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.


Thomas Jensen said...

Congratulations on what sounds like an excellent tournament on balance. And thanks for your blog, which is a source of inspiration for me. As a new vet epeeist in the same age bracket I more than empathize with your desire to improve generally and improve your rating. I've found Harmonberg's recommendation in Epee 2.0 for a useful competitive frame of mind to be helpful in the few tournaments I've participated in, btw.

The Gray Epee said...

Thanks Thomas!

I may re-read Epee 2.0 again.

Where are you located?

Thomas William Jensen said...

Hi Jim, I'm in Utah. I started fencing epee two years ago and began competing in November. There are at least 6 clubs locally. I'm a member of Schoolhouse Fencing. Hope to see you at a tournament sometime!