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

Monday, November 20, 2006

one-hit epee

I looked up the story behind the modern pentathlon. According to British Pentathlon's website, the scenario is as follows:

"The choice of the five diverse and unrelated sports that make up the Modern Pentathlon arose out of the romantic, tough adventures of a liaison officer whose horse is brought down in enemy territory. Having defended himself with his pistol and sword, he swims across a raging river and delivers the message on foot. Not surprisingly, it was the military who most enthusiastically adopted this new sport with its inherent demands of courage, co-ordination, physical fitness, self-discipline and flexibility in ever changing circumstances. "

I never planned to join the army or be a liaison officer. Not only am I a pacifist (a fencing pacifist, I admit) but I can't ride, my whole shooting experience is from fairgrounds, I swim in the middle lane or summer seas and most of my running is for trains and buses. I might try defending myself with my sword but, after last week's one-hit epee contest, I think that's out too.

They fence one-hit epee in the Modern Pentathlon, though it strikes me that a light hit to the opponent's wrist or fore-arm isn't much to ask of an athlete who later swims through a raging torrent - but the authorities may have subdued the torrent too.

My main strategy in epee consists of building up my opponent's sense of security by fencing in the same way for two or three points, then changing technique in the hope of taking him or her by surprise. It doesn't usually come off but sometimes I get lucky. Failing that, I charge forward and usually impale myself on my opponent's blade. Then I hope that my stamina - I don't have much speed - will come to my aid.

After that, I lose.

If I'm lucky, lose with points.

But my strategic attempts depend on more than one go.

Last year's one-hit epee contest (for the traditional prize of a chocolate santa) was a matter of standing, running or retreating and being hit. This time, I took advice. A colleague who fences epee with another club said "take your time and think". It was my best chance.

I tried the advice and somehow, in my first bout, scored a wrist hit. I assumed my epee was defective; I didn't think I'd attached the blade and my opponent was last year's victor. I still think it was a mistake. But I scored a point - one more than last year.

That was it. After the point, bemusement and astonishment - and my opponents' greater speed and accuracy - took over. Once again I was the only woman fencing. Once again I came last.

There were three other women who fence epee a little, at least, at the club that last. They would probably have beaten me too but I wish they had taken part.

I don't have the excuse of age. The winner (scoring 8 points out of a maximum 9) is at least ten years older than me and the oldest fencer taking part. He's also amazingly fit, a left-hander and an ex-Olympic fencer - and a terrific coach and opponent. He brought the chocolate santa and he took it home again, distributing mini-santas to the losers. But the good news is that I'm finally beginning to feel better after nearly two months of illness - and I'm enjoying fencing much more. I won't acquire the lightning speeds I need but improvement once again seems a possibility.

The club championship is on 3rd December. I'd just like a few more points than last year. Not coming last would be a triumph. (It's also pretty unlikely - unless I can persuade a couple of beginners to join in.)


Blogger Elizabeth McClung said...

hip hip for one hit! It's hard hanging on when it seems like you are in a class of 1 - I admire the way you stick with it - remember, all you need is enough people to get sick on your best day and POW! - up the rankings you go!

9:41 am  
Blogger kathz said...

I think I'd have to poisn the other epeeists to have any chance at the club competition - but I always learn from fencing a number of different people at the club championship.

7:16 am  

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