Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Yosef Open

( Black Cat Burrito is to the left down a side street.)

Sunday I fenced in the Yosef Open at ASU in Boone, NC. The weather was unseasonably warm and perfect. The drive up through the mountains was beautiful. The leaves had past their peak in color, but it was still very pretty.

This was a two day event, with foil on Saturday and epee on Sunday.

I thought the ASU kids did a good job in running the tournament. The refs were good for epee, and Mario was the observer.

I fenced two events. I tied for third place in the "E and Under", and I came in seventh in the open, renewing my rating. (Actually, I renewed it over a month ago by winning a small tournament in New Bern, but there was some sort of problem in regard to it working through the USFA system and being posted.)

My fencing family was there with me. I cherished the fact that Nicole was there, as this is her last season with us before she heads off to college. Mario was there and those who are becoming my extended fencing family from CFA. I felt very much at home.

I enjoyed watching the contrast between how Henri fences and how Nicole fences. Epee is so expressive. Nicole could be described as being light and airy.....until her attack. Henri is quick and menacing. (She would argue the point of being menacing....but she is.)

We all got a bit grumpy/upset with our performance at one point or the other during the tournament. That was unusual. It is not unusual for one of us to do so, but not all three of us.

Kerry is the model to emulate when it comes to being undaunted. I have always said so, and Sharon brought it up at this tournament as well.

I noted that Kerry no longer dutifully keeps her tournament notebook, but Miles does. I always wanted to read Kerry's notes.

Miles is a very tall, skinny, young man who gave me trouble. He fences with his arm out, like a relaxed point in line. I could not figure out how to get to deep target with him. With his arm extended, taking the blade or taking it in opposition did not seem to work. Deep target seemed too far away, and, if it wasn't, one retreat with his long legs made it that way. I did not experiment with cuff shots like I should have, though his thin arms make that bell guard look huge.

I reflected on this on the drive home. I came up with an idea for next time. (Code word: Noah) Hey...this journal is like my tournament notebook.

On the ride home, I also thought about tactics and how they relate to the mix of seasoned fencers and newer fencers in the open. Also, I thought about how my current training causes me to abandon previous fencing actions.

Here is an example:

I fenced a young man in a DE. He was fencing with a French grip. Generally speaking, when I fence a person with a French grip, I beat the heck out of their blade. They tighten their grip, and it slows them down. (Also, if they are inexperienced, it may rattle them.) In the case of this young man, his arm was so rigid that this was not a desirable action. (Of course I did not figure that out until the ride home.) His super rigid arm negated my favorite attacks.

I reverted to how I fenced a couple of years ago.(Primarily counters and simple direct attacks. I guess this is still a big part of my game, but I have been working to build past this.) I even scored with a reverse lunge, which was my game when I first started fencing. Of course, in the case of the reverse lunge, you don't often fence people who will chase you down the strip.

I am now wondering if I should have with me, the opposite of a tournament notebook for after bouts. I am wondering if I should have a written list (a menu) of actions which I am fairly proficient in and study it before a tournament. I become so involved with actions I have been working on, that I forget about actions I once worked on.

In this tournament I never had the chance/or thought to use:

A. Short advance/strong 2/long advance. (This works well for me, with the right opponent.)

B. Short advance/long advance with just extension. (I am not comfortable with it yet and did not see the right opportunity to experiment.)

C. As good a use of feints as I should have.

D. One-two.

In my second DE (in the open), I fenced Kelly. I am pretty sure that anyone that knew the field, knew that Kelly was going to win the event. I did not mind. I like to experiment with Kelly. (That and I was ready for a hot shower and Black Cat burrito.) When you are going to get trounced, there is nothing to lose by being creative. I think I scored 3 toe touches on Kelly. For some reason that always makes me feel better (the Tommy influence I guess). I lack a decent flick, except to the toe. It is the one target that I do not have to pull back to hit.

Kelly coached me during a DE under directions of Kerry. He pointed out something to me after our DE of which I was unaware and have no idea how to fix. He told me that I move into perfect distance and then hesitate for a moment before my attack. Is this an age thing? Is this a cautious or analytical thing? How do I get rid of this?

All in all, I fenced okay (most of the time).

I got unexpected praise from Toomey. Henri told me that she thought I should be more proud of that than a rating or trophy. I would have to agree.

It was a good day. Followed by a good Black Cat burrito and some good company.


cobalt said...

You only need a few actions to fence an entire epee bout. Everything else is done with your preparation of your hands and feet.

There's a version of controlled boutwork I do with my fencers. Basically, they have to put a list down of 5 actions they'll use in the bout. Before the bout, they show each other the list. In the bout, they can only use actions from that list. You learn really quickly: You can do a heck of a lot with very little. If you pick your actions well(Should have at least 1 attack, 1 counterattack, 1 defensive), you can set up a complete rotation to use on your opponent.

I'd probably credit this drill with a lot of Tommy's current success. Remember when he used to try to do 234839248 different actions? Now he only uses a few.

In a real bout, you start nice and you feel more comfortable, you can expand away from your base game. If things start going wrong, you can go back to your base game again. It's also a great way to keep comfortable in tough environments as well. When you are 100% certain of what you want to do on strip, big tournaments don't scare you so much.

Different fencers use different actions. I remember Joe Pipkin and I had a discussion on this. I think he framed it the best, "The fencer who wins is the one who knows their strengths and limitations the best"

Tommy and I(5'10", 5'9"...who've both seen a barbell in our lifetime)... love to use more powerful blade control actions and take advantage of our balance and power. Miles and Kyle(Both in the 6'4" range...we're surprised that they eat...) love to use more finesse actions to take advantage of their reach and length.

This works in other sports too. The NY Giants said during their Super Bowl run, they dropped half the plays out of the playbook and focused on a small set. Worked pretty good :)

Rocco said...

I'd have to say the 5 limit drill is nice. It narrowed my actions to a few, usually a way to counterattack/attack in preparation, attack outright and of course my parry-ripostes. that drill and finally understanding tempo and how to set up a system is what shot me forward. Just need to suit up and get back to the gym. We will start working on narrowing it down among other things.

The Gray Epee said...

I yeild to both of you on superior knowledge. (Almost always.)

I must say, I don't get it though.

I do not see how I can use the same small set of actions on a Miles...and Kelly....and stiff armed new young fencer.

I am ever amazed at how you can learn so much in this sport.....and know so little.

We can talk about it the next time we meet.

Henri said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Courtney said...

Jim! I miss my NC Fencing family! I'm so glad I found your blog :) I miss you guys so much! Keep an eye on my Blog for my Budapest Adventures: See you around Christmas hopefully, I'll be making a trip to NC!