Sunday, October 25, 2009

Holmes and Sabre

Saturday, I was the division observer for a sabre tournament at Mid-South Fencers' Club.

For this job, memberships are checked before an event, memberships mailed after an event, and a report is submitted on line after the event.

During the event, you check on a few safety concerns and technical items. After that you don't actually do much of anything, except spend the day there.

The only people I really knew at the event were Stephen and Matt. Jen popped in briefly. Nice bunch of kids and parents, but I did not know any of them.

When you only fence one weapon (like me...and I would guess the majority of people there) it creates sub groups. The only sabre people I really know are coaches or sabreists who also fence epee.

I had a couple of nice chats with Stephen and learned a few things about sabre, reffing and coaching.

I had an interesting conversation on epee with Matt. One of the topics we discussed was about "beats". I classified a beat Jen demonstrated at her epee class as a foil beat. (A beat to the side of the blade.)

When I took my first private lesson with Coach Miller, a couple of years ago, he told me to do a beat. I beat the side of the blade. He told me that was a foil beat and had me beat the top of his blade with the bottom of mine. Beats like this are only done when the blade is parallel to the floor. (Point stays on target and you do not lose much momentum of the blade going forward.) It made perfect sense to me, and I have never done a beat any other way since.

Matt didn't buy it (about being a foil beat) and I really did not buy what Matt said, because of the length of time/distance covered the beat would take as he demonstrated.

I think I did not make my point with Matt, primarily because I did not express myself well and partly because he thinks my level of knowledge is still where it was around 5 years ago when we first met. Not that it has grown all that much, but I think in relationship to epee alone, that the knowledge gap has diminished a bit.

So, I spent my day watching sabre. I had some good pizza and I read.

I am a big Sherlock Holmes fan. A friend suggested that I try Laurie King's "The Beekeeper's Apprentice". This is a book about a girl/woman (Mary Russell) with the same deductive and observation skills as Holmes. I understand that later in these series of books, she marries Holmes. If you enjoy Holmes, I think you would enjoy this. I did and already have the second book in the series.

I drank coffee and I watched sabre. I watched and I wanted to fence. I didn't care if it was sabre, I wanted to be out on strip having some fun.

I recalled my last tournament when I fenced sabre. I fenced sabre only because they needed another person at a tiny Vet event.

I was fencing a guy who did not like me very much. This bout did nothing to improve our relationship. I saw his hand open in an attack of opportunity. Hey....I fence epee! I hit it with the point. The tip went between two fingers,through his glove and into his hand. He went to the hospital and had stitches.

For several years, every time we had an Intro Fencing Class in Greensboro, I would hear this incident mentioned in regards to sabre safety. No names would be used in the safety lecture, though I would think about being referred to as "Jim the Impaler" for a while after that tournament.

I never had much interest in fencing sabre after that, for fear of hurting someone. That curbed my desire to fence it on Saturday.

So I read ....and I watched.....until it was finally time to go home.

I completed my online report (to some degree) and have new memberships ready to mail to the USFA. I am waiting on the division secretary's mailing address to send him copies.

Matt asked me if I would come back and do another in December. We got off topic or something and I never answered.

I would go back and do it again, but must see what is happening in December around that date. If I am asked back, I will make the following changes. I would bring my own chair. I would bring something (more than a book) to entertain myself.


Matthew said...

Your knowledge has certainly grown in five years, and I do certainly respect the amount of experience you've gained. I'd love the chance to take up the "beat" conversation where we left off- maybe in December?

cobalt said...

I don't buy the "foil" beat either. IMO, you can beat the blade lots of different ways in epee depending on what you're setting up for. I can come up with 5 different ways off the top of my head right now, and I'm certain there's more than that. Not that I use them all, but I've coached different ways. IMO, a characteristic of epee is that it is extremely focused on setting up(and not so much on the finish...foil/sabre let's you be much more

That's not the first impaling incident I've heard through a glove. Seen it happen in epee too. Always check your double stitching and don't wear crusty gloves

The Gray Epee said...

I can think of several different beats as well, but I only use 4.

1. Beat the top of the blade.
2. Semi circle beat.
3. " Lift Seven" Beat from the underside of the blade-go to cuff
4." Modified Lift Seven" Hard beat and deep target.

And to be honest I hardly remember the last time I used the last 2.