which involved a lot of flailing and laughing. Then Brogan made me fight Tom who killed me quite a lot: tall and lanky, rusty or not, he had significant modern-fencing skills and was going full speed, including the time he came in fast, I didn't move fast enough and got dinged HARD in the right bicep. He was immediately apologetic. I shook it off, assured him it was at least half my own fault and went right back to dying at his hands without a fuss. (Not a lot of surface bruising today, just a pale lavender crescent.)

There, that's out of the way. I've been hit solidly in the mask (last week) and hard in the arm. It startled me more than anything and I'm pleased to say it didn't make me want to re-think this exercise in learning something new. I'd never been a wimp about stuff when I worked around horses, but it's been a lot of years since I've taken a fall or been kicked and I've never done martial arts, so being purposely hit is a new experience.

Played a bit with Brogan, though as the sun went down it was hard to see his blade against his dark clothing. Did better with Staffan (who was at least in a white tunic). I like working with both of them - having more than one teacher means more than one point of view and different emphases. 

I have a LOT to learn. That said, I should probably think about ordering linen for "armor." And start shopping for a mask. And a gorget.....
gurdymonkey: (Default)
Definitely a busy, interesting week. Tent lumber was dry enough to drill and set some pins in, sewed up the "futon cover" (see previous post), and taiko went OK - we've got the parade gig on Wednesday and will be going full tilt on "Shinkyoku." Which means I'm definitely going to want a shower before the drive up to War.

Yesterday we had the annual Employee Appreciation barbecue luncheon (Hawaiian themed, this year) and raffle. Usually I look at the prize table and think "Dear God, don't let me win," because it's usually stuff I don't need (ice cream maker), already have (my bike is more awesome anyway), or won't have room for in my apartment (lawn games). This year I won a portable fire pit - which has a case and will fit in the back of my truck with room for drums if the cooler rides in the front seat. Of course, I now need fire tools for the thing....

Looking forward to camping with JAF and his lady - they're nice folks, we all cook and it should be fun. (We've been IMing back and forth over who's bringing what. Must take some ahi for grilling!)

Went to the BART practice last night, got in some rapier work with Brogan and Staffan. We're going fairly slowly and they're both good, patient teachers. Brogan did poik me in the mask a good one last night and while it startled me, it didn't freak me out. Nobody's hit me hard enough to sting yet, but I don't think I'm going to be deterred by fear of getting hit now. I fought with one of Brogan's Zen Warrior beginner kit blades that he has for loaner gear. Comfortable weight and length - I took along a wooden dowel, marked it so I can cut it down to the same length and use it for targeting drills in the alley. Might even drill a screw and a couple washers into one end if the balance doesn't feel right.

I had some lucky Nook Laloosh "That was beautiful, what did I do?" moments, particularly with draw and push cuts against Staffan: I think I realized that if I missed on a thrust I should still try to make some sort of contact with the blade.  I'm starting to remember to use my off hand to move the other blade out of the way. And I sorta kinda remember to keep moving, though I have this stupid newbie tendency to attack and then stop.

James and Sylvia showed up and both gave it a try too. I ended up fighting the guy from Alaska whose name I can't remember and to whom I died repeatedly, and with Isolte who made me do all the attacking. (I'd almost prefer to do the same thing, myself, Gaius was all about the Way of The Potato, but I need to learn how to attack anyway). I died a lot, lost a hand and decided I might as well try fighting left handed. Felt awkward as hell, but when I went back to fighting Brogan I tried it again - and died again.  The hardest part was when it got dark - the sodium lights in the lot were better than nothing, but the mask makes it darker* - Brogan became a looming, dark blob and I had trouble seeing where his blade was at times. *The mesh is painted black - stainless may be better when I choose a mask of my own. Lots of information to process, and I'm nowhere near ready to rush out and buy my own kit, but I AM having fun.

I thought I had the weekend wide open except for [ profile] karisu_sama and [ profile] didjiman's party on Saturday. Then James and Sylvia wanted to do Japantown on Saturday and how can I not go to J-town, right?. Then Dafydd and Margaret invited me down Friday night to do tent repairs (which could probably mean Dafydd repairs my tent and I run interference with the children). And the rapier folks are doing a melee practice in Golden Gate Park (this one I'm probably not even going to try to make). And the Buddhist Temple float decorating thang is also Sunday - may or may not get over for that depending on how late I'm up Saturday, but I do need to do some pre-war prep!


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