Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Raleigh and Las Vegas


Sunday, I fenced in a RFC tournament.

There were 18 or 19 people preregistered for the epee event---only 11 showed up.

In the first set of pools, I only won one bout.

In the second set of pools, I only lost one bout. (Moderately long story on the second set of pools thing.) At least we got in some extra practice, because that is what it was.

The inconsistency of my results is something I ponder. Am I like an old car? Does it just take me a while to warm up? Do I fence better when I am a little ticked off? I know Nicole does. Though being angry does nothing.....it has to be just a little ticked off. Or is it just kind of a crap shoot at certain levels?

Oh well.....I am bored with thinking about that already. Moving on.

Las Vegas

Monday, after being in a plane for about six hours and in airports for about four hours, I went to The Fencing Academy of Nevada Las Vegas.

The lady at the desk was really nice and went out of her way to introduce me to people and see that I got to fence.

The first thing I noticed was a bevy of tiny teenage girls fencing epee, wearing FIE whites with "USA" on their jackets. They looked both cute and menacing.....and they certainly were the later.

There were at least 2 Delgado's there. I must remember to tell Mario. Perhaps I just did.

I pretty much got the tar beat out of me by all ages. I fenced 3 times with long breaks in between. I was tired, though not being tired would have made little difference.

I watched a young woman foil coach give elegant private lessons. Always with footwork and covering distance.

I studied the way these people fenced. There was nothing fancy about it, though they were clearly high level fencers. It looked like Olympic fencing with less distance between the fencers. I clearly do not understand elements of higher level fencing. That is okay. If I did, I would lose the fun of trying to figure things out.

I met the big guys there, shook hands and said hello. That was about all I was expecting. I am just not the kind of guy that can strike up a conversation. Besides, they were busy.

I watched Maitre Auriol talk to fencers with a look or a glance. He looked at his watch when a fencer came in late. More than once I saw him give a disapproving look to someone bouting. It evidently is all that needed to be said.

I headed out early , as I was tired and not certain I could find my hotel if it was very dark.

I talked to the nice lady at the desk again and asked her, " Is this the begining class? Cause if it is, I want be back on Wednesday for the advanced class." ( I wanted to be there on Monday, as I thought the people would be closer to my level of fencing.) She laughed and told me the people fencing were the regulars and that I was holding my own. She told me to come back on Wednesday, and I will.

One the things of interest to me at the salle was a quote from Maitre Yves Auriol hanging on the wall.

It said, " The answer is on the strip."

I love simple truths. They are the best.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Brief Post

Private Lessons

My private lessons have not been going all that well of late.

I concentrate on my standard problems and a new one pops up.

The new one is pulling back my weapon arm. It is partly because my advance is too large.

RFC Tournament

Heading to Raleigh early tomorrow morning. Looking at the pre-registration, I would say the odds are not good of hitting a mark better than expected. Still, hope springs eternal.

Once more, the three musketeers will be together.


Another business trip to Vegas is about to have a couple of bright spots, as I hope to head to a Las Vegas fencing club and some bouting.

There are a number of well known coaches at that club.

I doubt that I will get to talk with them. But I will be happy just checking out the club and getting a bit of strip time.


I have been instructed to post on how that goes. That will give me something to do on the two nights I will not fence. Yay!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Easter Week at Fetzer Gym

Thursday evening I went to UNC for my private lesson with Coach.

I had taken the month of March off, as between spring break, NCAA events, and my own traveling, there just wasn't any time for lessons.

It was a different sort of evening. The few people that were there were adults. (I am never sure how to classify the college aged fencer.) The exception being Max and a UNC foilist.

There were two new foilists I would guess to be in their late 30's . They were taking lessons with whacky whackers.

We talked with coach for a moment and then went over and sat down at THE table to pay my dues.

Mostly only coaches or long time students sit at THE table.

I am sure that at some point I have sat at this table before, but if I did it was just for a moment. However this night, we sat at THE table and talked with Coach. Josh joined us later in the conversation. I know it is a silly kind of thing and may never happen again...but I felt kind of honored. It is hard to verbalize....honored is not the right word.....but it is something akin to that.

Prior to sitting at THE table, we talked with Coach for a bit. He was kind enough to go with the DFC leadership on Wednesday night and look at our potential new space. We talked about that for a while. It was great of him to take the time to do that.

Henri vocalized her frustration with how she was doing in competition. Coach told both of us that we should not judge ourselves (our progress) through local tournaments, but only when we fence someone our own age. I pointed out to that we were "late bloomers" and some of the people that we fence have been doing it sense they were very young.

I don't know how I feel about Coach's advice. I would need to have a Vet 50 person fill out a short questionnaire every time I fenced one. I am still thinking about this.

I am sure there may come a time when I will need to find other ways to judge myself other than local tournaments. But....not yet. I judge myself in the "D and Under"...(sometimes "C and Under" if I am feeling frisky) types of Divisional competition. I don't necessarily have to beat a C fencer to feel that I did okay. I think I have a fairly realistic assessment of my abilities.

I did something to my back last Sunday. I came home from Divisionals and mowed the yard. I also stayed bent over pulling weeds for a long time. The next morning I was hurting bad.

I never had lower back pain before. There is something that will make you feel and move like an old person!

Next week, we have two new students in the beginner class. Lessons and fencing on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Thursday and Friday I will be in Tennessee on business.

Sunday I hope to compete in the RFC tournament.

The week after I will be in Vegas again for a week. Crud!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

The Language of Fencing

On the first day I started fencing, I went to Barnes and Nobles and bought the only fencing book they had. In retrospect, it was not the best choice. However, I was so hungry for information that I loved it.

As I read it, I became more acquainted with the vernacular of fencing. My initial thought was, "Damn.....Who in the heck would know all these strange words and their meanings?"

Now-a-days my fencing vocabulary is pretty good. Not that some words and definitions don't trip me up from time to time. They do. Different coaches have somewhat different definitions for some actions, which further complicates the language.

While the language is moderately complex, lately it seems to me that it should be even more complex.

One of the most basic drills is called "Six Wall". That is very descriptive of the drill. It is the foundation for a lot of other drills, and it is the only one I know that has a name. Also, it is part of my warm up routine, when I have someone with whom to drill, and I am not short cutting my routine. All the rest are named by their separate actions. It would seem easier/faster to transition from one drill to the next if you did not have to mentally repeat every action you needed to do and just focused on the cues. German's (Beck System) seem to have numbers for each drill, though that seems too clinical and hard to remember.

Or, when you set up an attack. Take one of Toomey's set ups that Tommy showed me lately. Short slow advance....take the blade in two....long fast advance....tiny little advance. Now, I know that you can do this action to the point that no conscious thought is required for the action. But, suppose you are dancing around out of distance and looking for the best attack to set up. Would it not be wiser and faster to have a name for that set up? Or if you are a coach and you want to convey the need to use that attack to your student on strip, without a name or hand signals that signify a name, there is no good way to do it, except during conversations at breaks.

Or look at the description of the set up above. It would seem easier if "short slow advance" or "tiny little quick advance" had a one word name.

I sometimes wonder if, at some point in the history of fencing, there were names in another language which have all been forgotten.

I would love to see a book on how fencing has changed over the last 200 years. (exploring all manner of things forgotten). For example watch this video.


There is foil and dagger fencing in here that is so fluid and graceful that it reminds me of Wu Shu. I would give anything just to know a few drills like this. Also, there is a brief moment where a woman makes a high parry (it looks like a sabre parry), but it is so very elegant. I love that sort of thing!

Sometimes, just talking with Coach, he will use a term that I have not heard before. When I get home I try to look it up, and there is nothing that can be found. Take "Banderol" for example. Just trying to remember how it is spelled or might be spelled is hard enough. Then try to find a definition in English. Often this link is some help for spelling, but after that you are on your own.


On the other hand, I suspect a lot of folks never become fluent in the basic
language that already exists.

It might not make sense, but sometimes I dwell on these types of things.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Thanks Tommy

Photo courtesy of John Rae

My fave for the night: slow small advance...take the blade in 2....large fast advance, followed by tiny advance.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

A Little More

Photo courtesy of John Rae. Must be his touch. Our pool bout was 1-0. I hate boxes without clocks.

Today I fenced in the Divisional tournament

I had a tough pool. Justin Jacobs beat me 5-3. John Rae beat me 1-0. Robert Thomas beat me 5-4, and I beat Keith Liggett 5-4. I finished last in pools.

That sounds bad, and it is, BUT in my mind it tells me that what I need is a little more. Not a lot more....a little more. I did not get waxed by anyone. The question in my mind is (at my age) can I eek out a little more?

I fenced Philip Allen (from ECU) in my one and only DE. I had never fenced him before, but I have noted that he has done well in tournaments on the coast, and he finished in the final four of the tournament. He had me down something like 6-2 in the beginning. Then he ticked me off a bit. So, I ticked him off a bit in return. I figure between that, and the fact that he became over confident, I rallied a bit and finished 15-13.

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

So....if I need a little bit more.....what do I need?

Well, some of it I don't know, so I will have to seek those people out that do know.

These are my goals:

1. I have no "flick" except for lower body targets for some reason. I fenced french for so long I never developed a good "flick".

2. Tempo changing moves. " slow feet...fast hands", " slow extension...fast finish...perhaps changing lines" I know what this means. It is hard to explain.

3. I need some basic target practice from in fighting to advance-lunge distance. I know what this means as well. The weather is warming up. I can do this.

4. My basic feint-deceive needs work.

5. I am going to work on taking the blade in "4"...slight extension. Again...I know what this means. I really think this is too complex an action to work for me, but I like it so much as a drill, I am going to give it a try.