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, November 14, 2007

"real fencing ... like in the films"

I don't do sabre. Well, mostly I don't. But I've been flirting with sabre and, I'm afraid, keen to have a go. It means a new set of opponents, a new set of moves and, inevitably, different ways of hitting people and (mostly) being hit. It also means, on a night like tonight, with few epeeists or foilists, there's a lot more fencing.

The other (much younger) woman epeeist and I have been teasing the teenage epeeists for too long. Once we were spotted with sabres in our hands, they stood round us gleefully. Here were two grown up epeeists asking to be hit.

After a few jokes, two young men appointed themselves as our coaches and we were taken off for one-to-one elementary training. We practised dutifully and didn't say "ouch" when the teenagers hit us. Then the teenagers decided we were ready to fence one another. I overheard an argument. "My one's better than your one," my teenage coach began, starting a small dispute. I feared they'd be betting on us soon.

We faced each other, smiling hopefully, legs bent, arms in what we hoped was the en garde position for sabre. "Fence," said one of the teenagers and then, when each waited for the other to make the first move, "Play ... Go."

As we began to tap at each other and try to remember how to riposte after a parry, I caught sight of the eager teenagers and the humour of it all overcame me. I couldn't stop giggling. And my opponent started giggling too. We tapped and parried a bit, still giggling, and the teenagers drifted away.

Two sabreuses, one a veteran with a recent European gold medal and one a teenager with rather less experience, tried to help and encourage us. We still weren't managing speed and brilliance. After a while we returned to epee. "It's time to go back to normal swords," my opponent said. But we'd been corrupted by sabre. It was hard to remember to hit below the belt or use the force needed to attach the blade.

A coach took an interest in our attempts at sabre. He made us practise moves with him, taking turns to move backwards and forwards, parrying above the head. It looked good. It felt good too. As my opponent remarked, "It's real fencing - like in the films."

But we agreed that sabre was too expensive and too hot in summer. There is much more kit and the swords break easily in combat - a snapped sabre-blade flies across the hall every two or three weeks.. One of the teenagers showed off after his sword broke in four places - he thought there should be an award for the most dramatically broken sword.

So we aren't sabreuses. We probably won't try for Mistress-of-Arms in the club championship, though it's tempting. My opponent reckons she has a chance of a "hot date" so I'd be on my own. No woman does all three weapons. In theory I could come last in everything and still be a champion. But there isn't a trophy and I'm not sure there's enough sabre kit to borrow. And I think it would be more of a joke than a contest. But it might be fun ... I might even learn something. I could take on the entire club ...

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