Sunday, October 23, 2016

Short Random Thoughts

I am 64 years old. I have seen my parents die and my wife's parents die. Eventually you have to clean out the house where they lived and throw things away. Some of the keepsakes you toss would have great sentimental value to them. I am sitting in my man cave looking at fencing medals and such. I hope to leave them around, so my grand kids can find them. Perhaps they will think they are cool. I look at a nice 1st place one. They will not know that there were only 5 people in that event. I have a couple of coaching certificates and such hanging under the trophies. Other certificates with my fencing books and note books. If the kids dig through those books, they will find one certificate I got at an almost useless clinic. If you read the thing, it makes me sound like Zorro. Hope they find it.

Fenced in a tournament yesterday. I was seeded 7th going in. I was seeded 7th after pools. I was seeded 7th in the final results. It means nothing. I keep looking for meaning in epee results, but epee stats are akin to chaos for some of us. No longer looking for meaning there.

A couple of months back, my training partner got sort of conflicting instructions from our two coaches. As I remember, it had something to do with her stance. She talked on and on to me about it on the drive home. She was thinking out loud about it. After some time I stopped her. I looked at her and said, " You have 5 national medals, a couple of coaching certificates and you have been fencing for 11 years.You aren't a 10 year old listening to your coach. Your coaches are not petite 63 year old women fencers. Always listen. Occasionally, silently question advice. In the end, you must figure out what is right for you. You're smart enough to do so. Need to figure it out? The answer is always on the strip."

On a related topic: In fencing, often there is more than one correct way to do something.

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.