Monday, January 28, 2008


The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it. (Henry David Thoreau)

Saturday, January 26, 2008


Not such a good week for me. It was not mind blowing depressing, but it was just not good.

Wednesday night was my group lesson with Coach Miller. Only three of us were in the class, everyone else was sick. I did not grasp things and felt awkward. I hate that feeling when you do drills.

I washed my brand new XL NCFDP fencing t-shirt and it shrunk to the point that it looks like it was sprayed on me.  ( NOT a pretty sight!) I hated that. I really wanted to wear that around. It was a great t-shirt. ~ heavy sigh ~

Thursday I had a private lesson Coach Miller. Often when I write in my journal I mention something he said that made me feel good. This week he lost patience with me. Mostly with my hand position in en guard, but I kind of blew it in some other areas as well. When I would try to fix one thing, I would screw up another. I don't blame him for about losing it with me. I don't see how he does it week after week. I would loose it more often. It is one of many reasons I don't ever see me being a coach. At the end, Coach Miller said that they had notice my NCFDP patch. It looked nice. I wonder if he was thinking..." Crud! Now someone will know he is one of my students. How embarrassing."

After our lessons, Henri and I often make up vocalizations of Coach's thoughts during lessons. It is pretty entertaining.   Henri does it the best. I wonder sometimes how close it is to the truth.

Friday night I worked on trying to fix my hand position in en guard and Henri's inability to wait for cues. I do not know how well we did on either, but we worked on it. Henri and I may never be good fencers, but by all that is holy we ARE going to be able to do the six wall drill correctly. I vow this!

I fenced with some of the kids. I thought I would test my elbow and work on some stuff. I don't seem to get any strip time these days. I stunk. I have come to the conclusion that my foot work is not as good as it once was. ( Not that it was all that great.) I need to work on that.

On the bright side, I have stopped my steroid medication for my elbow and I think it is getting better. I loss the weight I gained while taking the meds and am back to where I was before I started the taking them. At least I was yesterday, I have not weighed today. I am heading to the gym shortly. I am looking forward to it.

Thus endth my week in fencing. I think I need to listen to some blues. Where is my T-bone Walker?

Tuesday, January 22, 2008


The other day I was reading the discussion forums on Fencing Net. There is nothing unusual about that. I read them about twice a day....every day.

Even though I have been doing this for a couple of years, I rarely post. ( Though I have been doing so more frequently of late for some reason.) I would have to say that doing so was part of my fencing education.  ( My Fencing Net SN is "Downtown" by the way.)

I saw someones post and posted that his reply would make a nice fencing T-shirt.
I had a pm from a nice lady named Vickie, who teaches in the Tidewater VA area and has been involved with fencing for 18+ years. She asked me if she could use my idea for her t-shirt company and exchange she would send me a free t-shirt with my idea on it.


It should be here by the end of next month in basic black.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

The Week and the Elbow....and the Tummy.

This week I went to the doctor and got my elbow looked at. I am taking some medicine that has steroids in it. It is making me ravenously hungry. Well I think it is the meds, I get that way often with out it.  I went up a couple of pounds this week and I am afraid to get on the scale this morning. On the bright side, I will be heading to the gym shortly. I have not been able to go this whole week. The struggle continues.

Wednesday I had a group lesson with  Coach Miller. I felt sort of clumsy at it at times. It happens. Some days you feel like you are moving sharply and others you don't.

Cam talked to me about Divisional tournaments that are coming up. She is having difficulty getting in touch or help with other Divisional officers.  So far, only two have said they would help. It seems she is on her own.

I had told myself I would no longer help at Divisional tournaments. However, my friend needs help, so I will go one more time. I don't mind the work, it is the comments that are sure to follow the event. Somebody wants to take a shot, that is fine....but they had better have done something to help or my gloves are coming off.

Thursday I went to UNC and had a private lesson with the coach. We are not that far apart in age and yet I cannot for the life of me call him Ron. Coach is the only name that fits. I did well that night. I also got a cool NCFDP T-shirt. I always wanted one.

Henri was there and she bought a NCFDP patch for her uniform. Being the generous person that she is, she bought me one as well. It is very cool and I look forward to wearing it proudly. I also instantly gave some thought to what my friends at the the DFC would think about me wearing this. I thought about it and I do not think it would bother anyone. They have always supported my efforts and want me to improve. I consider myself a member of both clubs these days. I think of  myself as student ofthe sport and would I would go any where within the limits of my finances and time to improve myself.  I do not have a life time to learn and I need to try and step up the process when ever I can.

I fenced once at UNC. The person was a saberist, but most people had not come because of the weather or the North American Cup. So I got in a a tiny bit of strip time, but my elbow paid the price. I need to make myself rest it.

Friday night, I went to the club and hung out for a bit, but did not dress out.

This was my week in fencing.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

A Way to Improve Foil

My Epee Sense is Tingling!

I think something is wrong. It may be that more than "think". I feel something 
is wrong.

I think something has happened to fencing around here. I am a vet, but I am not
a veteran with a lot of years under his belt. (Just the opposite in fact.) So,
perhaps my observations are incorrect.

There do not seem to be many tournaments on the horizon in this state. The ones
I have been to of late have been poorly attended. You do not see new people at
these tournaments. I went to a small one this weekend and except for one young
man, I think I could call everyone by their first name.

It doesn't seem like it was like that last season, or the season before that. Of
course I was newer then and perhaps I was not paying attention.

I scanned all the people listed as members of the USFA in our Division the other
day. There seems to be a fair amount of them. There are a lot of names I have never
seen at tournaments though. Some may be NCAA kids and some may just fence other
weapons and I do not remember their names.

I scanned South Carolina and Tennessee and tried to compare them to our
Division. There are some good tournaments in South Carolina, but in my short time fencing,
they never seem to have very many.

I read on Fencing Net, that this club in Tennessee is having a drop
in membership. They are a mostly recreational club that has been around sense

I heard (did not read) that there was a 2% decline in USFA membership from last
year. I think that was the first time that membership had actually gone down.

Of course I have also read about Divisions in the US that are having good

I wonder if this is something that is affecting states that had a larger
manufacturing base and that a drop in fencing may have some link to people being
able to afford fencing as jobs disappear?

Or is it that people are just getting fatter and lazier? Or is this because
there are more things competing for time and dollars of late?

Or am I just wrong?

I would think/ hope that the Olympics might give the sport around here a shot in
the arm. I understand that the fencing part of th
e Olympics will be during prime time this year. I hope that is true.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Elbow Update

I went to the Doctor today. I had to go before I faced Sharon again.

My elbow is a tennis elbow sort of thing. There is no arthritis and no screwed up bones.

So...Yay! I was worried more than I needed to be.

I am on some meds with steroids and anti-inflammation. I got a cool brace.

The doctor could not tell me why for the last two months it would mostly a bothersome pain and then on Friday it was butt kicking pain.

I think it had something to do with fencing foil with a pistol grip.

If this does not get better in a couple of weeks , then I may get a shot in the arm...or ( god forbid) takes some time off from fencing. Nah....there is time to rest in Summer..

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Why Jim Kent is Stupid...Yet....Wiser

When I was in college , I had a pretty high IQ. ( Note: I never believed in the validity of them all that much and I am sure they must have changed considerably in the last three decades or so.) I also devoted a lot of time and money in my youth to killing off brain cells, so I am certain that the gray matter has seen better days.

I fenced Sunday in Charlotte. That was stupid. I should have taken care of my elbow.
Friday night I whimpered when I put on or took off my jacket. I made a sound like a small animal dieing when I reached down and pulled up my bed sheets. My elbow was in a bad way.

Saturday, it felt bruised and only hurt really bad when I squeezed something with my hand. You would be surprised how often you do that in a days time. Though by evening, it was much better.

Sunday I warm up doing 6 Wall and it does not hurt going slow.

I decide to fence. ( Moderately stupid move.)

I fence pools.

I fence Courtney. Courtney has better blade work than I do. Yet I have beaten her before by offering invitation and denying her the use of my point as a reference for distance. She beat me 5-4. That no longer works on her.  I am pretty sure that she is unaware that I am working hard to improve and the rest of the fencing world is not allowed to do so.

I fence Henri. Henri knew I was hurt and took it easy on me. I won.

I fenced Lucion. ( Most likely spelled wrong, but I don't feel like going to Ask Fred and looking it up.) He is rated a "C" fencer. I beat him 5-3. Not much to say about the bout, but one touch. For my touch number three, I just walked up the strip, lunged and hit him on the on guard line. It was the walking and distance part that threw him off. It was a cheap trick you might do fooling around in club. I have no idea what made me do that, but it worked. is another stupid thing and a lesson learned. The lesson learned , however, is of such small value and could help so few people that it is almost worthless.

I fenced Amanda. She is a good fencer and I did not take her lightly, but did not take her serious enough. So we are fencing and suddenly the score is 4-2 her. Well I am not liking this to much. I decide to pommel and hit closer target to catch up. "Pow"....touch to the arm. I get the touch. That seems (if not smart) effective, doesn't it? I do it again. Sounds like it is working and is a good idea doesn't it?

Most people fence with a  pistol grip and even I am now trying to make the switch, so you might not understand this. When you pommel with a French, you sacrifice some strength in doing parries and 'takes". You just don't have the leverage. Do you know what it does do? It places weight on your elbow. Yep...touch 4 hurt me. I caught up and I paid the price. Now....Here is where it gets even more stupid. For the final touch I stick with pommeling. Hey...It was working! We are dancing around and my elbow is killing me and I am having trouble keeping my tip up and on target. Amanda wins. She is a sweet and pretty young woman , so I don't mind all that much.

So there was a lesson learned, but not one of much value.

I should mention at this point that there are only 10 fencers in the tournament. I like to think if there had been much more I would have dropped out.

Peter starts to post the results. I tell him that I am withdrawing, but I glance at the sheet and see I have a "bye". ( I am ranked sixth out of ten fencers and I have a "bye". Someday I MUST research this sort of thing and see how this works.) I tell him I will stick it out, as I do not have to fence that many people.

By the way, Peter's first question to me after I told him was injured was, "Did it happen here?" You know....that most likely would have been my first thought if I was in his shoes, but I think I might have faked a little concern before I asked that question. But, that is just me.

I fence Mike in DEs. ( I think his name is Mike, I may need to look it up) Now I have fenced Mike before. I fenced him at a UNC tournament. When we came on strip at UNC, he said to me, "Are you tired, Pops?". I never had anyone talk smack to me on a fencing strip before, but I gave as good as I got. Sadly, I lost that bout something like 15-13. I lead most of time, but he rallied in the end.

I was hoping to avenge myself here and make a nice story for my journal. Touch one, he fleches and stops short to keep from running into me. We are in an in fighting situation. I take his blade and shove my bell guard up high and fast and make the touch. Sounds good doesn't it?

Elbow going up was stupid. I wanted to vomit, that hurt so bad. I got a couple of doubles after that , but could no longer hang. He beat the tar out of me and I was done. In truth, he has gotten better and I don't think I could have taken him if my elbow was better. However, I hopeto find out again some day.

I got to watch Henri fence Amanda. That was a good and exciting bout. Henri won and I was proud of her. She faced Courtney in her second DE.

I am correcting stuff, because Sharon pointed out an error.

Nicole won her first DE and then she had the misfortune to fence Keith in her second DE. He is a good fencer, but she landed some good touches that made Constantine bust out laughing. He was laughing at Keith. I thought she gave a good account of herself.

I did not stay to watch the foil after epee. I had promised my son and his girlfriend (students at UNCC) that I would take them out to lunch. I hope Henri did well.

Today I did not do very well fencing. Two years ago, I would have beat myself up over it on the ride home. It doesn't matter much to me. This was a small little tournament and it felt to me, more like free fencing at club than a tournament. I mean that in a good way.
I got in some strip time and I am happy with that. I was able to fence, before I head to the doctors and find out what I have done to my elbow. ( Oddly enough, it does not hurt at all now.)

So you see, even though I did a lot of stupid things today, I can't help but feel a bit wiser.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

" You are in it mostly for the social thing, aren't you?"

Last night I had dinner with Woody and Sara. Sara was aware that I had hurt my elbow again badly. Moving along the lines of " I may not be able to fence anymore", she said, " You are in it mostly for the social thing, aren't you?"

I have thought about that ever sense. My answer was, that while that was certainly part of it, I like to compete.

Everyone likes to win. I know I do. However,some wins are much better than others. Some wins are meaningless.

To me every single touch is a mini-competition. I love all the elements that go into that one little game. ( And you get to play it multiple times! SCORE!!!)

If you have to sum it up in one sentence, I think I like the challenge of trying to master something that you can never master. I don't think anyone does not wish the could do some action better. I see this as noble. I think it has that whole " Man of LaMancha" thing going on. ( LaMancha is most likely spelled wrong....but I am on a roll here.)

As I sit here and think about fencing in a little tournament tomorrow, I know that my elbow will most likely not let me fence. If it is going to hurt like this every time I fence, I can't fence anymore. I hope I am just thinking the worst, but hoping it will not be that bad.
However, there is a good chance it might. Maybe it might take me out for ever or maybe the season. I don't know. I will find out though.

Here is the rub though, a great deal of my social life IS wrapped up in fencing. I often snub non-fencing friends to fence. I certainly slight my family sometimes.

I  think the greatest loss of not being able to fence would be the social aspects of it. At the same time, many social aspects in my life might improve. Certainly some of the guilt I carry would be reduced.

I cannot see me trying to do something dramatic like trying to fence left handed. I pretty much know how that would go.

I use to tell myself that I would not consider myself a fencer until I achieved certain ratings or levels. More and more I have come to see that I may never achieve any of those goals, yet I know I am a fencer. It is who I am these days. What would it be like to not be able to do this?

On the other hand, I read a blog written by a woman that lost her hearing. In the scheme of things, my worries seem trite. Nonetheless they frighten me a little.

I guess I will see what tomorrow brings.

Friday, January 11, 2008


I screwed up my elbow on my weapon arm again. I need to bite the bullet and and go to the doctor.

I am not sure if I will be able to compete on Sunday. I worry about things like this taking me out of fencing. I want to fence so very much.


This week we are back at fencing after Christmas break.

Wednesday we had a group lesson with Coach Miller. Mostly it was "6 Wall". We worked on being better instructors and learning the benefit of being the instructor with out partners when we are paired up. ( student- leader) The "6 Wall"  is  to be part of our warm up before class and tournaments. It looks good when done well and is a great warm up.

Mostly it was not all that enjoyable , but necessary to get us back on track after a long break. Not everything in fencing can be new and exciting. Often you must suck it up and work on basics. That is what we did Wednesday.  I needed it.

Thursday night I went to UNC and got a private lesson with Coach Miller. We worked on  keeping the arm straight and placing the tip. It was a bit more complex than that , but that is the gist of it. When I use my beloved French grip I am only getting 65% of it. ( And I tend to put some shoulder in it, which of course is wrong.) When I use my pistol grip I get 85% of it. When I use Coach Miller's epee I get 95%. Coach Miller cuts off part of his pistol grip, so that his thumb is wedged tight against the bell guard.

Today I tried to modify my grip, I think the only thing I have done is destroy the grip on my only FIE weapon. I haven't given up on trying to save it......but DAMN!

At the end of my lesson last night, Coach Miller told me that he wished that he had film of me when when we first started. He said that I had improved so much that I was on a whole  other plane. I don't know about that. I don't think this is transferring to the strip all that much. Still, it made me feel really good.

UNC is crowded, so I did not get to fence. I have not gotten any strip time this week. Tonight I will head to the club and try and get in abit of fencing.

I am fencing this weekend at a tournament in Charlotte. If I fence smart, there might be a couple of people I can take, but mostly I think I will be out classed. While I do not see me doing all that well this weekend, I need to compete and I am looking forward to it.

Now I need to see what I can do to save my weapon before class, or just order another grip.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

NCAA Clip....Sweeet!

Saturday, January 5, 2008


I don't fence again until next week, however I feel the need to make an entry.

After two days off, I am back at the gym and maintaining momentum. I was worried about that. With not having to go to fencing on Mondays, I should be able to get in enough gym time. Some weeks will be better than others.

I have lost six pounds. I know that is not much, but I am encouraged by it. At least things are moving in the right direction. When I was in my twenties, I could do that by just thinking about it...or so it seemed.

I am going to try and include a conditioning and weight loss sentence or two in every post in my journal for the foreseeable future. Perhaps it will make me more inclined to keep going.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

New Year

Well it is pretty darn hard to write about fencing when you aren't doing any. However, on a related subject, I have been working out like hell for the last couple of weeks. I had been doing okay for the last month or so, but have turned it up a bit for the last week and and a half.

My focus has been on cardio. I am trying to build my endurance and loose some weight. Most of my workouts are a mixture of some circuit training and or some sort of weight training that does not put a strain on the elbow. I have done a lot of lower body work.
I am trying to let my elbow rest. It was damaged during an App Tournament. I think it is like a tennis elbow sort of thing. There has been an discussion on this on Fencing Net of late. I noticed a lot of vets posting there. I think it is okay as long as I do not flick. My flick stinks any way.

I coupled lower body work outs and circuit training ( This involves machines instead of free weights and step exercises in between with one minute time intervals. A total of 30 minutes to complete.) with one hour on the Elliptical Trainer. ( I  varied workouts and  on this machine and resistance. )

I burned well over a 1000 calories each work out, In this time of a week and a half I lost a pound or two.  Now I know that this might be considered good, as I did not gain weight over the holidays. However, I was hoping for a little more.

Tomorrow,  I return to work after a week and a half off. Trying to keep this going while working and fencing is going to be hard. There is no way I can go every day. I will have Mondays off from fencing now and that will help free up some workout time.

I am going to go to the gym today and then when I come home time myself for a two mile walk in my neighborhood. It is my thought ,that I might do this before I go to work.
I am not sure how this will play out. Jim does not like being cold or giving up morning coffee and computer time. We will see what happens here.

On the positive side, I have loaded up my MP3 player with new music. Much of it is fencing related. Yesterday I even found a "Princess Bride" sound track at a used CD store. Who the heck knew that movie HAD a sound track? Courtney ( Number One Daughter ) has a new CD on order for me from Europe. I think she finally found something I have wanted a long time. It is kind of hard to find an old Marie Laforet's album around here.

I wish I could run trails again. I miss that so much. There is nothing so meditative as running in the woods. Sadly, I do not think I can do that anymore do to the problem with my heel. ( Well I could, but I would need to crawl to the bathroom the next morning and sit down on the steps and bump my butt to go down them.)

Damn. It is getting harder to stay in the game.

Luckily , I like a challenge.

Happy New Year and may this year be better than 2007.............for all of us.