Saturday, June 25, 2011

A New Thought and a Team Event

I use to think that there were two things that happened on strip. There was when you are out of distance or the action has stopped and you make your plans and plot your strategy. Then there is the time when you are in distance and you move with instinct and without conscious thought. (You move without conscious thought as it is to slow and there is no time for it. To me this is one of the most fascinating parts of fencing. What tells you body to move?) After doing a decision drill with Toomey last week, I found there is another area in between these two. Who knew? I have not figured it out yet, and for sure I have not mastered it, but I find this so very interesting.

I just returned home from a fairly large and diversified team epee event. Teams were selected at the event to make it as fair as possible. It was all for fun…..and it was. I was only beaten by two people I fenced (Miles and Henri). I fenced four teams. I don’t like to think to positively, but I think I am fencing noticeably better than six months or so ago. I don’t want to get my hopes up and I don’t want to jinx myself. I just hope it last…if it is true.

Monday, June 20, 2011

State Games

I fenced in the North Carolina State Games this weekend. I took the gold for veterans Epee. Not that big a deal really. I won 4 pool bouts and lost one, finishing sixth out of pools.

In a way, I fenced well, but I made mistakes. I went in to fencing with these thoughts in my mind.

1. Try to relax. I am not sure how I did in that regard.
2. Keep your feet under you...balance. I am not sure how I did in that regard. My training partner was on another strip and could not watch me much.
3. Move my fighting line. Hard to explain, but I know that I did it at least some of the time.
4. Step back to parry. I did not do it when it counted the most. I know I did it a well in a couple of times in pools.

I have been working on reconnaissance. In a bout situation, I know it helped me once or twice. It helped a great deal as I watched from the side of the strip.

One of my opponents was doing reconnaissances as well. He was starting with the most basic. He would do a beat. I noticed he started every bout that way. When it was my turn to fence him, I waited for the beat; deceived and hit him No one else fencing noticed this but me. I like this guy, but he was ticked off when I beat him 5-1. I thought about telling him what he was doing. Then I thought he might see me as a know-it-all and resent it. Then I thought, maybe I should just save the info for the next time I fence him. In the end, I never said anything. I may do so in the future....I may not

I made some other mistakes when I fenced the kid who won both epee and foil. We both stood still and faced off with each other. I thought I could beat the kid on hand speed. In some ways, I still believe that I can. However, it was just stupid. I did not use footwork tempo changes like I had been working on of late. Again...foolish.

At CFA we play a game called "21". 3 points for an attack. 2 points for a parry repoist. 1 point for counters and doubles. You must when by 21 on the nose. I have only played once, but this is a good game for me. It forces you to analyze what is happening with you and your opponent. I am just starting to get the hang of this,but it is in my mix of goals and things I am working on.

That was pretty much it for me this season. Now I am just waiting on the fall.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Foil Clinic

(From an outdoor epee event in New Bern.)

This weekend I went to a Mid-South/Apex Intermediate Foil Clinic. This was a joint venture between two clubs. Yep.....foil.

I was on the fence (Right up until it was time to head out.) on if I should go or not. Foil is just not for me. I admire good foil fencers, but thy are twisty-bendy people and their weapon is bendy as well. It just doesn't feel right in your hand. Then there is the whole RoW shenanigans.....I best stop here.

So........Jim.......what the heck are you doing at a foil clinic?

Here are my reasons for going:

1. My training partner and I teach a six week long "Introduction to Fencing Class". We spend a little time on each weapon. We have both been to Coaches College for foil, but that was some time back. I needed a refresher.

2. Coach always said it was good for an epeeist to fence a little foil.

3. Knowing Stephen, I was sure I would get some exercise and footwork.

4.It is like working an extra couple of classes into the week.

5. I haven't had a private lesson in two weeks. This made me feel like I was catching up in some way.

It was a good clinic. I got what I wanted out of it, but I also wish it could have been one more notch up toward a higher level.

Most importantly to me was that I learned to double check. I saw that last weekend, but did not fully get it until this weekend.

I reffed a little and I was better at it than I thought I would be. Fortunately, it was low level and not much in the way of complex actions.

I fenced foil like an epeeist. It was somewhat successful, as most people there were low level foilist or saberist dabbling a bit. Still...I should have let things go and tried to fence more foil-like.

It was uncomfortable in one respect. I have devoted a lot of time to trying to learn everything I can about fencing. Admittedly, that is almost all focused on epee. I know a fair amount about the weapon, even if I cannot always apply it. Being included in a mix of fairly new fencers made me feel like I didn't know anything. I did not like the feeling at all. Is my ego that big? Do I feel like I am being talked down to by a coach? I am not sure. I am not sure what this says about me. It may be past time for me to dabble in other weapons. I will just have to see how it goes and what comes up.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Marx Clinic Review

CHFA crew and One SFA buddy rented the van behind us for the drive. Good road trip!

First of all, I have no idea why a friend of mind referred to Michael as arrogant. He is seems to me a very, very open and caring individual. I liked him very much.

It has been a couple of years (I think) sense I went to a two day clinic or camp. I don’t think I had a realistic view of what a camp like this would do for me. Somehow, I thought I would achieve enlightenment. That didn’t happen. If I had thought back to various camps, with Alex Beguinet, I would have not been so foolish in my expectations. What generally happens is you learn a couple of small things and you come away with some things to work on. This is what happened at this camp . An improvement in this regard was that my coach was with me and he will come away with some things for me to work on as well. This doubled the effectiveness of the clinic.

This was a clinic for coaches and students. I felt the first day of the camp was to heavily focused on coaches and less on students. This was a large camp with over 50 people present and it may be that this was the best approach, as there were so many students you had to involve/train the coaches there so the students would get more out of it on day two. I think this worked fairly well.

Some Thoughts on Coaches

Some of the coaches at the clinic were very good coaches. Some were mediocre and some were poor. (Note: It is more than just possible, that I may have misjudged some of the coaches, as I based my observations on what they did and did not do.) I have often wondered of late, is it bad for a poor coach to teach? The answer I have come up with (subject to change) is it depends on the location. If you are in an area that has a number of clubs with good coaching and you are taking those students away from someone that could really help them…then I am against this. However, if you are in an area where there is little to no quality fencing, the “poor” is better than nothing. It is just possible for a poor coach to awaken such a desire to learn in a student, that they will seek out camps and better coaching and become a decent fencer. I have thought of this more lately, as I am giving more and more thought to coaching in the area I live.

An interesting side note to this little entry into my journal is that Mr. Marx thinks that you should periodically change coaches. I think this is a good idea as well, but it has to be based on your reality. If you live in an area where you don’t have a decent coach to switch to, then you are in a bind. In the much of the South where I live, this doesn’t seem to be an option. (Thus, the importance of camps and clinics.)

Back to the Clinic

One of the things that blew my mind at the clinic was when Michael told us that it was not the best of ideas to straighten your arm and then lunge. It still makes my mind reel when I think about it. I was taught over and over to extend your arm and then lunge. In Mr. Marx view if you send your arm out fast AS you are lunging, it will make your lunge faster. It makes perfect sense. I experimented on a target during some free time and found that it did not affect my point control a great deal by doing this and my speed was a bit faster. Thinking for myself in the matter, I am not sure that it wise to teach new students this. Many new students have a tendency to “punch” when bouting. (They pull the weapon back and then go forward losing time in the process.) Would it be better to teach the old non-Marx way to new students and then let them change or just go with the Marx approach from the get go? I have no idea. I am still thinking about it.

Was the Clinic Worth It?

In a nutshell…yes. From my perspective, this was an expensive two day camp. Couple the cost with travel expenses and it was a bit hefty for my budget. I would however, recommend it for a number of reasons. (Too much in fact to list here.) Not the least is the charismatic Mr. Marx. I would have to say that it is multitude of small things that make the clinic so very worthwhile. There was no one BIG thing for me. The biggest negative I can think of was that I was expecting the clinic to include more/some on the mental game and it did not happen.

Side Note

During the first 15 minutes of the clinic, Coach Marx was getting coaches together to get them up to speed before the clinic began for students. He walked through a group of several people and up to me and asked me if I was a coach. I told him that I was there as a student and I just looked like coach. We both smiled. When I was at NCFDP, I would always get there early. During this time and at other times, people would often think I was Coach Miller. I am sure that it is mostly the gray hair, but it always makes me feel good for some reason when this happens.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Foil and Epee Clinic

This weekend I head to my first ever Michael Marx camp in Manassas,VA. (Michael Marx is an Olympian who competed both in foil and epee.) I have been looking forward to it for over a month. It is the "big" thing I am doing so far this year in fencing. (Meaning I have not been to any national tournaments or training sessions that require much travel.)

While I am looking forward to it, I am also a little apprehensive. The total cost is fairly expensive. What if I don't get anything (learn anything)I can apply to my fencing? Learning about fencing is easy. Applying what you learn to fencing is difficult. I think particularly so when you are a late blooming vet fencer.

There are six of us going. We have rented a van and will ride up together. This is a true road trip! Okay...true road trip.....without beer.

I once asked a person whose opinion I respect about going to a Marx camp. The person replied that Marx was a bit arrogant. A coach who was listening piped in, "Imagine arrogant fencer." It still makes me smile when I think about it.

I hope to record how this went after it is over.