Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas Gift

For Christmas I received a book entitled,"The Care and Feeding of All Things Fencing" by Michael Mergens.

If your armoury skills are mediocre at best (like me)I would highly recommend this book.

It covers all that you would expect and more in layman's terms. It covers from reels to lames.

I have been thinking of late (Sense I got this nice gift.) about fencing books.

Unless you are very new to fencing, there is not a lot to be gained by most fencing books. There are of course several exceptions to that statement.

I would recommend the following to anyone who has not read them.

"By the Sword" by Richard Cohen (For History )

"Epee 2.0" by Johan Harmenberg (For advance tactics in epee and history.)

"One Touch at a Time" by Aladar Kogler (For the mental game of fencing...though some things are a bit far out.)

"The Complete Guide to Fencing" by Barth/Beck (For chapters on teaching young fencers.)

Books I would not recommend are:

"Strength Training for Fencers" by Harry James. (This is a great book for physical fitness,but in no way I can find is it " fencing specific".)

"Epee Fencing: a complete system" by Imer Vass (This book has some value, but it is mostly drills and drills are open to interpretation and to difficult to understand in most instances through the written word."

I think that in the future fencing books should come with a DVD or be e-books in some fashion. They need to be somehow.....interactive.

I have never read a e-book. Perhaps there is a way in that format to combine the written word with action pictures and audio. Imagine how nice it would be for the new fencer to be able to hear fencing vocabulary words pronounced as you read or to see movements that explain RoW.

It would also be wonderful to see those old pictures of classical fencers with their off weapon hand held high to disappear.

Monday, December 14, 2009

CFA Tournament

Sunday, I fenced in an epee tournament at Charlotte Fencing Academy.

I was forth out of pools and had a bye. I finished sixth for the day.

I blew my knee Friday. These joint problems are starting to make me feel my age.

I had my knee wrapped under my sock and another brace over that one. It did not seem to bother me in pools and even at my best, I doubt that I would have done better in my DE unless I had my choice of opponents.

Note to self: Brian showed me something after the tournament. I realised that I have forgotten how to check forward. I can check backwards well. When the knee gets better, I need to work on this. This also made me think that I need to work on my slide as well. It is footwork that I rarely have used and I need to go back and review.

After the tournament, we went to Mid Town for dinner with the CFA folks.

I wish I could study with them, but so many things prohibit that. I think they have the best epee training in the state.

Brian talked to me about my need to become more proficient at setting up attacks. This is the biggest single item I need to work on. I know this. But it is the biggest mystery to me in fencing. I get parts of it, but I am missing parts as well.

Henri had an idea concerning getting a group of "over 30" (some well over) fencers together and trying to negotiate a package deal with a club that would better meet our needs.

For example: Conditioning is important, but you can do that on your own. If you work all day and have a long commute to a club, you don't want to waste time getting lessons after you are exhausted. Couple that with a long commute back and you need a time slot/lesson plan that works better for the "over 30" crowd. Of course you need enough "over 30" folks to make this worth a clubs time. There is the problem.

Coach is moving back to Chapel Hill, so group lessons from him in Greensboro will be a thing of the past.

Tommy may be able to coach a competitive class, but his job and studies should always come first.

I love working with Coach, but it may be time to rethink about were I study. A 10 minute private lesson and a couple of bouts before half the salle fills with karate people just isn't going to do it. On the other hand, I really admire Coach and like working with him. For my part, we are friends. What to do....what to do?

Or it could be that I should just except that I fence at the level I do and roll with it. Pick up what you can ....when you can....and quit obsessing about it. That sounds negative, but it may not be. Nor would it mean I love the sport any less.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Christmas and Down Time

Christmas Break

The Christmas season means a break from fencing.

I use to want one. I wanted a break right up to the point where I had one….then I could not wait for it to start again.

This time I have mixed emotions about it.

I feel like I am just on the edge of understanding some things about fencing. This is difficult to explain. Knowledge is not coming as fast as it once did and even after all this time, I am ravenous for it. I must be. Last night I watched a young woman do a drill in foil. Her actions were so crisp and graceful…..just for a moment…..I wanted to study foil. My hunger for learning in fencing seems to be spreading out. I want to learn more about almost any aspect of the sport.

Coach has often said, “There are no secrets in fencing.” Perhaps that is true, but often in my study of this sport it does not seem that way. If you do not understand what better fencers/coaches know….it might as well be a secret. How do I pursue my study within the limitations of my situation? That is a big question.

Last night was my last private lesson with Coach until January 12th. There will be bouting next week, but no lessons.

I thought Coach made an interesting observation after last night’s lesson. He said my training partner had the energy and I had the patience. He said we needed to move toward each other’s strength…or words to that effect. We have always been the Yin and Yang. It makes sense.

Charlotte Fencing Academy Tournament

This weekend I will fence at a Charlotte Fencing Academy tournament. I am looking forward to it. I hope my teammates decide to join me.

After that, I do not see a chance to compete until mid February.


Courtney will return from Hungary soon for the holidays. Courtney is a UNC fencer studying abroad. The truth is I never knew her that well when she was here. However, I read her journal religiously and I feel like I have gotten to know her through her writing.

I worry about her. I hope she gets to see her NC friends and fencing family over the holidays. She needs a break with friends and some North Carolina food. Renewed, she can then continue her adventure.

Fencing in Greensboro

Tonight Coach may show up for a group lesson in Greensboro. God….and Coach…..they work in mysterious ways.

The Greensboro Fencing Club will continue with its program through December without much of a break. We have some momentum going with membership of 10 to 12 year olds and want to keep it up. I wish we had some adult sized people so I could bout more locally….but we don’t.

We now need to figure a way to add another strip to our small space. I do not remember if we have another set of working reels and a box. We so need to replace the batteries for those things.

It sounds like things are going well in Greensboro and to a certain extent they are.
There are some problems. We need some new weapons; youth weapons and chest protectors. However we are all volunteers and all the money goes to the people who own the space. It is a dilemma.

We also do not schmooze enough with parents and fencers. We don’t sell the program. We are just a loose little group of people who love fencing and are trying to keep it going in our part of the state.

I am not sure that a strong leader and a more businesslike approach would work with our group of coaches. We all have problems with authority. It would most likely be death for the club.

I suspect that as long as we exist..….we will be what we are. There is nothing wrong with that.

Thursday, December 3, 2009


I think I was interviewed in Thailand. (Except no one talked to me.) The writer evidently read my journal, including some very old entries.

I have spent about three months in Thailand, but it was a few years back.

I used a translator on this, but could not make it all out.

I hope I am okay in their book. It was interesting to read about fencing there.

Hello to you in Thailand!