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

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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Blogger Elizabeth McClung said...

Wow, great to hear you happy back fencing. I really, really wish I could see you fence epee since I have never gotten a back hit except on someone who was running away from me (usually with me screaming at them). How do you aim for it? Slide between the legs?

Also when I got to "elegant circular parry" I went back to make sure this was epee. Now that I think back I guess there were a few of those, it is just around here people who like making fancy blade work are the people everyone tends to feint and then fleche to thier head. Which I guess is sort of negative reinforcement for getting to involved in bladework.

I agree - life is better with a sword.

Have you seen the french film marketed with the english title "On Guard" (le Bossu in french) about the rogue who lives in a fencing salon, defends a nobleman, learns his secret fencing move "The Nevers' attack", saves his baby girl when the evil nephew kills everyone and raises her to take back her inheritance - a couple years old and lots of blade work - I saw it this summer and thought of you.


10:30 pm  
Blogger kathz said...

I love Le Bossu (the remake with Dabiel Auteuil - I'm trying to get hold of the original with Jean Marais).

The back hit was only just a back hit and the very first time I've got one. It took me by surprise but I went over his right elbow and angled down - was very surprised to get my hit in before his. We have a coach who keep saying that angulation is the key to epee.

The circular parry was small, neat and very fast - and quite hard to get past. Later he started picking up my blade with it and I was hopelessly stuck.

I've been ever so tired since fencing but it's a good tiredness.

I remain the weakest epeeist in the club but sometimes I get a hit that pleases me, and it all feels worthwhile. But remember I'm slow and lumbering - it's just that once in a while I do something that takes my opponent by surprise or am a bit more accurate than usual.

4:58 am  
Anonymous brianH said...

Congratulations on your (even if modest) success at epee! It's those surprisingly successful moves that keep bringing us back to the salle. It's probably like the golfer who gets a great tee shot towards the end of a mediocre round who is thus inspired to stay with the game, rather than tossing his clubs into the trashcan. I know I've quit fencing a hundred times after disappointing bouts, but keep coming back (for nearly 30 years now). Sometimes it is command of distance, or superior timing, or technical prowess, but I am faster than no one any more. Have you heard the saying, "Old age and treachery beats youth and vigor"? We have to make that come true.


9:29 pm  
Anonymous Jim said...

I am proud of you Kathz. Next time , just get one more touch than the last bout.

I understand. It sometimes seems that fencing is living. Everything else is just waiting.

3:49 am  

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