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.

Thursday, November 30, 2017


 Coach Ron Miller will retire at the end of this year with 51 years of coaching for UNC under his belt. He plans to continue to run NCFDP after retirement. ( A few details to be worked out.) We talked about it over dinner last week.

I have often thought of what it would be like to be Coach and then retire. This is not like me retiring from my job. I loathed mine much of the time and only did it to support my family.  Coach loves his job. How will this effect him?

I have, in the last week, had bad knee problems. I was beginning to think I may not fence again. Saw the doctor. He thinks with rest, it will be okay. If not, we will look at other options. The thought of not fencing weighed heavily on my mind. As an older man ....or perhaps as just me.....I need a sense of purpose. I need an identity. Fencing and being a fencer provide that. Not to mention a dozen other reasons not fencing would kill me.

So would Coach suffer from this same need for identity and purpose.? Would it be a hundred times worse? Is he so positive in his attitude that this will not bother him? Are their things he is looking
forward to in his retirement that will ease the transition?

I know Susun will be glad to have him home more. They will have some fun together.

I know he will go through a heck of an adjustment. I hope it is a good one.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra or Fencing Vocabulary

I use to be very interested in fencing vocabulary. Right up to the point where I saw that in USFCA that a couple of words had two totally different meanings and they listed both of them. Reprise and remise have a standard definition and two others for referees.  As if things weren't confusing enough.

A while back I started writing fencing vocabulary words on a dry erase board hanging on a wall at the Charlotte club. It soon became apparent to me that the words I wrote (That the kids would not know.) were pretty much antiquated fencing moves.  No point bothering to do it. I guess they know enough.)

Still, I often become dismayed when I hear some kids talk.  For example: Disengage.  To disengage, you must first be engaged. It bothers me. Just not enough to say anything. Thanks to Alex Beguinet, I also cringe when I hear "counter parry.". I will not even get into that one.

On another note, after my private lesson with Brian on Thursday, I have a goal. Oddly enough, even though I am 65 years old, it is long range. Hence, dependent not just on the work I put in, but fate (If there is such a thing). This will also mean that I must not let my ego get in the way when competing in local events with the young guns. A hard thing. Still, I find it good to have this secret goal. I certainly have been working out harder over the last few days and adding more cardio. No matter what happens, it will be good for me.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Coach Told Me to Write Something Here.

This is a homework assignment from Coach Ron Miller. (Head Coach for UNC Varsity Fencing) It is not the first time he has given me homework and I can tell you he does not grade on a curve.

Monday I got a brand new shiny epee. I thought I would use it for my lesson with Coach tonight. I had noticed the blade was awful straight before we started. I tried to bend the foible a little by hand, but the BF blade resisted.  The heck with it. It is time to start my lesson and I am first on the list.

We start off with the usual "6 Wall" drill and I am not hitting well. After some corrections, he hands me his weapon. I do the drill pretty much perfectly. Okay...maybe not perfectly if Coach was telling you about it, but a good 50% better.

He took me back to the work bench used a wrench and his hands to but the correct bend in my blade.

We went back to the strip and finished my lesson. He told me I had to write about the importance of a proper bend in a blade here in my journal. So I am.

Years ago, he showed me how to put this bend in a blade and what size opening in the wrench was best. I used to do this before tournaments to all my weapons. Somewhere along the way, I forgot to keep doing it. It will not happen again.

Now about Coaches epee. It has a small Visconti grip. Coaches hands are huge. He is know as " The Paw". The weapon is much lighter than mine.  Here is where I am going to write something stupid. Coach told me his blade was stiff. Coach has forgotten more about fencing than I will ever know, yet I disagree. That blade may have been stiff a decade ago, but that is one "bendy" epee blade in my book.

I should point out that I once spent what seemed like a year trying to make a weapon that Coach approved of. I can tell you, it will make a sane man crazy. I still have that blade. I cut the thread down so far no grip designed for a human will fit it. I think I still have the grip that a spent days filing and Dremeling. If a small monkey ever wants to fence epee with an adult weapon, I can fix him up.

I know as sure as I will never take a lesson with Coach and not be corrected on something, the odds are similar for making a weapon he likes. Still, I cannot dispute the fact that I am way better at lessons with his blade than mine. It is a quandary.

I have gone to some trouble and expense to make sure all my weapons are the same. Standardization! So I am happy no matter what weapon I pick up. Okay...There is a Viniti blade in there with the BFs somewhere, but they are all the same stiffness. The cants are all the same. Everything! I may could improve the balance, by switching them all to ultra light bell guards, but I am not sure about that. I hate to start messing around with the weapons. Yet, there is the fact that Coaches blade is so good.

If Coach checks my homework, maybe he could offer a suggestion or two without major renovations for my weapons. We may find out next Tuesday. Stay tuned for further developments.