Friday, September 16, 2016


According to both my coaches and in different ways I am improving, If just one had said it or implied it, I might have thought they were " blowing smoke". But as it is both of them, I will believe it. ( Right up to the point when I am destroyed in an upcoming tournament. Perhaps even after.) I am more relaxed and more confident. I know this. Young people will never understand the joy I get from my coaches comments. I have thought for a long time that as my body and mind aged, it would minimize or negate any chance for improvement technically or on strip. Maybe not.

It is unlikely that I will ever gain a higher rating or even renew my present one. It is not impossible, but it is improbable. So seeing improvement,.....reaching that such an uplifting experience.

Coach Toomey said ,with a smile, last night at practice, " After 12 years of fencing, you finally have a style." Perhaps I am remedial, but I am happy.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Fear and Failure

Fenced in a home tournament ( B1-15 people). Did well in pools fencing some good young guns.
Finished second in my pool and 5th out of pools. Went out my first DE to the guy seed 12th.. Disheartening. I suspect this was my best chance at renewing or improving my rating for this season and I blew it. I was tired and even though at one point I had a four point lead, I could not come up with a game plan. Vet Brian? Possibly so.  When I got home and washed my "whites", I washed a body cord with them.....and dried it. I had always feared doing that.

Another fear: I often go to club and find strange things attached to the Velcro of my jacket. Socks; grand kid clothes and wife's undies. I fear that some day there will be a repeat on the undies and someone will see them. That probably would not end well.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

You Would Have Thought I Would Figure This Out By Now

Last night I returned to the North Carolina Fencing Development Program in Chapel Hill after the month long summer break. My coach there is Dr. Ron Miller, head coach of the UNC Varsity Fencing team.

I have been taking private lessons with him for years. They are a series of technical French drills.

Last night he asked me where Jim Kent was. I was so much better after the break. In fact he said I was 20% better. He bragged on me. Told me he was proud of me. ( That means a lot to me.) He told me it was the best lesson I had ever taken with him.

Okay....yay me! But I thought about this on the drive home and I wondered why. Why was I so much better?

Other than a conscious effort to relax and use my fingers, I did nothing different with my mind or focus.

This is my theory.  When I take a lesson with Coach, generally there are three or more things corrected. I take this very seriously. So the next time we have a lesson, I have those flaws on my mind and I am ready to do my best to correct them. However, we do drills and another series of flaws are uncovered and perhaps the ones from the previous week are not mentioned. So after a month of similar lessons and the uncovering of 3 or more flaws per week, I am concentrating on my corrections so much, that I cannot relax.

I think I will not take my lessons with Coach so seriously. (That is the wrong way to describe it, but it is sort of what the plan is.) I am just going to do what every coach has told me to do since I started fencing. Relax.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Crib Notes

I am truly thinking about attaching crib notes to the weapon arm of my training jacket. I can't put them all there, no ones arm is that long.

Last night I had two private lessons. One with Coach and one with Matt. Matt gives a great PL. It is filled with energy and excitement on his part, that you cannot help but absorb.

Several take aways from Matt's lesson last night, but the big one is to relax my back shoulder. Who knew? I see what it does for me. Now if I can just remember to do it when bouting.

I had a new flaw with Coach's PL. My head was tilted.

No more fencing in Chapel Hill until August 24th.

I will try to work on these things in Charlotte, while working on the flaws Toomey has me work on. I think I am doing better on the "always be active" problem.

I gave some thought to recording ALL  the things I need to work on, here in my journal.  I don't think I could bare to look at that huge list all in one place.

Friday, July 15, 2016

I Don't Know. This Stuff Was On My Mind.

Last night, for my private lesson, I fenced my coach. I do this move (once in a while) where I go for a toe shot, but rather than keep my distance, I advance into them after the action and do a "drop and dig" (bell guard low-point up ) in fighting attack. Kind of a safety. I have no idea why it works for me ( generally). I have never seen another fencer do this.

At any rate, I hurt my coach. Obviously he is a much better fencer and in my haste to hit him as fast as possible. I hit him hard and hurt him. Shortly after that, he hit me with a good fast action four times in a row. The same action, all four times. Now part of the reason he did that is due to his skill and part of it is that I lost my mind set for combat because I hurt a friend. I think, if it had been in a tournament situation and not someone I knew well or at all, I may have been able to go back into fencing mode. I record this in my journal to remind myself .....something. I am not sure what.

I have often thought that sometimes, when you fence certain people, you have an insight into their personality. Not everyone you fence, but some of them. I think the same can be said of coaches. I think you can know them, by the type of private lesson they give. Obviously, you get the benefit of knowing coaches through an entire class, or time spent with a group. But if the only interaction you had with them was a private lesson, I think you would have a good insight into who they are.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Apex Fencing and the Forgotten Element of Teaching Young People Fencing.

I went to a wedding this weekend. The groom is a fencer friend. The mother of the groom is a fencer friend. Many of the guest were fencers; ex-fencers and coaches.

Great wedding and reception. I enjoyed some conversations I had . It was a good time.

On the drive to the wedding I had  been thinking about coaching in our state/division. Most of the club coaches in our area are in there forties. ( That may be in error, as there are younger coaches sprinkled throughout some clubs.)  It started me thinking about the next generation of coaches and clubs. I know some really fine young people in fencing and I know some social misfits. The social misfits might be good young people as well. It is just harder to know them.

Fortunately, I had the chance to sit and talk with Igor of Apex Fencing for a while. We were waiting outside for the reception to begin. I voiced my concerns about the next generation of clubs and coaches. He told me that in their club, they have young people that help teach the new students. Through a variety of helpful activities in their clubs, they are actively learning coaching skills.  I think the Apex model is a wonderful way to go.  Good for all concerned. This is an element of fencing so often over looked.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Work; Clinics and Sadness.

Things I am Working On

Last Thursday,as my private lesson, I fenced a few 5 touch bouts with my coach. (Brian) There were times my hand would drift into 4. I have had this problem forever and do not seem to be able to correct it. So we may be going to work on using it as an invitation. I do that once in a while anyway. This could be good. I had been trying to fix the problem by changing my fighting line, but that has limited success and I do not always think about it.

I have been doing the ( mostly) same set of technical drills with Coach Miller for years. I still cannot do them flawlessly. Sometimes Coach is more picky than other times.  For instance, I have noticed he is pickier if the PL is early and less so if the lesson is later,when he is tired.  He says it is because I only get to do this once a week and that I have made big improvements over the years. It is pretty frustrating at times. ( My grip is wrong. My elbow pouches out. My bell guard is to high on the attack. To much power on the beat. My bell guard drops on the beat. My lunge shortens every time I do one. There are lot of good things said as well. I hope they are true and not just to keep me from going home and hanging myself.)

I am working with Brian on beat attacks, I have never had a very good one.

On my own, I am dabbling with a flick to nine o'clock.  My standard flick to 6 o'clock has improved from a very low percentage shot to a moderately low percentage shot. I tend to go to deep, but it works. The nine o'clock flick has worked in some bouts of late and it always surprises me and pleases me at the same time. ( Note: I do not know if anyone uses the "o'clock" thing for flick or cuff targets, I had to come up with a way to describe it..)

I am having a larger opportunity to fence left handed fencers and am working on reversing my "takes" to improve my game with them. So far, not much luck there.

( Note: My journal is about vet fencing. You often hear that young peoples minds soak up knowledge like a sponge. The later in life you are, the wetter your sponge is. That is just the cold hard truth. We don't pick up things as fast as the young ones. Being a vet fencer........often not really big on the whole self esteem thing. We must be brave souls.)

Coaching Clinics and Sadness

On our two hour drive to Thursday night training, I talked with my training partner about three coaching clinics I am interested in. One in the US; one in the UK and a classical course near by.
I told her that unless a good coach moved to our area and needed an assistant coach, I did not ever see me coaching again. ( Except for possibly grand-kids Also, a parent has asked me to coach a home school epee team. Not sure they even have that,) My training partner told me as we are reaching the end of out fencing journey, she has no desire to ever coach again. I have no desire to do so, without her. It is the Yin and Yang.....the combination of our personalities.....that made us so good with the kids. It would be nothing if we were not together. The subject was breached about when our fencing journey will end. Could be next week, could be three years. But of course, it will end. It hit me like a brick. I will not see her anymore, when the fencing finally ends. I am sure we will meet for lunch or something once in a the beginning. But that will fade in time. There are not a lot of fencers, where you think of two as a team. Yet, we are this team.We have been as one. When I loose fencing, I will lose a dear friend. That is a sad revaluation. I will try harder to enjoy the time we have left.

(Note: A couple of sentences up, you will see the word "loose" used when it should be "lose". I have been trying forever to change that and cannot make it so. So, screw it!)