Thursday, September 28, 2006

A Year

Somewhere around a year ago, I started keeping this journal.  I started keeping for a number of reasons. One of which was that I had been reading Woody’s blog. Prior to that, I had only a vague idea of what a “blog” was. My friend David also was responsible for getting me to start this.

 The other day, my friend Beth, asked me what I had gotten out of fencing. Today I scanned the titles of my entries. Holy Crap!!! A lot of things have happened in a year! Injury and illness…..frustration and joy……….making friends and watching friends leave….learning a great deal and finding out you have not learned all that much. I read the titles to my entries and I cannot believe I did all of that in one year’s time.

 I am glad I kept this journal. I have been thinking that I may print it out and leave it for my kids to find one day…or perhaps their kids. I would have loved to read something like this that m grandfather wrote. The truth may be that future children of MY children, may not really give a damn.  BUT......just maybe they will. And just maybe .....just of them will fence.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Last Saturday, I had to withdraw from a low level tournament to teach a University of North Carolina at Greensboro continuing education class. I had looked forward to this tournament, but one of the coach's father had a heart attack and responsibility raised its ugly head. This is a beginner foil class and I feel qualified to teach it. I do not feel qualified to teach much more than that. I have never loved foil, like I love epee. I only fenced it in a tournament once when they needed an extra guy. I plan to correct that this weekend. I am not looking forward to fencing foil, even at this very low level part of the event.


The class I taught went well, due in fact to the 2 adults and 2 young people I had helping me. I was not looking forward to teaching the kid's class. This was lesson number two for the "younglings." In lesson number one the kid's foot work (and pretty much all their movement) was pure chaos! I hated it. This lesson a miracle happened and they made HUGE progress. Some lack the strength to hold their weapons for a long time, but they improved so much I could hardly believe it. I found it so very rewarding. The adult class went okay as well. I felt like we (the team) had done a good job. After class, I had a couple of beers with Kathy and Henri in celebration. It was a good day.

 I am spending so much time fencing lately, that I feel guilty about not doing the things around my house that need doing. I feel guilty about not spending enough time with my family. In a week or so, I need to figure out some sort of balance.

 On the other hand, I want to get better at what I am doing. (Both as a fencer and as a coach.)  I do not have much of a way to do that, without going to any workshop I can find, or fence in tournaments. Mat and Jen Cox are in our town, but I have no desire to fence sabre and that is all they do. UNC is a place where some of our club is going to get higher level coaching. I would like to do that, but I do not think I can spend yet another night fencing. It is too much now. Perhaps after the CALL classes are done in 7 more weeks. I will reevaluate. I do not know how to get better.

 (Note to the fairy :)


 I know that you say I am a Lost Boy and I do not get old and that I fence with pirates. However, once in a while, I need to talk about the age thing. So sprinkle a little pixie dust and allow me a brief time out from Neverland.

Lost Boy Jim

 Now......Where was I?

The clock is ticking for me. If I am going to develop any skills, I need to do so now, while I can still hang with the young ones. (To some extent.) I wish I knew what was realistic to expect at my age. Is this it? Is this as good as I can be, within my limitations?
If you are not in your mid fifties, you may not really understand this question.

Fencing is a strange thing. You love it, but you beat yourself up over it. It is an abusive relationship and you can't leave.

I hope I get one of those positive insights, that leaves me relaxed about where I am in the fencing world. January 12th I will have been fencing three years. I am not as far along as I hoped I would be, but I have gone a little ways down the path.

I fence this weekend in another tournament. I will fence three events.

On a bright note, my tall friend Beth did great in her first tournament and got her "E" in stiff competition. I am so proud of you Tiger!




Thursday, September 21, 2006

Working on It

From a week ago Friday until Monday, I had spent well over thirty hours fencing in a 10 day period. ( fencing or a fencing related activity...WELL over!) 

I did not fence foil. ( I was FLAT fenced out!) I started doing an inventory of our equipment. This is going to be a slooooowwww process. It takes a whole class just to do one cabinet.

I am also now a mentor. ( I do not think I have ever had the label "mentor" before....not officially...though there have obviously been many such times in my life.) My mentee (I had no idea that was a word) is a high school girl named Meredith. She is doing a senior project. She is studying fencing. There was paper work from the school for me to fill out and everything! Her Mom is an aerobics instructor (who has legs like a female super hero) and is fencing with her. Oddly enough, I feel qualified enough to do this. I take it very seriously and I hope I can help this young woman get a good grade.

Last Saturday I also helped teach a CALL class. CALL is a continuing education program put on by the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. This is a beginning foil class. There is a kids class and an adult class. Dealing with little kids is hard...dealing with ten of them is real hard.

I mention the CALL class, because this is where I started, almost three years ago. I have this whole "Lion King" circle of life thing, playing in my head. There is a guy on the fencing net discussion boards whose signature is a Japanese proverb. " To teach is to learn." I hope that holds true, as I have so much to learn. I am working on it!

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Talking a Little Smack

I went to the UNC epee tournament. It was my first tournament of the season and I knew going in ( by looking at the preregistration ) that I was going to get the beat pretty bad. That is not good for the ego, but I believe that if you are going to become a better fencer, you need to fence people better than you are.

Pools: I do not know the ratings of the people I fenced. I will wait until the results are posted to analyze things with a fine tooth comb. I was in a pool of six. ( Counting myself.) I got beat 5-4;5-1 and 5-4. I beat two people. One was 5-0 and one was 5-3. I think my indicator was a +1. Not real impressive! The two people I beat were obviously fairly new, by the way they fenced. The kid that ate my lunch must have been around 15. He was one of those fast little guys, that unfortunately was damn good fencer besides.

Moving On: There were around 30 people at the tournament and the DE’s were posted in a manner that was forgein to me. There were close to 60 slots with a bunch of "buys". I had one as well. I did not get it! I was looking over a guys shoulder and saw that I was seed 22 and was up against the 11 guy. The guy in front of me was looking at my name and said’ " This guy ( me ) will win this bout. He is really good!". My mouth fell open and then he saw I was standing behind him . I said, " Thank you" and smiled. It was the high point of the tournament for me. This guy beat me in pools 5-4. I have no idea what he saw...or thought he saw...but I am going to allow myself to think it is a good thing. I need a little ego repair.

DEs: I hook up on the strip. I am facing a ( I guess) 20 year old guy my size. I had talked to him briefly outside were it was cool.

He looked at me and said, " Are you tried Pops?"

My eyes got wide and I thought to myself, " You did NOT just call me Pops!"

" No...I am fine. " ,I replied. " Are you tired?"

" No " , he said.

I raised one eye brow and said, " You are about to be."

He said, " Bring it!"

It was on.

He scored the first point. I tied it up. It went back and forth, a lot of doubles and the score was tied around 6 -6. That is when he tried a toe shot and I popped him in the mask. I am ahead by one. The next touch I tag him and I am ahead by two. He attacks and every time he does, I counter for the double. It was easy. I could have done it all day. Sadly, it was when the score was about 10-8 a wave of smartness flowed over him. Sadly the back wash of stupidity flowed over me. He saw that he could not win by attacking me, so he stopped. He would not attack. I know this game. I PLAY this game! But like an idiot, I do not just stand there and wait him out, I attack. He beat me 15-12. He had good things to say about my counters. I do not know how this guy finished up, but I know he won two other DEs. If I get beat, I prefer it to be by some one who does well that day. It kind of takes the edge off.

There is a lot I could say about this tournament and our fencers there, but this post is long enough.

I went to this tournament with the idea it would be a lesson and it was. I did not have any gloomy, beat-myself-up feelings on the way home. None at all. I felt okay...not good...but okay.

I am sure before the season is out, I will have one of those wallow-in-self-pity drive homes. I just hope I have a happy drive home this season to balance it out.


Saturday, September 16, 2006

This Week

Foil: Woody was dead after his trip and Mario and I took the class. We had not planned on it, but as I had just come from a fencing clinic, I had some new drills for the class to work on. It went well, though the drills were a bit advanced for a couple of the new students.

We had a coaches meeting afterwards, to talk about the CALL classes and the Titanic Open. ( One of the tournaments we sponser....for women and children only.) Kathy is also looking in to having Rudy Volkman ( author of " The Big Book of Fencing" ) give us a weekend of training. That sounds great to me. I hope it works out, as it would be further help on my goals.

I skipped sabre, as I am not ready to pursue that weapon yet and I was just lazy. My legs are/were still sore from the weekend clinic and they needed to heal. I have read that Matt and Jen have a new adult sabre class starting next Friday. Sadly, it would overlap epee. I have given some thought to seeing if I could take this class for six weeks, then drive to epee and finish up there with some bouting. It would be a kind of introduction to sabre class for me. I do not care for sabre, but it is a shame to not have instruction from people as good as Matt and Jen. I have not decided what to do. Nor have I talked to Matt and Jen to see if this would be okay. Besides...It would mean missing part of epee night. Just thinking of missing epee tends to send me into DTs.

Epee: Good class with a lot of bouting. I did not fence badly. I was VERY relaxed. I let the kids get a some points, but I was always in control. I have some concerns that I do not know how to handle or deal with. My range of attacks/techniques seems to be less that it once was. I use about six, not counting targets of opportunity. I do not use a couple of my old attacks/techniques anymore. I wonder why. I kind of miss them. I think I need to pick an attack or two that I rarely use and try and work it into every bout. I need to give this some thought. I am in a rut.

I am fencing in my first tournament of the season on Sunday. I am going to get my butt kicked. There are to many young and fast "C" fencers. I mean GOOD "C" fencers! I will try to make thisa learning experience and just have some fun.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Good Night...I Hope!

It is three thirty in the morning. I can't sleep.

My legs are hurting. It is not" god awful" bad, but is way beyond the healthy, good feeling " I-have-been-working-out" pain. This is part of the reason I am awake.

The other reason is that I keep thinking about this weekend. This weekend I attended a 2 day fencing clinic (hosted by the Raleigh Fencers) and given by Maestro Beguinet.
Part of the description given on Ask Fred is as follows:

"Two-day clinic for competitive fencers ages 14 and up. Maestro Beguinet will focus on tempo and right of way issues for competitive fencers looking to move to the next level. "

For those that do not know him, Maestro Beguinet is one of the coolest guys on the planet. ( Crap! I just thought of something I need to post on our message boards. Maestro Beguinet's birthday is September 14th. The club should send him a card. ) That is my mind working again. It is the main reason I cannot sleep.

There was supposed to be three weapons that you can train in. I was going to give myself a vacation and study epee, but no other epee people came.  I worked on foil, which is what I should have done in the first place.  Some of it translated well to epee.

Another reason I am awake is that, I kept thinking about the drills we did. I did not write them down, like a good fencer would , so I am doing so now. They kept going through my mind. Most are simple ones that you have done many times before, but with a new element that you must concentrate on.

I might have taken notes when I was there, but it was beyond hot in that unair-conditioned warehouse. It was not AS hot as the "Blades at the Beach Tournament," BUT you were moving all the time. I could smell my soaking wet uniforms and T-shirts all the way in the back of my car on the trip home.

Also, It is not a wise idea to put foot pads in your crapy fencing shoes that do not have good arch supports, without taping them down. They slide and I now have blisters on all but three toes. recap....I smell awful...I hurt in many ways.....I am suffering from heat stroke.

It was a great weekend!!!

I might be able to sleep now. Good night everyone. Sweet dreams.




Thursday, September 7, 2006

For the Record

I  really have nothing to say, yet I feel like I should keep a record of events for Cam and Woody. They are to busy to read now (and having to much fun...I hope) but they may wish to review how things went upon their return.

Sabre was a very small class. Surprising, as it was so very large last week.  Mario did a good job with the drills. I used the same reward for footwork, of giving points for pools. It was fun. We finished about ten minutes early and called it a night.

Steven (from foil) has a friend that may be joining us on Monday. She is going to study fencing as a school project. A young woman that knows Woody and use to fence with Sally at UNCG will be joining us that night as well.

Tomorrow is epee.

This weekend there is a COMPETITIVE SKILLS CLINIC Given by Alex Beguinet and hosted by the Raleigh Fencers. I intend to spend the night in Raleigh. At the time of this writing, I am unsure if anyone else is going or not.   

Monday, September 4, 2006

"Camless" Epee

I think we had a good epee class last night...heavy on the "good"...light on the "class".
I lead footwork with a variation on the" green" is advance...." red" is retreat kind of thing. I tried to trip them up and the two winners got one point that they could use anytime on the strip that night in pools. They seemed to have fun with that. We went from this point to pools without a lesson. I cannot speak for Mario's side of the club ( He had pools on another strip.) ....but I had most of the kids on my side as we started pools.....and well...I lost control. Sean and Kristin were back. So there was much socializing! Jordan somehow ended up fencing in both sets of pools. I would not say kids were running amuck, but Sally would have flipped! Hey..I will tighten up a little next week. We had around 16 people. Chris and Noah were back as well.

I got to work in a bout with Tommy. I was up 3-1 or something like that and he came back and beat me. Hey..It was his turn to win!

Nicole was back and we have plotted to embarrass Tommy at an upcoming football game.

Megan came by to fence. It was good to see her. She is doing well except for a statistics class.

Then there was Henri. She was benevolent, even though she was placed "in charge." She had a good time and wants to fence epee. She called Mario out for his comments on the boards. ( " Wounds of the flesh a surgeons skill may heal, but wounds of honor may only be mended with steel," ) Sadly (and using her footwork point) Mario won 5-4.

Kathy did not fence as her back was bothering her. She worked her repair magic and was the best thing we had going for controlling the kids.

Perhaps one of the most unnerving things that has ever happened in fencing, happened this night. Henri and Kathy talked about getting their nails done. I mean it was just sooo wrong on so many  levels. RIGHT next to me, they talked about this. On and on it went!!!! It still gives me the heeby-jeebies! Not that Kathy's nails don't look good..they do...but....this is all to weird!

Next week, perhaps I should subtract a point in pools for the bad little epeeist.