Armored Combat

Armored Combat (also called Heavy Weapons) as practiced in the Society for Creative Anachronism. Full contact and full speed using real armor and simulated weapons.
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Workout Progress

Back on 2/25 I started my new workout. Let's see how I've progressed in a little over two months:

Then: 5 x 5 squats with a bar.
I had never done free squats before, so even though I felt silly, I just did them with the bar. Even the last set was easy, but still, I feel it in my quads today.
Now: 1 x 5 squats @ 90 lbs, 4 x 5 @ 110. Just a little sore.

Then: 3 x 5 deadlifts with a bar.
These were very straightforward and also easy. So ridiculously easy that after one set with the bar, I threw 20 lbs. on it. Still stupidly easy.
Now: 5 x @ 90 lbs and 5x 2 @ 110lbs and 5x 2 @120 lbs on the deadlift platform, which lets you lower the bar to your toes.

Then: 3 x 15 push ups.
These nearly kicked my ass. The first set of 15 was easy. The third was nearly not finished.
Now: I mix push ups in other times. Did 15 yesterday.

Then: 5 x 5 horizontal pull-ups or five sets of as many regular chin-ups or pull-ups you can crank out.
These did kick my ass. So I did 6/5/5 pull/chin ups, and then the inverted bench press came open long enough for me to finish with 2 sets of 15 horizontal pull ups.
Now: 5 full vertical pullups 4 times, 6 on the last set. Then, after the back hyperextensions, I came back and did 5 more! This is the most massive change since Feb.

Then: Skipped the back hyperextensions because I didn't know how to do them.
Now: 2 x 15 @ 35 lbs back hyperextensions, 1 x 15 @25 lbs. I'm being careful here, as I really feel it in my back muscles afterwards.

Then: 3 x 5/15 of ab exercise of choice. "Planks" were recommended.
I tried these. My oblique abdominal complained after 2 and made me stop at three. I need to figure out another way to exercise my abs.
Now: I've dropped these from my workout. I think I'm getting some ab work with the pullups, but that damn oblique ab muscle still complains when I try other stuff.

Then: After Effects: I'm moderately sore today, in a way that I didn't expect. Normally I get sore two days out from a workout. Maybe that means I'll be too stiff to move tomorrow.
Now: I get a little sore. Not bad. Just enough to know I've worked out.

Then: Weight: 196 lbs.
Now: Weight 200 lbs and all the same pants fit. Interestingly, all that weight came on in about the first 5 weeks.

It is time to revise the workout for more progress, most notably the addition of bench presses. If I keep this up, I think I may be in the best shape of my life by Pennsic!

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Lamellar Time

As mentioned earlier in The (hopefully) Great Lamellar Project I'm organizing a lamellar purchase.

Thorbrandr, Philip, Turgeis, Ragnar Ribcracker, Jurgen and I are all in, and I think one or more of the UVa students is too. Still room for others, if we can all come to an agreement about what we want. Conservatively, we're now in the 1350 plate order range, assuming no one wants shoulder plates. And if I haven't radically underestimated the number of plates needed per person.

Like the old saying in IT ("Good. Fast. Cheap. Pick two.") we have a three dimensional decision process:

Cost, Performance, Appearance.

Cost is more or less directly related to the following two. The more suitable and better looking it is, the higher the cost. My ballpark

Performance reflects how protective and durable it is without being too heavy. Plastic wins here, then aluminum, then titanium, then thin gauge heat treated stainless, then thin gauge stainless. Anything else is an also-ran.

Appearance means two things: the material finish and the shape of the plate. Plastic looks like plastic. Aluminum without a finish on it looks like aluminum, and the only ones I've seen that really look good are the anodized acid washed ones from a vendor Bryce sent me, and those run over $1 a piece. (Bryce--I can't find that site. Please send it again.)
So far, I am the only person who has mentioned a preference for a specific style of plate. My intuition is that ordering all of one type and size of plate will be cheaper than mixing and matching, but I have yet to confirm this with a vendor. The more rectangular the plate, the less waste, but as long as we don't go for any huge amount of curve, that should be negligible in the price issue.
So, for appearance, a "non-bright" stainless would be best. After that, titanium, then the acid-anodized aluminum. Everything else is an also ran.

Of course, titanium costs a fortune. Heat treated stainless is probably also expensive. As mentioned, so are the acid-anodized aluminum ones. My guess for the sweet spot between Cost, Performance and Appearance is 20 gauge stainless. White Moutain Armory has them for .60 a piece in stock, and they have a reputation for quality. What I don't know is the weight and durability of his steel stock. (Durability as in "doesn't get all bent up" not "wears out.")
Polar Bear Forge has attractive pricing and has gotten good reviews as well, but again I wonder about the alloy. Though the guy at Polar Bear has been very open to questions.

Since I know the people at Darkwood Armory, they naturally came to mind. In particular, I'm sold on their knowledge of alloys. As an example, look at my or Kit's helmets, which are stainless steel but don't look like stainless steel. So I know they can find us a great durable and light stainless alloy for the plates. Doesn't mean I'm sold on them, but I want them in the evaluation process. If they can be cost competitive, we'll probably get a better product.

That's where I am right now. This post needs to trigger any last minute thoughts people have about the whole thing. I'll email it to those who don't read this stuff.

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Event Updates

Tomorrow's crappy weather forecast makes St. Paddy's Bloodbath in Fairfax very unlikely for me. I believe I shall take it easy and perhaps do some armoring or other leather work. The dogs will certainly prefer having me around.

But other events are coming! Isenfir needs to defend its win last year at Defending the Gate on 3/28. I also hope to see Danny and Sev (at least) authorize there. They are certainly ready aside from needing to study the rules.

I might do the Coronation of Logan and Esa, since it is at that awesome site in Reidsville where the Quest for Venus happened.

Fourth Sunday Archery/Craftery/Rapiery/Armored Combatery Joint Isenfir-Caer Gleniog get together is at our place, next week, Sunday the 22nd. I have heard rumors of at least a van full of Caer Mear folks showing up, especially if the weather allows for armoring up.

And while I totally failed to get anyone local to the big Bay Company practice in Caer Mear this week, I shall redouble my efforts to do so next time on [whatever day that is, which I'm sure Bryce will chime in with, but I think Tuesday, April 14, which is of course Isenfir's Shire meeting so K can't go.]

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Finally, Some Pics. And a legend!

Third outing for the new helm, and this time Al Cortez kindly took some pics. Obviously, I need to make sure my ties are tucked.

Practice was great last night, with more than 5 fights going on at a time, probably 18 people in armor through the evening.

It was especially nice to see Rainulf out. He gave me a very special high speed chiropractic adjustment right on my cervical vertebra.

The lighting was bad, and Aloicius was using a camera he wasn't familiar with (as the unpublished picture of his feet showed) but he did manage to get a few pics of the new helm.

Lots of interest in Isenfir for doing this again! It was Philip, Al, Leo and me this time, but next time it could well also be Kelby, his son, Aethelwolf, and some of the other new Isenfiri. Baron Bryce also talked about wanting to come out to Fourth Sundays, especially when the weather will allow for practice in the back yard.

I fought William, Henricus, Matthew, Patrick, Adilric, Rainulf, Sugarloaf Helm Guy Whose Name I Don't Recall, and I think a few others.

To close the evening: Dagger fights! Hooray! As pictured.

And I heard an amazing story of my legendary stature! According to one of the newer guys who had only met me once, he understood that I ride my bike to work every day.

Forty miles.

One way.

I am a monster!

This makes me wonder: What other amazing story have you heard about me? Bring out your legendary tales! Or make some up! But if you do make them up, please label them as having occurred at Sea Wars X.

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In Other News, Creak

For one reason or another or another, I have not had armor on since Holiday Faire. Until last night. That was November 22nd, so two months to the day.

This is the third week of the semester here, but the cold has been so complete the first two weeks that we did not hold practice. Yesterday the weather finally broke, with temps in the high 40's, so we were on. Rapier canceled though, for a variety of non-weather related issues.

I spent some time instructing before fighting. Audriana and Jay were two new people out. Audriana might not actually be in to armored fighting, but that was all that was on offer last night so she learned how to throw a flat snap. She's an accomplished rider, so I talked a good bit with her about Master Terafan and his plans.
Jay is a UVa alumnus, apparently with a pretty extensive martial arts background. He's also big and strong, so he could do some good work quick.
If we could get everyone out and armored up, Isenfir would have a pretty impressive bunch. Jonathan, Andrew, Jordan, Danny, Kelby, Kelby's son, Jay and I are all over 6', and all but one of those are over 6'2"! Of course the real irony there is that Sev, at 5'6 or so is the guy clearly figuring this all out fastest.

Kelby and his son whose name I don't recall, Philip, Aethelwolf and I all put on gear. Sev would have too, but he forgot his cup. I fought a good bit, it felt fine for the most part, but I could tell after fighting everyone at least one long set and Philip twice that it would be wise to stop. I still had energy, but some of the joints just weren't quite ready, and my back was starting to complain. All in time.

My new helmet is a wonder, or will be when tuned up and I'm accustomed to it. Right now I have to ask about every shot that might be light, because everything is easier to feel. "Fives" feel like "Sevens" for example. I'm going to weigh the new setup vs. the old one tonight, but I'm pretty sure the new one is a good 3 pounds lighter between the helm and the camail. Quite a difference.

The other big difference is the breaths: I can actually breathe in the new helmet. Not only is the face plate further from my mouth, allowing better air flow, but the breaths are easily 50% larger in total than with the old helmet. I'm not rebreathing old air! I never got winded last night at all.

Strangely, (because the two helms have very similar oculars) I notice some subtle changes to my visibility, but I'm sure one of those is due to the chinstrap allowing the helm to shift around a bit in ways it will not when the strap is set correctly.

Sitting here less than 24 hours later, I can already feel the muscle stiffness settling into my shoulders. The ball of my right thumb is sore. Someone put a nice bruise just above my right butt cheek and my messenger bag sits right on it when I walk. Ah, good times.

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Soon Now-Update: I Have It!

After 14 years with the old helm, I can almost taste this new one.

Thanks so much to Caleb for agreeing to do it, and to Osprey for sending me the pic.

Obviously this is not done yet. I think Caleb is adding the backplate today, which will have holes for a camail attachment. And then there is brass work to add.

14 gauge stainless, an eight of an inch narrower. The breaths are much larger, so breathing and seeing and drinking should be easier.

I am probably getting a titanium welded flat link camail for it.


update:The helmet arrived today, and it is beautiful, fits right, and won't ever rust! I've got a second hand titanium camail from Knut coming for it. Time to get busy making that portmanteau I'm trading it for.

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SCA Holiday Shopping Suggestions for Your Non-SCA Friends

I doubt any SCA member has trouble figuring out either what to ask for or what to get their friends and relatives who are in the SCA. But what do you tell your dubious grandmother about your hobby? Is she really going to go shop at Revival or Mad Matt's Armory online for you? Will Uncle Irving understand you want the 11th century viking buckles, not a Minnesota Vikings belt buckle?

Here are some things you can suggest to your non-SCA gift givers. You don't even need to explain why you need them!

All the stuff below would be particularly welcome to someone just getting started putting their fighting kit together.

Sliding Shorts
These are a huge improvement over normal athletic cup holders. Less chafing, and most of them come with some padding on the hips. Not enough to stop a greatsword blow, but every little bit helps. If you are buying for someone really big, there's an amazing sale at the moment on XXL mens sliding shorts. Under $9! That's cheaper than most normal cup holders.

Knee PadsPretty self explanatory. Big guys wear these on their elbow. Or you can just pick up some elbow pads. Even people who have been fighting a while can use these. They wear out. And in most cases, black will show less under gear than white will.

Leather Work GlovesThese wear out from half gauntlets, gauntlets and tent set up with distressing regularity. I go through two or three pair a year.

Duffel BagsYou can go with something cheap and basic, but for a nice upgrade, a leather duffel comes very very close to looking like a period case. 

Foldit Carts
I've mentioned these before. Not as cool as a period-looking cart, but cheaper and easier to pack than almost any other option. So very very handy at Pennsic or any big war. 

Things I would never think to recommend because I'm not an expert: Sewing machines, embroidery hoops, knitting needles, that kind of stuff.

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Don't Forget! Isenfir Games Tourney/Demo Saturday

Quick note! Don't be afraid of a rainy forecast, we'll have fun no matter what at the Isenfir Games Tourney/Demo at the Hill Top Berry Farm and Winery this Saturday.

If the weather is too bad to fight, there's always an afternoon of Mead Fighting! I know Caleb is coming up from Virginia Beach. Anyone else planning to make it from out of town?

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As We Were Saying: Thursday Practice Changes and More

Now that the little matter of the election is over, life, and medieval life goes on.

With Eastern Standard Time reestablished, we now move the Isenfir/UVa practice to the lower level of the Scott Stadium parking garage. Better light, protection from some of the weather, easy parking. What that location does not have is good positioning for recruitment. People don't casually walk by and discover us there. So please, tell your friends, and be sure to come yourselves!

  • Kelby from Prechain has become a regular, and is discovering the wonders of a fight practice where actual teaching happens.
  • Philip and Aethelwolf are reliable and a great help with the new fighters.
  • I'm there every week.
  • Landi has put gear on a few times and is getting more regular!
  • Aloisius recently told me he wants to emphasize armored combat over rapier.
  • Cartallo has made some non-commital noises that suggest we might see him now and then.
  • Danny, Andrew, and Sev are all close to authorizing, and Jordan is catching up fast for only having made a few practices.

So we're definitely getting there! Even with school or life keeping Charles, Eric and Timm from fighting, this practice is definitely reaching critical mass. Maybe soon, even Karhu will armor up.

Rapier is going great too, but that's not my place to report on. But Caleb just delivered Eleanor's new helmet. Come see it!

Aside from personnel, I'm sad that it seems my idea for a polearm isn't legal. If I do understand the rules now, a laminated weapon isn't going to be very attractive in performance or appearance. Maybe I can figure out one that is. And I still have Val's Chopper....

Come on out! The weather should be good this week.

Sunday, there's some sort of sewing get together planned for at UVa. And then the Isenfir Games Tourney and Demo next week.

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Laminated Polearm Pic

Here it is, all glued up.

See a few entries back at New Rules = Refurb'ed Polearm for older details. The head is still not as heavy as I would like, but I don't want to increase the profile more. Of course it still needs tape, etc. Maybe some leather on the edge will give it the heft I want.

I think I'll name this one Lamentation.

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