Fighting styles and shields

That's Duke Garrick and Duke Uther, both more or less Westies.

Most fighters in the West use smallish shields. It's a culturally thing really, and it leads to pretty quick and dynamic fighting. The shot variety is high since openings are all over the place, and most fights are over fairly quickly. It's somewhat anecdotal, but the crown tournament fights posted recently on YouTube for the West, fights are about a minute each on average. Ansteorra's crown fights are typically about 8 minutes for a best 2/3 round. Most fighters here throw a lot of offside shots, some face thrusts, and the occasional leg shot that never seems to land.

This is what I'm getting used to seeing:

Fighting while legged here is different. You're not allowed to walk on your knees, or fight "up"- your butt has to basically stay on your heels. Folks are also less squeamish about contact with the shield, so they'll press their shield lightly against your arm or sword to pin it. It makes winning from your knees quite a bit tougher, and makes the larger shields make more sense.

That one is Aaron and his opponent might be Ulstead. I'm not sure. It's interesting to note that the higher end guys still use large shields, but they're a bit shorter.

It's not like I can't win here. I've done OK. I've won fights from my knees here in tournaments even. I think I've been using the fact that I'm not using a larger shield as kind of my own personal excuse for not dominating my practice though. I need a larger shield that works well for me. What I'm seeing, and what I envy is that with the larger shield most folks here have virtually no openings on their onsides. No legs, and maybe just a sliver of a head shot. Since they tend to hold the shield flat along the left side the wrap has to be freakishly deep to do much. Their offsides are blocked by an A frame defense, so it's not like a simple offside headshot is really high percentage. Since so much is shut down, fakes aren't too believable.

So I want that onside coverage, but I don't want to give up all the mobility of my heater. I'd like to be able to hook, press, and adjust quickly.

I tried making a larger heater several months ago, and got aluminum that was the right grade but way too thin. Harder hitting folks could blow right through the shield. I cut out a wooden kite over at Maelgwyn's just after Thanksgiving. I picked up some aluminum channel for it last night, and some friction tape to cover the edges. I'll probably strap it a bit like a heater instead of using a boss.

I've used aluminum shields for my whole fighting career, so the wood approach has some mysteries. First, making a shield press would be a good idea. Maelgwyn's design is nice- he has a few ribs with notches in them for one side of the shield. The other side is held down with a ratchetting strap and long 1x2. The whole thing breaks down quite small, so it's not a storage nuisance. He made me more aware of watering down the glue. My previous attempt essentially had glue veins which created soft air pockets between the pieces of birch. Watering down the glue and having a nice smooth even press would reduce those pockets and make a stronger shield.

I'm still wrestling with a couple things mentally. One, the idea of using a larger shield feels like I'm walking away from Western tradition. I remember when I moved to the West resisting using a smaller shield (the East and Aethelmarc tend to use larger, but not Anseteorran size shields) and now I'm doing it in reverse. I learned quite a bit from the smaller shields. Maybe now it's time to go through an uncomfortable growth again. The other thing is my persona would have used something probably smaller than what I have now. It's unlikley he would have used a kite.


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