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

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

apprentice fencers and a new opponent

The salle, as I like to call our half of the big hall at the leisure centre, was crowded today. Beginners, big and tiny, arrived and viewers stopped on the bridge to watch Cries and shouts came from determined and aggressive badminton players in their part of the hall.

First there was a warm-up for all. (I'm less stretchy than before Christmas and my balance isn't quite as good as I'd like.) Then the beginners were initiated into the mystery of the plastron, mask and jacket while there was a rapid footwork practice.

I thought at first it would be another quiet night with keen competition to get onto a piste. But while the beginners were struggling into kit in a small corner, I quickly and forcefully suggested steam epee to the woman standing beside me. She's a young woman I could beat six months ago but now she's overtaking at epee me although foil remains her chief weapon. She wasn't sure about epee but I pointed to the crowds on the bridge. "Let's show them we're scary women," I suggested. Alas, the crowds melted away as we found a narrow piste. We can't have been that impressing. Still, we fenced for a while, trying to remember tips and techniques. I still find it hard to fence someone smaller than me.

As the beginners lined up nervously, backs against the wall, we stopped fencing and started to talk. Two epeeists had taken one of the electric pistes and another pair were waiting their turn. Sabreurs spread across the body of the hall while fencers occupied corners and even tried to share the sabreurs' pistes. A group of intermediate fencers huddled together for their lesson. The larger beginners looked nervously at the clashing sabre blades. We looked nervously at the smaller bgeinners. "Very cute, and tiny target area," was the verdict.

As we settled down for a lengthy conversation, a visiting fencer arrived, steam epee in hand, to suggest a bout. "How good are you?" I asked, looking at his well-won, old-style costume. His jacket seemed thin and faded. The elastic where his breeches met his calves had lost its power and turned into decorative frills. This worried me. He'd plainly been fencing for a long time and his self-deprecating response didn't convince me. "I'm crap," I said cheerfully (it's as well to warn people) "but I enjoy it."

I did enjoy fencing him. He had a huge range of epee moves, forcing me to respond quickly and watch for errors. He was fast too; I didn't try to match him for speed but watched for errors and openings. I fenced better than I had for some time and managed some hits, mostly to body and mask but one or two to the arm. By the time we stopped I was tired but exhilarated. My sword arm was aching a little, however - an ndication of problems with my stance.

Soon after that I was fencing again on an electric piste - I fought rather wildly but still achieved some hits: mostly doubles when my oppnent was attacking and I counter-attacked but a few hits from attacks that I initiated. This opponent, who I've fenced many times, has a strong wrist and finds it very easy to bind my blade. He circles his blade a coupel of times, taking mine with it, until my wrist aches. Then he hits hard to the arm or mask or chest. I haven't found any way to respond but just try to evade the attack. I evaded more than usual and, though I didn't land any wrist hits or manage any neat points, felt more confident than I had for a while.

Just as I was feeling good, my son challenged me to a bout at foil. I had some success at hitting his mask and arm but the target area eluded me. I was slow and couldn't establish right of way. Disconcertingly, my son is almost as tall as me now - I'm sure the target area has moved since I last fenced him. He won 15-2.

Packing away the swords I found a shuttlecock and thought I might keep it as a trophy. But as I left, I offered it to the nearest badminton player. "Put it on the chair," he grunted, nodding the direction. So I left it there. But I could have kept it as a trophy.


Blogger Elizabeth McClung said...

I'm glad you had some good hits, sometimes just a few minutes of "connected" can bring an evening together.

7:12 am  

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