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.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

2 Possible Options

I need an opinion. Or maybe if I just write it down and look at it, the answer will come to me.


I generally train two nights a week. Occasionally some practice bouting or a local tournament on weekends. The two nights of training are at 2 different clubs. Travel time to one club is around 4 hours round trip. 2 hours and 40 minutes to the other. I am a 65 year old man. I have been fencing for 13 years.

My training at present goes like this. 3 private lessons a week. 1 group lesson. Bout around 6 times a week.  ( More if I work in  some weekend training.)1 private lesson is technical. (Note: You will not find a better person to give a pure technical lesson.) The other two vary in emphasis.  Both great coaches. The closer club I travel to, I very rarely bout. I take two private lessons there. The reason I do not bout is a time issue. By the time my private lessons are done, the strips are full. More to it than that, but that is the "biggie".

If I cut out one of the private lessons at the club where I take two, I could work in maybe 3 extra bouts. Most of these would be with people  that are greatly superior to me. (I prefer people who are better, but not by a huge margin.) Is that better than what I am doing?

I have always thought that the way I am doing it is best for the following reasons. While more bouts would be better for me as far as improving endurance, I feel like I just be playing my same old game and reinforcing the things I do wrong . By taking private lessons, I feel I am trying to improve my game. Sadly, at my age correcting things and picking up new things becomes incredibility hard. Not sure to what extent, if any, I am succeeding. (Also, I really enjoy the the two private lessons and some of why you fence is to have fun. Or it should be.)

( Note: A lot of times,when I record in my journal, I am just trying to figure things out or come to some sort of conclusion. I did not do that by writing this post. However, I did see that there is a third possibility. That is that it just doesn't make any appreciably difference which option I take. That might be the answer I am looking for. )

Sunday, July 30, 2017

I Have a Feeling Someone Will Explain to Me Why I am Wrong.

The other day, I threw up a meaningless entry into my journal. It was just because I don't seem to be posting often.

Today, I have something to record.

Yesterday, I fenced in a practice team tournament. Good practice. I did not fence well, but I fenced.

The teams were picked by our coach. It was an effort to make things fair.

As fate would have it, I was anchor for our second team bout and had to fence the other teams best fencer. The score was 40 to 37 in our favor.  The guy I was fencing was in his 20s, taller, obviously faster than my heavy set, 65 year old body. He is a better fencer than me. By that I mean if I was having a really good day, and he was having a really bad day, there is a possibility I could win a 15 touch bout. However, that would not be the way to bet.

Okay. I set up the situation and some facts as I see them. The reason I recorded this is I think it interesting to see how a coach sees the situation and how the fencers sees the situation.

 My coach (Not being this blunt and choosing other words) told me I was a dumb ass because I attacked even though our team had the lead. Well maybe. In my mind, I did not have a good shot at taking this guy and I thought I might try and rack up some doubles. Didn't work. I also did not have confidence in scoring with a counter as his reach and mobility were so much better than mine and his hand was never open.

Eventually, the score was something like 41 or 42 to 40 for my opponent. I do not remember exactly. At any rate, after figuring out attacking was not going to work or not going to work often enough I switched it up. The score became 44-44. I scored the last touch in an good bout. I was happy.  But me getting that win is not why I record this.  I do not mean this to be a "Yay for Jim" entry. This is about how a fencer sees something and how his coach sees something. Generally it is just black and white. The coach is right and you are not.

 Like I said earlier, I did not fence well the whole day. But I was happy that I was out there fencing.

There was a time, in the not to distant past, when if I had been in the situation of the bout I described  above, I would have not been patient and I would have continued  to attack out of desperation.  So...progress....Yay!

There was another time when I THINK I saw things differently than my coach. Not sure about this, I just saw it in his eyes. We did not discuss it. As I said before, the teams were picked in such a way as to try and make them fair. My coach had a team. Obviously, the best fencer between the five teams.  To help balance this out, he had a small 10 year old boy on his team. I had to fence the little guy first. There were points that needed to be gained back and this was an easy chance to do so. I gained back some points, but I could not just beat the crud out of a 10 year old newbie. I let him have a point. The look in my coaches eyes, said to me he was NOT in favor of this. I think I read that right. I could be wrong. Collusion! Black card offence! What ever reasons coaches have for seeing it this way. This was not the first time this has happened to me. I had a professional coach get huffy with me for me letting a tiny young girl score some touches. Didn't care then. Don't care now. In my opinion, the only thing beating the crap out of someone teaches them is.....well.....nothing. I guess you could say, it teaches them that there are people that are going to beat the crud out of them. I don't see that as a valuable lesson.

I need to reenter rate, that I am not talking junk on my coach. He reads this sometimes. He is  a  a smart guy and a good coach. On the other hand, I am a smart guy too. (At least some of the time.) I think every once in a while (and after a certain point of study) a student and a coach may see things differently. Not that one is right and the other wrong. It is just seeing things from a different point of view.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Random Photos

I think I am posting to my journal just to keep it alive. I have been keeping this journal since 2005. That is a long time. A lot of the early stuff is pretty goofy. Sorry. I didn't know any better. As time goes by, there is less and less discovered about the sport. Nothing really new to record. Most things would be redundant.

Trying to find something to record here.

I think I have been fencing a bit better. Not great, but better. I had been going down hill for what seems like a long time. So...if it is true....Yay!

I did not sign up for the "Coach Membership" in US Fencing. I did not pay 50 dollars to be listed as a coach in the USFCA. I don't coach any more, so it seems unnecessary. I don't see me working with kids until my grandchildren are a bit older. For some reason, I feel a tiny bit sad about not signing up for these things. I am not sure why.

Okay.  I am just trying to hard to find something to record. Maybe I will just fill up this entry with a picture or two.


Pictures: Private lesson with Coach Miller. Tournament at Charlotte Fencing Academy. I am the guy doing the slow fleche. I just always liked that proverb. Me at 10 week intro course to long sword. Toomey and company at a Marx clinic. Random stuff.

Friday, June 16, 2017

I Wish I Could Just Let Things Go

Last night at practice, I had a parent stop to talk to me. He was talking about his daughter and the upcoming State Games. He asked if I was going. He laughed. He asked me if I even competed. He laughed again. He laughed at me.

I suppressed my natural tendencies for the sake of young teammates around and he moved on.

The grandfather of the fencer  mentioned above used to make fun of my age and fencing for months and months. Every time I took a break, he commented on it. It was always some kind of reference to my age and being out there fencing. After six or seven months of that crap, I finally confronted him and told him I did not see the humor in his remarks. It stopped. ( Note: Grandfather is not the sharpest knife in the drawer and I knew he thought he was being funny. This is why I let it go on for so long.)

Okay. If you are my age, you are going to get some remarks about your age. Mostly it is good natured. And I am sure there are other less kind remarks made about your age, but by ones wise enough not to say it to your face. It is the way things are.

I also note that many fencers are short on social skills.  Myself included sometimes. ( Note: Fortunately my friend and training partner more than makes up for my poor social skills. We are the Yin and the Yang.) It seems only natural that there are parents of fencers with poor social skills.

The father really got under my skin. I cannot seem to let it go. I always had trouble with letting things go. If it happens again, I am going off on him to what ever degree is needed. I will not be able to stop it. So...Is the problem the father or is it me. I wish I was the kind of person that could just shrug things off. Sadly, I have never been and I think it is bit late for any major personality changes.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Embarrassing Progress

I came to my journal today to use one of the links posted there. I ended up reading  some really stupid stuff I had posted years back. Goofy stuff. Things I thought, but they were wrong. Pretty embarrassing really. It makes me want to cringe, or delete a bunch of stuff. Maybe the whole thing.

On the other hand, the whole darn thing was meant to record my fencing journey, so I would remember it. Now that I am further up the path, my opinions have changed. I can see how wrong I was concerning some things . I can see the thoughts I know to be true.

Maybe that is why I started this journal in the first place. To keep track of progress.