Tuesday, September 29, 2009

No Power = Good

Last night I went to club. There was an awful storm. At the club there was no power and it was to dark to fence, so club was canceled.

It is the one time during the week, when all the coaches are there at the same time.

It became an unplanned coaches meeting, which moved to Starbucks.

It was good. It was real good.

We did some planing. But more important, we socialized and had some fun together.

We had not done that in a long time.

Monday, September 28, 2009

The Day at Fetzer

Sunday I fenced at a UNC tournament.

In preregistration, I was ranked at the bottom of the barrel. As I was the oldest and lowest ranked epeeist and as I had a bit of knowledge about most of the fencers coming, I looked at the event as an opportunity to get in some strip time. The cost: 10 dollars and getting the crud beat out of me.

There were 16 or 17 fencers in the field. Results are not posted at the time of this writing for me to double check.

I see myself as a "D and Under" kind of fencer. The closest rated fencer to me in pools was a "D" and I won that bout. It was the only victory in a pool of 5. (I think it was 5.)

As I said, my only goal for the tournament was to get in strip time. I hoped to NOT come in last, but I was pretty sure I would. I fenced the young man that came in second in my only DE. He was rated 5th and I was 12th out of pools. The results are not posted, but I don't think I was last. So....Yay!

The kid who won the event, was a World Cup guy from France. I am glad I got to see him fence. Tommy saw different things than I did as we watched him. The thing that most impressed me was an action I had never seen. He had a " waiting fleche". This
is like a " waiting lunge" or a feint of a lunge. Cool!

I stayed to watch the Women's epee event. I am glad I did. I pulled for my teammate and the vets.

I had a strip coaching experience like I had never had before. The situation was simplistic, but I recognized it and knew just what to do. I also knew when it was time to go back to the game plan. It worked perfectly.

In women's epee, Kerry and Jordan tied for third. Henri took second. Anna (?) took first.

I helped clean up as the day drew to a close. I wanted to go eat and talk fencing with my teammates, but dinner was waiting at home.

I so love fencing at a venue that has showers!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

The Week ....So Far.

Monday: I went to club in Greensboro. I have no idea why I go that night.
Took a lesson with Tommy on a simple action. I practiced this action Thursday and tried to incorporate it in bouting without success.

Wednesday: Subbed for Cam and taught epee. Cam is "way" pregnant, and she worked with the two eight year old kids.

Coach got there late, and mostly we talked. There is a possibility that Guilford College and Wake Forest kids may come to the club for lessons. May work out...may not. We will see.

I watched Coach make his first contact with Nicole under NCAA rules in an effort to recruit her to UNC. I have seen this several times with different kids I know, but it is always special and cool when it is a kid you care a lot about.

Thursday: Private lesson with Coach at UNC. I did well. You measure this by the number of number of " good jobs" and "high fives" you get from Coach. The hard part is attacking in 4 with opposition, holding in 4 for the remise. I am so trained to do 6 and circle six that it is hard to make it instinctive.

Sharing the space with a karate class is becoming a problem. I go there mostly for private lessons with Coach. But, also for strip time. I can't get meaningful strip time in Greensboro as most of the kids are 12.

By the time the karate class shows up at 8:15, you have warmed up....maybe had one bout and a private lesson. After that, there are alot of people competing for four strips. Really good fencers like to fence really good fencers....so it is hard for us intermediate folks to sort of find a place.

What to do.....what to do.....about strip time?

Sunday: I plan on fencing at a tournament at UNC on Sunday. I feel that I should do this, even though I will be the oldest and lowest rated fencer there. There is a "U", but he is a "C" foilist. This will not be good for confidence, but I feel I should go.

I looked at a KOS tournament for today. It seemed more my speed, but UNC is kind of "home" so I guess I will go get the crud beat out of me there.

Hey!....I just might learn something.

Monday, September 21, 2009

First Tournament of the Season

Epee Regional Youth Circuit (RYC)

I know what you are thinking. Jim.....Youth Circuit.....RYC???? Okay.....not about me.

However, two fencers from the Greensboro Fencing Club (Formally the Downtown Fencing Club)journeyed to Georgia for the Epee Regional Youth Circuit (RYC) DFC. Both Margaret Bertoni and Charlotte Hatcher are twelve years old. Charlotte tied for third place in the 12 and under, but had the misfortune to fence her teammate in DE's and went out.

Margret Bertoni took first place. Not only did she take first place in the 12 year old event, but she moved up to fence in the 14 year old event and took first place there as well.


The Three Musketeer Picture (Above)

Nicole thought it was "geeky". However, this is Nicole's last year fencing with us before she heads off to ECU. I wanted a picture of the three of us like this as a keepsake.

I was sentimental, but they turned on me and hit me with double toe shots.

Sharon posted on Face Book: "The "after" picture of the three musketeers should have been Henri with the ice pack on her chest, you with the ice pack on your shoulder and Nicole with the ice pack on her forehead!"

CFA Tournament

I fenced my first tournament of the season at Charlotte Fencing Academy this weekend.
I did not fence well or do as well as I hoped, but I had a good time.

It was a well run and friendly event.

Nicole had a slow start in pools. In her first DE she was down 6-1 in the first period. She came back and won it! It was truly an exciting finish. She also did well in her second DE.

I was very proud of Henri. She fenced well in pools and won her first DE against a much taller seasoned opponent. She went out to the kid that won the event in her next DE, but gave a good showing of herself for the day.

Editors Note: I noticed at this tournament (more and more) that people just LOVE Henri. "Poor deranged souls", I wanted to cry out. " Don't you realize that when the devil takes human form, that he takes a look that is cute and non-threatening!"

Me.....I am just the "old guy" that hangs out with Nicole and Henri. ~ heavy sigh ~

I will look at this event as practice and strip time. If things go well, I will fence tournaments the next two weekends. I will just see how it goes.

Sabre for Non-Sabreist

I was talking with Stephen Pashby about a class he wants to start that deals with teaching some basic sabre to people that don't fence sabre. I thought that sounded interesting, as I am always looking to learn a little something new.

I thought I would talk to the coaches in Greensboro and see if they would be interested in hosting something like this.

I had a good weekend. What more can you ask?

Friday, September 18, 2009

Following My Dreams

I'm sick of following my dreams. I'm just gonna ask them where they're going and hook up with them later. ~M. Hedberg

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Long Winded Today

(Jordon is the girl second from the left.)

This has been on my mind of late.

Often, when you visit a club's web site, you will find a list somewhere of their accomplishments. Tournament placings earned by students and coaches are commonly posted. Also, when club kids make college fencing teams.

The Greensboro Fencers' Club (Formerly the Downtown Fencing Club....and I have trouble thinking of it by any other name) had a student make the University of North Carolina fencing team this year. She will fence epee. Is she a very good fencer? (No.) Could she be? (Possibly in this environment.)

How did this happen? Is it because she is academically gifted and got into UNC? (Partly.) Is it because Ron Miller was running an epee class at the club & she got to know him? (That sure did not hurt.) Perhaps there are other reasons. I know last year, Coach was a bit short on women's epee fencers for the team.

Jordan (like me) also went to several clinics given by Alex Beguinet, the head coach of Duke University team. The rivalry and hatred between UNC and Duke borders on stupidity in my book. There seems to be enough hate in the world without perpetuating something like this. Of course, I was a student at neither university. Maybe I am not getting something. Alex liked her. He will remember her. It will be interesting if they meet or speak at the Duke event next year.

I think of a lot of very talented young fencers (that I know in this state) who wanted very much to be accepted at UNC and make this team. I can only count two that did this year, and Jordan is one.

In my mind,The Greensboro Fencers' Club has had a lot of accomplishments. Particularly, considering that it is a very small club and all the coaches are volunteers.

Should it ever get to the point where the GFC lists our accomplishments on our web site, I think somewhere in there it should say something like the following:

" Gave some kids that did not fit in a place to to feel accepted. To gain a bit of discipline and learn a few manners/social skills. " (Words to that effect. Perhaps not those.)

That IS an accomplishment.


For the last couple of years, one of my goals in fencing has been to become decent technically. Not great....pretty decent. Coach is a great person with whom to pursue that goal. Even in our little group lessons, we are generally divided into a " leader-student" pairing to work on drills. Nothing unusual about that. But, it is a lot like the private lessons. As much or more of the instruction is often for the leader, as this is more difficult to do correctly than the fencing action. I like that aspect of this. In a way, it is like you are being trained to coach without knowing it.

I am wondering something lately though. Is this the best way? I feel weird thinking about this. Ron is a great and distinguished coach. I have only questioned what I learned from him twice. This is number two.

I am not going behind his back and questioning him. I will ask him about this the first chance I get.

This is what I am wondering though.

Everyone needs to be able to do basic actions with some degree of technical proficiency before they can move on to tactics. However, I am wondering if it would not be better (for some students at least) to gain a moderate amount of technical ability.......learn tactics.....and then perfect the technical actions for those tactics.

Maybe I am wondering this due to feeling that my knowledge of tactics is so very limited.


Generally, the books I read related to fencing are non-fiction.

A friend lent me a historic-fiction book lately titled "The Fencing Master" by Artro Perez-Reverte. This seems to be a very common book for fencers to read. I am late getting around to it.

I am about half way through at present. It is a good and easy read.

From time to time in the book, you read phrases that are commonly heard in fencing. I assume that as it was published in 1988 , many fencers first read these quotes for the first time in this book.

Perhaps the most common is about "holding the weapon like you would hold a small bird".

All I could think of when reading that is, when I fence epee my bird may be in good shape for a while, but, at some point in bouting I think I break some of his ribs. Fortunately, there is no shortage of small birds.

Editors Note: No animals were harmed in any way in the making of this journal entry.

12 Year Old Girls Fencing Epee

The GFC has three, 12 year old girl epeeists. One is so tall I would want proof of age if I was checking her in at a tournament. She is fairly tall even for an adult. One is short. One is frickin' tiny!!!! I think she is the smallest 12 year old I ever saw. The tall one and the tiny one are fencing in an event in Georgia soon. I worry about the tiny one. She has great foot work and mobility. She is brave, but lacks the killer instinct. She often does not lead with her point when she lunges. I wonder if part of that is due to the small size of her arm and the weight of the weapon. I worry about her. I hope getting the crud beat out of her does not make her dislike fencing. She is a sweet kid.


Yesterday, I went with my youngest daughter and her husband to see the ultra sound of the baby she is carrying. This one also identified the baby's sex.

His name will be Lucas.

I had always hoped to be able to teach my grandkids how to fence, or at least get them interested so that they might pursue it later in life. I have a tiny antique fencing jacket with silver buttons up the side waiting on one to fill it out.

I hope circumstances will allow me to at least be able to "play" fencing with him/them.

I have had children, and I know that what interests you often has NO interest to them. (Though I find it comforting that my son, Sam, loves to run. He saw me do this often growing up. Perhaps it was an influence...who knows.)

It will be interesting to see how this unfolds.


I had a good private lesson with Coach at UNC on Tuesday. We seem to be adding more and different actions to lessons lately. This is a good thing.

I am so programed to do "circle six in opposition" at present, I use it to instinctually in bouting. Great parry....but too slow and predicable. I need to broaden my scope.

I made progress in fencing Alex this week. I am hitting near target with flicks once in a while, and I opened up the distance. My flicks still stink, but I am working on them. Next week, I will try attacking him in third intention. Hey...I have to know!

They are working on one of the gyms at UNC, so the fencing room is being shared around 8:00 by a karate club. So many people in one small space generates a LOT of heat. I have to hit the showers before the drive home. It is best to get there early now. If not...it will be hard to find a strip.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

( I have always been told that there is nothing more sexy than a man doing dishes. You don't think I am being "played" do you?)

I am not fencing very well of late.

Editors Note: By that statement, I am of course referring to the limitations of my own ability.

It is most likely due to several things. I am also wondering if age is catching up with me. One of the many things that is wrong is that I catch myself standing still on strip. I am also very tired of late. I do not know what that is all about. Another may be that I am just not getting enough bouting in.

But what kind of bouting?

I see myself as a " D and Under " kind of fencer. Once in a while,I luck up and do okay in higher level tournaments.

Here is a question I ask myself of late. Is it better to fence "A and B" fencers and mostly be their target or to look for practice partners that are just a bit beyond your ability.

I have come to the conclusion that I am just not smart enough to figure out what a good "A" fencer is doing on my own. By that I mean that I almost never come away from a practice bout with something new to work on, or that I can try and emulate.

You Would Think This Would Be A Small Problem

I want a target at my home. Not a tennis ball hanging sort of thing, but a strong stationary target.

I have decided that it would be good for me to work on some basics. I am not happy with my lunge and I feel that I need to work on adding a couple of odd things to muscle memory.

If I had this target at home I would shoot for 5 good actions of the following every day:

A. 4 Infighting actions
B. From extension distance
C. 2 actions that there are not names for in fencing.
D. Lunge
C, Advance lunge

Doing this would not take very long and I do not see how it could do anything but be of benefit.

The problem is where to do I put such a target.

In the house? I don't think that will fly.

On a tree? I would feel funny with the neighbors watching.

The deck seems the best choice, but I just had it rebuilt. I need a way to mount something that will take a hit, but could be taken down without showing that it was there.

I need to give this some more thought.