Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Realistic Goals

Monday Foil: I fenced mostly new students, so I did not get a chance to completely test my theory on attacking. That is just as well, as I continued to make (by reflex) some of the same epee attacks that seem to work for me. What to do......what to do? I am going to try and not dwell on it as much and try and work things out. ( All in good time.)

On my drive home, I think I may have put foil....and fencing into perspective. In some things of importance I try to set goals and objectives. This is a way to measure progress and to stay focussed. I learned to do this some place.....some time in life. Set goals....set realistic goals and objectives. To this I think I now say......" HORSE FROCKEY!" I am having fun....and I am going with that.

I am heading towards 54. I will never have the legs of an 18 year old. I will never have that flexibility again. My hand speed and reaction time is still surprisingly fast.

I will try to play to my strengths for as long as they last and create some new ones.

I will still give myself assignments and things to work on

I will learn what ever I can....from whomever I can....and I will look for opportunities to learn.

I will try not to obsess about foil any longer. I am not putting pressure on myself for a while....I am just going to have some fun.


 

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Thanksgiving

No fencing until after Thanksgiving. Probably a good thing,but I miss it. I have been going to the gym this week. Light work outs/total body. Very light weights as compared to a few years ago and I have no desire to try and get back up to the higher weights. I am trying to make my work outs more fencing specific. Not all that easy to do, as there is no prescribed routine for fencing. That is okay. I like to experiment.

I am toying with the idea of going to a tournament Dec. 3 and fencing ....god help me.....foil.

To all my thousands and thousands of devoted readers....Happy Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 19, 2005

JOs

I went to JOs ( Junior Olympics) in Raleigh to watch the kids fence. I took my 19 year old daughter, Jaime , to watch as well. She has just started fencing. I hope she has learned enough, to be able to pick up something useful from our trip. I picked up something useful....a new sabre glove for me! HA!

Nicole ( a 13 year old girl in our club) took second in the under 19 women's epee and first in Under 17 ( 15-3 in her bout to win first). I was so proud of her. She is a sweet girl and by the time she is driving she could be awesome. I am not a coach, but I am going to make a suggestion to Cam. ( Cam is my pretty redheaded epee and sabre coach.) During the bout, Cam kept telling Nicole to play HER game. Nicole will fence slow and pick you off. She is good at it. However, Nicole needs another game she can play. ( So do I....but that is another post.) Nicole has one tempo. She needs a fast game, to change it up some times.

Jaime and I had things to do at home, so we could not stay to watch Trevor and Tommy fence epee. I like both these guys and I hope they did well. I really wanted to see Tommy fence. Tommy is my brother. ( Not really....we just bonded at our last tournament. He is like my brother now....okay....brother with a really freaky gap in time.)

What a good little group. I will check the boards later for results.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Coaches Blog

Woody ( One of my coaches), posted  an article on his well written blog that was mostly intended for me. I did not realize it at the time, though I thought it was somewhat different than his regular post. It was more of a lesson than an article. I am truly grateful that he took the time to do that for me.

Part of his article dealt with new fencers. It got me thinking about the way I fence foil. I try to fence it these days, like epee. In epee, I prefer to get some one coming in on the attack. When I was new at foil, I attacked constantly, thus making more points. So I am going to test out my theory next foil class.

For a long time I have though that I was better at foil a year ago. What may have happened is that a year ago, I was scoring more because all I did was attack. (I no longer equate fencing well, with how many touches I make. Though given the option.....like every one else...I would prefer to win.)

I am tempted here to copy Woody's article and paste it on my journal. Of course the correct thing to do is ask him first. ( A copy is housed safely in my fencing notebook.)

No fencing for a week and a half. Kids are heading to JOs and then there is Thanksgiving. I need to train on my own during this time. I also intend to hit the gym, and try to renew my dedication there. I have been so slack in that regard for so long.

Matt Cox was coaching sabre tonight. He is awesome. Matt told me at the ref clinic that I had a great en guard. ( I never heard the word great....and my fencing form in the same breath before. My chest swelled with pride for days.) Tonight, he worked on my en guard. I was making errors. 

Some days you are Zorro....some days you are the evil Mexican governor's guards.

911.........Fencer Down!

Henri injured her ankle fencing the other night.  Henri is a woman around my age.

In the words of Henri's daughter: " Mom....You are SUCH a girl!"

Henri spent her first tournament shopping .

Her club "hoodie" sweat shirt is pink.

Henri once stopped in a lesson because she had a " nail emergency"

Henri blew her ankle making it 4-4 in a 5 touch bout. She went on to get touch 5. Their were tears in her eyes, when she hobbled off the strip.

Often in fencing, a petite body houses the heart of a lion.

Henri could be a very good fencer. I hope she is okay and continues. I like her and she has  natural ability. ( She also makes me laugh.)

Also: I started something new this week. I made a list of things I wanted to work on and review this month. I always do this, but I never wrote it down before. .It is helping me stick to it. Two of the things require me to make my coaches help me in specific areas. It will be interesting to see how that goes.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Fence For Food

I went to a Ref Clinic this weekend. I learned a few things and have things to work on.

There was a "Fence for Food" novice tournament that followed this. I ran the little kid part of the tournament.

I once thought that if I became good enough, I might like to start a kids class in High Point or some place after I retire. I realized this weekend that I may not be able to cope with little kids in masse anymore.

I will put that pipe dream on hold. 

PS. I only of late told my kids about directing the little kids in their first electric tournament.   I was very patient for a long time and then I watched one little kid moving his head  weirdly back and forth before the bout. This 6 year old boy was wearing a mask. I walked over to him,stopping the bout and asked him if there was a problem. He said his nose itched. I told him to suck it up and started the bout. I also now remember that all my coaches had their butts sitting over at a big table, just yacking and taking it easy while I was in "kiddy hell". I have now made a note of that....I WILL get even. I also saw two little kids bouncing a ball near a strip where "big people" were fencing. I walked over to them and asked them if they knew there was a penalty if that ball rolled on to the strip.  Okay......now I have odd parenting skills....and they are balanced by my wife's sweet loving  parenting skills. Our kids turned out great. ( I have no idea what we did right...but I digress.) In my house....with my kids...we only have ONE penalty. If even today I asked my kids."What is the penalty for screaming and making noise while I am driving on the interstate?"......They would hang their heads and meekly utter,....."Death". I found out at this little tournament that maybe I should have another penality for the first time offenders under the age of 8.Nov. 15

Happily....I Need a New Goal

Saturday, I fenced in a tournament and got my" E" in epee. ( An "E" is a designation of rank within the USFA.) This has pretty much been my goal in fencing and I am really happy about it. Of course.....Now I need another goal. That will not be hard to come up with. It is an easy thing to do in fencing.

What I learned from this:

That if you think someone is a jerk, maybe you should give them a second chance. I think I knew this once and forgot it.

That your wife should always give you a hug for luck before a tournament. ( I am not sure about this one, but I am going to try it again the next time I fence a tournament.)

I have always liked Tommy. I learned I liked him a lot. (My team mate.) He is a good guy.

That a ride home after doing well in a tournament, is a lot faster and better ride than one of those loooonnnnggg reflective rides home.

That if you are down 11-6 in a DE, that it does not hurt to try some risky and creative things.


That I need to work on aerobic conditioning and loose some weight, to compensate for my age. ( I have known this for a long time, but I am going to do it now.)

That your wife likes it if you give her your medal, and tell her you got it because of her lucky hug.

 

Been a While Sense a Post Jim

Sunday, Nov 6, 2005 - 03:54pm
I think four classes have passed sensed my last post. So, to recap..........

Foil: Sucked
Sabre: Sucked....but maybe not as bad. I will know more tomorrow.
Epee: I did well. I generally do. It is my weapon. Plus I painted my mask to look like a scull for Halloween. I am sure it was distracting, though I did it as a joke.

Foil: I can't say I sucked, because I have no way to measure the "suckieness" of it. I mostly fenced new women students and even though I tried to go easy on them and let them practice, I cleaned their clocks. There was no honor in this. These women were aggressive. That is good, but I find that if I get pushed to hard, I go into epee mode and my hand moves on it's own accord. I like the new older women in class. They are nice. Somehow their presence comforts me and I am not so discouraged in foil.

I need to find a place to rent a vidio camera. I need to see my self fence, so I can figure some things out.

Hamstring,Doubles and Market....Oh My!

Tuesday, Nov 1, 2005 - 05:12pm
Last Friday I fenced epee. I went easy as my leg is bothering me and has a bruise on it as large as a football. I did okay. I generally do pretty well in epee. It is my weapon.

We fenced doubles. Now what this means is, two people fence two people at the same time. This is not an actually any sort of true fencing, but it is good training............and it is fun.
When one person from the team of two is hit, this leaves one person to fence two people at the same time.

All I can think of is in the movies, where the hero fights two or more people at the same time.
I am pretty sure now that the Mexican army guys that Zorro fought, where slow ...untrained....and had recently smoked some really good weed. Fencing two people is tough.

I worked all weekend and my ankles and feet are hurting. I fenced foil tonight......I did okay.
Not good...but okay. Unfortunately I was a bit to dynamic in my footwork and my leg is smarting pretty good.

There is a break this week, so I will not fence again until next Monday. I am never happy not to fence, but this is a good thing, I need some time to heal and rest.

Ref


There is an advantage to spending a weekend helping at a "mostly kid" fencing tournament. ( Particularly if you are not a coach or don't have a kid fencing. ) You spend a lot of time watching referees.

I went to foil class tonight, even though my hamstring is not good enough to fence. ( Mostly to bring Sandy a book I promised to lend her and partly because I read Woody's blog and just wanted to hang out with the club.) I thought I would watch for a while and then take off.

I was asked to ref foil. ( This is mostly because Sally is really ragged from the tournament.  It seemed to have the opposite effect on Woody. Woody and Sally are coaches.) Now prior to this weekend I would have freaked at refing foil. I am not good at it or the game. I had hoped to learn something about refing foil, because I think every fencer should have some skill at refing and because I think it would help be in my quest to become a foilist. I do not have the hand jesters down. ( I need to study that. Holding a box remote and a clip board would have hampered it any way.) But I made GOOD and correct calls...most of the time.
I never (in my opinion) made a wrong call, or spouted something that was wrong. I did not use the correct terminology a couple of times and a few times I did not go through the whole rigger-morrow......but I did 500% better than before this weekend.

I am proud of my self and hopeful that this may lead to some small improvement in foil.

(Editors Note: Dave... I begin to understand why you were an umpire.)



The Titanic Open

Monday, Oct 10, 2005 - 07:11pm   

For those of you (I smiled here because I am writing this like someone reads this)....For those of you unfamiliar with fencing small tournaments, they are generally open events. That means that both genders and all ages fence together. This favors young male fencers.


My club is trying to start running tournaments that compensate for this, so this weekend was the Titanic Open. ( Women and Children Only. )

 A ton of work goes into these events. I spent most of the day there helping out.

The reason for this entry is to tell of yet another good and interesting thing about fencing.

(A) When your club members win, you truly feel happiness. ( I hope it is that way for most people.)

(B) When kids in the club do well you truly share their joy.

(C) When kids don't do well, but are having a good time anyway, you are kind of happy.
( And if you pay attention to this, you might just learn something.)

(D) When people are grateful and thank you for small kindness at a tournament, you don't exactly feel happy, but it is pretty nice.

My leg is  bothering me from a ham string injury.  Being on my feet all day has not helped.   

   Tomorrow I direct the women's epee event. I have never done that before in a tournament.
It sounds somewhat impressive if you know nothing of fencing. People that know fencing, realize a potted plant could direct epee. Nonetheless, I am a tiny bit nervous about it.

My Sweetie


I have been kind of negative in my web log on fencing. I need to correct that in case anyone ever reads this other than Dave. There have been a ton of wonderful little things I have learned and experienced in fencing. Little things .....like the first time I beat one of my coaches or learned a technique that worked for me. So many little wonderful things, but in today's post I will tell you of one of the best I remember.

 

I had been fencing foil for a couple of months and had just discovered epee.  I had fenced epee for 2 weeks and the club was going to NC Divisionals (That is the big state fencing tournament.) So I go...and I fence epee. ( I evidently do not wish to have any self esteem at all.) Well, I both sucked and did quite well at the same time. I had barely fenced electric at all and was clumsy. In my pools I always got a point or two and I beat one guy from ASU. I lost my first DE to the guy who was seated 20th. I think there where around 55 places and I finished 46 or something like that.Our head coach had us stick around for a team epee competition. Myself and two other guys. ( One my age and one in his late 40s.) We fenced the NC State team. We did not beat them, but it was pretty close and we had nothing to be ashamed of.

 

Anne (my wife) was with me. She had gone shopping during most of the tournament and when she came back to watch me was having some difficulty finding me. If you have never been to a fencing tournament, it is kind of difficult. Everyone is wearing white and a mask. You get the picture. 

 As we walked to the car to head for home, she took my arm and whispered, " I was really impressed."My mouth fell open and I blinked a few times and said ," Impressed with WHAT?!?!.""That you could go toe to toe with all those kids less than half your age.   I was truly impressed"She meant it.

It had been a long time sense I impressed  my wife with my physical prowess.

I loved it. 

Going Really Well.......NOT!


Well, I told my self I would fence through the weekend, as I told my coaches I would aThursday, Oct 6, 2005 - 04:23pm 

Well, I told my self I would fence through the weekend, as I told my coaches I would help with a tournament this weekend.Injured tonight. Hamstring. Folded up like a lawn chair. I will access the damage in the morning.The trails and tribulations of an older fencer. Sheesh! 

Part of the weirdness of the situation is that I feel alone. Surely there must be people like me in the Veteran ( Veteran is fencing talk for old people) community. People That started at 50. I meet some at the club from time to time, but I don't let myself get attached, as they generally only last a month or two.  

                                                                                                                                          Here is an example of the "freakiness" of being an older, yet new fencer. This summer I took a week off from work to study with the coaches at UNC. It was a youth fencing camp, but Coach Miller was kind enough to let me be the "old kid." I was really impressed with Coach Miller and very much with Coach Josh. ( Josh last name escapes me. B fencer in epee...former Delta H club member...from Oakridge...very athletic) They were not so impressed with me. Now some of our kids went to one of these camps and they were high school kids and figured that the kids I would study with would be the same. Well...no.
At least two ofthe kids looked like Christopher Robin in Winnie the Poo. A few slightly older...a couple of High Schoolers and the "OLD GUY FREAK." I learned a lot from the class, but it was so very uncomfortable. Partly because I wondered what these kids parents must think? Potential Child Molester? Is this guy a little slow? Geeze....gives me the willies just thinking about it.  

                                                                                                                                                This is a sport that like most sports is designed for the young, because they have the potential to be champions. ( This is as it should be. ) We older folk have to suck it up and get what we can out of it.Perhaps I have gotten enough. I will decide this weekend. Perhaps I will look into another club.
s weekend.Injured tonight. Hamstring. Folded up likea lawn chair. I will access the damage in the morning.The trails and tribulations of an older fencer. Sheesh!Part of the weirdness of the situation is that I feel alone. Surely there must be people like me in the Veteran ( Veteran is fencing talk for old people) community. People That started at 50. I meet some at the club from time to time, but I don't let myself get attached, as they generally only last a month or two.Here is an example of the "freakiness" of being an older, yet new fencer. This summer I took a week off from work to study with the coaches at UNC. It was a youth fencing camp, but Coach Miller was kind enough to let me be the "old kid." I was really impressed with Coach Miller and very much with Coach Josh. ( Josh last name escapes me. B fencer in epee...former Delta H club member...form Oakridge...very athletic) They were not so impressed with me. Now some of our kids went to one of these camps and they were high school kids and figured that the kids I would study with would be the same. Well...no.
At least two of the kids looked like Christopher Robin in Winnie the Poo. A few slightly older...a couple of High Schoolers and the "OLD GUY FREAK." I learned a lot from the class, but it was so very uncomfortable. Partly because I wondered what these kids parents must think? Potential Child Molester? Is this guy a little slow? Geeze....gives me the willies just thinking about it.This is a sport that like most sports is designed for the young, because they have the potential to be champions. ( This is as it should be. ) We older folk have to suck it up and get what we can out of it.Perhaps I have gotten enough. I will decide this weekend. Perhaps I will look into another club.

Is it Time to Throw in the Sweat Towel?


Monday night was the absolute worst I have ever done in foil. I believe I saw a little kid look at me like I was a wuss. I actually became upset with this little guy, because I felt he was displacing target (not intentionally) causing me to hit off target. Who cares??! He is a little kid!! That is when I began to think it may be time to hang up my blades.


I have been fencing foil for a bit over a year and a half and I am convinced I was better at it a year ago than I am today. Now in all fairness, I fenced foil for a couple of months and then found epee. After I met Mr. Uberfoil, foil class was just something to do, so I could practice for epee. I did not take it seriously. Over the last few months, I have come to realize what an art foil is. I feel like if I am to be a fencer, I need to become proficient in this weapon. ( That does not mean win a lot or do well in competition...at least to me.)


I have always thought of foil as the green vegetable of fencing. It is good for you and you need it. ( You may not love it, but you need it.) Epee is your grandmother's Red Velvet Cake and a glass of milk. I do not have a food group for sabre as of yet, I have only been fencing it for a couple of months. I am unconcerned with sucking at this weapon, as I have not yet devoted the correct amount of time to it and thus reach a true state of "suckieness."


Now to deal with the questions. Do I hang up fencing? Do I hang up foil and stick with epee and sabre? Do I keep going to foil and sucking...feeling awful about my progress? I do not know how much more of that I can take. Do I talk to my coach? I feel like they expect me to somehow figure this out on my own. I really need help DURING a few bouts.


I know that part of my problem is the depression I feel about my career. I work in a furniture related industry. In a couple of years there will be no more American furniture industry. It is almost gone at the time of this writing. I am in a design field and make frequent trips to Asia. As the customer base is here in the US, my job may survive...it may not. It brings me down. After a day of thinking about it, often my head is not right for fencing.


But I digress. To fence...to try and find the love I had for it again..or to face the fact that I may never be any better than I am at this moment. 
 

What I have learned from fencing:


Entry for October 03, 2005


What I have learned from fencing

(1) That if you can beat Brad and Brad can beat Chad, this does not mean you can beat Chad. 

(2) This is very much a mental game. You can be in the zone.....no where near the zone.....one foot and part of your shoulder in the zone. Being, IN the zone is best. 

                                                                                                                                     (3) For some people (and I am one of those) you really should become proficient at foil, before moving on to other weapons. After tonight, I am all but convinced I will never be a decent foilist. 

(4) That you can actually sense when someone thinks they have you beat.
( Your in a pool  and you are down 3-0. ) 

(5) When you are in a pool and down 3-0 and your opponent thinks you are beat, if you get your head right, you can still win.

(6) If you or your opponent gets flustered or upset, the one that isn't flustered or upset is going to win. ( Here is one place where my age helps me...okay....most of the time.)

(7) That I would rather be in a club with intelligent and courteous people that isn't all that high powered, than a winning club with a bunch of rude butt wipes. 

(8) That there are people that feel compelled to post on every topic on the USFA discussion boards.

(9) That are some rude people on the USFA discussion boards (like all message boards) and I am guessing they are in the clubs that are a bunch of rude butt wipes.

  (10) Epee really is truth.

Editors Note:

The next ten or so entries are transferred from another blog. They happen over the space of a month or two. Pay no attention to the dates posted.

Lacking the Fire



When I turned 50, it was rather bothersome. I was going to the gym regularly, but I felt like I was training for no purpose. I was feeling a bit sorry for myself as I was getting older. I was feeling sorry for myself, because I had no passion. Sense I graduated from college, I have always had a passion.


Some lasted more than decades and some just a year or two. By passions, I mean martial arts, gaming, working out. Those were big ones. Smaller ones like dabbling in languages or Napoleonic history came and went, though the little ones still surface briefly from time to time.

As I turned 51, I was beginning to think maybe this is what growing older is like. No passion. Just take your self home every night and plop your big butt in front of the TV or computer. Then I took a CALL class at UNCG. An introduction to foil fencing.

Suddenly there was the fire! I loved it. I was terrible at it, but I loved it! It was like a fast paced video game with sweating and being out of breath. It was like combat without pain. ( A few bruises once in a while and a shot to the groin could be a bad day.....but basically no pain, except for some sore muscles.) My mind was consumed by it. I read everything I could find about it. As soon as the course was over I had joined a local fencing club. I felt alive again.

More later, as an aging man talks about his trails and tribulations of pursuing a young persons sport.