Wednesday, August 22, 2018

End Game

Saw another doctor about knees. Did X-rays. They are awful. A bunch of bone on bone crud and bone spurs.

Got a shot in each knee of some kind of stuff. Pain is much less, but stiff. This is just a stop gap. I am going to need knee replacement. It is not looking good for future fencing.

When I was young, I listened to old men talk about the things they USE to be able to do. I swore then, that I would never be like that. I would be a doer and I think I have been. If I must leave fencing, I will find another path and I will still be a doer. But it will really hurt losing contact with my fencing family.

I always thought of myself as a "serious fencer". Whatever that is. Tomorrow night, I am going to club and fence as best I can. I will do so as long as I am able. But I think I am now a " just messing around fencer".

Sunday, July 22, 2018


One of the best things I ever did in fencing was to attend Coaches College at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. It was 2006 and the last training week for that summer. I surely did not know much at the time. It seemed hard then and so easy now.

 A small part of the written test was on fencing vocabulary. On every dorm door (There were many.), there was taped one of the vocabulary words you needed to know. The one pictured above was on my door. At the end of testing...after I passed and was heading home...I peeled it off the door and taped it to my hard case. It stayed there for many years. At some point, it fell off and I thought I lost it. Recently I found it in one of my fencing notebooks.

For some reason, I value it more than any medal or trophy. Weird...huh?

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Bees Knees

Here I go again.

First, after years and years of keeping a journal about my fencing journey, I just want to say.......I think it was mostly a useless thing to do. Better to focus more on your fencing notebook. I look at some of my old post and just cringe at the stupidity. On the other hand, you get to have a conversation with someone who is totally interested in your fencing development and struggle. Namely, yourself.

My Knees

I finally went to the doctor and got a steroid shot in the worst knee. I feared getting it and only the debilitating pain made me go do it. I had a steroid shot in the heel when I was a runner. I had a bone spur there as well as other problems. The doctor tried to break off a the spur by moving the needle back and forth as he gave me the shot. I had a large intern laying across my chest as he did this. It is a good thing the intern was there. It was one of the worst pains I have ever experienced in my life and if I could have gotten my hands on that doctor, I would have killed him. That was the kind of pain I feared from the shot in the knee. As it turned out, it wasn't that bad. The knee got better. Not normal. But the pain is much,much less.

In an effort to keep fencing, I also have lost over 20 pounds. (Shooting for 30) I don't know this, but my thought is that less weight will be better on my knees. My coach told me I was notably faster at last weeks practice. It made me feel good. I hope he is correct. At Divisional Qualifiers yesterday, two people noticed that I had lost weight. First time that had happened. I feel renewed to continue the struggle.

Divisional qualifiers for epee are today. I did not compete. In fact, I have only competed twice this season. One, I did fairly well. It was a low level event. The other result was dismal. I cannot find a way to not care about finishing near the bottom in an event. And it will happen more and more frequently. It is not fear of failure. I got over that a long time ago. It is more a fear of being disgraced. That is a whole different animal. The things that come with age are dragging me down. But, I do fight them every day. I want to go out kicking and scratching. I hope to find a way to get my head right concerning competitions.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Kind of About Fencing

Today I crossed the 15 pound threshold in my plan to loose weight. I started some time after the first of the year. Not sure of the day. This is goal number three. I set my goals at 5 lb intervals. Five more pounds to my big goal and 3 or 4 more as a buffer zone. At that point, I will take a look at where I am and make some decisions.

Well great Jim. Good for you. What does that have to do with fencing? I am trying to loose weight primarily to help my fencing and perhaps my bad knees. Other health benefits as well.....but this is the main reason.

For those that don't know, loosing weight at 65 is hard thing to do. I am retired and I am not on my feet as much as when I was working. Not moving around as much. My metabolism has just about flat lined. And at this age, your body requires fewer calories.

Okay big are you loosing weight?

I increased the number of days per week I am in the gym. If don't fence that day, I am in the gym and my workouts are "heavier" and longer. I experiment with my routines. I like to change it up. Sadly , due to problems with my knees I am not working my legs very hard at all.  I use to do them the hardest of all.

Food. I try to eat mostly healthy things. Mostly protein. I shoot for below 1800 calories. Once in a while below 1500. I look up calories sometimes and I just guess sometimes. I pay attention to portion size most of the time. I have found out that I do not get a "cheat day". Tried that. Literally gained back 4 or more pounds in one day. This truly sucks. I miss my Shrimp Egg Foo Young and my Vietnamese street noodles badly.  Not to mention the occasional strong urge for some decadent dessert.

Weird stuff. I read about drinking a small amount of apple cider vinegar to help with weight loss. The articles I read said it had to be used in conjunction with decent eating and workouts to have any appreciable effect. So does it work. Who can say? Hard to quantify it with the diet and exercise I am doing. I will say that it taste just like the dye you use for Easter eggs smells. Not good. You must dilute it with water or it could harm the enamel on your teeth as well.

Another thing. 20 to 25 minutes in a sauna with a temperature around 190. I first heard about this as I listened to a trainer in the gym talk about it. Evidently,he felt it was a great weight loss tool and not just for sweating out water weight. Which you would quickly gain back by drinking water. Reading on line, I found articles that said it was useless. Some said it was a bit helpful and some said it was amazing in what it does for weight loss. I am experimenting. For some reason, (except for the boredom of sitting there) it does make me feel better. I am staying with it for a while. May drop the vinegar. A word of warning. If you are in a sauna that is around 190 or above and you sit on a nail head that is working it's way out of the wooden bench, it will burn the immortal crap out of you. Just saying.

Yet another thing. I am taking a mixture of MSM/Glucosamine for my knees. MSM is suposed to help some people loose weight. Not sure I am buying that. Also, with no over site by the government on these types of products, it may not even be MSM.

Last thing. I use to drink a lot of fruit juice, reduced with water. Now, I mostly drink water with lemon. That is supposed to be a weight loss tool as well. Who knows?

So....did loosing this weight help your knees. Not so far as I can tell. Did it help your fencing? There again, hard to quantify. To many factors to take in to make a judgement. I will look at it harder when  I reach the next goals. You would think it would just about have to improve endurance. I will just have to see about some other things when I get there.

Monday, January 22, 2018


Ever so often, I look at the list of  fencing clinics (within driving distance) on AskFred.
I am not sure why. There are generally some camps for young fencers. There are beginner camps. The odd ref clinic here and there. Nothing very interesting to me.

At almost any clinic, you would be lucky to come away with one good thing you picked up. That doesn't mean that a clinic isn't good. You do fencing related things. It is like really good extra practice. Sometimes you pick up a good new game or drill. Often times, it is filled with a ridiculous amount of warm up and exercise. ( Filler.) It is always way more than you want if you are vet 60 fencer.

I think that is why I am drawn to the least held clinics, which seem to be coaching clinics. Even though I will most likely never coach again (except grand kids) or be a really good coach, this appeals to me. The people there are generally older. There is not much in the way of warm ups or exercise filler in the program. I enjoy drills....private lessons....that sort of thing. The conversations about fencing are sometimes at a higher level. I think I get more out of it. Sadly, I have not seen anything like this lined up by the USFCA in my region.

I have often thought it would be interesting to have a weekend clinic with coaches from different clubs, doing what ever they do best. Also have refs and armorers there doing small lessons on various things. There would be a list of what was offered and the various time slots. You customize the clinic, by signing up for what interest you most. If somebody wanted to spend half a day warming up and doing exercises, someone could be there to work there butts off. Or if you wanted to just skip that crud and fence,you could do that. Anyway...that is my pipe dream.

Saturday, January 13, 2018


Fenced poorly Thursday night, but I fenced a lot. Haven't fenced much because of knees and holidays for the last month and a half. Oddly enough, I don't feel bad about fencing poorly. We were supposed to fence to win, not work on things. However, in two weeks there is a home tournament and I want the young guns to be a bit over confident. I also want to study one or two. Odds are, I cannot hang with them. But, if it is one of those times when I am "on", I might surprise one or two.

Also, I started trying to drop some weight. I am down 10 pounds in about a week and a half. Shooting for another 9 and then I will take a look at how much I want to go past that. I am highly motivated. I figure the weight loss should help my knees and my fencing. Not sure how much. But it is worth a try.

Next week, I am back to training twice a week. Yay!

Friday, December 29, 2017

If You Disregard Politics...................

Fenced for the first time in over a month last night. Knees hurt some last night and today, but not a lot. If it is no worse than this, I can fence. My fencing was not magnificent, but it was never magnificent. I fenced okay. I was happy with that. During the latter part of my month of healing knees, I did take lessons with Brian , Matt and Coach Miller. I tried to keep my hand  in fencing and test how the pain would be during and after. I think this helped me a lot last night.

In regards to Coach Miller, there was an article in  American Fencing magazine about him. I thought it was a good article. I know they were under constraints for space, but I did not feel like the article said enough about him. It is hard to put into words. I just wish that more fencers would have had a chance to know him through the story. Perhaps they could have included links to other online stories. Though I have never seen such a thing done in a magazine.

I finally got to go to a Charlotte Fencing Academy Christmas Party. In the past they were always on weekends. That close to the holidays, time did not allow for 4 hours of driving , plus the party time. I enjoyed it. It is ,of course, mostly for the kids. But seeing them have a good time, made me have a good time. I met a young fencer's parent that night. Nice lady. She is an identical twin. We talked a great deal about this, as my 4th and 5th grandchildren are identical twins. They were born premature and have spent around a 100 days in the hospital. They have done well and one got to come home last night. The other should come home tomorrow. I feel blessed.

I think it will be a good year.