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, September 29, 2007

a swarm of sabreurs

A series of domestic crises delayed me. But my epee was calling. I wanted to stab someone. It was too late to walk so I called a cab.

As I crossed the bridge to the far end of the leisure centre, I saw the beginners getting their kit on. I'd missed the warm-up - even the footwork practice. That was bad enough. But as I looked round the hall I realised something still worse. I was the only epeeist.

I tried to persuade foilists and sabreurs of the greater virtues of epee but they were unconvinced. The usual arguments were expressed: that epee needed no skill (because you can hit anywhere and there is no right of way) and, more feebly, that the bruises are too bad. I tried to point out the superior skill and strength of epeeists but I failed. My arguments seemed as feeble as those advanced by the unnamed narrator of "Murders in the rue Morgue" when he insists that draughts needs a greater order of intelligence than chess.

Sadly, I picked up my foil, marvelling at its lightness.

Sabreurs swarmed over the electric pistes. I had to fence steam, with an unamiliar weapon. I fenced a young woman with a solid, blocking parry that I struggled to pass. I fenced the smallest, youngest fencer to have left beginners and wondered how anyone could hit so tiny a target area. I fenced an older boy who always insists I'm mad. (He has a point.)

Ar last I had a bout at epee, against an experienced foilist who took pity on my isolation. We grabbed an electric piste while the sabreurs rested. The young man was swift and accurate but tended to focus on the foil target areas. Sometimes he touched too lightly to score a hit. Occasionally I broke through his guard - or, more probably, he let me through. So I my light brightened as well as his.

It may have been the foil but perhaps I'm recovering some lost fitness. I felt a little faster, a little less stiff. It wasn't a triumph but something was achieved as I struggle to improve. Even if the improvement is mostly in my mind - but I do feel faster - that will help with my fencing. I'm not exactly confudent but happier in my body and less anxuious. That should help.

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Friday, September 21, 2007

a bit better

I went back to fencing. My son was with me. He's been out of fencing for a while. He challenged me to a bout at foil, which I haven't tried for months. Still, I picked up the weapon - always strangely light after epee - and looked at my son. Last time I fenced him he was smaller than me. Today he's taller.

I told myself that meant a larger target area. Unfortunately it also meant longer arms - and he's faster than me. We didn't have a ref. so argued about right of way from time to time. However I looked at it, he beat me.

But once I was fencing epee I felt a bit more comfortable than last week. A few of my hits went where I intended. The arm-hits may not have been great but they felt like an achievement. Unfortunately I took a few wrist-hits - not hard, but I've got to work out what's going wrong.

I have fewer new bruises this week. The epee coach will have time to work with me in a few weeks, when the beginners are more independent. I'm still unfit, still busy at work, still sleeping badly.

Quite a lot of fencing is like this - not doing too well but trying and hoping. It's better than not fencing.

On another topic, I'm worried to find that Craig Murray's blog has been removed by its hosts under threat of legal action. There's a little more about it HERE. The weblinks give further information.

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Friday, September 14, 2007

fencing badly

I can't think of anything I did well at fencing this week. I was tired and unfit, which didn't help, but sometimes I can get a decent hit or two in those circumstances. This week, if someone had placed a brick wall in front of me and told me to hit it, I'd have missed.

We began the warm-up with gentle jogging in a circle, responding to commands to put right, left or both palms on the floor, or to change direction. My breeches were tight, I was tired and I cheated by scraping the floor with my finger-tips. Even the balance exercise seemed hard and my co-ordination was weaker that possible. Footwork was hampered by the fear my breeches would split. Then it was time to wait for a piste and, finally, to fence.

My first bout was disastrous. Then the expert fencer of last week decided to be kind by lowering his arm to provide a target. The gesture lowered my confidence to somewhere below zero. I missed - again and again - till I was furious with myself. I asked him to stop and fence properly. He did, and I took some pretty nasty bruises which still keep me from sleeping.

I accepted a couple more invitations to fence, feeling slow and stupid, with predictable results. Eventually a patient opponent corrected my en garde position and made me lunge. He promised tp help me practise my lunges next week, at the same time as he coaches his small son. I need it. I need coaching, concentration and an improbably level of fitness.

At least my breeches didn't split. And I don't plan to give up just yet.

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Thursday, September 06, 2007

Watch your opponent's back

There were two new epeeists among the fencers.

We'd reassembled, early and eager, for the first Wednesday night session of the autumn. It was hot - something called "summer" seemed to have arrived again, and after too much rest, wine and food my breeches seemed to have shrunk. Some fencers sat on the floor, talking, while others lurked near the pistes, waiting their chance of a bout. The first arrivals were already clashing blades.

I got talking to one of the new epeeists. He usually goes to another club and hasn't been fencing that long - only a year more than me. He wasn't young either, though he looked like someone careful of his fitness. When he suggested a bout, I was delighted.

He'd been standing with his back to the wall. I hadn't thought to inspect his jacket. But, as he moved to fix his bodywire to the box, I read the back. His stencilled surname was followed by the three letters "GBR". He wasn't just in better condition than me. This was a veteran with international experience. "Oh dear," I said - or something like that.

In fact, he was fun to fence. He was better and faster than me but I remembered the advice I'd been given at one-hit epee. This was a stylish fencer who used lots of flourishes. As he did his second, elegant circular parry I could at least try to score a hit. I didn't score many but there were one or two - and one, I'm glad to report came as my opponent advanced. Angled my blade swiftly for once, I scored a hit on his back.

Of course today I'm tired and bruised. Of course my fencing was slow and my accuracy erratic. But I scored some hits that pleased me. Today I've been smiling a lot. Life is better if you face it with a sword in your hand.

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