quaker fencer

kathz isn't quite my name. I may be a Quaker. If I'm a fencer I'm a bad one and I don't do sabre. If I'm a Quaker I'm a bad one - but you've worked that out already. Read on. Comment if you like. Don't expect a reply.

Location: United Kingdom

Saturday, March 25, 2006

injured fencer

Fencing injuries are all very well - off-target injuries in foil can even be a subject for pride if they mean my opponent didn't score - but an injury that hinders fencing is tedious.

I don't know how I strained a muscle but suspect it had something to do with carrying too many heavy bags to and from work. It wakes me from time to time but, worse still, it makes manoeuvring a foil tricky and holding an epee particularly painful. I'm a sufficiently incompetent fencer without the added ouch factor. Last Wednesday, ten minutes of epee practice (lots of misses) was all I could manage.

The fencers who let me practice epee with them show great charity. They fence slowly and make sure I have opportunities to hit them. They congratulate me when I land a hit. They even say sorry when I take a harder hit than usual, although it's often because I've walked onto the blade. And they point out when I've made a little progress, which I do from time to time, though very slowly.

Fencing is an odd sport for a Quaker but through fencing I've learnt a great deal about myself and others. It's a violent support but the violence is carefully controlled and totally consensual; fencers need to react quickly but thoughtfully and there's anger is counter-productive. Certainly the bouts may help me to channel aggression, but I never get to stab people who actually make me angry. I only get to stab people I like. I justify fencing to myself by pointing out that it's a long way from either contemporary warfare or spontaneous violence. I don't think it makes me a more violent person but it does force me to acknowledge that I have a capacity for and enjoyment of certain kinds of violence. I don't know if I can use this self-awareness in campaigning for peace but honesty is the best starting point. The people who take up fencing in their spare time - or as coaches - are as odd an assortment as I find in any Quaker Meeting; perhaps they are more varied and perhaps they find it easier to get on with one another. Bad fencer as I am, I certainly feel welcome.

Meanwhile, I want to recover from the muscle strain so that I can stab more people, more effectively, next Wednesday night.


Blogger Elizabeth McClung said...

It sounds like you have a good club. Often macho guys can take the fun out of fencing, especially if they constantly overhit. In our club two of the guys noticed that the girls were getting at least twice the number of lessons they were - then figured out that it is because the girls were the ones who were willing to ask for help and advice. Thanks for the herbal tip for healing.

6:12 pm  
Blogger kathz said...

Lovely to get a comment. I started this blog as a sort of experiment, after attending a seminar in which blogging was mentioned (as well as internet poetry).

One of the good things in my club is that I'm one of three women who joined the beginners' course at the same time so we can support each other. Your club sounds more serious and you sound as though you have the potential to be a really good fencer. Good luck!

6:49 pm  

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