Preparing for Crown, Pt. 1 of 4

This Crown Tournament will mark my Thirty-Third Anniversary as a fighter in the Society. The day I authorized was the day before I witnessed my first Crown Tourney. I fought in my first one year later. Since then, I can count the ones I have missed on my two hands and still hold a beer mug.

Many of you who have fought in several crown tournaments may find some of it a little obvious. Indeed, there is some general advice on training and fighting that might be of use to someone who has never fought, and never intends to fight, in Crown. As always, these are just things that I have found to be sound principles that worked for me. My only credential is having made it to twelve Crown Finals and victory in seven throughout these years.

Many have heard me use the analogy of the fighter as Craftsman. For those who have not, here it is: As a fighter, the craft we practice is the fight. Victory is its successful practice, but a craftsman does not expect to turn out a perfect piece every time. Those that love the craft, keep going back to the shop anyway. A woodworker has in his shop saws and chisels and drills. These are his tools. But what he brings to his craft is his eye for joinery, his understanding of the use of the grain, the precise angle of the chisel. These are his skills, gained by training, practice and experience. Give a mediocre craftsman the best tools and he will create a mediocre piece. Give a Master mediocre tools, and he will still turn out superior work. However, one will usually find that the Master acquires the best tools he can, and keeps them in good repair.

For the fighter, Speed, Strength, and Reach are tools. Timing, Precision and Range are skills. Increase and improve your skills, acquire and hone your tools. Now, a little philosophy about fighting in Crown. It used to be that Crown was where any up-and-coming fighter went to showcase their prowess. It was considered bad form to miss without a good reason, but there were lots of fighters who entered because they felt they had to in order to remain in the eye of the Chivalry. With the advent of the Tournaments of Chivalry this is no longer an excuse. Also, there were those who entered that hadn’t the faintest idea what it meant to be King and Queen, and didn’t particularly want the job, they just enjoyed the competition at that level. I would once have counted myself in that number. But I always fought my hardest and gave my best to every opponent, and was willing to accept the consequences. I say this to you: Don’t enter the list unless you are prepared and willing to win. If you are not willing to give your opponent your best fight, you do not belong in the Tourney. Fighting at less than 100% demeans the Tourney, dishonors your consort, and insults your opponent. If you are willing, and have the desire to sit next to your Consort on the thrones of the Greatest Kingdom in the Knowne World, read on.

Aspects of preparation for Crown, and performance in the Tourney, as with most competitive athletics, can be roughly divided between Physical and Mental. However, both of these aspects of training have the same basic purpose, to free the mind for the contest.

Physically, the equipment must be in such working order so as not to intrude on the consciousness during the contest. If your blow is hindered by a flaw in your armor design, or a failure due to damage (a wrist cuff that is too narrow, an elbow that didn’t straighten all the way) you cannot free yourself to react to any target that presents itself. The decision process of whether or not you can try for that target will constantly distract you. This can be alleviated in either of two ways: alteration of, or familiarity with, the armor.

Likewise, one must train the body to work without hindrance or hesitation. If you throw a blow that is negated by some physical debility, (a sore thumb, or a stiff shoulder) you will also be distracted. Injuries notwithstanding, practice will either lessen the problem by exercise, or familiarize you sufficiently with your limitation.

These are good general purpose observations that hold true for fighting in general, but they bear repeating particularly regarding Crown Tourney.

Part 2: Training

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