Saturday, April 26, 2008

A Sad Week

This week I only fenced once and it was a group lesson with no bouting. It was a good lesson and the one next week sounds really interesting. I hope it works out.

I did not go to UNC on Tuesday as I was still getting over fencing in New Bern.

I did not go Thursday as I was sick and had a  substantial personal problem. On the bright side the combination of having to work hard; stress and illness have caused me to drop a bit of weight. Perhaps I can keep going with that. Sadly, though I did not eat much today, it was junk.

Friday.....still sick

I don't feel all that bad today, but I am drained and not well.

There is a tournament in Blacksburg, VA which is a two and half hour drive. I need to fix my to favorite weapons and have a miracle happen in the morning before I would go....though I still entertain the idea.

There was tournament in Wilmington this weekend, but I have friends staying at my house so even if I could have gone, I would have had no free place to stay.

Coach Miller said he might stop by the tournament in Wilmington as he wanted to talk with the new Division Chair.

This was my sad week in fencing.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

As I Ever Was

Generally, when I go to a tournament, I start thinking about my journal entry on the drive home. I really did not do much of that this time.

I fenced in New Bern this weekend. Friday night, I drove down to Topsail Island and spent the night at my house. I had a bit of work I wanted to do before I left for the tournament.

The venue was nice, though I don't much care for carpeted surfaces. The people were friendly as usual. I always feel welcome there. ( I am often amazed at the people who know my first name. For the life of me , I can't figure out why they would remember. I tend to think of some fencers as " tall left handed ECU fencer....things like that.)

I went to this tournament thinking I could win it. I did not think it was likely, but I thought it was possible. It was a low level tournament. Some of the folks are very good fencers, but do not travel enough to pick up higher ratings. There are also the wild people that have weapon arms as stiff as a board.

I did not win. I finished in the top eight, which sounds pretty good until you find out there were only seventeen people fencing.

I was awful in pools.

My first direct elimination bout was against a strong fencer. He is physically strong and a good fencer, though his "takes" are a bit wild......they work.  In the middle of the match I was about four points down. I remembered about not going nuts when some one gets two points ahead from fencing in Divisionals last weekend. I worked him and stayed calm. I caught up and it was 14-14. I could tell he was more nervous about this last touch than I was. We jockeyed around and he tried his take. ( Which is sort of like a " Lift 7".)
I disengaged. He tried the same take. I disengaged. He tried that take one time to often and I disengaged and hit him. 15-14. I won and it was a very good bout. Justin the ref, even said that it " was a joy to watch." That made me feel good.

My next DE was against a college kid from ECU. I swear he was six four! There are two of them about the same height, only one is left handed. His reach was so long, I could not get to him. He was not  very good, but he was beating the tar out of me. I finally figured out how to fence him. He would chase me if I ran away. If I only had figured this out earlier in the bout, I would have done better. Hitting some one as they take an advance forward is my favorite thing. He won and Jim headed for a shower.

I watched our new Division Chair win the tournament. I had never really watched him fence before. He is faster than you think. He would almost always prefer to take/attack the blade, but will make a first intention attack if you are in range. He prefers a fast "press' attack or the wilder "take" like his student I beat in my first DE. His weakness is his foot work. Just some notes here, to remind me if I ever have to fence him in DEs.

I did reflect on some things on my drive home. I reflected on how I figured out what to do with the tall ECU fencer kid, though it was to late. This seems to happen to me often in tournaments. I figure it out, but it is beyond the time needed to catch back up.

I also reflected on how very much I have learned about fencing. And even though I feel like I have learned such a great deal, I often feel as if I have only scratched the surface. I don't know anything.

I thoughtI would do better, but I am not going to beat my self up over it. I will take a lesson from a couple of recent DEs. Stay calm and be patient.

I had a pretty good time.

New Bern is having an outside tournament on an island. It will be on my birthday. I will be 56. We will see how things play out. I may go.

I am not a big fan of country music. I do like looking at the girls in their videos though. I do like a couple of male singers as well. One is Toby Keith. I have the following song on my MP3 player and have it listed as Jim's theme. Listen to the words.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Stuff This Week

Tuesday, I went to UNC for a lesson. I got there early and had time to eat at a Chinese restaurant I had never tried. The food was interesting....not good....but interesting.

I had a good lesson. In fact from the stand point of doing well, it was the first one in several lessons were I felt good with myself afterwards. Of course Coach can make you feel that way anytime he wants to do so. We talked for a good bit before my lesson. That was unusual, but I always enjoy it. Mostly it was about the Divisional tournament and the Division in general. There was hardly a club that did not come up.

Our new Division chair scored some points with Coach, by sending him an e-mail to find out next seasons UNC schedule. He evidently did this to try and get the UNC kids a chance to get in some of the Divisional tournaments next season. This seems to me to be thinking ahead and diplomatic. I have only spoken to this man to introduce myself, so I don't know him. However,it seems like a nice start.

I learned a new tactic by watching another guys lesson. In fact I knew it before, but I did not put it together in this cool.

I only fenced once. Time seemed to go buy to fast. It was 9:00 before I knew it. It is a long , gas sucking drive back to High Point and I don't like to leave any later than that.
I did fence with my pistol grip that I had modified to the point Coach likes it. I can use the damn thing, but it is so uncomfortable and does not fit my hand. I may have to modify it yet again I think.

Wednesday in Greensboro, Coach did not show up. His girl friend called and said he was not coming to Greensboro, as he had a recruiting problem.

So we fenced.

It was only Cam, Nicole, Henri and I. Mario reffed. It was nice. Cam had not fenced with us in long time. I had missed the times when we all fenced together. That sort of fell by the wayside for some reason. With Cam fencing, it seemed like old times.

I used my pistol grip again. I hurt Nicole. I hate that. I would not do that on purpose for the world. I hurt Henri as well. I stepped on Cam's blade and scored on her. That should not have counted. Again, it was like old times, I hurt people. I hate that. I tried to make my touches gentle and in proper distance after Nicole, however sometimes your hand just moves on it's on accord.

I think I will fence in a little tournament at the coast this weekend that is outside. I need some FUN fencing.

Monday, April 14, 2008

................And there was much rejoicing."

I hurt today.

This weekend was the North Carolina Divisional Qualifier Tournament. I was moving slow this morning. Except for my knee, it was not much to do with the fencing. It was more carrying the chairs and tables and equipment, needed for set up and tear down. It was crawling around helping lay down ten strips and peeling up tape.

Debera  told me that I beat myself up to much on my journal. So I am not going to do it anymore either here or in my mind. ( Okay...not much.) Often I find that I just need a woman to explain things to me and I do better. Perhaps this is the case.

When you fence in a tournament you have to go into it with the right attitude. I did a bad thing in one regard. I studied the list of fencers. There were only 15 fencers in men's epee this time. I marked Ryan and Paul off the list as me having no chance to beat them. There were a couple I thought I could take. There were a couple I did not know. There was a goodly list of " I think I could take them if I was having a good day...or they weren't."

In pools I lost two and won two. My DE ( one and only) was against one of the fencers I think I can take on a good day. Sadly, it was not Sunday. It was close up to around touch 10. It was back in forth and I lead some of the time. I made numerous mistakes and I did a few things right. One of the bigger mistakes I made was at the end he got up on me by two points. Rather than being clam and patient, I went " balls to the wall". Not the best plan for epee......and I know better.

And.................... I was done for the day.

Note: The venue had showers. I love it when that happens....and they have working hot water.

Nicole won her first DE. It was an exciting close match, so I thought she did well.

Henri won every bout in her pools ( including a C fencer from UNC) and was seeded second for DE.s Lots of people were proud of her. Many people from other clubs as well. She is a good ambassador for the sport. Of course, I was proud of her as well

Sense I have been fencing ( not that long a time) there was always someone on the board from DFC. Sense I understood what was going on ( which was not from the " get go".) I have made it a point to try and help at Divisional events. Partly, because I thought it was what good fencing adults did. You chip in and you help. This year I did it to support a friend and my friends. Now Greensboro is done.

In  the words of Monty Python, " .................And there was much rejoicing."

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Just for a Moment

I was just thinking about the little things I love about fencing. Actually I was just thinking about ONE little thing that I love about fencing. I was kind of hoping that some other things would come to me. Some have, but they seem like things that most people would come up with. I will just make it a short post.

I love it when someone is fencing ( or when I am fencing for that matter) and there is attack; parry: attack; parry: attack; parry:attack; parry:attack; parry:...attack. It does not happen very often in epee.  I love the sound of the blades and the speed of it. I like it because it reminds me of stage fights in the movies or perhaps I love it because it reminds me of sword fights with sticks when I was a kid. I love the the fact that it is instinctive  , because conscious thought would not let you move that fast.

I saw Nicole do this in JO's. It happened with me and a good fencer a couple of weeks ago.

I think it must be the movies. When you do a short slow advance and an accelerating lunge...feint to the cuff and drop to hit someone in the toe....................that is cool. But if you are having a conversation with flashing steel blades and it back and fourth......back  and fourth.................just for a are Cyrano.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

WoodChuck Night

Tuesday I went to UNC and fenced, as well as had a private lesson.

One of the people I fenced with was a kid I have never fenced before. He is a "B" fencer and I have always admired his form. Crisp movement and his weight is always evenly balanced. His style is pretty; great technically and with an athletic flair. I never thought he would want to fence me, as I did not think I was in his league. We fenced and I did well. We did not keep score, but if he was not by much. It may be that he took it easy on me. I don't know. I fenced with my French, because I wanted to do my best against him. My foot work and my form were nothing to write home about, however I set some things up and my point control was good. At least this is the way I saw it from inside my mask.  I never know for sure if I am seeing things correctly from in there.
I have watched this young man fence a lot, so I pommeled from the beginning. In this case it was to deny him target. One of his favorite moves is a flick to the outside of the cuff using  the bell guard as a fulcrum. He is really good at it. You do not see him do anything to prepare to flick. Nothing gives it away. This is another great thing about pommeling. My hand is so far back, he could not use this move. There is nothing to hit.

He caught on to the pommel/French thing and did one of the things you should do when you fence some one that fences French. Beat their blade. Generally it makes someone get a death grip on their weapon and thus their hand and arm tense up. Coach Miller taught me this and it is one of the reasons I am trying to become proficient with a pistol grip. I figure he taught this guy the same thing. So when he kept trying to beat my blade I was ready. I disengaged and hit. Of course he had some other stuff I did not figure out. It was some sort of parry in prime, almost turn your back ...sort of thing. I need to watch him fence someone else. It is flashy.

I sucked with my lesson for Coach Miller. There must be some sort of fencing karma with me. I can fence well or have a good lesson....but not both. Part of the drill was to engage his weapon in eight...advance as he retreated and lunge to hit the elbow. My advance would be to big. This caused me to pull my weapon arm back, though I seem to be pulling it back even when distance is correct. Then I lift my point to high and I break it down into two actions rather than one. I have a tendency to sequence actions, in an effort to do things correctly. In this case it makes me slow. What I do as a 1...2.....should be ONE! Coach Miller must have the patience of Jobe. I would have taken my weapon and beat me to death with the bell guard.

I wonder if this crossed his mind on Wednesday when we had a group lesson. He asked if anyone had had studied martial arts. I raised my hand and he threw a punch to my face. I caught his hand with a mantis block. I wasn't supposed to do that, but I felt kind of good that all the old ways had not left me. He then asked me if I trusted him. I did. So he threw a couple of reverse punches to my face, stopping about an inch from my nose. Coach has a good , snappy punch. He was demonstrating how your arm should move when you are lunging. Fortunately, we all did well on our drills and he most likely forgot how bad I stunk the night before.

Coach is very interested in how things are going within the Division. I find that comforting. I could actually see our Division not having a single person that wants to be an Division officer. I have no idea what would happen if that was the case.

I spent a little time last night trying to figure out who would be the best people to run the Division. I made a mental list of all the people I thought were nice and easy to get a long with. Then I made list of people that I thought knew the most. At this point I realized it is not really those qualities that count. What would be most important is for the group to know that they can count on each other and to what limits that they could count on each  other. This type of knowledge only comes by having worked together. So that pretty much can't happen when you just toss a handful of random people together. I thought about having a club run the Division rather than a bunch of people that did not know each other. It had some merit, but did not disperse the board membership across the state.

Then I did the smart thing. I quit thinking about it and went to McKewl's and swilled Woodchuck and Guinness , while we had a coaches meeting.

We talked about hosting a tournament in May in our small space. ( Among other things.) I will not be helping this time at all. My youngest daughter will be getting married in early May and I need to put fencing on hold for a couple of weekends.

It was a nice way to end an evening.