Sunday, January 31, 2016

The Journey, The Drill and Death

I have been posting so much lately in my journal. I have no idea why.  My father would have referred to it as ,"Running off at the mouth."

The Journey

Thursday night, my training partner and I stepped out into the cool, dark parking lot adjacent to Charlotte Fencing Academy. She turned to look at me as we wrestled our fencing bags out of the trunk and said, "Is this worth it?"

I questioned her about the statement. She explained that she did not mean the instruction, she meant the drive. Class had not started yet and after a days work, she was already a bit tired. We drive four hours (round trip) to train in Charlotte. More if there is bad traffic or construction. We have done this for years. I am not sure how long the trip is to train in Chapel Hill. Round trip may be a around three hours.

I am not sure this makes sense at our age. Or how long this will continue to be doable. For now though, our fencing journey continues. (Double connotation.)

The "Finding the Moment Drill"

Before group lessons at Charlotte Fencing Academy, there is a bit of footwork and then usually some bouncing footwork. The latter part of the footwork being something at which I excel . ( Please note the sarcasm in that last sentence.) The other night, Brian asked us to do our longest lunge and hold it after the bouncing. I did. I looked left. I looked right. I gazed at all the  flexible young ones in both directions again. Some of them significantly shorter than my self. I glanced down at the shortness of my lunge and thought, "Sucks to be me."

Later ,as part of my private lesson, I was asked to do the "finding the moment drill" with another student. (I started to write "younger student", but is always a given.) The "finding the moment drill" is something my coach borrowed from Michael Marx. It has a lot of things you can add to it, but the basic drill is in a shortened strip you are allowed to only lunge to hit your opponent.  No advance lunge; no counters or parries. You can faint a bit and try to use distance, but that is about it. If you have one of the slower and shorter lunges in the class , this is not something you enjoy doing. I know for some of the shorter students, I have heard them call it, " The Bruised Arm Drill." My coach loves this drill. I do  not see the value for some of the class. If you are matched with someone of the same height; skill level and physical ability, then perhaps so. On the other hand, who am I to poo-poo  Michael Marx.

Funeral for a Friend

This week I went to a funeral for a friend. He was a year younger than me. We worked together for around 30 years or so. I had worked with many of the people attending the funeral for a like amount of time. I had not seen most for close to a decade. I did not think that I would be moved to see some of them and yet I was. We would all shake hands or hug. As we did, we would silently (generally) judge how that person had aged. They would be doing the same to me. It may sound strange, but this was not a sad thing for me. It was bitter sweet and in some ways comforting. Perhaps, because you realize you are not alone in this "aging thing".

While I was at the funeral, I saw an old boss of mine. He is 95 and was a WWII pilot. We are Facebook friends and evidently he follows a bit of my life there. I moved to say hello to him and shake his hand. As we began to shake hands, he smiled and his eyes flew open wide and he said, " Jim!.....the fencer!! I think that is great. So great!" He went on and on about it. I don't know why that made me feel good or why it is stuck in my memory. But it is.

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