Friday, November 24, 2006

Web Site

This is not the official North Carolina Division web site. ( However, it is better in in every respect.) I give this " five epees up"! Check it out.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Who Knew?!

I went to JOs and watched for a while. I watched people. I watched art objects. I watched vendors. I interacted with some.

Mostly I watched young men fence epee. I doubt I could have taken more than a couple of them and one only because of my height. I watched these good young fencers and I had the following thoughts:

There is some real talent here.

I will never be able to fence the way these kids do. That is not whining. I know it and I will have to deal with it the best I can.

Even from the side lines, much of the time I cannot figure out why their attacks work. ( I am talking beyond youth and speed.)

I will be fencing some of these young guys in Divisionals and if I can't figure it out from the side lines, this is not going to be a lot of fun for me!

I did figure out a very nice broken tempo attack. I hope to experiment with it.

I need to attack more. When you attack you are in greater control of the situation. ( You decide when the action starts. This is control. Not as much as making them stand still while you poke them, but control nonetheless.)

People actually parry in epee! Who knew? Guess I need to add that to the mix a bit more.


Okay. That is enough. The main thing I figured out is that I take fencing WAY to seriously. Yes...I know that sounds like heresy. Do not worry. This is a mood swing most likely and I will be back to obsessing very soon. I am all but sure of it.

My NAC is coming up in about three weeks. I have mixed emotions about it.

I bought an epee pistol grip. It is ugly and unpainted. I don't like to look at it yet. This may be another experiment. Did I mention how ugly and "unsword" like it is? Geeze! I am going to make myself put it on my daughter's discarded weapon. Maybe I will just look at it. Leon Paul has this grip that is between a pistol and a French. I thought I might get one of those first and maybe ease into this thing gently. I don't want to think about this right now.

Gray Epee...over and out!

Saturday, November 18, 2006


I did not fence at all this week. Family matters, illness and Nov 18 North Carolina Junior Olympics Qualifier  set up took me out of it. The JO set up went well. Many people from different clubs working together.

I am going to drop by JOs today and watch some of the kids. There are vendors there and I may do a bit of shopping. Also, there is a silent art auction that I think is WAY cool. There is some nice stuff there. I may bid on a piece or two.

Our Division has a "spiffy" ( stops for a moment to wonder ...How old is the word "spiffy"? I think my parents used that word.) web site for the NC Division

Next week will be a light week in fencing as well. I am okay with that though. I plan to work out a lot and I think I need a little fencing down time.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Crud....and Crud Again!

I was sick today and missed work. More serious yet, I missed the class at UNC. There will not be another until after Thanksgiving.

Weird sickness, I have never had anything like it. I hope I am better tomorrow.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Full Circle

I went to the last CALL class. It is a continuing education class at a local collage. It is also where I started fencing.

There is an adult class and a kid's class. I coached the first two classes and helped with another. Then the furniture market and a tournament took me out of it.

This was the last class of an eight week class.

I was proud of the kids. Adults as well , but the kids especially. It is awesome to see what they learned and how they progressed. was not pretty and some of them lack the strength to hold even a youth weapon for a long time, but they did so many things right. The kids fenced a little tournamnet at the end. It shocked me to see how moved and grateful the parents were.

( In the words of Major Pain, " It makes me feel all...funny." )

I was proud of them and of our coaches ( and their helpers ) for the work they did.

I am so sorry...I am rambling!!

I fenced epee last night. The class was made up largely of young boys. So, unless I want to go "Krammer in karate class" I have to find ways to practice with them and also let them get in some practice.

I am going to try and clean this post up a bit, as it is sooooooo screwy! If youhave not read it before, count yourself lucky!

I have several ways that I do this. I will pick their small feet as target and do a toe shot. Then the next time, I will extend my arm towards the toe and let them (hopefully) take a shot at my exposed arm. I try not to let them hit me and I retreat, so that they have to finish the attack and (redouble) keep coming.  I do not do it with the kids, but this is practice for when I do this and offer the arm as invitation. I then circle six and attack. They get some practice...I get some practice. You often find yourself helping small kids and that is great. I think it is wiser to find a way to help your self as you help them.

Cam helped me work on my lunge. I need to do that. I can't hit squat sense I changed the cant on my blade, but it will get better in time.

I made an art object (of sorts) this week to donate to the JO silent art auction. I must remember to contact them. If they like it, perhaps I could make another one (or something similar) prior to the auction.

And now.....a thought for veterans....that is completely unrelated to anything else in this entry.

No matter how good a coach he/she matter how great their skill.....question the lesson. Not to their face.....not in anyway that will upset your coach. What I mean is......almost without exception a coach learns to train young fencers. They are trained to train young fencers and make them champions....or trained to teach young fencers as much as they can by coaches that were taught to do the same!. The key here is that the whole premise of most coaches is to take a young fencer and build him into something. I have yet to see one (no matter how great) that said, " Oh This person started after fifty.......and does not have teenage legs and weight. How can I teach him/her to compensate and still compete well?" I don't think they have those conversations with themselves. They teach you the same way they teach a 14 year old.

Now some coaches are so young that they cannot fathom the difference. Others perhaps so old that they go through the same motions that have been successful for them a thousand times in the past. After all, it is no skin off their noses if you don't do well. All they can do is try and pass information to you and if you don't pick it up...well...that is your fault.  And of course, they would be right to say so.

I am heading to the last CALL class. I helped these kids in the begining and then not much after that. I want to see how they progressed. Also....Cam, may need a bit of help.


Friday, November 10, 2006


I went to UNC and fenced. Anne wants me to do this and the girls were coming over, so she was not alone. I was fairly guilt free.

Many people were at the NAC in New Mexico, so it was not very crowded. I fenced three times and all were DFC people.

My private lesson was awful. My cant was wrong. He referred to pommeling as cheating. He bent the cant more and then I could not hit anything. My lunge was bad. I could not make myself do some of the things he asked, as there were things that are ingrained in me from fencing and I will have to work very hard to try and change them. In a short lesson, I now question my use of the French grip. I DID learn why I now beat with the bottom of the blade in epee. I did not guess the reason for it. All in all it was fairly depressing private lesson. I guess this is what I need though.

I found out my friend Kathy works with disabled people and (whatever the word is) for helping them continue working and modifying their lifestyles. That may come in very handy.

I stayed very late to get a PL and now I will be very tired today. On the bright side I get to fence tonight. In that regard things are working out well.

All the tournaments for the foreseeable future are over a four hour drive away, so I will not feel bad about giving them up. Anne and I talked about me going to the NAC in Richmond and she is still for me going to it.  Things are working out better for me at the moment than I had hoped. And even though my fencing experience at UNC was not a good WAS a fencing experience. I am still in the game.


Monday, November 6, 2006

Who Knows?

Anne will never heal completely. The bones in her feet will always break. Nothing can be done She cannot (should not) walk.

I have always shared domestic duties around the house. I will need to do most all of it now.

I need to look into wheel chairs this week and perhaps a bed for downstairs. All the bedrooms are upstairs at present.

It may be that as time goes by I can adapt and find time for fencing. Though I doubt it will be at the pace I have gone at it of late. I did not go to foil tonight. I am paid up for the month at UNC. What to do there?

I am a selfish man, who does not willing sacrifice his love....his passions. Yet, what can be done here, except to do those very things.

I hope things work out to a point where I can fence and not feel guilty about doing it. Anne has told me she wants me to not give this up for her, but I do not see how I cannot make some major changes.

Just rambling on this post. Only time will tell if I can find away to continue fencing.

Saturday, November 4, 2006

Updated Sunday...My Week.

Monday: I went to foil.   Small class and I got some footwork in.

Thursday: I went to UNC. I fenced twice. I fenced a C fencer and a nice young man that I would guess has not been fencing a long time. ( When you fence at UNC, no one keeps score. As best as I can determine, it is done until someone is ready to stop. Guess which person is the one ready to stop in MY bouts. )   Mat Cox was there and had Kathy and I do an epee drill and kept an eye on us. It was a a second intention sort of drill. I had a nice PL with Coach Miller. The PL is good. It is real good, but it is most likely going to take a lot of them for me to become more proficient. Part of my lesson was concerning a beat attack. I have always beat the same way I do in foil. Coach Miller told me to use the bottom of the "V" to do my beats. I want to make a note of this so I can ask him why. I would guess that it gives more spring/speed to the attack, but that is a guess on my part.

You knooooww.......I am doing the things I think I should do to become better. I head to UNC. I fence better fencers and take PLs from Coach Miller. I fence in tournaments every week it seems. I go to foil and epee nights in Greensboro. But I just do not see how this is going to make me better. Okay...I learn some good little things from Coach Miller. I pick up a move or two at tournaments and fencing the guys better than I am. (Or just watching the higher rated fencers.) But HOW is this going to make me better? When I fence in tournaments I am largely fencing my same old game. Am I just reinforcing my old habits? I fenced poorly this weekend, but I did change the way I did a beat attack and it was successful. IF I improve will it be by such small increments that I don't see it? Or it could be that you really can't teach an old dog new tricks.


Friday: My wife broke her good foot. My wife (Anne) has been a juvenile diabetic sense she was around 13. She wears an insulin pump now. She broke her right foot more than 2 years ago and it went to hell. She must wear a brace and a boot to support it all the time now. Thursday night she broke a bone in her left (good) foot. She X rayed it at the vet office where she works and has an appointment to go in have it looked at on Monday. She told me to go fence epee Friday night. I went, but I felt like a low life and I helped set up and went home.

Note about my family: My wife and kids have been very supportive of me fencing. It helps me with stress, which means I am less likely to grump at them. They are FOR that! It gets me out of the house to get a little exercise and thus frees up our best TV so my wife (and the daughters come over) and they watch these TV programs I care nothing about seeing. They fear that if I were home I will want to switch the TV to the SiFi channel or something. They are probably right. So...They are supportive, though as Kents and women, they have their own agenda as well.   They want me out of the house some nights! Sam (my 18 year old son) is at college most of the time, so he does not factor in as much.

My wife may end up being unable to walk (or only hobble a short ways).  It could be that I will have to cut back on fencing. It may be that I will have to give it up.   I always knew a day like this might come, due to Anne's medical needs. You must sacrifice the things you love sometimes to be a father and to be a husband.   I hope it does not come to this, but it may. I will know more on Monday.

Saturday: I skipped CALL and went to fence in Raleigh. There were around 17 people fencing epee. There was much double striping and people shuffling back and forth from foil and sabre to fence epee. I finished sixth in pools, which is right where I hoped I would be. Then I went stupid. Okay...I fenced 4 tournaments in the last month or so. I have been pleased with my results in the last two. I was due for a screw up.

I drew tiny Nora our Div Chair. She was ranked 12th after pools. I had already started looking at the tree to see who I would fence after her. Yep..I was sexist and I underestimated her. I knew she was a good foilist, but I planned to kill her with my height advantage. Not so fast Jim!
Oh well. I felt bad for being away from home and not being at the CALL class. I was riddled with guilt and I am glad I went home early. Now...I would like to say this is the first time that I have seen I was fencing a small woman/girl and did not take it seriously.   It is not. Okay...I am a slow learner who was raised on John Wayne movies. In time I will get this, but I am just going to have to work on it.

There were kids from ECU and State fencing clubs were there. The State club has improved. I fenced a guy that I beat easily last season and I had to work hard to beat him this time. They aren't pretty...these kids...but they can get some touches. ( Note: I would like to be a pretty fencer. There are a couple of 14 (a guess) year old boys that fence at UNC. Their posture is so good when they fence. Their footwork is smooth and athletic and their blade actions and crisp and perfect. I know that my big old heavy body most likely cannot move like that. It is beautiful to watch. Perhaps I can change a little of me to look like that. )

While on this subject, I wish to make an announcement. SOME PEOPLE did NOT get the memo!!!! I am supposed to work hard and improve, while every other fencer in the world stays JUST the way they were the LAST time I fenced them.  If you think you have mislaid this memo, it is the same one where all of you other people will seem to age, but I am supposed to remain largely unchanged.

I am heading to the stereo and putting own some T-bone Walker and some Josh  White. I need to hear some blues.



Friday, November 3, 2006

Mr. Pointy's French Grip

This summer at Coaches College I found that I should not fence foil with a French grip. I was learning a new” transfer’ and Alex Beguinet was watching. I could not do the action well because the handle of the French grip foil was hitting my wrist. Alex leant me his pistol grip and I did the action.   It was perfect. Alex (a French fencing master) looked at my weapon and cursed it in a heavy French accent, “Stoopid French grip!” It was at that moment all that I had read concerning “sentiment de fer “ <~~~~ spelling? kind of went out the window. I would give that grip up in foil, but at this point in time, I just cannot do so in my beloved epee.

Here is the reason.

I am 54 years old. I quit reading about the effects of being in your fifties, some time ago as it seemed that every time I read something, it started to become a self fulfilling prophecy. The prophecies ended or slowed down, when I quit reading about them. One of the ones I remember however is that you loose flexibility. My hand speed and reaction time are still fairly good, but the legs do not move the way they once did. Sometimes I need a couple of more inches and I pommel with my French grip. This helps me extend my lunge.

I never start with pommeling. I bring it out later in the bout. (Note: I have never read anything about pommeling. So right or wrong, these are my own opinions and observations on doing so.) I like to give it a couple of points and let your opponent think he has a feel for your distance. Another reason is due to the disadvantages of pommeling.

When I pommel I loose a certain amount of point control. I can still hit a barn door, but I do not have as much faith in myself griping in this fashion. Also, there are times when I may want to take the blade with some force or become involved in an infighting situation. I do not think you can have the strength you need to do this just by holding by the pommel.


I go many bouts and never pommel. I break it out when I need it. For example:

1. When my opponent is very tall and has a long reach
2. When my opponent is just much better than me and I am getting beat. Try something different and desperate!
3. When I am tired and I want to “back someone off “for a moment to catch my breath and think a moment. I pommel and do a “point in line”. Hey..It works sometimes!
4. When I have a good lead in a bout and I want to double out and keep the lead. You cannot explain this. You just have to know when this is the right opponent to do this with.

I have tried pommeling in between the normal grip and the pommel but see no benefit in this action. Pommeling is an all or nothing thing.

Pommeling is one part of why I fence epee with a French grip. Even though Cam told me to change to a pistol grip on the first night I fenced epee, I just couldn't. I got into fencing, like most people, by watching swashbuckling movies and wanting to be like the characters I saw there. My weapon needs to have some resemblance to a sword, even though what we do with them seems to have little to do with how real sword play would unfold. A pistol grip on an epee (to me.....just to me). is like having a "night scoop" on a black powder rifle. is just wrong.

Editors Note: I have never met a high level fencer or a high level coach who thought about the French grip as I do. Fortunately, I am neither.