Monday, February 23, 2009

Mid-South Tournament

Sunday I fenced in the Mid-South 2nd Annual Open.

I headed out before the light of dawn and the cold was the final thing I needed to wake me up, after life giving caffeine and a hot shower.

I arrived at Mid-South with time to spare and I had a plan. I would park in back and leave my fencing kit in the car. It would be out of the way and I could get to it as needed. The club would be crowded with fencers and equipment, as it would be one of the largest epee events that the state has had lately. It was a good plan. I had thought ahead. Sadly, as I pulled around back, I saw all the mud. I did not think Matt and Jen would be to happy with my forward thinking, if I tracked muddy footprints all through their club.

I went to plan "B", which was haul my stuff in like every one else.

51 people had preregistered and 45 people showed to fence. It was an A2 event. (That is a high level fencing tournament.) I went for the strip time and to fence people I do not fence often. And of course the most important reason of all, to have some fun.

There were so many people that the pools were flighted. I was lucky enough to be in the first round of pools. It was a pool of 5.

My best weapons grounded or failed as the pool began. I give up on the damn things and will take them to next weekends NAC and get a pro to work on them.

Pool results were strange. As I remember it, everyone but one guy that had no wins, had 3 victories. I know I beat someone I should not have beaten and lost to someone when I should have won. And.....pools are done.

In the initial seed I was ranked 24th and after pools I was seeded at 23. I guess that was progress of a sort.

My first DE was against a kid with a unorthodox style. I fenced French grip against him as he was taller than me and as it was the best of my working weapons. I also fenced French because the number 10 seed that I would fence next (should I win) was
watching me fence and I wanted to change up a bit if I made it to that bout.

I won that DE and moved on.

I would like to state at this point that at my level of fencing there is a certain amount of luck involved in fencing tournaments. I know that if I had fenced some other fencers in my first DE, I would most likely have been at the Blue Dinner off I-40 enjoying a delicious peanut butter milkshake around lunch time.

On to the next DE. I would face the number 10 seed Meredith Randazzo.

Meridith and I have gotten to know each other a little bit and have become friends,but we have never fenced each other. We had fun doing fake " stare downs" before our bout.

I had really only seen her fence one time other than a warm up at a Raleigh event. It was two years ago when she won the Iron Maiden in Wilmington. I have a good memory in regards to fencers. I remembered from that event that she likes to offer a cuff shot invitation and that she has great "takes".

I had no plan going into our bout, but I got a point or two ahead at one time and I made up my mind that I would never attack again unless I was up by two points or I just could not help myself. (This was out of respect for her ability to take a blade.) Frankly, I do not remember the entire bout in great detail, but as the bout continued, she tied it back up. I managed to get a point or so ahead and I kept it to win by a score of 15-14. Meridith is a good fencer and I know that if we went at it again, more than likely the win would be hers. I was having a good day.

My third DE was against Michael Glapion. Not much to say about this one. He beat me soundly and he ended up tied for 5th place in the tournament. I did make a toe touch which made me feel a bit better. That must be the Tommy Dietz influence.

And...........I am done for the day.

I ended up in 15th place. I never thought that I would finish in the top 16. Luck was a factor. A lot of people that could mop the floor with me finished lower. On the other hand, I have bad luck in tournaments from time to time. I guess it all balances out.

My knee held up pretty well. I took some industrial strength medicine when I had dinner and except for something moving once in a while today, there was rarely any pain.

I did not move well (footwork wise) when I fenced, but I think that was largely due to being concerned if I was going to mess my knee up before next weekends NAC.

If I were Matt or Jen, I would paint a one and half foot wide blue path from the rear landing to the bathroom. On that blue path I would write: "You may stand any place in our club that does not interfere with fencing or on this blue strip. The exception being, that you are in line to the bathroom. If you are fixing a broken epee on this blue path, that will be an automatic black card."

I had a good time at this tournament. It was well run, as you would expect from Mid-South. Keeping things running smoothly was no small accomplishment with the large turn out that came to fence.

It was a day well spent.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

For Sharon's Sunday Morning Coffee

This week I did almost nothing fencing related.

I was in Vegas on business all week.

Sunday I will fence at Mid-South.

The competition is to strong for me to do well, so I will just look at it as practice for next weekends NAC.

It will also be a test for how well my knee can hold up.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Watching, the Knee and NAC

(Photo is of an older Duke meet and courtesy of Susun Coleman)


This week, I spent some time watching fencing.

I was at Duke last Saturday to watch that event. It is such a wonderful environment for fencing. It was a beautiful warm day and I enjoyed the morning.

It is a small item, but one thing of interest was in the Duke fencing room. Alex had taken old worn out masks and painted them with flags form different countries. It was a creative way to recycle and well done.

This Saturday, I went to a foil tournament in my home town and watched fencing there. It was a team meet hosted by Delta H. I believe all the dozen or so attendees were from the club. It was a good facility and people were very nice.

Even though I fence in Greensboro, I had never been to this club. I had always meant to, but the nights they fence are the nights I fence. I was pleased to find that they do fence electric. I had heard that they only fenced dry.

My Dad's Knee

This week I also went to the doctor about my knee. I have torn something and it is moving around in there. I also have arthritis in a couple of spots. (Some bone on bone kind of thing.)

This bothers me a bit. I watched my Dad have trouble with his knees and elbows and I am pretty much his clone. I have always thought of something like this as an "old guy" thing.

I took a lesson Tuesday and fenced on it to see how it would hold up. It seemed okay and the medicine I have worked well. It does make me a little "spacey"...even more so than usual.

It has always been my plan to continue fencing as long as I feel I can give a decent account of myself or until my body betrays me. The knee signals my body's first betrayal. I don't count the weight or the lack of flexibility in my legs. This worries me, because while it is not the end of fencing, it may be signaling the beginning of the end.

Yes, there are old guys out there doing well and there are certainly people fencing with worse things than a bad knee. Still, I am more concerned about fencing than the knee.

I would guess that I have competed in around 70 tournaments sense the fall of 2005.
That is a fair amount in my book. One of the reasons I have done so many is that I knew that I would most likely have a limited time to compete and I wanted to have a lot under my belt if I had to hang it up. I thought if I did this,and I could not fence, that I might make a decent assistant coach or a ref. I am not sure that I would want to be involved with fencing if I could not actually participate though.

This is something late blooming vets think about from time to time.

The NAC in Atlanta

At the end of this month, I competing in the Vet 50-59 epee event in Atlanta. Why I am doing this is beyond me. You aren't going to find to many low rated guys in this event. I guess I want the experience, as I only fenced in one North American Cup event before.

I want to pull for a wheel chair fencer friend of mine that will be there and shop
the fencing vendors.

My knee and I really wonder why we are doing this.

Next week I will miss valuable training time, as I must work in Las Vegas. ( Note: There is nothing fun or interesting about what I am doing there and I hate Vegas. I am a child of the South. I need humidity and trees.)

When I get back there is a good sized epee tournament in Durham that I have registered for. It is a high rated event and I will not do well there.

On one hand it would be good practice for the upcoming NAC, on the other hand getting the heck beat out of you does not put you in the most confident mood.

Then there is the knee question. Should I save it, or use it.

On a positive note, I will not be fencing in Vegas, so that might be good for the knee.

I will figure the rest out when I return.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Things That I Have Learned Lately in Fencing

1. That the worn out Velcro on my oldest knickers is no match for my big 'ole vet tummy.

2. That it is hard to fence your best when a ref keeps pointing to part of your knickers popping out from under your jacket. This kind of blows the whole "focus" thing.

3. That I am smart enough to have duct tape in my kit, but not clever enough to remember that it is there for a couple of bouts.

4 That five minutes after duct taping your knickers together, you will need to go to the bathroom.

5. That a lot of kids are lucky to have such good fencing parents.

6. That even in my advanced years, I would have given anything to have had my Mom and Dad see me fence......just one time. They would have loved it!

7. That some batches of Leon Paul epee tips must be cursed to never pass a shim test...or they will pass the first one.....but after that they are DONE!

8. That very often these days when I see a maladjusted teenager, I hear a girlish Southern voice in my head saying," Excuse me.....but have you ever considered taking up the sport of fencing? Your total lack of social skills would make you an automatic fit." It always makes me smile.

9. The only joints that will never give you trouble or pain are the useless joints on your off weapon arm.

10. That as soon as you send in the money for a North American Cup entry fee, your knee will go out.

11. That I evidently do not want any self esteem at all. I can think of no other reason I would spend a lot of money and six hours.....just to get the tar beat out of me. Heck...I can drive an hour and half in several directions and get that done for $20.00