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

Friday, December 15, 2006

festive fencing

'Tis the season to be jolly and fencers at my club are certainly doing their best.

Festivities started in November when the prize for the one-hit epee competition was a chocolate santa. Now the coaching regime has paused till the new year and we're fencing for fun.

This week was the foil handicap competition for all-comers. Two coaches took down names of all competitors and listened to their pleas for a helpful handicap - "Oh no, I'm a really dreadful fencer," "foil isn't my weapon", "I've got an awful cold this week" and impose a handicap system, ranging from -4 for the smallest beginners to +4 for the coaches and really good fencers. All the names were written down and put into a mask and then, as 21 of us were competing, we were drawn at random into poules of three to fence steam with the poules judging one another. The winner of each would go into Direct Elimination (there was no time for more). I was in a poule with a small beginner, who I beat despite the minute target, and a good fencer with a bad cold, who beat me despite my advantage (and who subsequently reached the final). Most of the bouts lasted longer than usual as we were having fun. Some of the descriptions of the fencing phrase took ages too as people who hadn't presided before were encouraged to practice. It's fun to fence when a good fencer is pleased at reaching a score of 0. In theory a fencer could lose with a negative score, though I think the handicapping was good enough to prevent that.

The poule which received most interest included my son, the very smallest fencer in the club (he's swamped by his tiny jacket but wields his foil with determination) and the club president (coach, ex-Olympic fencer and dangerous left-hander). The president, fencing with a -4 handicap, decided to even things further by fencing right-handed, as he does when coaching. His opponents could win if they landed a single hit on him and, as both did, he ended bottom of the poule.

After watching for a while, I fenced epee for the last 20 minutes or so, trying to put into practice some of the techniques I'd been taught in the absence of my coach. It didn't always work but my experienced opponent encouraged me, as he always does, saying "nearly" when I missed a good hit or "nice one" when something worked - so I felt pretty pleased by the end of the session, even though my fencing advances very slowly indeed. After we stopped, I watched the end of the final, which was still going as we were instructed to put away our kit. A relative newcomer already had a handicapping advantage over the good fencer who beat me in the poule and, when the leisure centre staff began to set out the badminton nets, the president decided the bout could last only a minute more. The beginner attacked but also defended with vigour and held on to his advantage; at the end we all applauded as he held his medal aloft.

Next week is the last session of the year. An e-mail arrived today directing me to the club website. Apparently next Wednesday is to be a "fun night" and we are advised to bring tinsel, antlers, foam swords and decorations for swords and kit! I'm not quite sure what to expect - Santa with a sabre, perhaps or polar bears fencing foil. Suggestions on how to decorate kit and sword are welcome, but I'm neither practical nor artistic; I'll probably achieve no more than a strand or two of tinsel wound clumsily on the grip


Anonymous Jim said...

I have not had a chance to check on you for a while. It is unseasonably warm here today and beautiful. My neighbor from across the street and his wife are from England. They have been here for years, but still have the wonderful accent. Okay...It is an accent here. It reminded me I needed to check on my UK friend I have never met.

I caught up on all your post now. They all sound so positive and fun. I am happy for you.

Question: How old is your son? I need to visualize things when I read.

8:30 pm  
Blogger kathz said...

My son is 15. I also have a non-fencing daughter of 18 whose boyfriend is a sabreur. She has been to an introduction to fencing but club nights tend to clash with play rehearsals for her.

I can't really think of a single British accent. A friend from Wales needs translations when listening to North Northumberland and there was a time when I struggled with Geordie. Even within Scotland the range is huge from Orcadian, for instance, to the various kinds of Glaswegian Scots. But then Brits tend to speak of an "American accent" which isn't accurate either.

I was hoping for some advice on tinsel, etc.

10:53 pm  
Anonymous Jim said...

All I can say is that it is hard to look dignified if your fencing mask has a glowing red nose and antlers on it. So....by all means do it!

Wait....Maybe Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer is an American thing and you have no knowledge of it.

Gee Kathz, I am afraid I am not having much luck at helping with the tensile thing. Good luck!

12:10 am  

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