Tuesday, October 31, 2006

D is for DAMN!

A couple of people I know, tell me that if I had fenced in the "E and Under" part of the tournament I would have gotten my "D" rating easily.

You would think that I would be kicking myself for not staying. I did a little. I was told that the guy who won needed to be taken down a notch as he terribly obnoxious. ( Wiggling his butt at his opponent and bowing with some sort of SCA flourish.)

I looked at the stats. Nothing is a sure thing. So I do not feel THAT bad that I missed it and I feel good that a couple of people think I could have done that so easily.( In fact I have felt really good because of it.) A "D" rating is one of my goals. I know...I know...I am not supposed to think this way, but I do.

What if I did get it and it was easy. Would I be a "D " fencer? I do not want to a be a fencer that has a rating but always finishes below that rating in comparison. ( Okay...sometimes that happens to almost everyone, but it should NOT ALWAYS happen.)

In this last tournament, all the MALE "Ds" and the "C" finished at the top like they should have.( My girl, Kathy, did well against much larger and taller advisories.) The guy that won was an "E" but became a "D" so it all fits. I finished at the bottom of the MALE "D's"

(Speaking of girls, I also thought about Nicole on the ride home. I always look around to see if I am the oldest at the tournament. I noticed that often Nicole is the youngest person fencing at some tournaments. We both have the age thing going on when we compete.)

I just reread all that crap and I do not know where I was going with that thought, other than trying to analyze if I think that I can be a "D" and that if I got it, I would actually be a "D" fencer. Yep...I tend to over analyze the crud out of things!

In conclusion I will renew my efforts to get better in several different ways. Drop a few pounds, get to the gym a bit more often and maybe order a good epee bout DVD to watch and study. I will study with Coach Miller and I will get Cam to see if she can give me some tips. Iwill go to UNC and fence people who are going to wipe the floor with me. I will fence in tournaments whenever I can.( More often that I should, really.) I will work on techniques I pick up at these events and keep the ones that fit me.

Also, I think it only fair to admit that if I could go back in time I would have stayed for the "E and Under" event....because....Yes...I AM that shallow!!!

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Where I am.

I just got home from an open tournament at Touche Fencing Club. I enjoyed it. There were supposed to be 16 people, but it turned out to be 23. If it had been 25, it would have been nice for the winner, but would not have effected me. I had checked out some of the people that were pre-registered. I knew I could not beat at least 6 of them. There were another half dozen or so, that I would have to be lucky and have one of my GOOD days. My goal was to finish in the middle. I came in 7th in pools and 7th overall, so I was pleased.

I did something different this time. I generally print out info on the fencers I know will be there. (Their history and rating, so I will know who is who.) I did not do that this time. I treated them all the same and tried to fence them as well as I could. I think this may be a better way to go for me.

The "C' fencer that came in second had a move I want to work on. He would flick and use the bell guard as a fulcrum. That is pretty common. I can't do it, but I see a lot of people that can. The part that made it cool was that when you do this, people automatically bring their arm up. So if you miss and you go under the wrist as second intention, it can work well. I am going to give learning it a shot.

My pal, Miss Henri got her "E" in foil. I am so proud of her. I watch her flit around at places we have been together. People just seem to love her. She always makes me smile.

There were a group of kids from Winthrop at this event. I liked seeing them. They were not very skilled and I got the impression that this was their first tournament. They were all so wide eyed and eager when they came in. They were excited. It was fun and refreshing to watch them. Most people you see at tournaments have that "I have done this many times" kind of attitude. I guess I have that attitude as well. These kids were excited and having fun. That is the way it should be for us all. I hope I never get so jaded as to loose that entirely. If I do, then there is no point in fencing anymore.

I beat one of these kids in DE's and one of them told me I was "fantastic." It still makes me smile. I guess everything IS relative. I heard one of their group talking about me, because I had waxed one of their better fencers. ( Who, in reality was not very skilled....yet. He could be, he just needs to relax and take his time.) If they had stuck around longer they could have seen me get waxed by my next opponent, just like I beat that kid. He beat me like a rented mule! ( <~~~~~ one of my grandfather's sayings). They were an interesting group of kids. As things wound down for them, their expressions and mood changed. One was disappointed or angry at his results. One girl seemed to me soaking up knowledge from the experience. One happy smiling girl, left the same way she came in. One kids happy smiling face, was now a mask that I could no longer read. It was interesting and a little sad.

When I left these kids had started fencing in the "E and Under" part of the tournament. I look forward to seeing how they did.

I think that, from this tournament, I came to a conclusion. I think I have a very good idea (view) of were I am in fencing epee. I do not think I see myself as better than I am or any worse. I may not know where I am going in fencing, but I know were I am. That seems like a good start to me.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Relaxed Again

I asked my club to take me off the list on our web site that had me listed as a foil coach. I just could not beat myself up over that any longer, nor could I get good enough to be labeled that fast enough. I felt like I was pretending to be something I wasn't. It was killing me .

I feel free now.
If I can help a kid or coach someone, I am more than happy to do that within the limitations of my ability. I hope to help a great deal.

I just could not get good enough, fast enough to be as I thought I should be. It is a weapon I have not yet learned to love, that was getting between me and the one I do. I am not sure if my club mates get why this was making me crazy or not. I hope they do.

I am free now to dabble in learning foil and refereeing foil or to do neither. I am under no pressure to do so. It can be at my own pace.

I think things will be better in my little world of fencing now.



 Thursday night I went to my first NCFDP fencing class at UNC. It is not the warm friendly kind of place that I am use to, but I knew many people there for one reason or another. ( Even if I had only seen them fence at tournaments)

I did not get a chance to fence much. ( Understatement) But I got to watch several folks fence epee. I think I only saw one guy fencing that I MIGHT be able to take. That is good. That is why I came. I need to fence some higher level people and there they are. I have a couple of things I picked up from watching. ( Provided I can remember them.)

The other reason is I wanted a PL with Ron Miller. That was worth the drive and the money. It was truly an amazing experience. I need to change my en guard and the way I extend for a touch. This is going to take more than one lesson.

He could see small muscles being used and make corrections through a thick fencing jacket. That in its self is fairly awesome. He told me that we suffer from the same problem. Big shoulders and arms. I rely on strength to much.

One of the things that stunned me, was that he remembered seeing me fence. I was at NCFDP tournament a month or so ago and he remembered seeing ME fence.  He told me that I am strong and fast, but I am stiff. ( I thought I had made great progress in becoming more fluid, but I guess not.) He also told me that I needed to become more technically proficient (or words to that effect) and fence that way at first. Later in the bout, break out the speed and power.

The PL alone has persuaded me to stick with going to NCFDP for two months. I will reevaluate where I am going after that.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Ref Clinic

I went to a ref clinic this Sunday. I found that I was actually worse as a foil ref than I had previously thought, and I thought I was pretty bad.

It was a good clinic, as it was designed to cover a broad range of experience or lack there of.

Needless to say, there are questions I had wished I had asked before I left. Okay...now what? I want to get better, what do I do? If I wanted to study to become certified how do I go about it. I think Alex was the guy in our state that did that and his ability to do this lapsed. That man does so much for fencing, he cannot be faulted for not doing everything.

Is it easier to be certified as an epee ref than a foil ref? I would think so!! My thought there was to start with something easier and work my way up.

I really do not care at all about being certified. I just want to do a better job in the club.

I am a reasonably bright guy. If you believe in the validity of IQ test (I don't. I think they are biased in at least a couple of ways.) I have an IQ of 152/158. I was tested a third time but I never knew the results. Once was in second grade and the latter was in college. So...lets say that I am of average intelligence. YET....I cannot seem to follow the action of two people with foils in their hands! It frustrates me to no end! I also do not seem to have the ability to focus constantly on the action. My mind will wander at the most inopportune time.

I talked to my friend Dave about this who is a softball umpire. He tells me there are tricks to help with staying focused.

There is a foil ref clinic in Richmond coming up. It is a 3 and half hour drive and I am unsure if it they would frown on someone from another Division horning in.

I have not even started on my goals for adding some armory skills. I thought I would just buy one of the DVDs out and see what I can get out of that. I will put that on my do list. That is step ONE.

I am so torn. Part of me wants to learn these things so I become what I think a fencer should be and the other part says, " Screw it! I just want to fence epee and have some fun."

Neither one of these little voices I hear is wrong. You would not think that this would be a problem, but sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night because I am thinking about it or related fencing issues. I need to come to some sort of conclusion.


Saturday, October 21, 2006


 Hell at work is about over. One more small little voyage into hell today and it should be over. ( Saturday) It will be, of course, just in time to screw up doing the CALL class.

I fenced epee last night. It felt good. I was not tired at all.

In epee I am trying to find a new way of taking the blade that engages my opponent in 4 or their high inside line. I had no luck with this, as I did not have the right kind of people to practice on in my pools. I also have been thinking about trying a take from an engagement of eight. I have beat attack that I use (or use to use) that starts that way. Sadly, someone has to have their weapon extended a bit. I also want to work on an attack that Alex showed us, were you close to in-fighting, but I cannot remember how the take starts. I will try to question some people about this and writing it here will be a reminder to me.

I have some things I want to work on with a left handed fencer. Trev where the heck are you! I fenced a "C" fencer last season (lefty) , who had basically two attacks. I need to work on defense against those. I am sure we will meet again.

While I am on the reminder thing..............

I fenced a guy this season that hit me under the wrist. He is younger and faster than me. Well.. heck!...I guess the younger thing was pretty much a given! I sometimes (and for a variety of reasons) will extend my blade straight and make small advances toward my opponent. It is like a point in line with epee. It tends to freak some people out. For others, just another position for them to get a touche on me. In this case I was doing well countering this guy and this is one of the ways that I force people to attack. When I do this, one of two things generally happens. They try to take the blade or they go for the hit under my wrist, if they are not to tall. In the case with this guy, I got the response I was looking for, but I had a brain fart or he was just to fast for me. He hit me under the wrist with one of those long low lunges and his point came up to almost be in line with the ceiling. It stands to reason, if I fence him again and repeat this action, he will repeat his. Generally, when I bait someone for this action, I just drop the tip and get the point. The way his blade comes in and as fast as he is, I am not sure that will work. I got Tommy to help try to simulate this once as he moves in a similar fashion on this attack. though in general, his point would not be so upright. Dropping the tip did not help and dropping my bell guard only ended up in a double. I need to think on this some more.

I often "duck" by dropping my rear knee when I counter. I have been thinking that I should work on a move where I move to the left; duck and counter.

These are things that I have been thinking about and I want to remember.

Tomorrow is the ref clinic. I am not looking forward to it, but I feel it is something I have to do....like going to the dentist. Maybe it will be more enjoyable than I think. Maybe not.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Where Did The Fun In This Go?

I went to foil Monday night. I did almost nothing, but I did do a tiny bit of foot work without lunging. My leg seems okay.

A friend left that night. It got me to thinking.

This Sunday I plan to go to a ref seminar. I am trying to become a foilist. To do that, I must increase my skills at refing It is all one big chain of goals. I want to be a fencer, so I figure I need to be a foilist. The club needs another foil coach and becoming a better ref is one of the ways I can bring some small skill in that regard to the table. I have been on and on about these goals.

But after some more thought, I really do not want to do them all that much. I keep trying to be a foilist. Truth is, I just do not like foil. I keep doing this because I need to be a coach. I don't know enough to be a coach and I do not want to be one. At least not a full time one. I can help with a beginner class and fill in if needed of course, but that is all I fill qualified to do. I do not even know how I ended up going down this "coachy" path.

I want to fence epee and I want to be better at that weapon. That is all I want. I would go to the other classes, but only to do footwork and to take what I could from those weapons and adpat it to epee. I still want to pursue my goals (foil;coaching;being a ref; armory), but not at a frantic pace. I want to dabble in the other things (foil;coaching;being a ref; armory) and truly study epee. I think it is the only true fencing. I am not trying to start a fight here, it is just what I believe

There is no other place to study epee in Greensboro that I know of. That leaves UNC. ( Long drive and unfriendly people). I can work out more and loose weight. I can fence in tournaments as much as possible and buy some fencing DVDs to watch. That is all I can think of that can help me. Unless some great fencing master moves to Greensboro and wants to teach a vet to fence epee, I just do not see a way for me to improve. I know Cam can still show me some things, but there is never enough time and I think I need more.

I have given some thought to hanging up fencing lately. The problem there is, I like the people at my club so much and I have no passion to replace fencing with. What would I do without fencing?  Most likely I would go home every night and plop my butt in front of the TV (I hate TV for the most part) or the computer. When I am on the computer, all I read is about fencing. Though I have spent some time this week looking at pictures of Kate Beckinsale.

But there is something bothering me about fencing lately. I woke up this morning thinking about what is wrong and could not go back to sleep. ( Note: After some comments, I changed part of this post. Sooooo, some of the comments related more prior to this change.)

 Perhaps this is just the fatigue of my job from the last couple of weeks talking. I will see how it goes. Friday is epee, that always seems to help.


Sunday, October 15, 2006

They Broke Me!

After two weeks of working (literally) night and day, I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

The only fencing I did was Friday night epee. For some reason, I thought I could do that while I was exhausted. I was wrong. I was bad. I got tired real easy and I had no concentration. On the bright side, I fenced.

Saturday, a miracle happened and I did not have to work past noon. I made it to the club to help with the UNCG CALL class. I liked working with the little kids. Sadly, I was helping demonstrate a move and landed wrong. I did something to the back of my leg, BELOW the knee. I never hurt anything there before. Hey..at least it was a different place! I think it may have been due to how tight the muscles in my legs were. In the previous 3 days, I think I may have walked about 50 miles (no exaggeration) from showroom to showroom. The last time I did a 55 mile hike through the wilderness, I was 14 and it took about 5 days. I like to walk and I do not tire, though my ankles and feet will begin to smart a bit. Maybe I did not screw anything up badly. I had hoped to go fence at a UNC tournament today. ( Sunday).
I tested my leg and it is not good enough, though it does not seem to hurt anywhere near as bad as yesterday. Plus, there is the whole "I am tired beyond the telling of it" thing.

I get a bit antsy at times like these. I become uncertain if I have hit an "old spurt" or I am just out of shape and tired. The only way to find out is to rest and work out a little bit. Then, fence again. I feel pretty confident that I can still hang and it is just the work that has me down. I will find out later in the week.

I may not get to fence again until next Friday. That bites!

PS The verdict is still out on these Leon Paul shoes. They do not bend enough to suit me. If I get to fence in a tournament, I am using my old worn out PBT shoes. It is my hope that these cool "looking" shoes will break in. I have heard about good fencers who have several different pairs of shoes for different needs and floor surfaces. If I ever get to that point, someone please shoot me!

Note to Beth:  Nah..It was not peer pressure that made me buy these shoes, it was just that I liked the way they looked. It is kind of like ...You would think that as a man aged , he would gain enough wisdom and experience not to be influenced by an attractive woman's looks. You would think that.  If I ever hit that age... I will let you know.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

I Should NOT Have Bothered to Post

Even though my work is messing up my fencing, I managed to make it to a foil class and do a little footwork. I hope that I can make it to epee Friday night. It is my hope that I can get back into the fencing grove next week.

Hey...I know it isn't much of a post, but it hasn't been much in the way of fencing for me.
I did get to try my new LP fencing shoes. They look great, but they feel like they are made of plastic. My old PBT shoes bend more. It is my hope that the new shoes will break in. Several people in my club have them and really like them. Mario said that they do get better with time. ( Or words to that effect.) If I do not have to work all weekend, I will wear them around the house and see if that helps.

Is this not the most exciting and interesting fencing post EVER!

Sunday, October 8, 2006


My journal is about fencing. I try not to write about anything else. I can find no other place for me to express myself, so I must do so here.
Last week I caught part of the news on some television channel. I do not watch much in the way of television and I do not even remember what channel I was watching. They showed film of one of the funerals for one of the little Amish girls that was murdered. The clip showed ( from the air) the police keeping reporters at bay on the road. Another view showed the Amish people gathering at some point for the funeral. The camera paned slightly and you got a glimpse of at least three or four more helicopters circling.I latter found out that some of these helicopters were there to prevent the News helicopters from disturbing the funeral. That did not entirely stop these bastards though.
I can tell you from personal experience that there is no greater pain than to have one of your children die. To have people in helicopters , that are there only to make money , make a mockery of your child's life and death......I have no words for such heartlessness and evil.
Not only the people in the helicopter, but the management that sanctioned it. I have no idea how high it goes.
I am much to old and fat to be "dukeing it out" with anyone. However, should I ever meet anyone that was involved with this I am going to hurt them. This is not idol talk, I mean it with all my heart. I do not care about winning, I just want them to look in the mirror every morning and see the scar of the split lip, or the slight bump where the broken nose healed and I want them to remember why they have that.
I cannot remember when I have loathed a group of people more in my life!

Thursday, October 5, 2006

I Have New Leon Paul Fencing Shoes and I Can't Test Them Out DAMN!

No fencing for me this week. I am having to work (literally) night and day to prepare for the High Point Furniture Market. This happens twice a year and the amount of work that must happen is insane.
My club is hosting a tournament for women and children only called....are you ready....." The Titanic Open." If you don't get it right away...think about it and it will come to you.
I will be there to set up Friday night. I must work Saturday and I do not know for how long. I hope I can see and help with some of the event. I feel guilty for not helping much this week, but I can not have a life other than work this time of year.
I am kind of hoping that we may give the strips a test after we finish setting up. I need to fence epee. I have been carrying around a stick at work ( dowel rod ) and trying to remember an infighting move that Alex showed me. I NEED EPEE!!!!!

Tuesday, October 3, 2006


Editors Note: I think I am reaching the point were I see the world of the average North Carolina fencer from beginner to “C” fencer. I can not see into the world of “A” and “B” fencers. It is too far above me and most likely will always be so. So the things I write about will address the lower half of the spectrum.

Thanks to the little tournament I fenced last weekend and to keeping this crude journal, I figured out what my problem/problems are in foil. I thought it was because I fenced epee. That is not the problem. The problem is the way I fence epee. I think that in the three weapons you will find the most varied styles of fencing in epee. Perhaps I am wrong, but at the time of this writing this is what I believe. Lack of ROW makes it this way.

When I fence epee (at this point in time) I do the following:


  1. I frequently attack/counter while retreating or doing a reverse lunge.
  2. I prefer to counter and I have some skill at it.
  3. I almost never parry. When I do, it is often with the bell guard. I do not parry, I counter. I almost always take a step back when I counter.

All of these things loose ROW, or at the very least, do NOT gain ROW.

I think my biggest weakness in epee is my attack. I rarely do it, unless the opportunity presents it’s self. This does not happen often with a decent “C” fencer. (Remember, this is as far into higher ground of fencing that I can see.) By attack, I mean an attack without taking the blade. I tend to do this to try and compensate for my age against the younger faster fencer. Cam brought this to my attention last week and I think she is correct. I think I chicken out, because I fear other people’s counters. However, if I work on fixing my foil problems I may just be able to help my epee attacks.

I could be wrong about the whole thing, but at the moment I am happy and excited that I may have figured something out.


Sunday, October 1, 2006

Yin and Yang

Brief over view of the weekend long tournament I went to:
The parts of the tournament I fenced in were low level and the attendance was small. So, it is no big deal.That is okay. It was exactly what I was looking for. I fenced in an unrated foil competition and an "E" and Under epee competition. I decided not to fence in the open epee, as I saw an "A' was registered and because I was not sure I could fence it and have enough left for the "E" and Under epee part. I fenced the "E" and Under epee part because I thought I might have the best chance of winning there. It did not have that many people preregistered, so I thought I could hang there better without tiring out. When you are in your mid-fifties, you need to think this way once in a while.
I came in dead last in the foil part and I took first place and gained a "E" 2006 in the epee event.
Foil: I got the crap kicked out of me in the pools. I thought it would go this way. I know all the elements of fencing foil, but cannot put it together to do well. I fenced a guy from ABF in my DE. He was less than skilled. I was up 6 or 8 points. It was easy. I fenced him like I was fencing epee, but only the shining part was target. Then I took it to far. I make most of my points in epee while retreating. Woody calls it my " fade away." I also "counter" in epee....no good for foil. Sadly, when I do this I loose ROW. I lost this DE 15 to 14.  I should be ashamed and I am! That is one of my biggest problems in foil. This was my first real tournament where I fenced it. I was not expecting much. I took my licking like a man and I plan to get more of them. It is part of my plan to become I foilist. I have to do it, even though it just kills me to get creamed. I will try not to whine about it. I do not love foil, but I must make myself become a foilist. Epee has ruined me and I am going to have to really work to become a "okay" foilist. I will pick up what I can, wherever I canand I will go get the crud beat out of me until  something clicks or I just can't stand getting the crud kicked out of me anymore.
On the bright side, my little buddy Henri tide for third place. Go Henri! You ARE the man! Or you would be, if you were a man.
Epee:  I did not do that well in pools, but I was tired enough to relax in DE's. I did not scrape by in any of my DEs. My lead was significant.
My first DE was against a guy who beat me 5-4 and smirked as we shook hands. I beat him something like 15-9. The second DE was against the other E , he was a nice guy and had refed foil the day before. I wanted to beat him to make myself feel better for my poor showing in my first foil tournament. I did and as I remember it, the score was 15-11. The last guy was a kid ( 23) from Virginia Tech and a U. I won 15-9. .In all these bouts, once I got far enough a head, I pommeled and went for the doubles. I remember at the start of the final bout thinking," That kid REALLY wants this "E"...and Heck...I would not mind second so bad." I often wonder about people thinking about winning and rankings and how that might effect the bout. I guess you really never know the whole story.
I wanted to find out if I was an " E" fencer and this small tournament was enough to make me believe I am. I also have some renewed hope that I may can get a "D" rating before there are no more letter ratings. Maybe...maybe not..but I have hope. It is a goal of mine. So is getting an "E" in foil, though that one may be a long time coming.
Taking first place in the little epee part also helped with the shame of how badly I didin foil. I could hold my head up when I left.
Some tournaments you fence to learn and some you fence to measure yourself against other people.
I found that I can fence three or more  15 point DE's with out getting to tired  to do well.
I found that I need to change my foil French grips to pistol grips, but I am keeping my French in epee. I know how to use them.
I found an attack I am going to work on in foil, by watching a guy fence.
I found that the guy that called me "Pops" did not show. I wanted another shot at him. I will get it before the season is out.
I found a first place at my age, even in a little tournament, makes for a nice ride home.
Seems like I had a lot more to say here on the ride home, but I guess that is enough for now.