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

Friday, May 16, 2008

picking up speed

Perhaps the brief excursion to Robin Hood country did the trick, although Nottingham Castle isn't the same as when Robin fought his way up staircases and swung from chandeliers. Perhaps it was the hour or so I spent sitting in the sunshine. Perhaps I'm just recovering. Whatever it was, I noticed a change for the better.

I was late and slightly wobbly when I arrived at fencing. I wanted to do the warm-up but the exercise required partners and everyone was paired up already. I had to wait for the short footwork practice to join in, But when we had to lunge, I felt an improvement. It wasn't a deep lunge - I can't do those - but it was definitely a lunge rather than a step forward followed by a slight bend of the right knee.

When the chef and I got onto to epee piste, I was filled with energy and, for the first time since my fall from the loft, speed. I probably wasn't that fast but I felt terrific as I launched the attack. I took the first two points despite the chef's vigorous and equally speedy defence and the third was a double. After that, she began to win points. "I don't want to read on your blog that I'm easy to beat," she commented. She isn't. After that promising opening she won more points than I did. But it felt like real fencing again.

The problem with picking up speed, I discovered, was the loss of accuracy that accompanied it - not that I'd been brilliantly accurate before. Too often my point glided harmlessly above or along my opponent's arm or shoulder. I tried to deceive opponents by changing the position of my arm, so that it would be harder to gauge a constantly changing distance. The aim was to lure opponents into reach and hit before they noticed. It usually didn't work like that. They would see my exposed hand and wrist and take the hit. The chef is particularly difficult to catch out. She's smaller than me with a deep lunge. If I reach under her arm to angle upwards, she can manage a downwards hit. But reaching her arm from above is also a risk because she's smaller and lunges so well. Most of my points involved parrying her blade and hitting to the chest, or occasionally the mask, though I did achieve a couple of forearm hits and one to the thigh.

I didn't get quite as much fencing as I'd have liked - I had quite a bit of time on the piste but only two opponents. But it was good to see new fencers, including an epeeist from the university club and a good left-handed foilist (with epee in bag!) making her second visit. It's still crowded, though the number of fencers in the hall had dropped below 40 by 9.00 p.m. And I was tired and limping before the session ended. The chef watched me get on my bike with all my equipment - "for entertainment value," she said. She suggested wego on a bike ride together some time but now she's realised how slowly I cycle I expect she's changed her mind. I manage a steady pace on my sturdy mountain bike. She races ahead on her young person's bike - is there a biathlon in fencing and cycling?

Meanwhile, I'm contemplating old age. I was cheered by the story of the old people's home in Australia where the residents have taken up fencing. The oldest beginner is a retired nun in her 90s. That's the sort of old people's home I want. When I'm a frail old person, looking for somewhere to stay, I shan't accept the offer of knitting classes and community singing. "Do you offer fencing?" I shall ask. (I suppsoe I might have to compromise and exchange my epee for a foil.)

I'm still wondering if it was the visit to Nottingham Castle that did me so much good. It's a steep climb up castle rock, whether by slope or stone staircase. This may be where Robin Hood fenced the Sherrif.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

can I just point out (again) that my 'young person's bike' is probably older than I am?

12:00 pm  
Blogger kathz said...

The bike may have been previously owned (even "pre-loved") by a succession of owners. However, I suspect they were all, like you, young people when they owned the bike. You are implying a false correlation between the age of the owner and the age of the object. Children's toys do not become middle-aged people's toys and then old people's toys with the passage of time. The previous owners of your young person's bike have probably switched to mountain bikes or mountain tricycles.

1:51 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually, I bought the bike for £20 off a man who only had it because it had previously belonged to his mother, and had been rusting, unloved, in a stable for several years. My previous bike, which sadly died, was identical to my current bike (except that it didn't have a back carrier) and had formerly been owned by an old lady who had been riding it for 30 years, and had only stopped when she had a brain tumour (which, apparently, she recovered from, I'm happy to report). Therefore I would argue that my bike is more of an Old-Lady-Bike, and the only reason it goes faster than your bike is that it is designed for roads, whereas yours is designed for rocky mountain paths. So there.

2:47 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

plus elizabeth has a similar bike to mine that she got as a retirement present.

4:37 pm  
Blogger kathz said...

Well I have never seen old ladies cycling on a bike like yours while plenty spend there time going up and down rocky mountain paths on bikes like mine.

And mine is sturdier for shopping (and would probably better for the not-yet-invented sport of bike jousting.)

12:06 am  
Anonymous Katie said...

I have seen plenty of old ladies cycling on bikes like mine. Indeed, I believe this style of bike is commonly referred to as a 'ladies' shopper', indicating its suitability for shopping.

11:35 am  
Anonymous katie said...

and for ladies, clearly.

11:36 am  
Blogger kathz said...

I don't think ladies carry swords. And anything with a lightweight frame and narrow wheels like that is plainly for racing. This is further demonstrated by the speed at which you cycle, even when carrying swords.

I see you now have a blogger ID. When will you start blogging? It's another way to delay the completion of your thesis. You could have a blog called "Pedantic grammarian does soft furnishings - with a sword," for instance. I think that would get a very interesting range of readers.

2:18 pm  
Anonymous katie said...

4 things:

1. Lightweight frame? Ha! Remind me to let you lift it next week

2. That is not a blogger ID, that is me typing my name into the box next to where it says 'name'. I would not start blogging because, as you know, I have enough trouble writing the things I am supposed to be writing. Besides, I prefer to think of myself as a grammarienne.

3. Narrow wheels are for cycling on roads. A racing bike would have much lower handlebars

4. I observed some Young People cycling on the pavement on my way home from Sainsbury's just now, and I can report that a Young Person's bike appears to be one of those hideous Y-framed monstrosities with the pointless suspension that you can get in the Argos catalogue.

5:17 pm  
Anonymous katie said...

and look, it has been invented:

8:29 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually,I think some of the best ladies carry swords.

Sounds like you had a good night.

I am glad.


3:16 am  

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