Monday, January 25, 2010

Knowledge Flow

An interesting week in fencing this week.

I will dispense with notes on fencing in Greensboro to some extent.

Suffice it to say I helped with some kids classes, including foil, which means I was involved with all three classes this week.

Tuesday, I had a good lesson with Coach Miller. By good, I mean I did well and he bragged on me.

Another good thing that happen Tuesday, was that Josh offered me some very good advice on problems I was having with an action. It is extremely rare that he does that and it may have helped a lot. During his instruction, I had several revelations. He showed me how to take a blade in eight and fleche. For some reason, it never occurred to me to do it from eight. I have no idea why. The night was filled with simple revelations like that. Things that are simple, but for some reason had escaped me.

Matt helped my training partner and some of the knowledge gained there was passed on to me.

It was a very meaningful night for learning.

I bouted poorly that night. Part of it was my own depressed mental state and part of it was that I was working on smoothing out my blade action in attacks, as well as working on combining slight extensions of the blade as I advanced and retreated.
(This is difficult to explain. It is something Tommy is working with me on.)

I fenced in a CFA tournament in Charlotte this weekend.

I did poorly in pools, winning two and loosing two.

My first DE was against the young man that won the tournament. I lost and was done for the day.

Even though I did poorly, I enjoyed the event and the fencing.

More meaningful than the fencing were various conversations.

I talked with coaches and gained valuable information on things to work on and possible upcoming opportunities to train.

Nicole was used as an example for me to immolate, on relaxing when out of distance.

Again, another simple action to practice that had never occurred to me.

The list of information gathered is to much to record here.

I have felt for many months that gaining knowledge in fencing was slower in coming, yet in one week, there was a huge influx.

I also found that I was wrong in a belief I had. Oddly enough, I had just discussed it with a coach at this tournament, when I was dramatically proven wrong.

I have often heard good coaches state that "fencing is fencing" or "it is all the same stick".

I never truly believed that. I thought that once you were technically proficient in a weapon, THEN it could "all be the same stick".

However, I watched a sabre fencer win an epee tournament, primarily due to his knowledge of distance and experience gained from fencing another weapon.

So I was arrogant and clearly wrong in not believing what coaches I respect have always said. Lesson learned.

I talked with a Mid-South coach a little about doing drills. I told him that my training partner and I were "drill masters" and tried to explain the " Coach...Coach" game and scoring methods and tactics used in competing in drills with Coach Miller. I am afraid I made a fool out of myself by doing that. I often wonder if I sound "goofy" when I talk to people who have been fencing/coaching for a long time. He may have taken me seriously. Humor as a training tool is often a foreign concept.

I am afraid that the " Coach....Coach" game will always be as esoteric as the " unstoppable thrust".

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


Ibuprofen......the vet fencers pal.


Two Random Thoughts

Best Fencing Web Sites

In my opinion, the best fencing web site would be Facebook, coupled with Ask Fred.

While you do not see a lot of young fencers posting on Divisional forums or Fencing Net, they are on Facebook. Coaches; fencing parents and coach spouses, all communicate there. People say “thank you” for hosting events. They congratulate those that did well in tournaments. They socialize and form a sense of community.

The list goes on and on. Yep….it gets my vote.

The Sword

I personally think the sword is generally an inferior weapon. It is better than a knife or club, but it starts falling off after that.

It generally only puts you on equal footing when you are facing an opponent who is also armed with a similar sword.

Yet we constantly romanticize it. I would dare to say that it is out of this romantic notion that fencing continued. Long after there was any use for such a weapon, fencing and fencing related sword sports still survive.


There is the above mentioned romanticism. There is viewing fencing as sport, totally unrelated to the sword.

I have wondered of late, if it might be that there is something spiritual about it.

I think in most sports you can find something or some element that has a spiritual or meditative nature.

Comparing fencing spirituality to something like Bushido would be going WAY overboard. I am thinking spiritual in a much smaller way.

I have read scientific explanations for being “in the zone” and found them lacking.

I have often wondered about that thing inside your mind, that tells you to do a fencing action…..but without conscious though.

Both those actions happen in other sports as well.

I have come to no conclusion on the spirituality of fencing or if there is spirituality unique to fencing and unlike the spirituality found in other sports. It is not a topic you can bring up many places. People will look at you funny. It has just been on mind recently.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

First Week in Fencing for the New Year


I was to help coach the "Intro" class in Greensboro. First class of the year after our break and no one showed up, so I worked on repairing body cords. A few people showed up for sabre.


I went to help with the kids epee class in Greensboro. There are around a dozen of them and just getting them dressed and outfitted is an ordeal.

Coach showed up and had a group lesson! I would have never guessed. I thought it was over for him in Greensboro, but he said he would be there intermittently until the season was over, and, or they sold their house in Greensboro. This is a good thing for Greensboro.

Tommy will coach the competitive class, when his schedule allows as well. (CFA Greensboro satellite location.....that is kind of a joke...and kind of true.)


Saturday was a different sort of day for fencing.

I went to Mid-South Fencing for a Foil Open House.

Prior to that event, Matt Cox gave a reffing seminar on foil. From my perspective, it was perfect.

I don't fence priority weapons often enough to be proficient in reffing them. In the two clubs I presently belong to, there is no way to become proficient. I fence epee. To become a decent ref in RoW weapons, I would have to fence them regularly and be at a club where a ref might have the time and desire to coach me. There are too many things in the way of doing something like that at this juncture, and it would mean not devoting myself entirely to the weapon I love.

I would have liked to have been a three weapon fencer. As a late bloomer in the sport and given my present age, I don't think this is possible. Still, I like to learn what I can....when I can.. about other weapons and a review of the little I know about them is always welcome. The ref seminar was just what I would have hoped for.

The format for the day was:

Ref Seminar
Group Lesson
Private Lessons
Open Bouting

The group foil lesson given by Peter (a foil coach from Ireland) and Stephen was a good one. It was a mixture of low level techniques and games. (I learned a new one to take back to the kids in Greensboro.) Even though the actions taught in the group class were basic, I struggled to do them correctly. Struggled and failed ...a lot. was fun.

It was cold, and we walked down the street for lunch. They had some really good soup that was perfect for the day. While we were eating, Margaret from Salle New Bern came in, and I invited her to have lunch with us. I now have a new friend in the New Bern club, the next time I am down that way.

I fenced a little and yacked with Grace and company, while waiting on my private lesson. I like her.

There were three coaches giving private lessons and all of them good. I picked Stephen for my private lesson. I had never been coached by him before.

The coaches were troopers. Some of the foilists took private lessons from all of them. Coaches were a bit worn out, but they hung in there.

Stephen is a patient man! We did a two part drill, that ended with an "open eyes" drill. I was clumsy. My parry 4 was an epee parry 4....when I could remember to do it. In was a bit too strong for an epee parry 4. I am being kind to myself. It was a good basic lesson. Even though it was basic, I struggled with it.

I would look at that skinny little blade and think...."this doesn't feel right". I would do a Circle 6 and think, "the bell guard is not big enough to pick up the point".

This all sounds bad, but there is some good in it. I never felt like I had the right mind set to fence foil. Even though in epee, I like to parry.....something does not click with me and foil. I think it goes beyond just a lack of experience. Maybe not.

There was good in this. Some of the things that drove me away from foil and into the arms of epee were that I just could not stand my constant clumsiness and failure at it. It is so very odd, that I actually went to Coaches College for foil. ( Note: I did not go to Coaches College because I wanted to be a coach...or teach foil...I did it because the club was losing a foil coach and needed someone to help out.)

Even at my age, I found it was possible to mature a little. My clumsiness and failure did not bother me nearly as much.

I may look into dabbling a bit in foil.