Alert: Baelnorn Was On The Field

I did something this weekend I hadn’t done in over four years. I took the field in a ditch on a regular Amtgard practice. Not only that, I fought for at least 2 straight hours. This happened at Iron Keep 33 year anniversary event on Saturday.

This blog will lightly cover my day at Iron Keep but what I want to really do is to talk about my foam fighting journey this past month or so. I’ve also been fighting at Silvermoon’s fighter practice for the past six weeks and the Friday before the event was no different. Two days, and four hours of fighting, that’s a big thing for me and I felt inspired to blog about it.

The Foam Fighting Journey

Life has been better the last few months. I have stable housing for the first time in years and boy does that make a big difference to my psyche. Plus my health has been slowly improving. My depression and anxiety medication is in a reasonable place and I’ve been working on my diabetes. I started Ozempic and my blood sugars are dropping and so is my weight. I’ve lost 40 pounds in the last year. All of this has combined and set me up to get back into foam fighting.

It started when I went to a fighter practice at Silvermoon a few weeks before SKBC 2024. I went to record and but I ended up not recording and did a little fighting instead.

After that day I decided I would start live streaming fighter practice once a month and getting in a little fighting, for exercise reasons. That set the stage for this journey but it was little more than a precursor to the drive I have now. That story really starts at Sword Knight Boot Camp 2024.

SKBC 2024

I wrote an extensive blog about my experience at SKBC 2024 HERE, but as it is really the inspiration of my recent foam fighting journey it is where we need to start.

I went to SKBC to get content, but as some classes were not conducive to recording, I joined in on one, the single sword pod class.

It started by doing winners/losers, where you go around and spare other students. I only did it for about thirty minutes out of the ninety minute class and even then I took a few water breaks. I eventually stopped because my sword arm got tired and went noodily and I couldn’t control my swings to my satisfaction.

Still, I felt positive about the experience. I got some actionable advice on my fighting and I had a few things I could work on if I wanted. I was tentatively eager to start fighting again after that, but it was The Computer Computer class by Dalos that really got me motivated to foam fight again.

The last few times I had fought I did alright but I was fighting purely on muscle memory and instinct. Considering how well I was doing, I was kind of impressed with myself, but that didn’t make it feel engaging. It didn’t really make me feel like I wanted to seriously take up foam fighting again, outside of exercise. The class motivated me to think about how to fight again, which is what I find engaging in the fight.

Fighting Mindfully

It had been so long since I had engaged in the thought process of trying to understand foam fighting. There becomes a point after you get down the basics and you want to improve, you need to think more about theory; analyzing exactly how you do what you do. Doing that really can help improve your game, one expression of that is teaching. I like to call this state of thinkin being mindful about your fighting.

I take this philosophy from the idea of Mindful Therapy. The basic definition of that theory is this: “focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, especially as part of a therapeutic or meditative technique”. I’ve done a lot of this type of therapy and the parallels seem obvious to me.

When taking the Computer Computer course, it really gave me a direction on what to focus on and how to reengage the mindful fighting mindset. The class focused on creating a basic game plan when entering a fight. The idea was that the more you practice doing that, the more it becomes more natural and it becomes part of your fighting tool kit.

The class gave me a direction to how I could be mindful about my fighting again. I was mildly excited to see if I could take what I learned and have it carry me through trying to get back on the fighting field. It was then that I decided I was going to start going to fighter practice more than once a month if I could and do it more than just of exercise.

The Dodo Dojo

Even before I went to SKBC I decided to call the Friday night fighter streams the Dodo Dojo in honor of Critias (his heraldry is of a dodo bird). I already streamed three fighter practices. (You can see me fighting if you want! Stream 1, Stream 2, Stream 3.)

Each Friday after I got back I fought a little more. My arm strength was still terrible and I would go noodily pretty fast, but three weeks ago I bought some dumbbells. Since then I’ve been using them at home and it must have been working because this last Friday I spent nearly two hours foam fighting at The Dodo Dojo without any issue. Although I was sore at the end of the night.

Each practice I spent time trying to be mindful in my fighting, making a point to really watch those I was fighting, trying devise plans to take them out. It’s only been a few weeks but it has really got engaged in fighting. More engaged than I thought it would and I’ve seen positive results.

One example is last Friday. I was having some trouble fighting Torg when he was using his shield. I tried a few different things, but then I realized if I wanted to get my sword around his shield I needed to get in real close. So I figured I would step in to my left, block, step right and go up and around his shield, hitting his back.

I was able to execute this plan and it worked…sorta. I managed to get up close and went up and around his shield, but my angel of the sword wasn’t right and I ended up hitting the back of his arm. Still, I felt really good about what I managed to do.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but that day set the stage for Saturday. It was my first time on the field of a regular Amtgard practice in over four years.

Iron Keep’s Anniversary Day

I had no idea when I work up Saturday that I was going to be fighting. In fact I assumed I wasn’t. I knew I was going to get some video, but I assumed I would just get that video, sit down and watch most of the day. I was wrong.

When I arrived there was a fairly large ditch going and I mean large, at least for a regular Saturday practice. Just to let you understand how big it was, we had nearly 80 people at this event. That’s the size of our monthly regional events.

I set up my chair and put down my stuff and I was greeted by Kormac, who had a gift for me. He bought me a cool pair of gnome socks! I heartily thanked him and I pulled out my gear and went to record the ditch.

I did so for nearly an hour before I got a little tired of holding my gimbal. It was at this point I decided I would stop recording and I would jump into the ditch and fight for a little bit before the tournament started.

The Ditch

I borrowed a sword from Kormac, as I only own one. I didn’t jump in thinking about doing anything other than just having a little fun. Previously during my foam fighting journey I decided I was going to focus on single sword, any other style was just for fun. The second sword was just to keep things a little more even in the ditch. It wasn’t an attempt at trying to improve my two sword game.

It wasn’t long till the tournament started and I assumed the ditch would die, but it didn’t. The ditch got a lot smaller, but it continued and so did I. Eventually the ditch got bigger again. Then the tournament ended and it got even larger. I just kept fighting. I ended up fighting for two hours.

It was only a month ago that I couldn’t fight for more than 30 minutes before I couldn’t fight any more. And here I was fighting for two hours a day for two days in a row. I hadn’t had that much fun at a Saturday practice in a long time.

I event started to get into the grove of two stick again, a style I spent a good amount of time using at one point in my foam fighting career. It’s probably my third favorite style. First being single sword and second being polearm.

I wasn’t the biggest threat on the field, but I was a threat. Despite thinking I wasn’t going to do any mindful fighting, I did start thinking about how I was fighting and trying to improve about halfway through. It wasn’t to the level I was doing during fighter practice, but it was enough to get back into the swing of two swords some.

Going Forward

So, where does this leave me? Was this weekend a fluke? I certainly hope not, but I don’t want to put to much pressure on me. I don’t want to make that a goal. That was the old me and would probably have led to me not meeting my own expectations and I’d get discouraged.

What I will do is remember I had fun and if I feel like fighting at a regular practice again I will. My previous stated goal of attending fighter practices will be my foam fighting focus. It’s only been a month, so I shouldn’t try to expand my goals yet and risk setting myself up for failure. I think it’s reasonable to work on one smaller goal over the next several months.

Still, this weekend really built up my confidence (and surprised more than a few people at seeing me fighting) that I can succeed on the goal I have set. We’ll see how often I can make practice, but I hope to go at least twice a month, more if I can manage it.

If you’d be interesting hearing more about my journey over the next few months, leave a comment. If there is interest I’ll try to keep everyone updated on my journey when there is something to blog about.

Discord Stuff

Join the Discord!

I wanted to take a few moments to talk about the Baelnorn Community Discord. The relaunch has gone well! It’s been a few weeks and I’ve enjoyed chatting with all of you over the weekly discussions!

Additionally we had our first Community Discord Event, a watch party. We watched the 1981 classic Excalibur and it went really well! I plan on hosting a watch party at last once a month. We are talking about what movies we’d like to see in the future. Come and join the conversation!

I’ve also added an Event Forum Channel and added some Amtgard and Belegarth events happening in the Pacific Northwest this year. The forum is there for us to talk about those events and to share any events others might want to attend.

I’m really happy with how things have been so far and only image they will get even more fun with time! Can’t wait to see you there!

If you like my content consider becoming a Patron on Patreon. You can see my Tier 2 (Rock Gnomes) and 3 (Tinker Gnomes) supporters on my Patreon Supporters page as well as find out how to become a Patron yourself.