Tuesday, March 31, 2009


I am sitting in a Vegas hotel. I will be here all week.

There will be no fencing for me prior to the Divisional tournament.

I think in the initial seed I will be around 6th from the bottom.

All I can do is fight the good fight and try and have some fun.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


Massacre on the Mountain

The picture above is from ASU's "Massacre on the Mountain" tournament.

Epee was on Sunday. I competed in an "E" and Under Event" (low level event), and the "Open Epee" which was an A1 (high level event).

My friend, Henri, and I tied for third place in the "E" and Under Event". I had
hoped to do better in that part of the tournament. I guess it makes me feel a
bit better that the two guys who took first and second also got their "D"
ratings in the Open.

In the Open Event, Nicole and I tied for 10th place. Again, that was kind of a
disappointment, but it is what it is.

(Note: I try to be realistic in my opinion of my fencing ability. If I sometimes
err by thinking it might be a smidge better than it is, I think that is

Some days you are Zorro....some days you are the evil California Governor's

The glass trophies presented at the tournament were very elegant. I was

Other than a rubber duck (long story), I have never had a real trophy in
fencing. I am working on a shelf to display it next to my small collection of

I need to review something in regards to reffing: I noticed a ref who would not
award a point to a fencer making a touch as their opponent passed by them, although the attacker's action started before the opponent passed by them. To me, this would be a "soft halt". I have never read about it in the rule book, but I have had it called on me by refs I respect, so I have always considered it to be

If I am correct, I would have thought that particular ref would have known better. This is epee. If you fence it long enough, you should know how to make most of the calls.

Over all, the event was pretty much fun. I am glad I went.

I also recommend the burritos at the Black Cat in Boone. Yum....mee!


I don't want to get my hopes up, but the club has a couple of promising leads on a new space. It is still too early to tell. The positive signs are due to the
efforts of Woody and Cam.

I have to bow out of helping my friends in the struggle to continue.

I have about half dozen major personal problems. I figure any three of them are enough to send someone into depression and some industrial strength "happy pills."

My job is hanging by a thread for one. I have the type of career that is very
specialized, and at the moment the need for it seems to be wavering. I have no
idea what I would do should I become unemployed. It is not the money I worry about so much, it is the health care for my wife.

While I have a job, I will also be spending every third week in Vegas for the
foreseeable future. Even though I loath Las Vegas, there are worse places a
person can be working. I have been to most of those.

CFA Visit

Last week, I visited Charlotte Fencing Academy and took a class (sort of). They
do a lot of conditioning there and fencers give off a lot of heat.

I had been sick earlier in the week, so I was not at my best. The kids had been
at it for a while before I got dressed out. When I got dressed, I saw everyone
was doing stretches and I thought....."SWEET"..."I missed the hard stuff. Let me ease on in here and act like I did all that endurance building stuff." Not so
fast, Jim! After stretching, there is a really healthy dose of more endurance
stuff. It kicked my butt. Even if I had not been sick, I could not have hung
with the kids. That is a sad reality to face.

I did notice the time Kerry showed up and made a note of that for future reference.

Everyone was very gracious, and I enjoyed the visit. In particular, Kyle Barja was really nice to me. (He is arguably the best epee fencer in the state, and we had never really had a conversation before). He pointed out that even though we had been to a lot of tournaments together, we have never fenced. I told him that I had always wanted to fence him, though I knew it would not be a challenge to him, that I would enjoy it. He went out of his way to see to it that we bouted. Afterwards he gave me some tips. That was incredibly nice and mature of a young man like him to take the time to make an old guy feel at home. Most kids his age would not have done that. I will not forget it.

I went because I had thought about trying to train with them during the summer, or if the DFC was no more, I might want to see what the drive down there is like.

I will wait and see what the future brings.....or takes away.


At the "Massacre on the Mountain", I had three kids call me "sir". The first time this happens to you you are kind of taken aback. It was comforting to see young people with manners. But it was a reminder of my age.

Tonight we had a good group lesson with Coach Miller in Greensboro.

Prior to beginning, Tommy was talking to Nicole, and she said something that made him feel old. Tommy asked me if that was what it was like for me.

I forgot my response, but I thought about it on the drive home.

I know that I am slowing down.

But so far, when I am on strip.....just for that time....nothing hurts and I don't feel old at all.

It is one of the great things about fencing.

Monday, March 9, 2009

The Road Ahead

“In 1998, Dr. Sally Robinson retired from her teaching position in Exercise and Sports Science at UNCG. She approached the YWCA with the idea of creating a fencing program as a program of the Y.

The YWCA embraced the idea, and with no equipment, she started teaching classes using rolled up newspapers and safety goggles. The money each class generated went directly into purchasing equipment. She never accepted pay for her work, and the YWCA never gave her more than the space to work in.

Eleven years later, the Downtown Fencing Club has gained five additional USFA certified coaches, all the equipment we use in our classes, parts to maintain it all, and three electric scoring systems making us capable of holding small tournaments. “

Unfortunately, the YWCA has fallen on hard times. Because of this every fitness program except for fencing will end on March 21st. Fencing has been allowed to stay on through the end of the semester on May 29th.

At the end of May we will lose our affiliation with the YWCA and our space, but we will still have our coaches, our equipment.

The hunt begins in earnest for a new affordable space. I am uncertain as to how successful we will be as we do not generate a lot of income. Hope springs eternal.

I will set aside my hope for now and not focus on the kids; my friends or the community.
I will take a moment to look at how this affects me.

Should the DFC no longer be able to continue, what would I do?

Delta H? It seems to be just foil, though it would be a place to at least do some footwork and blade work. Just fence at NCFDP? There is a limit to how much money, gas and time commuting I can spend even in pursuit of my passion.

If the DFC survives, how will this affect me? The coaches are facing some life changing situations. It would fall more and more on me to take a role as an assistant coach.

I am a very good and dependable helper, but I have never wanted to be a coach. (Not that I do not enjoy helping someone one-on-one. I do. But running a class is a different thing entirely. It takes a certain type of personality, which I do not have.)

What I want to do is learn and compete, while I still can. I may not have all the time in the world in that regard. At some point in the future, it may be that I feel I have learned enough and competed enough to have things to share with new fencers. (Beyond a beginner class.) Things change and at some point I may like to be an assistant coach. But as for the present, I just want to learn everything I can and compete.

I feel like I am following a path that up ahead forks in many directions and there is nothing to do but trudge on.

Note: Part of this post is borrowed from the writings of Woody Cavanaugh.

Monday, March 2, 2009


I spent the last couple of days at the NAC in Atlanta.

A March snowstorm made the return drive an adventure.

I am beyond tired at the moment and have only been home a few hours.

Down to Business

I fenced Vet 50-59 Epee. There were only 35 entries in this event, however most of them were gods. There were a few of us lesser mortals there as well. In the initial seed I was ranked 32.

The only other time I have ever fenced in a NAC, there were well over fifty people in the event. That was two years ago.

One of the reasons for going was to try and gauge my progress...or lack thereof.
I should again point out that the guys fencing in this event flew in from places like Canada, California,....lots of places far away. These guys are NOT low rated fencers that just bopped on down to see what it is like to fence with fellow 50-59 people. They came to medal...or for points....or what ever the big boys come for. Me....I just came to test me.

In pools, I won one out of six. Oddly enough, that was a step up from two years ago.
On the other hand, no one beat me 5-0. Not even Dragonetti, who did that last time. Dragonetti did leave me with a nice purple souvenir on my weapon arm.

Pools sound bad, but I had fun fencing them, and(for me) I think I fenced fairly well.

There was a short guy in pools named Rene Castellanos. He is the master of the esquive. It was fun to watch him fence.

After pools, I had moved up one spot to be seeded at 31st. Someone else must have had a really bad day.

All to soon it was time for DE's.

To make a long story short, I won my first DE. That was progress I could evaluate from my previous NAC. I was pretty happy, as I did not think there was much of a chance of that happening.

I have to say, I don't much care for fencing to ten points. It is over too quick and there is not enough time to figure things out.

The next time at bat, I lost the DE and was done for the day. He was a great fencer and just beat the tar out of me.

There was something of interest in the last DE. It was the most physical of any I have ever had. It started with a jostle....no card. In a touch or two, he went for me and I dropped to almost kneeling and extended. (I cannot do one of those skinny kid squats...even when I was a skinny kid. So this is my adaptation.) My opponent hit the scoring table. Sadly, he parried as he went by and I missed. There was another corps-a-corps....no card. I am starting to think....Oh....bodily contact. SWEET! I am all about seeing who is going to bounce. I like that game. Towards the end of the bout, we both fleched and he bounced. He was a bit rattled. The Eastern European ref told me I must fleche further to the right.

In truth, I think this man was a good person and was not trying to mix it up with me. It was just a series of unfortunate events.

Even though I won my first DE, I only moved up to 30th place for the event. I had sort of hoped to be in the twenties. It just sounded better.

Wheel Chair Fencing

At this event, I got to meet a friend (face to face)who I met on fencing.net.
Darryl (Greybeard)had a stroke three years ago and could have easily died.

So, he no longer fences on his feet and has just made the switch to chair fencing.

He has become an inspiration to me and others.

Darryl has a dry wit and made learning more about wheel chair fencing fun.

I had a chance to learn more about this once and did not pursue it. I could kick myself for that now.

Wheelchair fencers are just fencers like everyone else. Their gloves smell just as bad. But, the armorers, refs, and others who put this together for them....THEY must be some special people!

I only had time to watch Daryl fence epee. He took eighth place and sixth in foil.

I wish that I could have seen them fence a RoW weapon. It must be awful to try and figure out who has the attack.

I also found out that in Europe, non-wheel chair people do chair fencing. That makes sense in some ways, as it would give wheel chair fencers more competition. It also sounds like a good training tool for non-wheel chair fencers.


I had an interesting discussion with an armorer concerning Leon Paul tips. I
never caught his name , but he seemed to know what he was talking about, and I am
going to give his advice a try.

I have been having a load of trouble with LP tips and the small shim test. I
thought it was just my poor armory skills and perhaps some sort of curse I was
under. He did not think so.

My last three weapons were all LP. Under advice from another armorer, I was
trying to standardize my weapons for maintenance purposes.

The armorer I talked to thought that the LP small springs "traveled". (Meaning: They have a tendency to unscrew.) The first thing he did was when he
replaced the small spring was to add a drop of Zap-a-Gap glue to hold it in
place. So far that is working on that weapon.

He recommended replacing the LP springs with FWF German springs. He said they were harder to screw in, but did a better job. Over the course of time, as these
weapons break down, I am going to try and replace the points and wires with
these German parts.


I was amazed at the number of people I knew at this event. I was also amazed at the number of people who knew me.

Carlos, for example. I only met him once. He said he remembered me due to my hair.
Folks from Coaches College were there. I shook hands and had a conversation with two people that I have no idea who they were. I also made a couple of new friends.

There were a ton of NC fencers there, and we had some fun in the venue together. I never made it to socialize outside the venue. The weather was awful, and I did not know my way around well enough.

Grace's son Tuck, did great in foil, and I see on the NC web site that John Rae did great. I will have to wait for posted results to see how some other folks did.


I had a good time, and I learned a few things.

It is fun to fence, and it is fun to watch good people fence epee. (Though it is equally fun to watch people fence bad or strange epee. Sometimes with surprising results.)

I may give another NAC a try in the future, though next time I may try Div III and see what that is like.