As with all Pennsic summaries this year, I have to open by saying: So, how about that weather? It sure was awful; the loss of the woods was sad, and the field closures were also sad, but when the heat index is (I was told) 106* or so, yeah, I can see just closing things to prevent idiots from hurting themselves. (Though the folks in the By The Book tournament all were hydrating and doing so well!) Still and all, I think we avoided a number of heat injuries with that decision, so props to Fraiser for making the difficult call and putting up with people being cranky. (Which I admit I was one of, but he was super reasonable and great.)
Weather aside, there was some great fencing to be had. Champions was blessedly early in the week, a trend which I'm very fond of. We had some delays build up over the course of the day, but I actually rather liked Sunday being All The Sword Champions Stuff all one after the other - belted, unbelted, rattan heroics, rapier melee, rapier heroics... the whole bundle of it all.
I got to fight in two of my usual favorite tournaments this Pennsic - the Ansteorran tournament and the By The Book tournament - which given my otherwise bonkers schedule was both lucky and necessary. The Ansteorran tournament was run well, with tasty tasty food and excellent fencers. I lost to Tora Taka (again - but I've laid blade on him before and I will again. Next year! Neeeeext yeeeeeear!) and another gentleman that I can't recall. I felt fine about most of my bouts, but the second loss just bothered me; I felt like I fell out of my head and I suffered because of it.
The By The Book tournament was amazing - I always love the crowd that turns up for it, and the sideline conversations are helpful, enlightening, and insightful. We ended up with pools of like styles, which meant that I got a few good Capo Ferro and Fabris bouts in before it was called on account of heat. I left feeling like I was in a pretty good place with my Fabris. Not fantastic, but pretty good.
(For non-fencing things: Seeing friends get well-deserved awards is always amazing. Sorcha and Lupold are now members of the Order of the Golden Rapier, which is fantastic. Dio and Doroga are both Silver Rapiers now, Eon has his AoA, and Meggie has an Augmentation of Arms. I was lucky enough to get to read Ruslan's Tyger of the East scroll in English, which was a blast. I also got Court done on Wednesday in under two hours, and had a number of very able assistants for that, without which I would have lost my mind.)
Of note, I was able to get in some bouts and conversation with Master Miguel from Ansteorra as well as Trey from the Chicago Sword Guild, and unsurprisingly I walked away from all of that with some thoughts on what I should work on; combined with practice this past Sunday and Monday, I'll have a pretty good list of things to pay attention to for a while.
On to practice thoughts!
Sunday practice was in the good Doctor's backyard. Did some slightly (but only slightly!) slowed down fencing with Meggie, which was great. Also worked on some more upright postures with Rowan, and Moar Fabris with Anastasia.
Monday had me feeling a little off, though. I don't really have a good sense for why; I've been stressed about some unrelated things lately, and maybe I just had too much in my brain. Either way though, I at least walked away with some confirmation of Fabris thoughts that I've had, so it was still very useful time spent!
Here's where I'm at, then. Besides all my usual stuff - footwork, smooth movement, balance, voids:
- I'm being very deliberate in my guard transitions. Fine for drills, bad for fighting. Speed them up.
- Stay more relaxed, and snap tight at the end. (I think of this as similar to how I was taught kata.)
- More mobility. Play with measure like I used to.
- Practice moving from a lunge to a pass.
- Stop relying on binds (or opposition with blade contact) so much. Go reread some of Fabris' plays; there are lots that rely on tempo and not contact.
- Remember that when I'm using an extended guard, action is going to start from further out.
And now I know!