Saturday, September 29, 2007

Hack Cough Snort

I did not fence at all this week. I was out of town on business. I had an added bonus of getting sick as a dog.

It is Saturday night and I am still at Death's door. BTW...I love this T-shirt.

Maybe a week or so off will do me good.

I thought about buying a PBT fencing hypnotism CD to try and snap me out of my funk.
I just can't make myself turn loose of sixty plus dollars for one though.

I read about James ( Charlie's dad) taking second in a sabre event. I was happy to read that. He is nice guy and I always pull for ( most people) people with a bit of gray in their hair.

If I feel any where near human tomorrow, I will try and work out a little bit.

Other than that, that is my week in fencing.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Weird....and I am Sorry.

I fenced in the Raleigh Fencers tournament today. There were 25 fencers. I think that it was a B2 tournament.
 I won three out of four of my pools and I was ranked 10th going into DEs. ( Not bad.) I beat an "A" fencer, though he was not like any "A" fencer I ever fenced before.

I looked at the tree and I was to fence two of my club mates. It always works that way. I was to fence Nicole who was ranked 23 and after that I was to fence Mark who had a bye. He was ranked 7th. This was Mark's first tournament!!! He is an athletic young man, but not that great a fencer.....yet he is ranked 7th.....and he has a bye.

Okay....It does not take me very long to figure out that after I beat Nicole and then beat Mark, I will finally have the "D" rating I have sought for so long. I warned myself about thinking this way. I had seen Tommy to many times, set his sites on the goal and not the game. ( This was when he was younger.) I do not think that was what was going to happen to me.

Nicole is a truly beautiful young woman. She is athletic and intelligent. She has a sharp sense of humor when you get to know her as well. She can actually sit on her fencing mask, like a fae sits on a mushroom. She has that light sort of feminine air. If you know her at all,you cannot help but love her.

Nichol beat me 15-13.

If I could have bet on the bout, I would have bet the farm on me. She has beat me before, but not very often. I am not taking anything away from her victory. I have always maintained that " epee is truth". The ref has little to do with it and when it is all over the box tells the story. I was beat fair and square.

The story does not end here. Next Nicole was to fence Mark. ( First time at a tournament Mark. ) I do not remember what the score was. Nicole lost. If I bet on the bout, I would have bet on Nicole.

I think Mark now has a "D" rating. Mark is a great guy, but he is not a "D" fencer. He won because he is athletic and he is so wild that you have hard time fencing him. ( There were several new people like that there.) I did not want him to win. I think this will screw up his fencing. On the other hand, if you are doing something bad and it is not bad.

Then there was Henri. She did not do well in pools. She was 25th coming out of pools and she fenced one of the higher placing fencers that did not have a bye. When I was called to strip the score was 8-8. I think the score was 15-12. I was so proud of her in that bout. She is always the smallest person on strip and fencing kids decades younger than her self. Yeah...yeah...yeah...I know this vet fencer can do this or that...this short epee fencer did this or that. These are the exceptions people...these are not the rules. I know that she wants to fence epee, because so many of us fence that. I think to some extent, Coach Miller may have suggested that she fence epee as well. Personally, I think she would be better suited for foil. ( Tiny little target area...I hate that......Maybe sabre.)

Oh...I can't find a way to work this in, but that was one of the hottest tournaments I have ever fenced in. There was a time when I think I could have passed out.....GEEZE! It is hours later and my face is still flushed.

So...At days end...I feel sorry for Nicole, because she lost to Mark. I feel sorry for Mark because he won. I feel sorry for Henri because she did not win and I feel sorry for me, because something is wrong with me. ( See previous post "How?".)

I have a theory. Actually, I have a couple. In talking with Tommy, he noticed I did not fence like myself. I think the reason is that I am thinking to much and trying to correct to many things on strip. I am having mental dialogs with myself on strip. I never did this before. " Bring your arm back to only parry1....relax it....pull the pommel into your my elbow out?....I will try" blank" attack next." I never thought like this before. I mostly waited for a counter, when I saw a target of opportunity, I attacked. I had an " empty mind". I need to put this to the test next tournament. I think I will take Tommy's advice and just work on one thing at a time.

I am not sure how Tommy did. He of course was still fencing after I left. I am sure he did well.

Saturday, September 15, 2007


Thursday, I I went to UNC. I fenced no one.  ( not by choice ) I had a private lesson with Coach Miller. After we did "Six Wall" we did a "Decision Point" sort of drill. He tried to correct a lot of little things. Separately, they were not hard things to correct, but collectively , as I tried to fix them all during the drill, I almost blew a mental gasket. Maybe I am lacking some sort of intelligence.

Friday I fenced at the "Y". I cannot think of a time ( lately ) when I fenced so poorly. I got beat by about everyone. I got beat by people I should be able to beat left handed. ( Okay...that is an exaggeration, but I don't feel like finding other words for it.)

Tommy was there. He is/was one of the ways I measure how I am doing. The last 3 times we fenced, our bouts ended with one point difference. I felt pretty good about that. Last night, he beat me 5-1 and my one was a double.

I pretty much sucked. All the time I was fencing, I felt like I was someone else, imitating the way Jim fences and doing a clumsy job of it. That it hard to explain, but I felt that way.

I have been thinking lately about my future in fencing. I see a line that gradually arcs upward, with me becoming more technically proficient and knowledgeable. I see a line gradually sloping down line as I age and loose physical /mental abilities. At some point those lines have to cross. I hope they did not cross last night.

I am not being negative or pessimistic as I write this. This is just a whole " Lion King Circle of Life " kind of thing. I hope it is not my time for this, but you have to live in the real world and keep an eye out for such things.

Henri, my personal coach and cheer leader, tells me that I am in a state of transition. That I am trying to apply the things Coach Miller is telling me and until I adjust it will effect my fencing. She also points out that I have not been fencing much during the summer. I hope she is right. I want to believe that.

This is a dangerous timefor me. I can go into a negative funk about my fencing and will take me a long time to come out of it. ( If ever.) I have seen this happen to me in other sports. If I loose confidence in myself it is hell to get it back. I have seen it in foil. I think my lack of confidence in that weapon is why I no longer pursue it. ( That and I want to concentrate on epee.)

One night of poor fencing is not going to send me into a funk,  Looking ahead to my first tournament of the season and
judging by the people who are preregistered, I do not see me doing that well. This could lead to a loooonnng ride home and further doubts.

I have to get my head right some how.

How is the big question.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007


For the last month, I have thought more about the club than about fencing. Now 
that the season is upon us, I need to balance things out a little more.

After a hellish start for the club, things seemed to be falling into place after
"week one". Starting "week two" Coach Miller was unable to make it.
There has been praise for our efforts to bring in higher level coaches and there has been concern from recreational fencers. I think the praise
good comments far overshadow the concern; however, we all want to keep the sense of family
and the social aspects to the club. (As Noah put it...the "soul of the club.")
It will be a hard thing to manage, but I think we can pull it off.

There are also concerns with balancing free fencing with lessons. I think we
have this worked out now.

As for me.............................

I have been working out (strength wise) fairly well for the last month. I am
fencing or involved in fencing 4 nights a week so far, so there is no time to
work in cardio. I have studied and taken lessons to some extent. I have not
bouted nearly enough.

My first tournament is about a week and half away. Judging from the amount of
"C" fencers that are preregistered, I will most likely do poorly. I will try to
look at it as training for other tournaments.

As for others and myself...............

I have been giving some thought lately to what the people that keep the club
going get out of it and what do they want to get out of it. I can't answer that
question, even for myself.

I know I do it for the community and for the kids. I know I do it so I will have
a place to fence. I think I/we do it mainly as a social thing. That is mostly
what we get out of it. We get to "hang" with people we like.

Long term I have no lofty goals for the club. I do have sort of a dream. A small
dream.....a fun dream.

I imagine a new "Y" with the best fencing facility in the state. (That may
happen..... it may not....but.. HEY! is my dream!!) I am retired and I
employed by the "Y" to look after the facility. (Just to keep an eye on kids and
equipment there.)

I am the kind of man that raises his cane and yells at the neighborhood kids to
stay off his grass. I am the kind of man that gets his yard toilet papered on
Halloween night.

My hair is all white and my face is in a perpetual scowl.

I see a kid dragging an epee across the floor.

"Hey!!! You!!! ...Kid!! Quit dragging that tip across the floor!! You gonna fix
that tip?
Heck no...ya little snotling! (Grumble...mutter....grumble) Why when I was your
age and fencing (lies) we didn't have these fancy-smancy tips. The points were
real and blades were sharp. Yeah...that's how I got these scars (Lifts shirt and
show scars from gallbladder surgery) . Yeah...that was REAL fencing back then!
(Grumble... mutter...slowly shuffles to the armory). You kids now a
days......spoiled...that is what you are! Why when I was your age (lies again) I
had to walk twelve miles to a Salle.......had to SWIM five!!. (Wink)

I want to be that grumpy old man.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Beware the Big Blue Bastards!

When I first started fencing at the Downtown Fencing Club, I was just one of a couple of adults in the class. I was not immediately accepted. That is no one's fault. They were mostly kids and I was big and scary looking.

I can remember the night Woody came to me and said;" The kids have accepted you. You no longer intimidate them."
My reply was a joking,"Well...Damn it!"

I looked at Sally and Cam and Woody as if they were gods in those days. I hung on their every word and action. Even this journal, came about because I read Woody's blog. Prior to starting in the club, I did not even know what a blog was.

Now in the space we use for fencing, there are big blue heavy gym mats on the floor. There are three of the damn things. In order to fence, you must drag these things a good ways and store them. As most of the class was kids and as you did not ask gods to help drag mats, I became one of the main people for dragging these awkward things at the beginning and end of class. It was no big deal in some sense, as they got moved on nights I was not there and before I joined the club. It was a little thing I tried to do to show respect/gratitude to my coaches.

Other than moving those mats and hurting people with an epee ( not on purpose...mostly because my distance was bad and my hand was moving at a high rate of speed) I do not think I did anything that set me apart from anyone else. The other possible exception to that was that I could pass for a responsible adult.

After a while at the club, I was looking at the club web site and saw that I was on the " Leadership Committee". This is a group of people that reflects the composition on the club. ( Vet,kids,parents.....That sort of thing.) Nobody asked me if wanted to be on that list. I was just there. No one even mentioned that I was on the list. If I had not read it,I would have never known. Nonetheless, I felt honored.

Time went on.

I continued to try and help out as much as I could. I am sure that trying to help out and pay people back that helped you, is some sort of work ethic that my parents drilled into me.

For some reason, while writing this, a phrase about Dwarves ( from the Lord of the Rings ) pops into my head.
" No friend ever did them a favor or no enemy a wrong, that was not paid back in full."

All this rambling on is because over the last month or so, I have come to see that I am one of the "leaders" in the club.
I am not an important leader. I am sure as hell , not the best leader. I don't lead the most. However, it has become pretty clear that I am one of a handful of leaders.

This totally freaks me out. I am not a very good fencer and my leadership style ( I am flattering myself there...I don't even have a leadership style ) is more like being a grumpy father.

I never wanted to be one. I still don't. I am more a " neither a collar or a crown" type of person.

So of late, I have reflected on how this came to pass. Where the heck, did I go wrong?

I know what it was now.

I drug mats.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Not About Fencing

I use this program called Stumble or Stumble upon. I found this while looking for things that interest me.

I felt compelled to pass it along.

To: People of Earth
From: God
Date: 11/17/2004
Subject: stop

knock it off, all of you

seriously, what the hell


Sunday, September 2, 2007


Friday, was the big day to find out if things would work out for our contracted coaches and to see if we could get fencing in our area to " level up". ( I thought " level up" was a good term that Woody used.)

I thought it was a good group meeting and I felt pretty good about how things were going when we left.

It was another small end of summer class. We did some foot work/distance drills and we
 fenced in a pool format. I fenced fairly well.

Henri and I had planned to work on some things that we are trying to correct in our technique ( or lack there of ) and had planned to drill with each other , but we did not get around to it. I hate that. I need a mirrored wall to work on my problem.

I was reminded as I fenced of a lesson/statement that Cam made a long time ago about if you are a " When", "Were" or "How" fencer. We are all of those things ,but at times one will be dominate. A " When" fencer chooses when he will strike. The "Were" fencer....where the touch will will land.....and so on.

I noticed that these days I have two different approaches that are dominate. At times I will pick a tactic and then close or offer an invitation. I am a "How" fencer. I am however another type of fencer. At the risk of sounding like I am a pompous Zen kind of guy, I fence with an " empty mind". ( THERE is a statement that gives people the opportunity  to agree!)  I studied martial arts for 16 to 18 years. I did my best when I was without emotion, without conscious thought. Conscious thought takes time, something that is instinctual takes far less. I mix the two up when I fence. ( Oh.....Sometimes I feel that dumb luck is a part of it as well.)

I have thought a lot lately of how things work when you fence without conscious thought.
What tells your body to...."There....GO....NOW!!"??? I have thought about trying to study such things. However, I am not sure I want a scientific explanation for it. I think I like the mystery.

Speaking of martial arts, when I had a PL with Coach Miller this week and we worked on my elbow problem, he mentioned briefly something about my had twisting when I make a touch. I know exactly were that is coming from. You cannot do reverse punches for as long as I did them and not want to twist your hand when you do a similar motion. Even after twenty years, things like that still evidently linger. Weird! Good in some ways...bad in others.

That elbow problem worries me. It could take a long time to fix.

Friday night went well, until we left. Henri hits some sort of metal object in the road and tore up two of her 150,000 mile never-go-flat tires and a strut. Evidently, those expensive little BMW cars do not carry spares and even if they did she would have needed two.
It was bad time for her.

I stayed with her until she got in touch with Ray and he was on the way.

Then I joined Mario and Cam for a beer and a sub. Good company; good conversation.....mostly....a good evening.