Sunday, January 13, 2013

The Gray Epee: Volume 2 (Or) I Did Not Think I Had Anything to Say And Now I Can't Shut Up

Warning: This post may contain strong language and adult content. (There are times when I just feel the need to use the vernacular of my youth.)

Moniteur Workshop

 Saturday, I attended a Moniteur workshop hosted by Salle Green. The instructor was Walter Green.
If it wasn't for Walter giving this clinic, I doubt that I would have any chance to go for USFCA coaching certification. I am very grateful to him for his efforts. I learned a few things. I remembered a few things I had forgotten. It was a day well spent.

The Moniteur level is not what I had envisioned. I have often seen Moniteur certificates hanging on the wall of clubs. I would see these and see the level of the coach, and as I respected their coaching ability, I assumed that this was a fairly advanced certification. It isn't. In most respects, I think that if you attended Coaches College (when there was one) and that if you actually knew the material covered, then you are at a Moniteur level. The USFCA disagrees. They think that if you completed a level one Coaches College program, you are at the Assistant Moniteur level. In one way, I think that is a rather pompous comparison and is made to make the USFCA certification appear to be superior. On the other hand, the range of people completing level one Coaches College programs varied from someone who knew nothing to fencing master. So maybe level one Coaches College could be seen as less than Moniteur. I am still thinking about this. No conclusion yet.

I never wanted to be a coach. I just ended up being one. I think I did want to be an assistant coach.

I have asked myself many times why I wanted a coaching certificate from the USFCA. I can think of a number of reasons to desire this. However, on the drive home, yet another reason came to mind. I have been fortunate to have the coaches I have trained with. I admire them all. When you admire people, you sometimes try to emulate them. I am not in a position or an environment to ever be the coaches they are. But by pursuing training and certification, I somehow feel that I am doing the best I can to be like them. This may sound a bit sappy. I am not even sure it is a good reason. Still, somehow I am motivated by this.

Knowing What You Don't Know

Often in fencing, I seem to run into people that think they know more than they really do. They don't seem to know, what they don't know. On my drive home from the Moniteur workshop I reflected on this. In my own views, I often try to error on thinking that I know less than I think I do. I am not sure I am successful at this.  I had a couple of times during the workshop, where I may have been one of those people that thought they knew more than they really do......or not. I am really unsure.

Mostly, the group of people attending the workshop were fairly normal folk. That is a rarity for fencers. As time went on, it became clear to most everyone there, that one of us was bat shit crazy. He went as far as to tell Walter he was wrong about doing a 4 parry or something. He did not know, what he did not know.I felt it was very insulting to Walter. Everyone handled the crazy outburst with patience and tolerance. Again, rare for fencers. I was proud of the group. All I could think of during the rant, was that I wish I had not gone to take a bathroom break a little while ago, because now would be the perfect time.

There was another person in attendance who knows more about fencing than I ever will. He is very knowledgeable and very intelligent. Yet on one or two points, I did not buy what he was saying. This is because I know another coach, even more knowledgeable and intelligent, who teaches in a manner he thinks is wrong. I admire the latter coach. So in my mind I chose to believe what I was told was incorrect. Is emotion making me think I know more than I do? Am I thinking that I know more than I do? I am never going to know, unless I can get these two in the same room and bring up the subject. I am going to have to reflect on this a while. I might be in a bad place in my own development, where I have a higher opinion of myself than I should. On the other hand, I might be at a point in my development, where I am thinking for myself. It is so confusing and I don't want to mess up.

On the other hand, maybe I am over thinking the whole thing.

Oddly enough, the clinic was held on January 12th. This is the day I started fencing nine years ago. I know this, as I still have a copy of the lesson plan.  I often look at my fencing journey and think about how far I have come. I also think that I should have traveled further in this time. There are so many contradictions in evaluating yourself in fencing.


cobalt said...

I'm still all meh about the USFCA certification stuff. Though, Abdel and others have taken the organization a looooong way from what it was... Maybe I didn't clarify my "meh-ness" to you about it. I'm good with the book reading and the theoretical content of the certification. But 2 things still seem missing to me:

1.) A consistent application of standards across the certification. Which is really tough. It's really hard to say what's a "standard" for coaching...period. Videos would help set testing expectations. But yeah...still this is a minor issue compared to the big problem......

2.) Who cares? Really? I mean... if we look at the certification business in any other field(Engineering, computers, etc...). We hunt for certifications to get more jobs and more business. While it might help someone become a coach at some bigger centers, that seems to still be more of a "word of mouth" type of deal. Do the majority of the parents whose kids fence care? Hell. No. They just care that their kid is being treated well.

Add to that. We all know some "non-certified" coaches that are absolute geniuses...and some certified coaches that are total boneheads. Right now...this is feeling a lot like the old computer certifications... Where's the quality level?

But the big point is this: More marketing needs to be done on the certification. Having the certification needs to MEAN something other then a title and a piece of paper. Right now, it means that I just jumped through some hoops. I actually believe working on point #1 above would help a lot with point #2.

The Gray Epee said...

There are some reasons to get certified. One is that it is a goal in fencing that you can actually control.

Here is another one. I am 60 years old. I don’t know how long I have to fence. I don’t know how long I have to live. I have grandchild. I suspect I will have more in the future. I may not live long enough ( or be in good enough shape) to introduce them to fencing or create an interest. But even if I am gone, I can leave behind a little box of medals and pictures and certificates. I might actually influence them to try fencing after I am gone. Probably not….but worth a shot. I know kids. You cannot make them do something and if they never fence it would not bother me. However, I would like to plant a seed of interest and see if it grows.

cobalt said...

Yeah, but I was adding to your comment regarding the low level that is the Moniteur cert. My hypocrisy regarding leaving a piece of paper out for folks to read can only go so far. :-P

The Gray Epee said...

There are three of those things framed and hanging by the front door to your club.

cobalt said...

See...hence why I can only be so hypocritical :P But yeah, I've done it too...

Courtney said...

The "I know everything about fencing" attitude ticks me off so much. No one knows everything because the sport is always evolving. People change things.

It always hits in that awkward point in a fencer's career when they're no longer a beginner (when you lose because you don't know anything), but they're so awkward because they haven't learned how to refine themselves and thus win bouts against good fencer/bad fencers/people with sticks - and think that winning = being the BEST!THING!EVER!TO!HAPPEN!TO!FENCING!

And then, eventually, people figure out their brand of weird and they start losing all the time again and (hopefully) realize it's time to sti down and actually learn how to fence (because winning felt good!).

Ugh. I HATE the know it alls. HATE.