Thursday, April 27, 2006

Zen Arrow

Everything fascinates me about fencing, however at the moment the thing I find fascinating is the thought process. More importantly, the thought process when you are fencing your best.

My new friend in the UK, finds that she can channel anger (in some form) to make herself fence better.  I have read about another person who posted on the fencingnet discussion boards, who evidently did the same thing. I can never do that. I need to be as emotion free as possible.

Evidently I have two ways mentally to do my best in a bout. One is to be in a state of flow. This is also called being in the zone. It is (to me) where there is little awareness of conscious thought or emotion. I have only experienced this twice in fencing, where it lasted the entire bout. I had it happen more than that in martial arts, but that was over an 18 year period of time. A high level fencer wrote in the fencingnet discussion boards that he found that he was most often in the zone" when he was fencing an E fencer."  I understand his point, but I believe that he merely hasn't hit one of those times yet...or can't.

The other is total concentration. This is also hard to verbalize. It is like solving a puzzle, only the information needed is coming in at a blinding speed and you are willing yourself to keep that information coming and each physical movement is based upon that input. Until the point where you close distance or your opponent closes distance. Then the whole Zen arrow thing takes over, like being in the zone.

Of course, as Sun Tzu wrote "the best way to win a battle is to be strong." Perhaps if you are technically a strong fencer and you are physically strong in all ways possible, perhaps these types of things are less noticeable...or needed. Or perhaps the thought process is so different from person to person that it is not truly something that can be discussed.

My head is starting to hurt just thinking about it.


shazna02 said...

I find the brain-body connection to be a very odd thing - sometimes, even when my body is panting and trembling, my mind can be very calm and direct the body to do things well.  Other times, I just "think to much", while other times my arms and legs seem to move by themselves while my mind is quick frankly distracted - I've got an arm hit while I was wondering what time I should go that night - totally unrelated - how exactly does that work?  It's a mystery.  I don't like mysteries - please solve this philosophical issue for me Grey Epee!.


azzazelle said...

I find this quote pretty much sums up my thought process on fencing:

"Fencing is like holy communion. You must come to it in a fit state of body and soul. If you break that supreme law, then punishment is bound to follow." - Arturo Perez-Reverte - The Fencing Master

I try to come to fencing leaving all other concerns at the door. I try to only have fencing on my mind. Whether this leads into the 'zen arrow' you describe or not is probably a matter of some debate, but I think it helps me approach 'the zone'.

shazna02 said...

"Fencing is like holy communion. You must come to it in a fit state of body and soul"

Well that explains a lot - while I can get my body in shape I am afraid my soul is pretty much toast - that might explain the green ichor that drips from my blade as I fence, as well as the dimming of the lights when I score a touch.