Thursday, October 15, 2009


Last night Tommy worked with with me, while the kids class was in progress. I am beginning to understand what he is teaching me, though it may be a while before I am able to use it effectively. It does not have the same instinctive quality that a lunge or circle six have. At this point, it seems to me more like a "luck" thing, though I understand how it avoids a parry. I will try it again in practice bouting the first chance I get.

I am also eager to try the semi-circle beat and pull back tactic he showed me.

I know this does not make sense, but I am recording it here so I will remember.

Coach was a bit late getting there from Chapel Hill and there was one of his old alumni at the club, so lesson time for the advanced class was cut in half as they chatted. We free fenced a while as he waited for Coach.

Coach's lesson for that night was in the form of conversation. The kids don't care for it all that much (They enjoy action.)but I love these types of classes.

The lesson was primarily for Henri and I.

Coach knew we were disappointed in our showing at last weeks tournament.

He asked us about how we felt coming into the tournament. I told him that we had talked and knew we would not place well. I related that we were trying to think about it as just "strip time".

He told us that when we come into a tournament thinking that way we are giving something to our opponent.

The lesson was on the mental game and stopping a negative spiral. Over confidence can be just as bad of course. But the lesson was primarily concerning stopping negativity and mental preparation.

Obviously you could have all the mental game in the world and not beat a vastly superior fencer, but I was reminded of the importance. I had forgotten.

He recommended a book entitled,"The Inner Game of Tennis". This is a book I have heard about sense I started fencing, but have never read. I will need to dig it up. I also looked in my fencing library for the book, "One Touch at a Time", but I must have lent this to someone and never got it back.

Coach offered me his hand to shake during his talk. We shook hands. he asked me what I felt. I said, " A firm hand shake." He asked, " What did I feel?" and I replied, " The same.". He nodded.

He related that when his team is fencing and they come off strip, he will often shake there hand or do a "high five". If their hand shake or high five lacks energy or feels weak after a bad bout, they go sit on the bench. He is measuring their energy and mental state through these actions.

That sort of thing fascinates me.

He talked about the pre game routine. (This is not necessarily part of your warm up, but is just as important.)

The lecture covered so many things, it is not possible to record them all here.

As I stated, this was mostly for Henri and I.

He asked us if we thought we were good fencers. " No ...and of course not." were our reply.

But he thought so. And he told us how proud he was of our fencing. How it was like night and day in compared to two years or so ago.

He went on and on about how extremely proud of us he was. ( Well..." On and on" for Coach.) Oddly enough, he truly meant it. I often do not see what this man sees, but it certainly made me feel better.

As the night closed, Coach (Who turned 65 last week.) told us that if he could get his back fixed up and drop 20 lbs., he was going to compete again. It has been 13 years sense he last competed. He has bad knees and though he likes sabre, he will most likely fence epee as the lunges do not have to be as long. He is unconcerned about winning. He just wants to fence.

I think that is AWESOME! I so hope that he makes it to the point were he can do this.

On the drive back home, I thought about what it would be like to fence him. I would have a lot of mixed emotions about doing that, though I am sure they would vanish as the bout progressed.

So........It was a proud night.

He was very proud of us and I was very proud of him.

1 comment:

cobalt said...


I don't know what he was working on with you (Get me on FB if you want me to take a stab at it [stab...ha!] ) But I will say most shots in epee aren't 100%, particularly early. I always relate it to poker on TV. You go for it when the odds are in your favor. And sometimes you take the risk just to see what the opponent does.

Coach Miller nailed it on the head with the confidence thing. It's why I (and other fencers) scream during our touches. It can bring my opponent down and more importantly, bring me up. (Think kiai) Enforcing your will on strip is an important key to success. (Course...that also means don't be an utter jerk off it.)

I'll have to remember that hand trick, I usually just make eye contact. If they look down, they need a confidence boost. If they look at me, we can work with it. If they look away to the side, they're not listening and they need to take a seat. Other things about people's posture tell you a lot more...where there palms are facing...arms folded...etc...

Coach Miller fencing would be cool. I'm worried about his handshake though.

"We shook hands. he asked me what I felt. I said, 'The bones breaking in my hand!'"

Guys got some mitts! Do they make XXL Viscontis?

Fist of Doom IMO...