Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The Reality of Need


I attended Sectionals a couple of weeks ago. More than that, I helped with Sectionals. There was a call for help with the tournament, but in some way I feel that I invited myself.

I got there around 2:00 Friday and brought in pamphlets and stuffed bags for fencers. I carried chairs, tables and all manner of things upstairs. I ran various errands and helped with set up. There was small group of good people doing this. A few alway seem to be involved in this sort of thing. It is a job even more thankless than reffing.

In my mind I was thinking of a Jackson Browne song whose lyrics talk about "Roadies: setting up for a concert". The Load Out / Stay - Live 1978. "Pack it up and tear it down....they're the first to come and the last to leave."

It wasn't just set up, good people floated in at the end to help with pack up as well.

I have set up for a lot of tournaments, but this was the highest level tournament with which I have been involved. I learned a neat trick for smoothing out copper strips using a table which I had not seen before. That copper strip was the beginning of my learning experience and a thing I have been reflecting.

As I looked at this ancient strip, with duck tape and wrinkles and more than a couple of holes, I thought about a question on the Epee Ref exam which questions what to do if a hole is found in the strip during a tournament.

The reality of need outweighs the desire for perfection. We were lucky to have this strip, and although it had some holes and duct tape, we were still lucky to have it.

Mostly, the Refs at the event whom I knew were very good and very professional. One was not. That Ref will not be corrected because the reality of need outweighs the desire for perfection.

There was a thread on concerning the rules regarding names on jackets at national events, and if this applies to qualifiers. I watched as an NC fencer received a Red Card for this. Whatever the correct verdict is on this discussion, if you fence at a tournament of this level, you should have your name on your jacket or leg.....or lame. You should know that. I am not worried about it one way or the other. "Me and mine" have our names on our jacket.....right color......more or less the right size. The reality of a need to make a call outweighed the need for the perfection of the call.

I suspect that in most every tournament you could find an error or fault. There is a fine line between "nit picking" and violation of the rules. What is it? Where is it? Most everyone seems to know where it is. Depending on who you are, and how tolerant you are this gray area may be wider or narrower. Still, it is an unspoken agreement. Weird....huh?

I do not recall ever criticizing any tournament. I never feel like I know enough to do so for one thing.(There was one I should have criticized, but even that was such a learning experience I will not do so).

In fencing at this event, in the initial seed I was ranked one away from the bottom. I knew I was very much outclassed going in to the event. I figured this is how it would end up. In retrospect, I think I should have just kept my money.

My one and only DE was 15-10. My Allstar blade broke on the last touch. (I hate that. It was a blade that I think was made in Germany, before they started having them made in China). I had to salute at the end with a broken blade, half of it was dangling. Greg Spahr was kind enough to critique my bout. He pointed out a lot of useful things. Some I knew and did not utilize. For example, I was fencing a guy who was using a French grip and pommeling. I never miss something like that, but I did this time and didn't even know. The reason was that I had already given up....or at least just wanted to get it over with. I don't EVER give up, no matter the score or who I am fencing. The fact that I did that really bothers me.

Message in a Bottle

More and more of late, I want to talk with someone who is an expert on late blooming vet fencers. Sadly, I don't truly believe one exists. I thought about asking this question on, but that is a message in a bottle. I have some theories now about people that start fencing in their fifties, and I would like to verify them or correct them if I am wrong.

Gorilla Tape

I noticed as we were taking up strips and cords that the red tape and the Gorilla tape were pulling the finish of the gym floor. I am afraid some day someone is going to get a bill for damages at a tournament. I am thinking that in this instance, need and desire should be kicked to the curb and just use painters tape.

Fencing at Charlotte Fencing Academy

Tommy, Henri and I went down to CFA two weeks ago. We got in a little bouting and had a critique of our fencing from Brian. He pointed out my balance was not good. This is the second time he has stated this. I sort of brushed it off the first time he said so, as I thought it was my knee. I was thinking about doing it again, because I was fencing Miles. For me, Miles "means attacking out of distance". I have to look into it though. The same call twice means there is a problem. I am not sure what it is. I don't feel off balance......unless I attack out of distance. I am also considering that as you age, your balance declines. Is this an age thing.....the way I move....other.......some combination of the two? Damn.....another thing to think about.


kathz said...

That's rotten news about the broken blade. I've had recent problems with a wire and that's bad enough.

I'm still fencing with a Leon Paul epée and French grip - will post again soon.

cobalt said...

To expand on my opinion:

In a static situation, I believe you can have good balance. If we were standing still doing drills, you'd probably be fine.

In a bout and drills when the situation becomes more dynamic, there are points you come way off balance forwards or backwards. You can be fooled into shifting your weight too far in one direction or the other.

I highly recommend you do The Drill with Henri. I think Michael created something pretty awesome with it, because it emulates that same type of dynamic situation as exists in a bout, while reducing the focus to some core elements of footwork. It will help you see when you're off balance.

Particularly with H, she's VERY good about getting out of the way fast...*I* had a real hard time hitting her. I got most of my points by tricking her to overcommit and adv lunge from out of distance.