Tuesday, January 30, 2007

More Strip Time?

I did not go to foil last night. I was "fenced out."

I am considering not going to foil any more, unless Woody or Mario need me to fill in. Or I am considering not going as often.

I go to foil to help if there are some new people. I go to practice my footwork. I go because I like spending time with the people there. Those are all good reasons.

With the "A" fencer there, I feel that I am not needed as much. Working on footwork is always good, but what I need is less basic.

My fencing four nights a week is not really fencing four nights a week. I could go to the Sportplex and fence some epee on Monday night and do myself more good. That is, provided there were actually people to fence when I got to the Sportplex.

Fencing epee on Friday nights has been impossible of late. The place is to crowded and to filled with kids. The last two times, I have not fenced at all. The time before that, only once.
I could not leave that class and I would not do so. I think they need me there as a helper.

The only way I see at the present to get more strip time in is to give up foil. The bad part would be that I would give up the people there that I like so much. I often think that if I could just let go of trying to be competitive and just be a recreational fencer I would be happier. It is just not in me though. Not yet.

Another option for Monday night would be to get to the Sportplex at six, fence a couple of bouts and then head over to foil. I will need to think about that.

I am sort of looking forward to the Iron Maiden this weekend. I travel to a tournament for women only.  I think maybe watching a tournament would be good for me and I could have some time to reflect on what I should do.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Sun Tzu ...Who?

I am tired. I just got back from the tournament in Charlotte. I was awful. I did so bad.

I can think of several mental reasons why I did not fence my best. I will not go into them. It sounds like "sour grapes." The result is the same.

Sense September I have been pleased (to some degree) with most of the tournaments I have fenced in. There was the NAC in Richmond and an open tournament a while back. I was awful at the NAC and my performance at the November Raleigh tournament was not awful, just not very good. Then there was today. Geeze! The rest I was okay with.

I know everyone has a bad day...sometimes ...a string of them but I have some concerns. I am doing everything I can do (that is realistic) to get better.

There comes a time when have to take a look at your self from a realistic point of view. I am not crying or whining, this is just a clinical type of assessment. I am not going to do it tonight. I will give it a couple of days and think about it.

Sun Tzu said (words to this effect) that an army that wins a war has to have two things. They have to have the resources and they have to have the will. I have both these things.

I am hoping that what is missing is what all epee fencers have. Patience. Maybe I need to wait and see if all the things I am working on will at some point gel and I will become decent. Decent is my goal. Maybe I just need to wait on it. It is either that, or just do not have the talent or ability.

This is sort of a rambling entry in my journal. Like I said...I am tired.



Saturday, January 27, 2007

Fencer Kid

Monday Foil: ( DFC ) I only went to half a class and I did not fence. I went to work on a weapon and get my foot checked out. I also wanted to see the "A" foil fencer I heard about. I watched him help coach and do footwork. I want to dabble in foil, so this is a good opportunity for me to pick up a few things.

Wednesday Epee: ( MSF) I had a great group lesson with Coach Miller. Bouted once and went home. Cam gave me a bottle of wine to try.

Thursday Epee: ( NCFDP) It was mostly a bad night, but good in some ways. I bouted with Bill and he got about 8 touches on me in a row to start. The last time we fenced I would say we were about even. ( Note when we fence we do not keep score, we just go until we feel like stopping.) I got flustered. I do not get upset on strip. I have always been happy because of the detachment I have when fencing. ( Note: I can go into a depressed funk sometimes on strip, but this is rare.) This was a bad thing. As I got a little tired, I worked my way out of it and we became more even in the bout. I think this may have a baring on why (sometimes) I do better in DE's than in pools. I have to get tired enough to calm me down or something. Learning this is a good thing. There is a nice guy from Russia who is around my age at this club. He is so good that I figured he would not want to fence me. That night we fenced. I am sure he was taking it easy on me, but I got a good number of touches in a 15 touch bout. He was really a nice guy. I hope I get to fence him more often.

In my PL with Coach Miller I was pretty bad. It was one of those lesson you leave and as you walk over to your fencing bag you let out a heavy sigh.

Friday Epee: ( DFC) Cam was gone with her husband to see his brother come in from Iraq.
I did not get to fence or do foot work. I was a helper, as the class is so crowded. Woody's talk on fencing etiquette really helped and things went much better.

I fence in Charlotte this weekend in a tournament. I will fence in two events. I do not see me doing very well in the "Open" because so many of the fencers are better than I am. Still, I hope to learn and will fight the good fight.

My pal Henri, went by to check on my Dad after his hospital stay. ( Henri is a nurse and lives near my Dad.) I am very grateful to her for doing that, as he is feeling weak and with no energy. In talking to him, she asked him if he had ever seen me fence. He said no and she invited him to come watch me sometime when the weather warms up. I have thought of this a lot sense she told me this story. I would have a fencer parent! There would be all the young parents and my Dad talking about their kids and socializing as they watched. It almost makes me bust out laughing. I have a visualization of Dad and I at a vendor table and me jumping up and down trying to get him to buy me something. My Dad will be 78 Sunday.

I added NCFDP to my profile on Ask Fred this week. I feel kind of weird that I belong to three clubs and I am not sure about how Ron's involvement in MSF is classified. At any rate, sense I have been working with Coach Miller for the last three months, I figure he deserves some of the credit (or...more likely....blame) for how I fence. He is not going to loose any sleep over it one way or the other.

Time to get on with the day. Gray Epee...over and out.





Friday, January 26, 2007

Stupid...Stupid ...Head

This is more of a reminder than an entry into my journal.

I turn my head slightly when I lunge. Coach Miller misses nothing.

I cannot figure out how to fix this one. I am not conscious that I am doing it and I can't see it.

I guess I will just practice lunging in front of a mirror.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

New North Carolina Division Web Site

New North Carolina Division Web Site  http://www.ncfencing.org/ncfencing/

Is that an improvement or what?!

There will now be two good web sites for our Division. One is being moved and will be back up again soon, as I understand it. We will be twice blessed.

Thanks to the people that made this possible.

Monday, January 22, 2007


Today I met some people for lunch. It was work related, but I ran into a dear friend of mind. She suffered from breast cancer.  I will not go into her struggle. Suffice it to say, it was hard and it is ongoing

A couple of months back, I helped set up for the Divisional Junior Olympic Qualifiers. The next day I came by to watch some of the kid’s fence epee. I noticed that a couple of the guys wore one pink sock. I did not get what was going on until a week or so later when I read about it on-line.

One of the mothers in the club had breast cancer and the kids that wore one pink sock, were supporting her. I don’t know these kids at all. I don’t even know the club that well, but I was so very, very proud of them. I think of them often and I should have made this note in my journal long ago.

I never think of it without tearing up a bit. I hope I never stop.

Sunday, January 21, 2007


I fenced at a tournament in Raleigh Yesterday I finished 12th out of 41 fencers in epee. There were twice as many people there than had preregister. I exceeded my goal of were I (realistically) hoped to place and I had good time. I think all of my friends and teammates had a good time. Some may not have had there best day fencing, but that happens to everyone. No matter how we did, we were in good company and had some fun.

My brother (Not really a my brother.....he is my brother in arms) Tommy got his "D" rating. He had it a couple of times, but due to sanction problems with the tournaments he never got to keep it. I am happy and proud for him!

My pal Henri did well in foil, even after taking a bad spill in pools and injuring her ankle. Even a hurt ankle did not diminish her cuteness factor!

After I finished fencing, I checked my phone and found that my Dad was taken to the hospital. They told me it was not that serious. But of course it WAS serious enough to take him to the hospital. I could not get back in time to see him last night, so I am up early to head to the hospital.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Wall to Wall Kids

I fenced at DFC tonight. The place was packed! I think we may be at the limit of space Vs people.

We went over safety with the kids and enlisted the help of parents to help keep an eye on things. That went pretty good.

I fenced once. I just worked on some stuff that Coach Miller had showed us and I tried it "under fire." I was not yet successful with it.

Mostly, my job was to keep things going on a strip while people rotated from lessons to the strip. This is when I realized that I think I am becoming Sally. Maybe I already was and did not know it. My patience wore thin. I about lost it a couple of times with the kids. We have covered safety, now we need to cover etiquette.

1. You can socialize AFTER you get dressed out.
2. You do not ask a person who is refing a question.
3. You do not walk in front of a ref while a bout is taking place.
4. If you want to know when you are fencing, learn to read a pool sheet.
5. You help set up, clean up and other people who need it.

There are a lot of kids there. They all seem to be good kids, but they each take a turn at doing some fencing club faux pah. They are kids and they are kids en masse. You cannot just snap your fingers and fix this problem

The program "Dog Whisper" is on. I think I will watch and see if I get some ideas.

Tomorrow I fence in Raleigh. I am not going to try and incorporate the things I have been working on. The people there are to good for me to mess around. I will fence my old game and just try and have some fun. I could sure use some.


Thursday, January 18, 2007

Coach Miller and Stuff

I fenced a little last night and took a group lesson given by Ron Miller. He has many gifts that make him an awesome coach. The obvious one....knowledge....goes without saying. Or it would have ...if I hadn't said it.

One of the more amazing things (to me) is his gift that makes no matter what he is teaching you, it seems like some forgotten lore of ancient fencing masters. Something only you and he are privy to. It makes you (gladly) give 100% to listening and trying your damnedest to do every little thing he tells you.  It is not just me that seems to feel this way. I look around at the small group of students that were there last night and I sense it from all of them. They say that gratitude is the least felt human emotion. I doubt that is the case with anyone fortunate enough to study with him.

I also think that he has x-ray vision. How can someone see what tiny little muscles are doing when they are covered with your "whites?" How can someone see through an epee bell guard and know that one of your fingers is a quater inch out of place?

I do not see the things I am working on translating into improvement on the strip any time soon. Patience Jim. First make yourself better technically and then work on tactics.

I am not driving to Chapel Hill tonight for another lesson, due to the weather....mainly. I feel like I am cheating myself and that I should have risked the drive. The roads are not THAT bad....but they might be later. My feet and ankles have been hurting for some reason. I need to let them heal as I am fencing in a tournament this weekend.

Monday, January 15, 2007


I went by Mid South tonight. I had hoped that Kathy would be there have a bout or two. I planned to do some foot work and work on a couple of things Coach Miller is helping me correct.

As it turns out I left tired and sweaty. I got a pretty good work out, though I was truly terrible tonight. I am hoping it is just one of those nights.

MLK Day is a good day to go to the Sportplex. It was not so crowded.

Matt tried to help me with several things and we had a good conversation.

Jen invited me to warm up with the kids. At one point I just kept on advancing to the bleachers and did a "modified epee stretch " there for a few minutes. I am VERY efficient at warming up!

A day that I thought was going to be a write off for fencing, turned out to be a good night.

Saturday, January 13, 2007


I just got a note from Sally and she understands and supports what I am doing. I feel better and am in some way renewed.

Night 4

I fenced epee at DFC last night. It is always fun and relaxed there. We had two new students and Mark came to see what fencing epee was like. I think he has the potential to be a pretty good fencer. I hope he stays with it.

There are now a goodly number of nine year olds at the club now. I think they are around nine. What ever they are, they are little kids. I think we need to enlist the parents in the room to help watch them from a safety perspective.  You just can't watch a strip...fence and ref ...and keep score ....AND watch for little kids doing something stupid. Fortunately Mike (a parent) was watching two kids and told me what was going on. I guess we need to review some rules and perhaps we did not give safety the correct place it deserves with the new people. When we do another newsletter this would make a nice topic.

Several of us went out to eat Mexican after class. We had a good time and good conversation. Cam if you read this, go do your knee stretches. Mario...Woody..if you read this and see Cam...remind her to do her stretches.

When I got home I had a note from Sally. There was part of her note that made me feel like I needed to write her back and tell her I was fencing at other clubs. I tried to explain that I just do not have a life time to get better and that fencing epee one night a week will not help me get where I want to be. ( That is assuming that I know WHERE I can be and if it is possible for me to get there. Those are unanswered questions.) I hope she does not see me as a traitor or something. . I just want to see if I can improve and I am doing all I can to do so.  I can only make the drive to UNC once a week. So I can only fence one night there. Mid South only does the weapon one night a week, as does DFC. That works out to a decent amount of time fencing epee for me. It is literally the best I can do for myself.

After I see how next week goes at work, I will give some thought to my future fencing.

Oh...One more thing. Yesterday...I have been fencing three years.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Night Three

I went to Chapel Hill and had an excellent private lesson with Coach Miller.

I often wonder (even though I think I am learning and perfecting) if it will translate into improvement on strip. Barring unforeseen circumstances, it is my intention to try and continue at UNC for a month or two and keep up the four nights a week. At that point I will look at the cost (in money and time) and try to figure out what I should do.

I wonder if I will actually improve or not. I have seen people around my age that never seem to make any changes or progress. Maybe I am in that same boat and I just do not see it.

I did no free fencing last night. Between the lessons and groups, there where not strips available and I could not easily find anyone that wanted to fence. I was not in the mood for fencing anyway and had hoped to leave early and get home at a decent time. ( Which I did.)

I like watching and listening to Mike and Ivana teach the kids class in foil. In there warm ups last night I became aquatinted with a new stretch. They instructed the kids to do an "epee stretch.' The children promptly laid down on their backs and did nothing. It still makes me smile.

That is good, as I have not felt like smiling much lately.

Tonight in class I will work on a tiny, tiny thing Coach Miller showed me that I do wrong.
My hits are better when I lift up with my index finger" and I should not be pressing down with my thumb" as the point arrives on target. Sounds simple...doesn't it?. This may be a time when fencing with kids will be a win/win sort of thing for us both.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Week 2

Last night was the second of my classes at Mid-South and Coach Miller was there.

I had never had a group lesson with him before, only private lessons. It was a good experience and he made it seem like a private lesson. That is hard to explain. I now understand why I have met people that said he was the best teaching experience they had ever had. ( These people were NOT serious fencers. They just recognized excellent teaching skills) I also enjoyed hearing Coach Miller talk about epee being the most complicated of the three weapons and why at the higher levels there are so few repeat champions.

I would also have to say that Coach Miller was lucky to have the group of students he had.
( That sounds immodest, but I think it is true.)

I came to class not in the best mental state as there are about to be a mass lay off at my company. I do not have a clue where I would work if this happened. My occupation is no longer in this country. It has been effecting me on strip.

There is s slight misunderstanding (that I need to clear up with Matt) that also made it hard to focus.

Even with the distractions and gloom it was a great class and I enjoyed it.

Tonight I head to Chapel Hill for another class.

Saturday, January 6, 2007


Last night was epee night at the DFC. The holidays are over and the place was packed. It really is a a happy, friendly and fun filled place. As always, I enjoyed it.

My workouts this week neither failed or did as well as I had planed. In a four day week, I got two gym workouts in during lunch. I fenced twice. I am leaving in a minute to head to the gym and get in a good one , before enjoying a wonderful miracle of a warm day here. My eating the last couple of days went bad. I will try to tighten up this weekend as well.

Next week will be my first fence-four-nights week.

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Mostly Thrust

Tonight was my first venture into Mid-South's Point and Thrust Class. It was a small class, as I expected. Also as I expected, it was also made up of the DFC people you are most likely to meet at a tournament. ( With the exception of Tommy who is probably working.) It is a start up situation. That is fine with me, as I get more attention. I am sure in time it will grow and the Sportplex will be a great place for Matt and Jen to recruit people. You cannot do an advance lunge without hitting some sort of athlete.

The Sportplex has a kicking weight room as well.  You become a member of the facility when you join Mid-South. I need to read up on the facility a little bit.

Matt has a different slant on a lot of things. I like the long retreat. It makes sense. Especially for a vet fencer in open tournament. It is a good equalizer against the young fast ones. The blade work we did is the pretty much the same. Of course we all tended to make the same mistakes we always make. It will get better. This is our first class after the holidays. You are a little "spasy" and your legs hurt really quick. Just like every long break.

Next week I think we are working on our form. This is all good for me as it is in keeping with my goals of becoming better technically (Heck...I might be a pretty fencer someday.)

I think the class is worth the money and it will only get better as time goes by. I hope that Matt and Jen are successful in this.

The more I think about it, the more I like some of the techniques we learned  that involved foot work. I like to "change it up" often and this gives me bigger list of things to pull from. I am not sure if can switch all my movements to Matt's way or not. I will certainly try to do so when I am at his class and it may be that in the long run I will do all of the things that he teaches. On class one though, I am thinking it is like any martial art. You take the techniques that your Sifu shows you and then you keep the ones that work for you. It is a lot to think about.

I will be looking forward to next week.