Thursday, April 29, 2010

A Gift

I discovered this week that Coach Miller has given me a gift that I did not know I had.

I was working with an adult partner in the 4 week “Introduction to Fencing “class. I was the leader of course. (Note: Read leader as target.) I discovered that I can see all the things in other people fencing epee that he has corrected in me over the years. I can see every dang one of them. I have to make myself focus and I do not see them as fast……but I see them. Who knew?

(To-soon-the-foot disease; proper en guard in six; point is to high in the action; elbow pooches out; shoulder to tense;not holding the weapon properly; drifting out of six into four;not enough energy; thinking speed equates to energy; arm is to tense; using to much wrist and arm and not enough fingers; action to big; cannot relax arm after touch to second parry;pulling pack the arm(punching);knees not bent; returning to en guard is wrong;retreat starts to soon......I mean the list just goes on and on......and this was a simple drill. I just became mesmerized with what I could see!)

I also found that I have the hardest time not giving a student too much information. I don’t do this often, but I want to do so. If you give them too many things to think about as they do an action their minds turn to mush. This is another thing I learned from Coach. He always knows when my mind is on overload. Knowing when to give a person more information….knowing when they are ready to handle it……..that is the part of coaching that is hard for me to understand.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

2010 Southeast Sectional Championship

This weekend I will fence in the 2010 Southeast Sectional Championship tournament.

Why am I doing this? I have no idea.

Okay.....I have some idea. First, it is in my hometown. I feel obligated to be a part of it.

Other than my training partner and I, there will not be much (if any)involvement from the two local clubs from the standpoint of helping with the tournament. That bothers me. So,we will at least represent Greensboro Fencing Club.

Editors Note: I am not sure if we are The Greensboro Fencing Club or The Greensboro Fencers Club. We were formally the Downtown Fencing Club and I still use that to register. I guess it does not matter that much to me at the moment.

We have gathered info pamphlets for visitors. We have picked up other pamphlets for a friend. I have sent out a ton of press releases to various medias.

Friday night, we will help with set up. After that my conscience will be clear.

In fencing, I think there are around 45 entries in senior epee. Most are highly ranked fencers (and even the ones that aren't are mostly WAY better than me) and I think I am ranked third from the bottom in the initial seed. I am going to get creamed. Oddly that does not bother me much. I will fence in a big pool; go out my first DE and be done early in the day.

I am going to work on distance and being relaxed during the event.

$50.99 is a lot of money for fencing in this event, when you are not competitive. I justified it by figuring twenty dollars and a tank of gas would cost about the same thing if I went to another local tournament.

I will get to watch Henri and Kerry fence on Saturday. I am thinking about inviting my oldest friend to drop by and watch some of the sport. I am going to try and make this a fun weekend. We will see how it works out.

Monday, April 12, 2010

"D" is for "Damn"

This weekend I fenced at ASU's "Massacre on the Mountain" tournament. Driving through the mountains in Springtime was wonderful. I fenced in two events, the E and Under and the Open Epee.

I warmed up with Henri, the House Elf, and Miles for the first event. In warming up with Miles, it became clear to me that I need about two more inches of steel, even when I fence French and pommel. Sadly,the rules on the length of a blade are pretty specific. (Note: Miles is around six feet and three inches tall, with loooooonnnnggg arms.)

After pools in the "E and Under" I was in the number two spot, as I won all my bouts. (Which is pretty much where I thought I would be after this event was over.) In retrospect, I think I should have finished third, as there was a "U" fencer in the game that got his "C" in the Open.) My first DE was against a young man I had fenced twice before and had beaten easily. He fences with a stiff arm and does a couple of unorthodox moves.(Note: Read unorthodox as goofy.) Before I knew it, I was scrambling to catch up. To make a long story short, he beat me and told me, " The third time was the charm" as we shook hands at the end of the bout. I did not take that well. I pondered on the fact that I was beaten by what I know is a poor fencer. What does that say about me? A black cloud of grumpiness followed me around through lunch, like I was a cartoon character.

In the Open Epee, I did poorly in pools, winning 2 and losing 2. After beating Kerry 5-1 in the "E and Under", she beat me 5-4 in the Open. I was kind of counting on that win. However, it made me smile as we were sitting beside each other that she told me she was getting to make a "happy face" in her fencing notebook after fencing me.

I won my first DE, and my second DE was against an "A" fencer. I had some luck there with " small advance, long advance...attack from extension distance" and a couple of toe shots. I did not follow the game plan I had in mind before fencing him. I hate I reverted to my standard game. Not that the outcome would have been any different, but I think that when you know you are out matched, that is a time for experimentation and creativity. I had planned to open up the distance more and keep it that way and try to use the clock. Oh, well......

When the day was done, Kerry, Henri and I went to the " Black Cat Burrito" and chowed down. It has become something of a ritual for after a ASU event.

I finished 7th in the Open, which was a "B1" event, and renewed my "E". (Oddly enough it was the third time I had done so this season. I just cannot seem to make it over the hump to a "D" rating.

I am the second oldest competitive fencer in the Division. One guy is older and the rest of the people are a couple.... to a few years younger. I am wondering if those few years make a difference. Some of my fellow Vet 50 fencers have "D" ratings. One is higher, but he trained in Russia since he was eight, so I don't count him in the equation.

Coaches I respect, have always told me not to look at ratings and just get out there and fence. I do this most of the time, but every once in a while,I can't help but take a look.

I used to want to be a solid "D" fencer. Now, I just want the rating and I could care less if I deserve it or not. ( Yep....I am that shallow.) I have had an "E" rating for four years. It is embarrassing. It is like saying," That guy never gets any better." Or maybe it is just telling me something like, "Jim...This is as good as you will ever be....get over it." I don't know.

On the drive home, I thought about what it would be like to have a "D" rating. It is most likely the highest rating I could ever hope to achieve. I think if I had that rating, "D" would stand for "Done". If I had it I could move on to other aspects of fencing I want to pursue. I also thought, that maybe "D" is for "Dangling Carrot", and it is what keeps me blindly pulling the cart trying to improve a bit. I have no idea, and it is starting to make my head go numb thinking about it.

In closing,the mountains and weather were beautiful this time of year. I got in some bouting and made a new Vet fencer friend. I ate and hung out with some people I like. All in all, it was a day well spent.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010


My fencing journey has been stagnant of late.

It was a bad month for studying with Coach Miller. Spring break, NCAA tournaments and related events have made it very unproductive for lessons or even bouting.
At The Greensboro Fencers Club, I have put in some time covering for coaches and helping to teach the four week “Introduction to Fencing” class.

I have spent a little time working with Tommy. Even though the time spent there has been short, it has been the most productive.

This weekend, I will compete in ASU tournament. I have no expectations or goals in that regard. At the very least, I will get in some bouting. The mountains should be beautiful this time of year.

My training partner and I are considering making some changes in our training after this semester. Things just seem to be moving to slow. Studying fencing is like fencing. Don't stand still or become static.....keep moving!

Sectionals are being held in Greensboro this year on the weekend of May 1st. As our little local club is in Greensboro, I feel like I should volunteer to help set up for the event or something. I doubt that there will be any other support from the club, other than my faithful training partner and I. Sadly, I have no idea who to contact or even if they would be interested in the help. I will continue to look into this. I have collected visitor guides and a map of Greensboro for the event. I guess that is helping a little.

One of the sad things about having an on-line journal is that you become a slave to it. At least now I have posted and the guilt from not posting is lessened.