Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Get a Grip

Last night I fenced (a little) in Chapel Hill. They have put in all metal strips, but not all the reels are up yet, so it is hard to get a strip. It is nice now, but will be even better. My training partner and I  have not been going there (Chapel Hill)  regularly as we were coaching. So when we take a private lesson with Coach ( Dr. Ron Miller Head Coach for UNC Varsity Fencing Team ) we are last in line as the regulars have the right to earlier spots. This time of year, the gym should close at 9:00"ish". Coach had a lot of lessons and I thought we would not get our lessons in. Coach was tired. He was having some bad leg problems and was in pain, yet he stayed way after closing to see that Henri ( my training partner) and I had a lesson. And it was a good one. He is that kind of man. I have said it before, but it bares repeating. I have never left from being with that guy without feeling grateful I know him.

During my lesson, coach traded weapons with me. He made me use his weapon. ( How he can hold a blade with that size grip and his massive hands is beyond me.) I had a large grip on my weapon. He told me that it was only because of my good index finger I could hit anything. He made fun of me carrying all that iron. I am a cowboy fencer he said," Yippy yi yay". Okay.....I had an idea the grip was to large, but when I cram my hand into a medium grip, I can't let go/relax the "aids" to do a flick. Not that my flick is any good, but it might be someday.

I recorded that part of the story, so I could record this one.

Eight years or so ago, when I first trained with Coach, he didn't like my grip. He wanted me to cut off some of it, so my thumb would be hard up against the bell guard. Sounds simple. However, when you cut off that part the grip, the square part of the tang and the round threaded part of the tang no loner match up. If you have no experience trying to do this (like me) you have just entered a kind of "grip modifying hell". I filed and I Dremeled.  I bought Dremel tool bits to replace the ones I wore out. I filed and I Dremeled,  Hours and hours on this grip were spent. Twice I had lessons with it with Coach. He thought it needed more modification. I filed and I Dremeled. The next lesson, Coach took my blade in hand and paid it the highest compliment he can bestow on a weapon.  " I could fence with that." Mission accomplished Jim! A week or two passed. I was back for another lesson. He took my weapon from my hand and told me I may have cut a bit to much off the grip. I am not sure exactly what he said, as my mind and soul were flooded with despair.

It was at this point, I decided that I would just use a medium grip for the rest of my fencing life. It will just have to do. I deviated from that with the large grip. It was a mistake. I will always listen to Coach and gain knowledge by doing so. However, were grips are concerned I am going to have to find some sort of compromise. I will change the cant if he suggest that. I will say that even though it was late when I got home, I did not sleep until I took the three weapons I had with large grips and changed them all to medium grips. I slept the sleep of the righteous.

PS I still have that grip I modified. I think it may work for a youth weapon, if my grandson starts fencing.


pfly said...

Interesting. I've heard of people cutting a bit off their grips, so their thumb is up against the guard. I feel pretty smooshed in as it is. I first tried using a large grip (Viscontti) but my ring and little fingers kept slipping out of the guides. I had trouble keeping my little finger on the grip at all. So I switched to XL and that's been okay. Guess I'm a cowboy fencer. Sometimes I wish I had smaller hands. Then again I can reach an octave and a third on the piano, ha. Now if only they made XL bell guards.....

Jim Kent said...

: )