a swarm of sabreurs
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.