Fight practice this week was both good and bad. It was good because, thanks to the generosity of one out-of-town fighter who made the trip up to our practice, we had some spare full gauntlets available so some of our fighters got to try various great-weapons forms, which is something I’ve been trying to encourage. We also had a new lady-fighter kit up and try it out, and she had a sweaty grin on her face at the end of the evening, which always bodes well for a first-timer.
It was bad in the sense that I spent the night as a thick, clumsy, awkward robot-in-armour, and I’m not happy about it.
Everybody has good days and bad days when fighting. Crown Tourney was a pretty good day for me: I was in the right mental space and I was able to get out there and fight, more or less. At this week’s practice I was emphatically not in the right headspace and believe me, it showed. As an example, I finally got a friend of mine into full gauntlets, borrowed somebody’s bastard sword, and got him out there to fight longsword-to-longsword, which is my very favourite form. It was his first time out… and he beat me like a baby harp seal. In fact, I got so flustered and discouraged that when it turned out our first-timer couldn’t fit into any of the loaner helms on offer, I was happy to lend her my bascinet so that she could fight and lend my mitten gauntlets to another fighter who was eager to try polearm, because it meant that I didn’t have to keep bumbling around out there.
I did stay in armour for the rest of the practice, though. I suppose I’ve retained enough of my catholic upbringing believe in penance, at least subconsciously.
The mental-game aspect of fighting is one that’s been a problem for me lately; not so much trying to “fake out” other fighters as keeping my own head straight. I’m having trouble keeping mundane concerns out of my head when I’m kitting up, let alone clearing away my SCA responsibilities. I’d had a shitty day at the office, it had been a couple of rough days at home, and I couldn’t muster the focus that I needed. I knew I was in that crappy headspace when I kitted up… and the result was frustration. (That’s not an excuse, by the way, that’s an explanation.)
I need to be able to clear my mind and focus before fighting, even (or perhaps especially) at a weekly fight practice. Ironically, it was easy to get into that headspace for Crown: I was There To Fight, period. The challenge seems to be getting into that headspace for every other practice and event. Right now, I’d describe my attitude towards fighting as frustrated. I want to be getting better, and instead it feels like I’m standing still while other guys go zipping past me. Objectively, I know it’s not as bad as I think, but it’s how I’m feeling. I’ve gotten to a point where all I’m seeing is my flaws… and they feel like they’re getting worse, not better. At practice this week I actually ended up feeling like I sucked badly enough that I was embarrassing myself.
I had a bit of an epiphany about my attitude this morning when someone’s online comment pissed me off beyond all reasonable proportion. There’s a new Facebook discussion group for the fighters of Ealdormere today and a really interesting discussion on the basic physical attributes of fighting got started by a friend of mine. I ventured my opinion on the importance of range in fighting, and another friend disagreed with me and interjected a different interpretation. It was a polite, thoughtful, insightful correction of my position… and my response was to think “Well, fuck it, if I can’t even get that right then maybe I’m better off just quitting!”
And that’s when I realized how shitty my headspace is at the moment. I’m actually starting to wonder if maybe I’ve got a vitamin deficiency thing going on or something, because it’s so fucking illogical to feel this bad about where I am. I’d gone, in the space of a month, from enjoying the crap out of Crown Tourney to being ready to recycle my armour for scrap because of a disappointing practice and a discussion on Facebook.
So that’s not good. I think I need to get that sorted out.
And I’m going to have to do it soon, because we’ve got a big archery/fight practice scheduled for this Sunday and a lot of people are coming in from out of town so it’s going to be quite an afternoon. And I want to enjoy it. And I’m planning on doing a practice next week… and then I’m planning on fighting at event next weekend. I’ve put too much time and effort into this hobby to be this unhappy about it. This has got to get fixed, is what I’m saying.
So here’s the game plan: Multivitamins, to start. I figure they can’t hurt, especially with the winter months coming. I also need to get more physical, because exercise is Good For You. On the fighting front, I’m hoping to get out to more practices — our local practice is every other Wednesday, but there’s an every-single-week practice about forty minutes away, and since we now have a second car I’m hoping to get down there on the weeks we don’t have a local practice, thus insuring myself at least one fight practice per week. If I can work in a couple of days a week of of pell work, foot drills and even slow-drills between times, I’m thinking that will help as well. I’m also considering building a simple hanging pell for our unfinished garage for the winter months; the ceiling is too low for greatsword stuff, but I should at least be able work on my sword-and-board.
And I need to get my head straight. Venting like this helps… as well as making the deliberate effort to read twice, react once. I know I have a tendency to fly off the handle when I’m feeling like this… perhaps that’s why we use the phrase “get a grip.”