Saturday, August 29, 2009

Jim's Week in Fencing

Monday: I helped teach a beginner class, consisting of 1 student. The little guy is a quick learner with good footwork and a tight circle six. (For an eight year old.)

Tuesday: NCFDP opened for the first gathering. I had a good lesson with Coach and did well.

Fencing was another story. I fenced Alex. The last time we fenced (May, I think) the score was the score was 15-14. My personal best against this good Russian fencer. This time it was the most embarrassing score I can remember. So much that I am not going to put it in print.

In reflecting on why, the things I am aware of are:

A. I need to open up the distance.
B. For some unknown reason ( lately) I feel compelled to attack. Not good attacks that are set up, but simple direct attacks. I use to love to counter. What the heck happened to me?
C. I am impatient. I always thought patience and using time was something I had a good handle on. Time to think again.

Perhaps I just need more strip time to make up for my months of not fencing.

Coach went out of his way to introduce me to his friend Coach Jim Murray from John Hopkins. Jim lost his job there for some reason. I "Googled" him when I got home to learn more about him. Interesting that he had taught wheel chair fencing in Kinston.
I also found that a Jim Murray was in the US Fencing Hall of Fame. That Jim Murray died in 1954. I wonder if he was related.

Wednesday: I did some light fencing in Greensboro.

Thursday: I did my Tai Chi Class. I may have found something that would be of benefit at a tournament. I would have to go some place private to do it though, I would feel to self conscious doing this in front of a crowd of people.

Friday: We did a very successful demo and had at least six new kids sign up for a beginner class. I did not do a lot of talking to parents, I was more a visual aid. I fenced on and off for three hours. (This was good for me.)

There was talk of using the new space for divisionals or sectionals. I hope there was conversation with using tape on the courts and the mess a bunch of fencers can make.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Charlotte Fencing Academy

I had a really good day fencing at the Charlotte Fencing Academy.

By "good" I do mean I fenced well. But it was a good and enjoyable day of fencing. It was also the first time I had really fenced all summer.

The club had an unsanctioned team event, which was by invitation only and for the club members.

We were fortunate enough to have been included.

It was a small event with an "A" fencer captaining each team. I fenced with Kyle and Kerry. Kerry and I were carried to victory by Kyle.

We felt so welcome there. There is a true sense of family and everyone was so nice to us. In my opinion, the sense of family is THE most important aspect of any club.

The fencing was great. It was nice to not be concerned with the typical tournament stuff..

After fencing we went out to eat together and again we felt privileged to be a part of that group.

It was a day well spent and one of the best I have had in recent times.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Tai Chi & Qigong Cross Training

Last night I began an eight week class in Tai Chi & Qigong. I did this for multiple reasons.

However, as an interesting side note, I intend to see if I can benefit from this type of exercise as a way to improve my fencing.(Or perhaps my ABILITY to fence.)

I am not expecting anything. I am sure that an eight week (one night a week)course in Tai Chi & Qigong will give you as much expertise as an eight week (one night a week) course in fencing.

As our instructor spoke, I saw similarities in teaching this and teaching fencing. It was hard for her to explain words and concepts, just like it would have been for a fencing coach to do for a beginner class.

They offer the Tai Chi sword forms at her school in Winston Salem. I always thought they were WAY cool, but I doubt that I will ever get around to that, or if the movements would have much value to fencing.

There are things that COULD come out of this and be of use to a veteran fencer. (Perhaps other types of fencers as well.) As you age, you lose balance and flexibility. I think this might be an aid for both. Improving focus would be of help to me, and it is possible this course might help in that as well. It does help with your ability to relax, though I generally feel relaxed on strip.

I believe that certain aspects of fencing are like moving meditation. I love and am fascinated with that part of fencing. I once found long distance trail running to be extremely meditative (before Plantar fasciitis ended running for me). You can find this type of thing in many sports. However, Tai Chi is true moving mediation. Can it somehow improve those aspects of sports that are similar to it?

Then, there is the ability to focus your Chi. This is rather esoteric, and I am not sure I have ever bought the whole concept. In my years of material arts training, I did a lot of demos. The flashy things I did like laying on a bed of nails and having a guy break cinder blocks on my stomach were to be demonstrations of the use of Chi. Every one of these types of things (with the possible exception of "breaking") really had nothing to do with harnessing your Chi. So, I am a bit skeptical.

On the other hand, I did an eight week course on Tai Chi many years ago, and I always felt GREAT when I left that class. I am not sure when this was. It must have been in the 80's, as I remember I was reading Ann Rice books.

Still, I believe in the presence and force of Chi. So, maybe there is a way to use it in fencing. I will take a shot at it. There is nothing to lose.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Short Mindless Post

I have been fencing a little bit for the last week and half. A little footwork and a bit of fencing. Some of it dry. (Steam for my UK friend.)

While fencing dry is not as much fun, I am finding it a good way to work on somethings. (As I do not get caught up in the score.)

I have not been going to the gym like I should. I have a couple of joints that have been hurting and I have been waiting for them to feel better. My thinking now tells me it is related to age and it is time to suck it up and just head to the gym and see what happens. Naturally most of the pain is in my weapon arm shoulder.

My son is heading back to UNCC this weekend. I had given some thought to going to a tournament down there as I would be in the neighborhood. Sadly, it does not seem to be filling up. My son is now talking about going down on Friday, so it may not matter anyway.

I just finished mowing in the back yard and hacking at some brush. I am waiting for my turn at the shower and to use some stuff to get rid of poison ivy oils. I think I will need that.

For some reason while I was working, I began to think about my "kneeling squat". I don't have a name for it. I sometimes kneel in an effort to avoid the blade in fencing. I could never do those skinny kid squats to avoid the blade, even when I was a skinny kid. I got this from Tommy a long time ago. (Before he improved so much.)

I never plan on doing it. Much like I never plan on a lunge. It just happens. Mostly with success, though not always.

I am now trying to decide if it is a good idea or not. When I do this my knees in my en guard are bent more than they should be. (Maybe?) A small matter I will give more thought to as I shower.

Monday, August 17, 2009

A Conversation Continues.

cobalt said...

"If it wasn't an automated system on a very simple to use web site, I could understand. But to paraphrase Matt Cox on a different question I asked, "I call BS." If you're a tournament organizer, then you should understand nowadays how important it is to have that data up on askFred anyways. It's a big deal in regards to promotion of your tournament, and helps the sport as a whole. Honestly, I can't think of anyone who took more than 2 days to get that stuff online last year(Well, I can think of one... )

And with the automation on, it's pretty simple stuff for the observer. And Matt's a pretty active webmaster. When there's a problem he's pretty much immediately on it.

All in all, I have good vibes about this new system. I tried poking holes into it as best I could. It's pretty solid. Obviously, with people trying to cheat it, holes will be found. But, all in all, it's a massive improvement in organization from last year."

August 17, 2009 2:06 PM

The Gray Epee says:

I do not disagree with what you are saying. Though there is more than one club that is not prompt to post on Ask Fred.

What I do believe is that if a tournament was to loose it's sanction( after just two days)it would not harm the tournament organizers as much as it would the kids fencing that tournament.

To me, screwing with the kids that fence in a tournament is not serving them.

In truth, I think we are on the same page. The result of possibly not having things done in time is the only problem I see.

Point....Counter Point ( Fencing....~snicker~ Get It?)

" cobalt said...

But taking weeks/months to process a rating change does help the fencer? Because that's why that rule was put in place.

The fencers are our customers, they're within their rights to want quick service.

Saying, "Cause that's the way it always has been.", only leaves us continuing to tread water against other sports that DON'T have a problem doing this. "

August 17, 2009 7:58 AM

This was a response to the last post in my journal. I agree with what was said here.

On the other hand I still believe that that giving people two days or risk loosing the right to be sanctioned is a bit extreme.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

North Carolina Divisional Observer

I have just returned home from my training to be a North Carolina Divisional Observer.

The material was informative and well presented.

Shortly into the training, it became even more apparent that this is a job without any joy in it at all. Perhaps I am wrong and have just not found it yet.

You cannot fence or ref. You have responsibilites prior to the event and after. But, through the whole long day of fencing you don't really do "jack".

I can read for a while. I can socialize for a while or work on repairing weapons, but after that it is like being on a flight to Hong Kong.

Still, the goal here is to serve the fencers. I guess an observer just has to "cowboy up".


I had one question during the training.

It seems that 24 hours after the tournament, the organizers are to have the results posted on

24 hours after that, observers are to have verified the ask.fred results, completed pertinent forms, and sent results to the Divisional Secretary.

I asked, " Why the rush?"

Part of the answer was, the fencers want immediate gratification, and they want to be able to use their shiny new rating at next week's tournament.

My thought is, if someone needs immediate gratification, then fencing is not the sport for them. In fact, I can't think of a sport where immediate gratification is part of the equation.

From my own personal experience with events posted on ask FRED, I have found the following:

A. If you are embarrassed or demoralized by your results in a tournament, they will be posted on ask FRED by the time you drive home.

B. If you did well in a tournament, those results will be posted DAYS later, when everyone except you has forgotten about it.

What brought up my question in the first place was, it was stated that if the tournament organizers did not have the info posted on ask FRED within 24 hours, and the observer could not do his part in the following 24 hours, then the event could be at risk of losing it's recognition as a sanctioned tournament.

I must say, that does not seem like it is serving the interest of the fencers.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Good News/Bad News

Bad news: I got laid off. Good news: I can fence again: ( At least, in a more limited manner due to finances.)

I have not yet determined the best way to get the most bang for my buck. Right now, I think I will stick with NCFDP. I miss working with Coach.

I am not sure what to do about the Greensboro Fencers' Club (formerly the Downtown Fencing Club).

While we were at the "Y", I knew my place in the scheme of things. I was a good, dependable helper, and could be counted on to "sub" as a coach when needed.

Since the move to a new space this summer, there are very few kids to work with. I do not feel all that needed or a part of things there any more. However, I have friends there and I want to be a part of it as long as it can hang on. But what kind of part? And does my part fit my friends view of that "part"?

It is complex. I need to think on this a while.

Divisional Observers

I am thinking about doing one of these Divisional Observers Clinics. I can't think of many things worse than having to hang around a fencing tournament and not able to play.

The post on Ask Fred states that clubs which do not have members to do this will not be able to have sanctioned tournaments.

It seems a bit funny, as it is being held during a time when the college kids who run the college clubs are not here to participate.

I figure, if I do this, and I am, at present a member of two clubs, they both are covered.


It is strange how when I was not fencing this summer, that the fact that three of my best weapons will not pass a shim test(and an overzealous ref was concerned about a dent in my mask)did not bother me at all. That kind of thing use to worry me to death until they were fixed. Not so much at the moment. I am heading to the post office now to mail in my USFA membership.

I guess I am back.