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.

Name:
Location: United Kingdom

Sunday, December 03, 2006

feeling good about losing

After eighteen bouts, I came home, made three jars of piccallili, put two lots of sweaty fencing kit in the wash and phoned out for three small pizzas. I'm eating mine as I type this.

Judged by the standards of good fencers, I was atrocious. I didn't win a single bout. By my own standards I wasn't bad at all, apart from the my final epee bout (a direct elimination and therefore to 15) in which I couldn't work out how to fence my oppenent. He was one of a few who successfully adapted foil techniques to beat experienced epeeists. I wish I could work out how they did it - and how to respond.

The other fencers had all been fencing at least as long as me - some for decades longer. Apart from my son (and perhaps the other junior), they also tend to fence twice a week, so only in the world of Hollywood movies could I hope for a sudden brilliant win. Moreover, thirteen of the bouts were in foil, which I've fenced only occasionally this year. And I was the only woman fencing epee - just like last year - but there were two other women competing, in foil and sabre.

I scored points in a number of bouts. In the foil D.E. I was set against the club's tallest fencer (the number two seed and eventual winner) and somehow, despite an ungraceful fall when my body attacked but my feet stayed still, I won three points. I'm not sure how, given the distance he can lunge (half the length of the piste, I've said on occasion). Club members congratulated me, "Three points! Off him - that's very good."

Club members are good at congratulating. One told me the single point I scored against him had been "excellent". And when my son found himself against the famously difficult (ex-Olympic, now world veteran) club president, all the other fencers encouraged my son and clapped and cheered the two points he scored. (He had a good day, winning four bouts - three against three different adult fencers).

There was plenty of fencing for all. Those of us knocked out in the first D.E.s at foil fenced each other in a poule unique. Some fencers had family who came to watch for a while. As we loosened our clothing between bouts, the viewers shivered in the December cold of the unheated hall and gradually donned jackets, scarves, gloves and hats. We could have made a fortune renting out blankets or selling cocoa. Visitors to the leisure centre would pause for a few minutes on the balcony above, amazed (I like to think) by the spectacle of the day. Once I'd been knocked out of the epee, I watched for a while and was sorry to leave after seven hours of the championship. I don't yet know how sabre turned out or who became master-at-arms.

I was pleased to be part of it, pleased to fence so many bouts without exhaustion, pleased to score a few hits and start thinking through technique and strategy, even if I wasn't fast enough to carry out my ideas. I looked at the way club members encouraged one another (not just me) and took trouble to make sure everyone had fun ... and was glad to be a member of such a club.

Mind you, it seemed a little odd to phone a fellow Quaker from a fencing competition to explain why I wasn't at Meeting today.

3 Comments:

Anonymous Jim said...

I am very proud of you Kathz. I think you did great!

12:34 am  
Blogger Elizabeth McClung said...

Great job going and giving your all - I really like the idea of a pool for those knocked out in the DE, just to go around and keep fencing different people.

9:12 am  
Blogger kathz said...

I've just discovered something amazing - I didn't come last at epee but 10th out of 11. So it was worth winning those points!

1:20 pm  

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