Wednesday, July 30, 2008

They Call Out to Me

Well, today I am home sick. I have slept most of the day. During the "awake" times I am pretty bored. I have made myself do all the laundry in the house, however at the time of this writing I have not made myself do dishes. They call to me, but if I am adding an entry to my journal I do not have to do them. Right or wrong, when I am sick I try to make myself move around and do a little something.

I finished the book I had been reading. The book is "Scoundrel" by Bernard Cornwell. He wrote a number of historical fiction books, including the " Sharpe's Rifles Series". This book was not one of his best. Oh...well!

Now to write about something fencing related.

Nicole Quinlan from Raleigh Fencers is moving out of state next month. I do not know here well at all, but I have often admired her fencing. She will be in place were she can continue her studies in epee. I am sure she will do well.

I got the impression when I was with Alex last week that he had no idea how the USFA mess will effect Coach's College.

I feel like a news reporter.

I have not done any fencing this week and I have I really do not have anything to write about.

Okay...........Okay...I am going to do the dishes.

Gray Epee ....over and out.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

I have no idea what to name this entry.

I just got home from a week at the coast.

Fencing continued even on vacation. I fenced Tuesday and Thursday at Cape Fear Fencing. I always feel welcome there. I got to know Greg Sphar ( Our Divisional Chair ) a little better and he was a good host. We talked a bit about trying to have a veterans event next season. Of course I am all for this, but I wonder if we have the numbers to do this? I guess we will find out.

Greg had this posted in their forum in an effort to make sure I had people to fence. " Jim Kent, from the Downtown Fencing Club in Greensboro, will be in town next week and was hoping to get some practice.  Jim is an epeeist in that \"wily veteran\" category and would be an excellent person for the epeeists to bout with." Wily...I like it! Though I feel like I should be chasing the Road Runner.

I never got to fence the clubs better fencers, but I got a lot of strip time and worked on a number of things.

Friday evening I drove to Raleigh from the coast and attended a short workshop hosted by the Raleigh Fencers Club. Maestro Begunet (Alex) was instructing. It was a long drive to and back to the coast, but I had not had a chance to train with Alex in a long time and I wanted to make this event badly. It was time well spent.

Raleigh Fencers were good host and again I felt welcome and at home.

I always feel a little weird these days when I think about Coach Miller and Alex. I like and admire them both, but there is bad blood between them. I use to want to know what that was all about, but as time passed I really did not want to hear "junk" talked on either of them. As a result I never pursued the subject.

Their styles of teaching and what they teach are so different.

In general  (my opinion) there are basically two styles of epee fencing. I think I read this in a book by Beck as well. The two styles are technical and combative. Technical is not the word Beck used, but the word I am using. Of course people have some of both or a mixture, however I would describe what Coach Miller teaches as " aggressive technical" and what Alex teaches as " combative refined by technical ability". I am making these terms up as I go, as I know of no vocabulary to describe them.

We did drills that are not what is generally accepted. Alex knew this and commented as such. He said that if someone peaked in and saw us with our points at the ceiling they would say he did not know what he is doing. His thought is that if you know where your point is and you know WHY it is there then this okay. ( Words to that effect. I wish I could type it with a French accent.) We also used BIG actions and not tight little actions.

For example: We would approach our partner with a the tip down towards the floor. When we were in range we would do a STRONG cut under their blade to lift it. ( This is not a beat like in " Lift 7".) After you complete the action your tip is aimed at the ceiling. If your partner attacks you do a STRONG parry 2 and step in with the rear foot ( past their point) and swing your weapon arm up for the touch.

If their weapon  stays up you fleche.

Another alternative to the drill was to do the strong cut and then take their blade in eight and make the touch in any number of places.

I mention the above so I can remember the drills, but I also mention the last drill because this week I realized something. Are your ready for this?

I KNOW stuff. Who knew?????

I watched someone being taught to fleche and I knew that I could have taught it better. Not that I have a good one, I just know a better way to teach it.

I watched people who had been fencing a lot longer than me take the blade in eight and straighten their arms for the touch. I knew that this was not the best way. You should keep your arm bent and in contact with the blade and let the lunge carry your point to the target. If your arm is straight, you can make a remise without pulling your arm back.

Now those people that have been fencing a lot longer than me....most of them know a great deal more about a lot of areas of fencing than I do. I do not have the " big head".
It was just a small realization, that I am learning. I don't even feel proud or happy about it.
I am just aware of it now.

When you are doing these drills with people who do not know you, sometimes they will offer advice or corrections. Sometimes they are correct to do so....sometimes not. I never offer advice to anyone or corrections unless some one asks...or I know them well.
That is just me.

There is a tournament in Durham tomorrow morning. I am worn out and I have a lot of stuff to do around the house, so I am going to wake up in the morning and decide if I can make it or not. Mostly, I am thinking that I will not be able to go.

Even if I miss it, this has been a good fencing week for me and a good vacation.

One more thing..................................

Oh...This is an old video of Alex doing footwork. It has to be pretty old as he is a year younger than me.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

One Thing

I went to Chapel Hill last night. I got in some strip time and I fenced

My private lesson was not nearly as good as the one I had last week. By
that, I mean that I did not perform as well and not that it was not a
good lesson. The ones were you make mistakes and know what you need to
work on are often the most valuable.

One of several things that I did not do well was my lunge. Coach said
that I was afraid to stretch it out. He is correct of course. It is for
a number of reasons. (None of which hinge on physical ability) I have
strong legs and I can do this.

He gave me a line on the floor that my lead foot had to cross while
doing the drills. If my foot did not cross the line I had to do push
ups. I did push ups once and improved.

This entry in my journal is a reminder to me to set up a target at home
and work on this problem. Take the " lean " out...practice some "circle
six" movements or disengages with this practice as well.

There is more to this than the lunge.

I listen to a lot of coaches. I read a great deal about what various
coaches or fencers have to say concerning the "most important
aspect/aspects" of fencing. There are many, many important aspects to
fencing. Things like equipment and physical conditioning. There are
things like reaction time that are largely not learnable actions and
rest within each of us at different levels. However, often a coach will
pick one aspect that for some reason he/she feels is THE single most
important. In truth, it is likely that ONE thing is the most important
to him at that one moment in time and is not generally a constant.

However, you will often hear coaches refer to distance and tempo when
they start trying to define the most important aspects of fencing.

I have been fencing long enough now (and trying to learn about fencing)
that I am formulating my own ideas concerning what is most important and

I believe that this is a game/sport of centimeters and milliseconds. I
believe that almost nothing insures a touch, but you must work on
technical aspects of fencing to increase the likelihood that you will be
the one to gain that centimeter or millisecond. So, to me, at this point
in time technical proficiency is THE most important thing. I do not
believe that this is true for every level of fencing, but I believe it
is true at my level and for the majority of fencers.

An example would be when you go for the touch and you have your point
higher than is needed. It takes more time to drop that tip to target
level than if it is where it needs to be to start. How much time? Not
much. But in gaining that fraction of second and incorporating with
other things that reduce time and distance you are increasing your odds
of getting there first.

No amount of training insures victory. Training increases your odds of
victory. This is true in all forms of physical combat.

Tactics are an area of fencing where I feel weak. But I know that if I
can become proficient technically (those actions that increase my odds
of gaining centimeters and milliseconds) then should the day come were I
have a fair understanding of tactics; I will be better prepared to use

It may be that as I fence longer (and hopefully learn more) I may come
to other conclusions concerning the "most important "thing.

I will see what the future brings.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Fencing Lite

Over the last two weeks I have not gotten to fence a lot.

I have missed the last two epee nights and foil nights at DFC. There have been some late nights at work and it can't be helped.

I have made it to UNC for lessons with Coach Miller

Last Thursday I did the best I have ever done with my lessons. Coach gave me TWO outstanding comments. He commented on his comments and told me how well I had done. He told me I was " strong, fast and my actions were tight". He also advised me not break that out early in a bout but save it for later.

I was on a high after my praise..............sadly.............Henri was behind me for her lesson. She got one "outstanding"...THEN... after that...she walked up to Coach and batted her eye lashes and asked Coach to give her one more " outstanding " than me. He complied, but with two more "outstandings" than me during her lesson. She had to break out the " cute" to do it though! It is sad when a person has to do that.

I hate that there is not a lot to post about fencing wise during the summer.

There is a tournament at Mid South in two weekends.  I will be at the coast the week before that and I am not sure I can make it.

There is a ref clinic I am looking forward to in late September.

Other than that there is not a lot of stuff going in the Gray Epee world of fencing. The divisional events have not been posted (as of yet) for next season. There is just not much happening for a month or so.

I will try to work out more and let my legs heal up. My knee feels okay, but my ankles are always sore for some reason. A week at the coast may be what they need.