Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Another Coach

Today I gained another coach. In a way she has coached me before, I was just slow and did not put it together.

This time I will attempt to follow her advice.

~ snaps a sharp salute to Coach Sharon ~

Thanks Coach. I mean that sincerely. I will try to follow your instructions.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Yin and Yang

Woody: " Your goals are unrealistic."  " You have ruined her'" ( Motions across the table to Henri.)

Cameron: " I don't think your goals are unrealistic." " I don't generally approve of rating based goals."

I have reflected on some opinions my friends expressed on Friday night, as we all had dinner together.

I enjoyed listening to Cameron's opinions and observations. Mario was supportive, though I could only hear parts of his conversation with Henri.

"Your goals are unrealistic." and "You ruined Henri." are words that drift through my mind the most from that night.  I will ponder them for a while in case they are correct.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Why a Butt Wupping Ain't Bad

Today I fenced in an open epee event at UNC. There were 21 fencers and it was fairly high level. ( An A1 event, I think.)

In preregistration I was seeded dead last. When I got there, there was one unrated fencer, so I was seeded NEXT to last. I think this is were I wound up after the event. I will check that later. I almost did not want to go, because I knew this would be such a self esteem killer. On the other hand, the pressure is off. If you are the lowest rated fencer there, how can it get any worse.

Now here is why it was not bad. In my pool of seven there was one "A"; three "B's" one "C" and one "D". Then there was me, the sole "E" in the tournament. I beat the " D" 5-2.
I went la belle with the "C" and he won by one. My goal is to be able to think of myself as a solid "D" fencer and not be kidding myself. So based on those small results, for today...I met my goal. Now the A and B fencers ate my lunch and I finished last in pools. But I did not think that I was going to do any differently against that level of fencer. If I remember correctly I got one touch on a A and B fencer. I do not remember if I got two touches on another B or not. I did get three touches on B fencer Josh Webb. He won the silver for the day. Now, I must explain about one of the touches on Josh. I know he can kill me any time he wants, but on touch one he blundered. He saw the older E fencer and was going to showboat a bit by doing a fast squat and hitting me in the toe. Nahhhh. I fenced Tommy for to long. He dropped, I pulled my foot up and back and popped him in the mask. I saw his mouth fall open. In a handful of touches I will always remember, that will be one. Of course then he got a bit more serious and killed me.

I fenced a nice young man in my one and only DE. he was a C fencer. I lead for a while. Later in the bout he caught me. He then passed me and it was 12-10. He fenced smart and the next two touches he went for the double. 14-12. I got desperate and tried a desperate move. He nailed me and I was done 15-12. Still for the level I am trying to obtain, that is not so bad.

Henri and Nicole fenced epee yesterday. They did well. there were two women tied for third and then Henri had 5th and Nicole 6th. It seems like they should have been 4th and 5th. Perhaps they will be when the final results are posted. Henri was up there with the rated fencers. Good job!

I stuck around and watched Henri fence foil after my thrashing and watched the finals of epee.

Now I am home and it is nap time.

Post Script: I got offered a job coaching a high school club. I do not remember the guys name that was reffing ( who talked to me) or the school. I was kind of brain dead. I told him that I was a low level coach and not very good at foil. He seemed to think that did not matter. I told him that he should check with Coach Miller and see if the coach thought this was something I could handle. I told the guy that maybe I could help, or maybe I knew someone that could help. We will see what comes of it. I kind of hope it is nothing. My plate is pretty full.

Update: I found out Monday Night at sabre, that the man is Josh Webbs father.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

My Sifu Once Said............

Never tell someone that they can't do something. They might be the only one that can.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Moving On

Sally was at the "Y" on Monday night. She will be in town for three weeks or so and then she returns to the west coast for good.

I think we all knew that this is the way it would play out.

She has family there. Her hands are so arthritic she could barely hold a blade.

She shared with me why she felt is was time to make a change.  I will not share all that here.

I will miss her guidance and conversations. And though I will miss her, I know that the move is for the best.

When is it time to hang up the blades and quit fencing? I have a set of abstract
ideas about that, but I have never put them down on paper and looked at them.

1. When it is no longer fun.

For me it is still fun, though not as much as it once was.

2. When you can no longer give a good account of yourself.

For me to admit that I could no longer do this would be paramount to saying that
I am harmless. I hope I never live long enough to be "harmless".

Can I still give good account of myself? I think within the limits of certain
parameters, the answer is yes. Though it is not constant.

3.When health issues will no longer allow it.

I am not there yet. I am overweight, but except for some problems with my
ankles, I think I can hang.

So, going by my answers, it is not time for me to unplug and leave the strip.

Another question though might be, " When you fail to see improvement." I do not
think I am getting any better.

You have to look at things realistically. Just because you try hard and make an
extra effort, does not mean you will succeed in this or any other sport. ( Or life for that matter.) Not
everyone has the ability to be an "A" fencer. I don't. I never will. If I ever
became a "C" fencer it would be beyond my wildest dreams. Don't get me wrong, I
think when you start fencing in your 50's and you mostly fence against younger
people, then perhaps an "E" is like a "D" and a "D" is like "C". Perhaps that is
not exactly accurate, but it reflects some of my feelings in the matter. On the
other hand, I don't believe in cutting myself any slack.

I think I have improved over the last year ( to a small degree ) technically.
However, thisisnot translating into victories on strip.

I think perhaps that I have spent to much time trying to figure things out about
fencing epee on my own. I am going to start asking questions.

If this does not help me, then on January 12th, 2008 I am going to give some
thought to moving on. I most likely would not move on, but I have to think about it. On that date, I will have been fencing four years.
The only problem would be that I have come to think of myself as a "fencer".
Despite my low level of ability, I think that word defines who I am these days.
If I was not a fencer....................what would I be? Who would I be?

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Fencing in New Bern

The fencing and buildings are in New Bern, North Carolina, colonial capitol and birth place of Pepsi Cola. ( As my son Sam cleverly indicates. )

The water scenes are from our back yard at our beach house. It was a beautiful weekend for October...or any month for that matter.

I had the largest cheering section at the tournament. Kayla ( Sam's girlfriend from UNCC ) top picture. Anne, Jen ( Courtney's roommate ), Courtney and Sam. I did okay while they watched and they loved it when I saluted them.

It was a tiny tournament of eleven people. I was the top seed. It is unlikely THAT will ever happen again. They had some good fencers in both foil and epee. They did not have a lot of ratings, as it is difficult for them to get to many tournaments.

I was 5th out of pools.

I fenced a very tall guy in my first DE. He was not that good a fencer. He was not relaxed and his weapon arm was like a iron rod. Takes were out. He extended his arm high and in such a manner that I could not go OVER his bell guard. I was having a hard time with him and I was down 11-8. It was at this point, I decided to do something different. It was however. 2 points earlier when I SHOULD have tried doing something different. I elevated my tip to give him a false sense of distance. I came back to 14-13. Sadly, we doubled on the last touch and I was donefor the day. Which, while sucking in some regards, did allow me to go enjoy a beautiful day and town with my family and their friends.

The people at this tournament were very friendly and polite. I would be happy to fence here anytime. Sometimes those things mean more to me that the level of competition.

Editors Note: I skillfully picked pictures of me in my "whites" that did not show the true measure of how fat I am. I knew it....and I did not know it...all at the same time. Seriously, I have GOT to do something about this.

Friday, October 19, 2007

The Coast

Tonight I head to the coast. It is my oldest daughter's ( Courtney) birthday. 
She will be 26. Sam and his tiny girlfriend will be driving to High Point and
riding down to the coast with us. Cork ( Courtney) and her roommate ( Jen) will
drive down separately. Abe and Jaime will be down late Saturday. ( And lo, there
will be much Halo playing and that game shall be known as "Slayer" Okay...they
play more than me and are way better. However when I do luck up and win a game
it is SWEET!)

Saturday there is a small fencing tournament in New Bern. I will fence in the
tournament. My family will drop by for a bout 15 minutes ( I figure that is
about all they can stand. ) and watch me. Anne ( my wife ) watched me fence in a
tournament once before. I had been fencing around two months and went to
Divisionals. Sam fenced with me for a while, but has never been to a tournament.
I often think about my Dad , and how I wish he could have seen me fence
just one time. Not that it is all that impressive, but it would have been to
him. For some reason, I will rest easier if I know my family has seen me
fence....just once. Jaime will not be there, but she fenced with me for a little
while as well.

After they have watched all the fencing they can stomach they will head to the
interesting shops and places to eat in New Bern. Perhaps they will visit the old
Governor's Palace. We have never spent time there, but I think they will like

I have no goals or objectives for this little tournament. I am fencing for the
fun of it.

Of late I have tried to judge if I am fencing any better. Better than what
should be the question. I am doing a couple of things different/better than last
season. I keep my point on target more and use distance a little better. My"
takes" are better. I have a larger arsenal of attacks and things that set up
attacks. A few I do well, a few I do not. I question if my footwork is as good or my focus.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Bionic Blade

The machine lets out one continuous low scream, the line is flat and unbroken.

"Damn it Jim, I am a finishing expert not an armorer!"

"That tang it is to much...it will break!!!...it will be outside the bell!!! No weapon can take that much!!! The pommel....You are tightening it to much...you will cut the spaghetti and it will be all over!!!"

I wipe the sweat from my brow. I have done all I can do.

"The injury was to great. I thought we could rebuild him....stronger....faster......BETTER than before!!!!" There was no hope"

beep        bee-beep     bee-beep   Thu-THUMP  THU-THUMP  

Like a phoenix rising from the ashes...........................

He is back!  Stronger ~ insert Bruce Lee sound here~  Faster
~ insert Bruce Lee sound here~  MORE DEADLY THAN EVER BEFORE!!!!!!

MR. POINTY LIVES AGAIN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!



Monday, October 15, 2007

Titanic Open 3

I had to work some Saturday morning. After I was finished I headed over to our little tournament for women and children, "The Titanic Open". I felt guilty because I had not helped set up Friday night. ( I was working.)

My conscience is clear now.

I was pressed into service as a epee ref. I pretty much hated it.

I was not prepared. I thought sense I was to originally be out of town, those bases were covered. I started trying to become certified last spring. I passed the general ( though if I had to take the test right now, I am not sure I would ) and I crashed and burned on the epee part. You can only miss three questions. I had started studying again this week, but not like I would have if I knew I would be reffing.

I know reffing epee is not a hard thing, but it requires some level of proficiency to do well. I hate not being prepared. My calls were correct, but I had not practiced my hand signals and the remote to the box was dying. The box did not work half the time. All in all, a fairly miserable experience. I don't like being unprepared.

I still aim to gain certification. I believe you should be able to ref what you fence, for a number of reasons. However, I am not a guy that either enjoys or is comfortable being in front of a crowd of people. ( Even a small crowd.) I think it is a good idea to know CPR, but I hope I do not have to use it. It think it is a little like that with reffing.

My ankles were killing me and I ended up standing up all afternoon. This is not what I needed.

On the bright side, I hung with Trev for a bit when I first got there and learned ( maybe) how to rewire a blade. He also fixed a couple of my weapons.

Jordan took third in epee. Aydin took second in epee and Henri took the silver in foil. Not bad!

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Scribe Wakes Up

Sometimes you just have to get on them a bit.

"From your personal scribe (see The Gray Epee~~~12 October 2007): Moulinet (see pg 2, Carolina fencing terminology).

Wikipedia's definition:
In sabre, a circular cut. A moulinet is often composed of a parry, usually prime or seconde, moving thence into a circular cut. This action, while flashy and impressive, is slow, since the action pivots around the wrist and elbow, and is rarely used in modern sabre. In Historical Fencing, this is the circular motion of the fighter's blade around the opponent's blade. The hilt does not move during this maneuver.

Coach Miller also said Moulinet attacks could be used in foil. The movement is BIG and uses a pivoting motion of the wrist. Best executed while using an intimidating Jim-like stare!!!"

Thanks Scribe

Friday, October 12, 2007

This Week

Monday: I helped open and close for sabre.

Wednesday: We had an epee class with Coach Miller. I had a tiny amount of free fencing before hand.
Coach Miller's lesson was basic and fairly low level. I enjoyed it. I wish I could take a class like that every month or two. In my quest to become technically better, going back and working on these types of things never ending. There is always something to improve or fix. I suspect some people would find it dull, but I love it and take comfort in it. Plus any lesson with Coach Miller contains vocabulary. Often these are words you will not find in common books or on-line. There again, I love that sort of thing. One of the words I learned last week sounds like the painter Monet. ( This spelling is incorrect as my personal scribe has failed to deliver my notes from this week.) It is a large action better used in foil and mostly without much practical use in my opinion. It is also something that you are unlikely to ever have come up in conversation between you and another fencer. Still, I love to learn those type of things.

I also got to meet Nicole's older sister. Sharon did a good job. She has two pretttttty daughters. It was fun to watch them interact. They remind me of my own kids in the way that they play. ( Okay....my kids may be cruder and more violent....but similar.)

Thursday: I went to UNC. I fenced. I free fenced a little. I fenced Mike. ( An older Penn State fencer who was in a MSF epee class.) We did not keep score, but he won. I worked on a few things and had some good touches. After fencing, he made me play a game. Generally I don't like this sort of thing, but this is a good tool. I had to list three things I did well and three things I did wrong. I had to list three things he did right and three things he did wrong. Of the things he said that I did well I remember two. He said my point was always on target and that my "takes were so good I could hold a blade till next week." I was shocked by that. I did not think I had good takes and I have never had a lot of confidence in them. That pumped me up a bit. One of the things he said I did bad was that sometimes I was out of balance. I am not aware of this, unless I over extend a lunge, but perhaps it is true. Or perhaps all these things are just rubbish. It is a good game to play anytime you are fencing or watching fencing though. It will eventually help you on strip.

I had a good private lesson with Coach Miller. There was nothing remarkable in it, other than my inability to follow directions at times.  he said I was much improved and very relaxed. My elbow popped out a tiny bit once in a while, but not often or much.

I did the same thing in that lesson, I have started doing on strip. I quit thinking about it. I was concentrating so hard on doing things correctly, I was screwing myself up. The trick now is to figure out when I SHOULD concentrate that hard and when I SHOULD NOT.

I am home now. No fencing tonight for me. I worked late tonight and am not helping set up for our club's tournament. I feel guilty about that, but it cannot be helped. I had to cancel my trip to Kansas, as another emergency at work has taken place. I must work tomorrow as well. I do not know how long,but I will miss most of the tournament going on Saturday.

Thus endth my week in fencing. So let it be written. So let it be done.

Sunday, October 7, 2007


I am feeling better. I went to the gym for a light work out, but did to much. It made me feel a bit light headed.

Perhaps I was wise to skip the tournament in Fayetville, though I feel bad about it. I do not think I had the endurance for it yet. I am not sure I had the endurance for a five hour drive. There was the possibility that I could have done the ref exam for epee and IF I had passed, I would have completed a goal for this season. Sadly, I only found out about it the night before. The odds that I could have studied in one night and passed are remote. So I did not go....but in a way I feel like I should have.

Tommy won the tournament and got his"B" rating. We are proud of him. I hate I missed that.

On the other hand, I did serve the fencing community. Woody ( who teaches a continuing education class at UNCG in fencing.....He is doing it solo this semester.) had a death in the family. Henri and I dropped by to see if he would make the class. He did, but has had a rough time and we took the adult part of the class for him. It was to be a sabre class. Henri and I can write everything we know about sabre on one side of an index card. Soooo......we switched it to epee. Everyone seemed to have a good time and we spent the last half hour of the class bouting. They had fun. One of the students is Bill. Bill is 80 plus. Is daughter is with him and she is around 57. She has a daughter that fences for Penn State. Those Penn State fencers must mate like rabbits. You can't throw a rock without hitting one.

Bill does great for his age. Except for a problem with heat, he is as good as anyone there. I am impressed. He studied fencing in Germany long ago. I do not know when, but he holds his off weapon hand in the classical manner. I hope I get to talk to him some time. He could be like a time capsule. I would like to hear the stories. I generally am patient about listening to old people and their stories. I hope that some one may have the same patients with me, should I live that long. In this case, this is one I would actually like to hear.

Next weekend I will miss one of the tournaments we host, "The Titanic Open". It is for woman and children only......get it?.....think about it....you will. I had given thought to sneaking down to UNC for an epee tournament on Sunday as well. Work has dashed that hope. I will be in Kansas. I cannot remember every being in Kansas, though I must have driven through it at some point in my life.

The start of the season is not going well for me. There is something coming between me and tournaments/fencing constantly.

Friday, October 5, 2007


I fenced tonight for the first time in about two weeks. I did okay. I fenced without as much thought and did better.
The exception was Mark. He fences so wild that I had a hard time with him. Still, I think I can use him as a training aid in the future.

I hurt Henri's feelings doing my "showboat" stance after a touch. I will never do that again.

I am sick...or getting over being sick. I did not have a lot of stamina.

I was to fence in a tournament tomorrow, but I do not think I have it in me.

I will be out of town on business next weekend, I will miss the Titanic. I will miss the UNC tournament.

I seem to be missing a lot of tournaments. I will miss the one at Touche, as I will be at the coast for my daughters birthday. Fortunately, there is one in New Bern I can attend.

I notice that my sentences all start with "I". It would seem sort of self centered if this was not MY journal.

I think I feel better about my fencing. I do not feel good about it, but better.