Sunday, June 29, 2008

"Summer Time...and the Fencing is Easy"

My week in fencing seems like a slow one, though it has been full.

Tuesday night was UNC night. I generally go there for lessons and a bit of grown up strip time. Coach and Josh are out of town teaching a camp. Even so it was a good night.

Wednesday night was a good night as well. A lot of kids who had not been around showed up and it was like "old home " week. They are such a good little group. I had missed the flavor of open night fencing. I could not bring myself to fence hard against them. I want them to have fun and not just be a target. Jordon will soon be leaving for college. I am not sure if she will continue through the summer or not. Tommy's brother Mike came. I would say little brother, but even at 13 he is taller than Tommy and myself.
He has some natural ability and moves sort of like Tommy. I hope we can make this fun for him so he will wish to continue. It would be good for him.

Mario had the class, though it was mostly open fencing. ( As it is our usual way during the summer.) We talked about the upcoming ref seminar this fall and are looking forward to that.

Friday night we had a foil class. Woody was out of town so Henri and coached that class. ( Henri and I never think of ourselves as coaches, though we have both been to Coaches College for foil.) It was fun. I hate my black coaches vest. It is cheap and leaves black stains on my uniform.

More kids showed up later in the evening. It was hot and they mostly fenced epee, so we switched to free fencing and bouted. It was another good evening.

Except for the USFA problems, there is not a lot to read concerning fencing on the web. Even that is slow  in summer. Sunday is my big day for reading about fencing on-line. Though I do that daily at least twice.

The problems within the USFA have me concerned. I am not badly concerned, I am sure it will all work out in time. My main concern is for Coaches College next summer. I wanted to do that again. It was one of the best experiences I have had this century and it is my great hope that I can find the time and money to go next summer for Epee 1. There is nothing like spending a week at the Olympic Training center in Colorado. I figure by then that I will have had another year with Coach Miller and I will have worked myself up to a " decent" level technically. ( could happen!) You don't have to be a great fencer to do this, but you must be correct in your actions and movements from a technical stand point. I will revsit this desire in the spring and see what the future brings.

As Nationals unfold there will be more to read on-line. Thank goodness!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

An Interesting Week and Good Day

Last Saturday I was at our beach house for a long weekend. I took time to drive down to Wilmington and fenced at Cape Fear Fencing Club. I fenced with Paul Perkins and Greg Spahr. I did well. I feel like a year ago, I would not have done as well as I did, so I am happy that I see some improvement. I started with my French grip, but switched to pistol grip and did even better. I was grateful to them for letting me fence and that I got in some strip time.

 Wednesday I fenced at home at the Downtown Fencing Club. I worked on under the cuff shots. I had some luck with that in Wilmington and wanted to try and perfect it. I really could not make it work in practice for some reason.

 Thursday I fenced at Chapel Hill. (Do I get around….or what?) I really did not fence at all, but had a private lesson with Josh.

 Friday night I helped set up for the North Carolina State Games fencing competition. I had reservations about helping, but I am glad I did. Robert is a good guy and they were very appreciative.

 Thursday I fenced in the Games. (This is sort of like a version of the Olympics with many different sports on the program.)  Out of the 45 people that pre-registered 35 showed up to fence epee. This was an A2 event (I think) and there were some high level fencers there. (At least from my perspective.  It is a relative sort of thing.) I did well in pools and finished second behind Nick the “A” fencer. It was the first time I got to fence Nick and I enjoyed it. I saw him “wax” a couple of people and it was my hope that that did not happen. It did not. I got 2 touches on him and it was a moral victory of sorts. In one of my first bouts I used my pistol grip and lost 5-4. I had intended to try and use it more, but the French always lent itself to certain situations. I needed to make up some indicators, so I pommeled and used it to gain back some ground on a weaker fencer. I used it against a UNC fencer, as he liked to flick using the bell guard as a fulcrum. When I pommel, my hand is not where it needs to be, for that to work. I beat that young man 5-3.

 So after the dust of pools settled, I had a bye and was seeded 13th out of 35 fencers. That does not sound all that good, but I was up there with the higher rated fencers and I felt pretty good about it.

I know that pools do not mean all that much. I looked at some of the people that were seeded under me and I knew that I would have had to have had a REALLY good day to beat some of them. Now, as I said, pools do not mean that much, but I figure they must mean something. So I was kind of happy with my results.

 In DE’s I fenced the 20th ranked UNC guy I beat in pools. Sadly, he got smarter and my game did not work as I hoped it might. I lost and I was done for the day. I will say that my coach was WAY cuter than his coach.

 There were a few negative comments about this and that at the Games. Mostly (as usual) from a couple of people that took no part it putting it together and never seem to take any part in any sort of Divisional effort. I have always felt if you don’t do anything to help; you should forfeit the right to criticize. On a more positive note, there were refs from a lot of clubs and people helped with cleaning up from all over.

This was a "starter” event in the State Games for fencing. And I am happy that Robert Thomas got us this far. It can improve, but it had to start some place. This was a GOOD start.

I would also say that I felt a sense of community at the event. Everyone seemed to get along. I did not notice anyone being an ass. It was nice.

I had to hang around to get our club equipment back, but it wasn’t bad. I talked to a lot of folks and felt very at home with all of them.

I thought it was a day well spent and I enjoyed it.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Various Stuff and The GE Cleans UP

Tuesday I fenced once and had a private lesson at UNC. It was a nice night.

Wednesday at DFC was the first summer class and we are without Coach Miller until the fall. It was a small class, but it had the relaxed flavor of days gone by. We fenced pools and we joked around. It was fun. I had a good time. I have missed that sort of thing in Greensboro.

Cam told me that night that Robert Thomas had called her and needed help setting up for the North Carolina State Games, which will include fencing this year. ( It is kind of like the local version of the Olympics.) Cam and Woody will be doing the "48 Hour Film Festival" shoot that weekend and will not be able to be involved. I sent Robert a note the next day and volunteered to help set up. I feel sense it is Greensboro I should represent our club. I also feel it is the right thing to do for the fencing community. I also feel like I did enough of that last season and deserve a break. It seems however that the " responsible adult " side of my personality won out over the " selfish bastard " side. I was really pulling for the
" selfish bastard " side. Damn it!

Oh well........I will find a way to make it fun. I have an idea or two.

The picture above are from my daughter Jaime's wedding. I just got about 400 of them from the photographer and thought I would stick a couple in here.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Summer is Coming.

Tuesday I fenced at UNC. I got there late but had time for private lesson with Coach Miller.

After all this time, I still have trouble coming into a good enguard in six. This weekend, every chance I get I will be working on this. My tip did not lift as often during drills, but Coach did make me do push ups ( not many ) for blowing it once. I happen to like push ups and have never done them with a mask on.

I only had time to fence once. I fenced Keith from Touche. I have gotten to know him a little better sense he has been fencing there. He is a really nice guy. Keith won 15-14, but it was good bout. I was fencing with a pistol grip. I am gaining more confidence in using it.

Even though I wish I would see progress technically, I feel that of late I am fencing better and making some progress.

Henri was at UNC Tuesday night. I watched her private lesson with Coach. Her attacks are so graceful and athletic. I am so proud of her. I thought of a couple of years ago when she use to advance by hopping like a bunny. What a difference!

Coach Miller came to Greensboro for the last group lesson until next fall. It was a lecture of sorts. We asked questions and he answered. Once in a while he would ask us a question. Poor Nicole. She is a girl of action and all this talking is not her cup of tea. On the other hand, I love it. I could listen to knowledgeable people talk about fencing all night.

I think I have been studying with Coach Miller for close to two years. I don't know Coach at all and at the same time I know a lot about him.

Some people will tell you that the eyes are the mirror to the soul. Perhaps.....but I think fencing beats that hands down. Just off the top of my head, I can think of around a thousand ways that fencing or coaching give insight into your personality. I am not talking about the obvious things like how you handle victory or defeat. ( Though those are powerful insights into character.) I am talking about how coaches talk to kids when they are doing poorly at a tournament. The way fencers or coaches treat clubs that are hosting an event. Do they go out of their way to thank them? Do they exhibit good sportsmanship when they are at another club. That may be a bit old fashioned, but I hope it is not. Do they admit when the touch hit the toe and not the floor? Easy to do if you have a big lead, harder to do if you are down by two. Would your coach tell you to admit the hit? Would it make a difference how they ( the coach ) felt about it? The list goes on and on.

Not all insights are concerned with a person being a stand up guy or a dill weed. There are lots of other traits in fencing that reveal your personality. Humor...or the lack of it. Fear or courage. I can think of a small woman with gray hair fencing a young man that is six feet four inches tall and a high rated fencer. Tell me that does not show grit! And she goes back and does it again and again.

Every once in a  while you will see a kid on strip that thinks he is in a Renaissance Fair or something. He will do some sort of weird flowery salute. I have no idea what that reflects in a persons personality. It must mean something more than your indicators are about to get better.

So what do I know about Coach Miller? He will give you a dash of positive reinforcement when you need it or deserve it. He has the patience of Jobe. He must or he would have beat me to death with a bell guard by now. I know how many people love him. That says a lot. But most of all I know the sparkle in his eye when he talks about fencing. I am not joking...his eyes sparkle!