Monday, September 5, 2011

No Game. No Plan.

This weekend I fenced in two tournaments. One on Saturday and one on Sunday. It was a full weekend of fencing.

I will not go into detail about them. What I will go into detail is something I am trying to figure out.

Saturday in my DE I fenced a young man and I just had no clue what to do......or almost no clue. He wasn't what I call a good fencer, though he beat me. That is part of what I need to figure out.

Can you fence well and loose?
Can you be the better fencer and loose?
Can a good fencer(Good fencer being a relative term.)loose to a poor fencer.

They say that "The sword is truth." and in the end it must be so. So if that IS the truth, then being beat by a poorer fencer means in actuality, you are NOT the better fencer. If that is true, it is disheartening in the extreme.

Here is an example of what I faced in the Saturday DE.

I fenced a young man about my height or a bit more. He was in good shape. He fenced with his arm almost straight out and stiff as a board. This took away my whole game...almost. Near target was closed out. Deep target was closed out as his arm was to stiff for me to move and even if I did, his deep target was to far back for me to score. I could not beat his blade up and go under the cuff and going under the cuff without beating up was suicide. The only plan I had left was to counter. I beat his blade to make him mad enough to attack me. He was young and it worked to some degree. But basically, I had no game. (I also thought about binding his blade and using my superior upper body strength to hold it and close in on him. Sadly, it has been so long sense I have done a bind, I have forgotten how.) There were others (kind of new) and like him at the tournament and a couple of them were hard to fence as well. Mainly because they were not seasoned enough to do predictable actions. No telling where that point was going.

No game. Sunday, I fenced much better fencers than I will ever be, For the most part I made good touches on all of them. They fenced in the manner I would call "correct". (I is so hard to say what correct is.) Even though they beat me like rented mule (My grandfather's saying.), I was still setting things up and making touches on these fencers. I was okay with that.

One the other hand I fenced a left hander, whose movement was terrible, his arm was stiff as a board and all he did was a bad fleche, yet he beat me. It was an awful feeling.

I just do know what to think. I would like to think that I am becoming a decent fencer. I can't know this. I suspect I will always have a bit higher opinion of myself than is warranted.

I also thought about this. When you train with a coach...any coach, they train you in a manner that is correct. (I know....that "correct" word....just isn't the best word....but I am going to guess you know what I mean.) They have you respond in a manner that is correct....they respond in a manner that is correct....and so it goes on back in forth. When I fenced someone with an arm as stiff as a board or someone who fences in some other "wrongish" fashion, it just freaks me out....takes away my game (such as it is) and kills me.

I have thought about having a coach train you to fence weird awkward fencers. However, I am not sure that makes much sense. There are just to many ways to be wrong and awkward.

I should also mention that I have talked about stiff arms and mine is far from perfect. The difference is that mine starts loose and finishes stiff like a punch. Not good...I am still trying to fix it. (A note in regards to my own stiff arm: I work on my flick. It is still far from good....and for me a very low percentage shot. Yet because I work on it, I think it helps me with my own stiff arm problems. You just can't do it unless your arm is relaxed.)

I am somewhat disheartened.

On a brighter note, on Sunday one of my teammates did very well. She beat a freakishly tall female "C" fencer; won her first DE and took " First Place Female Veteran" with a really nice little plaque. GO Kerry!


Fencing Bear said...

Sometimes having a plan means simply planning not to get upset. Which may then give you the breathing space to watch what your opponent is doing and thus give you the insight about how best to respond. "Having a plan" does not only mean "having a solution to how to fence this fencer." It can also mean "what do I need to do right now to fence at all?" One of my best plans, given to me by one of my friends at Summer Nationals when I was totally losing it, is "Use the whole three minutes." It's a great plan when you're feeling freaked out and can't see what to do. Does this help?

The Gray Epee said...

Thank you Bear. That is sound advice and slowing it down had never crossed my mind. : )

artrix said...

Ah! I see what you meant when we talked yesterday. Good advice from FEncing Bear.

Maitre Walter Green said...

One of the most important things you can do is watch the future opponents in a pool fence each other. After your first bout you will have seen every opponent at least once before you fence them. Watching lets you see the other fencer's game, and how others cope with it, what it is vulnerable to, etc. Than enter your bout with a plan for that fencer based on what you have seen. Few opponents have a variety of different games they can rotate through - most fencers have a limited range of technique and stick to it. Watching helps you figure it out, and following your plan ends up maximizing your chance of success.

Fencing technique has evolved over 700 years into a way of fighting that maximizes the performance of the weapon at hand. When you fence good fencers you are fighting that technique. When you fence individuals who have poor technique they may be very successful, simply because they have practiced it repeatedly and you lack the range of technique, accuracy, and the speed to beat them. That comes with practice - the martial arts community says it requires 10,000 to 50,000 repetitions to really learn a technique ... and they are right.

Ike Cantina said...

How can I find a fencing club / lessons in the Winston-Salem area?

Ike Cantina said...

Where can I find a club / lessons in the Winston-Salem area? Been looking around and it seems kind of bleak!

The Gray Epee said...


Here is the deal. There is no high level fencing club in the Triad area.

In Winston there are some folks that meet once a month and fence dry.

There is a karate place in Kernersville that says it teachs foil.

There is Delta H...I think they are still a rec center in Greensboro. I think thye do mostly dry foil.

There is the Greensboro Fencers Club in Greensboro. I am a coach there. Sadly, most of the students there are 10 to 14 years old and we are having hard time getting adluts in the program. You are welcome to come by any time.

If you want quality instruction I would suggest Charlotte Fencing Academy. I teach in Greensboro, but I go there once a week to train with them so I can continue to improve....well...hopefully.

Hope this helps...and you read it.

If you are serious about fencing