Sunday, May 27, 2007

Summer Time


It is summer.....or close enough that it makes no never mind. For the last two summers I have done something to make me a better fencer. Summer before last it was a week long camp and last summer it was Coaches College.

This summer I have a new job, which means no extra vacation time. In fact, I do not have a week until around September.

What to do...What to do?

I could make this the summer I work out really hard and try to loose some weight to make me a better fencer. Of course, I talk about doing that all the time, but I do not see this happening.

My wife and two of my children are heading to Columbia for a week in July. ( The country...not the city.) During that week there is a weekend camp for coaches that teaches you about medieval weapons. It is in the DC area, which is around six hours away. I must say, that the thought of this interest me. It also would count as hours of credit if ever wanted to be certified in the USFCA. I find that a bit strange. The down side is that it would do nothing to make me a better fencer.  I also question people who teach such things, as there was no master to teach THEM these techniques. From what I have read, some people have some knowledge on this subject and some are frauds.

I could use that weekend to go my beach house by myself. I have never done that. Sounds very meditative, but I don't think I can make it fencing related.

Next weekend is a seminar with Maestro Beguinet. Those are always good, Maybe I can find a way to cram in a few weekends of special fencing training during the summer and that will keep me on the road to improvement.
 
 
 

 

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Friday Epee


I fenced last night at the "Y." There was no foot work and no drills. We just fenced. I liked it. I needed it. I have not fenced a lot due to my foot in the last couple of months. Now, because it seems to miraculously be getting better on its own, I am eager to get in some strip time.

The way I fenced was not all that good. I was very relaxed. I made some good touches and some sheer luck touches. Rather than just fence, I worked on some of the techniques I have been learning. Some were more successful than others. Sometimes I would try a certain attack or defense and though I had an action in mind, my hand would move on its own accord. Everyone that fences epee knows what I am talking about. It is one of the most interesting aspects of the game, in my opinion. What is it, that makes you (without conscious thought) in a split second change from a planed course of action to taking advantage of a 'target of opportunity?" I have always loved when that happens and is successful. However, last night it became sort of annoying. I had certain actions I wanted to work on, but often "Mr. Instinct" had other ideas.

Another aspect of last night was that I was more selfish. I wanted to work on some things on strip and experiment. I am supposed to me an assistant-coachy-helper-person, but last night I worked on stuff for me.  I let some folks have some touches when we fenced, but that was not really doing them any good. I just fenced for me. I will try not to do that often, but last night I needed it.

 

 

Friday, May 25, 2007

Kathz Should Have Her Own Mountain Peek!

Chuang Tzu said. " The true Tao is not the Tao that can be named." Chuang Tzu never met Kathz.

I love having enlightened friends!

How about this:

"Great Guru, you know all about fencing and are the source of all wisdom.  Therefore there is only one question that I, your humble disciple in the art of swordplay, can ask you.  It is this.: Having seen me fence and knowing my skills and shortcomings, tell me the question I should have prepared to ask you ... for knowing the right question is the first step on the path to wisdom."
Comment from fencerkath - 5/25/07 10:22 AM

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Yes...Grasshopper?



The "season" is all but over. The "season" is defined by a couple of terms. The "season" sort of ends when the kids get out of school and people are traveling during the summer. There are generally smaller classes at our club to say the least. What seems to truly define the end of "season "is The U.S. National Championships. This year they are in Miami. I will not be in attendance, as I do not have enough vacation. Plus, I feel I can get beaten cheaper and closer to home.

There is one more epee class left at Mid-South. Matt and Jen have moved to Durham already.

Coach Miller gave us an assignment or two for next Wednesday. Bring our e-mail address. That is easy enough. We are also to figure out what we want to do. Coach will still be coming up to Greensboro on Wednesdays in June. We could do this at the "Y" but it would mean a schedule change or using the dance area upstairs. The latter seems the easier choice, if that is available. We need to figure out how to pay Coach Miller. Is it the same money to Mid-South or is this a separate deal? If it looks like we can work all this out, can we buy Coach Miller a membership at the "Y"?  I will pay for it, just to have him for a month. He should not be spending any money to do so. Plus, that would eat up time that could be spent coaching.

What is really on my mind though is that Ron ( Did I mention that it never sounds right not calling him Coach?) told us to each come prepared to ask one question of him. This is in essence not unlike a person getting to go to Nepal; make a pilgrimage up the mountain and ask the Guru a question. You only get one!

Now.....what to ask?

My first thought was to ask about the fencing a person who keeps his weapon arm in motion, in an effort to deny you that target. ( If a person likes to defend...you defend. If a person likes to attack.....you attack first. If a person likes to attack the arm...keep it moving and back. ) Most of our drills that evolve the cuff and intermediate targets have your partner just holding his arm there , where you want it. Sadly, this is not often what it is like on strip.

Or I could ask about fencer with stiff unrelaxed weapon arms and how this makes 'beats" and certain "takes" more difficult. What to do Coach?

These aren't bad questions. BUT...are they worthy for taking up to the top of a mountain in Nepal? I don't think so.

I am going to pull out my straw mat ( I really do not have one) and mediate on this. This means that I will give this so much thought that I will ask a question that is sure to sound "off the wall" and utterly weird. On the other hand, I might ponder on this for a week and we may not get to ask a question. I must take the shot though!


Monday, May 21, 2007

Fencing...Food...Forest.


We had a fun little tournament at club on Sunday. You rolled dice to see what weapon you fenced. A miracle has not happened and I somehow got better at foil. I was pretty sure that was not going to happen.

I understand that Woody won. I had to leave around 12:30 to go start getting some things ready for the fencing club picnic.

I got to the park around two and unloaded a bunch of stuff. I finished and put on some relaxing music and lay there under the trees, It was the most relaxing time I can remember having lately. For a breif period I was at total peace. I could have slept there. I need to get out in the woods when there is a mild day like that. It is good for the soul.

I did not get to spend a lot of time talking to people at the picnic. It seemed I was always moving around. In fact, it was the first time I ever felt like my Mom. She fed people. I even sat where I could keep an eye on things that were going on.

I also got to hang with Julian and Luis. This was the first time I ever had a conversation with Julian. It was very interesting. We walked and talked by the water and in the woods. We had conversations concerning wildlife and plants. We would make our way up a steep hill back to the shelter and he would grunt like an old man and complain about how steep the hill was. He did this three times, because he kept wanting to make the same trek. I enjoyed being with him.

Everyone seemed to have a good time and liked the food. I put a little effort into making it happen, so I was pleased.

 


 



 

 


 

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Guess Which of Snow White's Dwarves I am


Well...I will give you a hint. It is Grumpy!

I just got back from fencing in a Raleigh Fencers tournament. There was road construction of the worse kind and I hardly traveled at all in an hour and a half. I thought I was going to miss the close of registration. I started off in a foul mood.

There were 15 people registered for the epee event. I won two and lost two in pools and ended up 7th in rank for DEs. Squarely and mediocrly in the middle. OR....point 5 to the top half if I was to try and put it in the most favorable light. The only good thing I can say about pools is I fenced this guy named Jamie from Wilmington. We had a good bout and we have fenced each other before. Of course it would be a better bout if he did not have the habit of beating me by one point. Still, he is a nice guy and we always have a close and good bout when we fence.

On to my first DE. I fenced the guy that was ranked 9th. I beat him like a rented mule. <~~~ One of my grandfather's sayings. At one point I was ahead around eight to two. At this point, I did not fence as hard. I did not let him have points, but I did not fence as hard. One..... there was no reason to and ...two...there is no sense in humiliating someone in a DE that as far as I know does not deserve it. I suspect this is wrong thinking on my part, and may even be collusion <~~~~ A bad thing in the rule book.

I sat there and watched Jamie fence a kid I beat 4:1 in pools. I was kind of pulling for the kid, in case I had to fence him in a later DE. The score was 15 Jaime and 13 for the kid. ( His Mom had been nice to me...so that was another reason I was pulling for him.) Wess made a call on the 15th touch that I have studied, but never seen called before. I did not see what happened, but I guess Wess thought the touch was questionable...so the kid gets the choice of deciding if the double touch is annulled (which is how Jaime got to 15...and means the kid is still in the game)...OR...he can have it not be annulled and loose. Thekid picks to have the double touch not count and goes on to win. I saw a couple of unhappy Wilmington faces.

At this moment I hear from across the room..."Jim Kent second call." Another Raleigh ref has just called me for the second time to strip in a soft female voice. ( I am sitting next to a big fan that is blowing) I am fencing a Raleigh Fencer and I have a Raleigh Fencer  ref. One more call and I am black carded and out. The place we are fencing is a medium sized warehouse. It is NOT Madison Square Garden. Now as a ref she is entitled to do this. However, as a host and as being a decent sport, with your fencer on strip, I believe a greater effort could have been made to get someone's attention who is 30 feet away. I went to the strip and my knickers were starting to drop, so I got called on this. ( She was correct to do so.) Then there was some other knit picky thing. I was fencing a Raleigh Fencer who was the number one seed. I have to tell you...I felt harassed.  All the things she called me on were correct....but there was bad attitude about it...like she was trying to rattle me before the event. To be honest, it may not have been that way at all. But it seemed like that to me. I lost....and I had a muttering and grumpy ride home.

I have to say, I think that on a good day, I could have beat anyone there. Sadly, this was not a good day. Also....maybe I am just kidding myself. I try my best to be in the "real world" when I evaluate myself......but I am never 100% sure that I am being impartial.

Henri was the only DFC/MSF fencer there besides me. I did not get to see her fence a lot, as she did foil before I got there and we fenced epee at the same time. She was not happy though.

Henri followed me home in her car back to Greensboro. We stopped and got ice cream, because I wanted some comfort food. As I slurped down a hot fudge sundae we talked about the picnic tomorrow. This is a fairly typical Jim and Henri conversation.

Henri: "I am worried. The things I am thinking about making have mayonnaise in them and they could go bad in the heat."

Jim: ~ raises one eye brow and uses the Daddy voice~ " You know........You COULD make something that does NOT have mayonnaise in it......Ya know?"  ( " Ya know" in this instance has a sound to it, that makes it sound similar to the word..."dingbat")

Editors Note: I know what you are thinking. This sounds sort of abusive on my part to Henri. I would have to say you are right. HOWEVER...We have been pals for a long time now and I can only assume that on some level...she must like it!

It is at this point I see an all to common sight. Henri's eyes narrow and her lips get tight. Her hand inches forward. I have seen this before. She is seeking a soft patch of skin on my body that she can pinch and twist with her long finger nails. Something ,I might add, that  takes a lot longer than an epee bruise to heal up.

That is a typical Henri and Jim conversation.

I get home and I am ready to start making steak kabobs for the fencing picnic tomorrow. Anne went shopping for me and misunderstood what I wanted. She got enough stuff to make 120 steak kabobs. I hope they are good, because we will be eating them at my house for some time to come.

What a day!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

The Devil is in the Details


Another good class with Coach Miller. It seems redundant, but it is true. I once met a waitress at Elizabeth's Pizza that had studied with him. She said he was the best teaching experience of her life. If just one person says something like that, you know you have touched the future. In this case. there is no telling how many people have thought something similar.

We worked on a few drills that were not very complicated and were very demanding at the same time. Slight changes were made in distance and arm positions. Each explained so that you understood why you or your teammate had just been lightly whacked on the mask. It sounds a bit abusive, but it is not that way at all. In fact, it helps punctuate some small detail you need to work on. Working to correct these small things is what we are there for.

We began working on some German drills. ( Beck. See the book" By the Sword" and a recent book that Beck and another German co-authored.. I am a bit sleepy and names are escaping me.) Coach Miller gave a brief history of the man and his approach to training. I was aware of the man and the his training methods through books I own.

I did not fence. I just did the lesson and headed home. My foot has been making a little bit of improvement in healing. I did not want to kill it, as I am fencing in a tournament or two this weekend. After that, I will take a break from fencing and heal, or I will head to the doctor.

I head to Atlanta for a seminar tomorrow for work. I will travel back on Friday. My foot will be resting.

I need to talk up the " Ron Miller Open" at the picnic this weekend.

Deborah ( Charlie's Mom) recommended a book she was reading.    " S________ in the Wind." She said Henri had read it, so I will ask Henri. I should have written it down. Deborah said it was beautifully written and set in Spain. I have not been reading as much in the last year or so. I only seem to have time when I travel or take vacation. By read, I mean fiction. I seem to read a goodly amount of non-fiction. ( Read non-fiction as works on fencing.)

Last night I brought wooden dice I had made for Kathy. I brought a Y10 epee I had repaired for Cam to take to CALL and I brought Henri a Musketeer movie. Henri must decode a cryptic Woody comment.

When Coach Miller arrived we had all four flaked out on a gym mat in the middle of the bouting area. We were working on our " epee stretches". That means we were laying on our back doing nothing. Coach Miller  walked in and found us laying there. We were supposed to be warming up with " Six Wall". It made me feel both like it was funny and that I had my hand caught in the cookie jar.


 

Thursday, May 10, 2007

What is Best?


I had a good epee lesson on Wednesday. There was a lot of really good stuff. "Lift seven' is something I use to do a great deal, only I would go deep. The wrist hit is so much better. I cannot wait to fence again so I can work on anglated wrist attacks. I carried an epee in the front seat on my drive to work today so I could practice the finger movement. I like to fence with a slight downward bend at the end of my epee. I think I should change my hand position a bit to take advantage of that when I go around the bell guard. The last part of the lesson had some of the flashy stuff with parries in prime. I had to watch that one, as I rotated out. I think I can do it though. We covered the risk of doubling in deep target and how to increase the odds of making it one light.

Coach Miller was complimentary concerning my progress. He invited us all down to fence at UNC next week. That sort of thing keeps me going and keeps me motivated. Plus, it just makes me feel good. I hope it is true. Ron's (It never sounds right when I call him that.) back was really hurting, but he came to help us anyway. I was grateful.

I only fenced once against Jordan. I take a different attitude when I fence there, than at the "Y." I do not hold back as much. I don't have to there. It is all about me. I practiced my invitation that we worked on a couple of weeks back, but she only took the bait twice.

Of course,I paid for my fencing. I could barely walk at the end of the night. I stopped at a convince store and bought a big bag of ice for the ride home. I iced my foot the whole way. Henri gave me a doctors name and I think I am going to bite the bullet and make an appointment. It would be nice if I could help it out before next weekends tournament. (Actually tournaments)

Matt worked on my lunge on the way out. I could barely stand, so it was not my best effort. I will work on it. Short space-knees less bent, weight slightly forward; land on the heel.
I will work on this, but I wonder about some things. If I do things like this in front of people at the "Y" will it confuse them? Should people start this way, or follow a more traditional method for a while and then graduate to this? I have no idea. It would seem to make sense, just to start them out that way. However, when I think about this, I think about footwork. I question now, weather I should continually practice the traditional footwork...OR....practice footwork that is more useful in bouts? The traditional foot work is the foundation and I might confuse kids if they see me doing this at the "Y." If I heal up, I will do this at the gym and home. Not hours of it, just some here and there.

Henri has my sabre and seems to be having fun whacking the boys. It suits her somehow. If people only knew how much she likes to fight. Okay...make that beat on me. I am a battered epeeist. *sob* She always tells me that no one will believe that she picks on me, because she is so little. WAKE UP WORLD!

Nicole (now 15) is really fun these days. A couple of years ago she would not utter a word around people. Now she is really a lot of fun to hang out with. She has a unique sense of humor. I like it.

I will go to class at the "Y" tomorrow. I tell myself that I will not fence and let my foot heal. I hope that is the case. I know that when I see people fencing, I just cannot stop from getting into the game.

 

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Misc.


Well...I feel like I should post. I don't seem to have anything long to record, so I will just do a few random thoughts.

Tommy called last night. He is having fun at Sectionals. He did well against an "a" fencer who flicked him hard to the ankle. When I see him Wednesday we are going to have a talk about hitting hard. You should see my arm and we did not even fence. This was from drills!
We all would like to impress Coach Miller (As much as we could within the limitations of our abilities), however Tommy has other motivations and just tries to hard sometimes. Often at the expense of his friends. I know Tommy. He is my brother in arms. I do not think he would hurt his teammates on purpose.

I don't think my talk with Tommy will be as effective as my talk with Kevin. I went to help out with the kids class at CALL sense Woody was out of pocket. Nicole and Henri were there as well, so we had the kids covered like a blanket. I had heard about Kevin from Cam. ( Cam does a good impression of a mischievous little boy by the way.) When the little kids gathered, I asked them," Which one of you is Kevin". I used my unhappy Daddy voice.

Nicole told me later that she thought I scared him. I told her, that was just what I had in mind. Kevin was a model student.

I hung around and watched the grown ups. That was kind of boring. Cam could do it all by herself. We found some little stuff to do like setting up the strip and helping them hook up, but that was about the extent of it.

I enjoyed watching the little kids bout for the first time. There was much clapping and such from student, parent and coach. That was fun.

I am in charge of a picnic for a couple of Greensboro fencing clubs. I am trying to handle everything myself and not delegate anything (Except for everyone needs to bring some food.  A covered dish sort of thing.) It has been a pain. I wanted to do this because Jen asked me to do so. Everyone else is stressed out in some manner and I just want to handle it by myself because everyone took up my slack when I was so stressed. The bad news is that I am going to be out of town three days prior to the picnic date. I need to get things lined up tomorrow as far as renting a shelter and figuring out a time. Notify both clubs and plan how I will buy the main foods and have them ready on Sunday.

I am working out more at the gym the last couple of weeks. My weight is up again, however. I will work on that this week.

Fencing.net has gotten kind of boring of late. I read the forums everyday. I do this because in my previous profession (when I was young and green) I learned so much just listening to the old guys come in off the road and talk. There was a table were they would smoke and have a Coke and yack about this and that. It was an education. I use to learn something everyday on fencing.net. It happens less and less these days. I kind of hate that.

 

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Dilemma Deluxe


Wednesday night and an epee class ensues. It was a good lesson if you are trying to correct technical flaws....which I am.

I free fenced just a little. I was neither good nor bad. My problem is my stupid heel. It is a dilemma deluxe. For it to get better on it's own, I need to stop fencing for a week or two. As it is now, it does not seem to be getting better and I am in a constant limping state of " OW!".

The dilemma is that I do not wish to take time off from fencing or my new job. Fencing, because there is one more tournament that I want to go to this month. Okay...maybe one in June as well. I do not wish to take time off from my new job, as I am having to take time off to once in a while to settle my Dad's estate. What to do...what to do?

I am in charge of getting two clubs to a picnic at the end of the month. I need to give this some thought.