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

Sunday, July 20, 2008


My blade glided harmlessly past my opponent's forearm towards his heart. I accelerated forward - and missed. I didn't just miss his heart. I missed his chest altogether. My blade slid under his arm and stabbed the air, as if I were taking part in a peculiarly incompetent stage fight. Then he hit me without difficulty.

Luckily the evening wasn't all as bad as that, though I was still exhausted from the previous week at work. The chef said she was tired too and we took a break when the coach taking footwork practice kept us in an exhausting routine so step, lunge, reprise faster, step forward, step back, lunge, reprise faster, step back. My calves and thighs hurt after only three or four sequences. I'm still not as fit as I was before succumbing to policeman's foot and then falling from the loft.

I don't think the chef can have been all that tired because I managed only a few hits against her. She was so much faster and more accurate than me that I felt compelled to mention that I had, at least, beaten her at Scrabulous. (It doesn't happen often - I won one of three games we were playing simultaneously and she won the other two. )

The chef's lunge gets longer every week. I suspect mine has a tendency to look more like an energetic shuffle. The chef is probably helped by her energetic cycling and regular visits to the gym. She's taken up running too, which seems to involve an obstacle course of geese, gooseherds and children's tricycles as well as congratulatory admirers. She duggested I join her but it doesn't seem a very good idea. Apart from continuing pain in my heel, I'm pathetically slow. She'd probably do at least two circuits to my one - if I managed one.

I did, however, make a discovery. The chef is good at defending against hits from above, because she's one of the smaller fencers in the club. While it seems obvious that, as the taller fencer, I should be able to hit her from above, I have more success hitting from below her arm. My best hits were to her thigh as she advanced or began to lunge. (It was probably a mistake to tell her this after we had fenced.)

I managed more hits against my second opponent of the evening - a better and taller fencer. There were disasters, like missing his chest, but I also managed a decent number of arm hits. I thought he was probably letting me hit him but the chef reckoned he was tired. That made me feel better.

After two opponents the tiredness was the real victor of the evening. I wanted to leave while I could still cycle home without swerving or falling off. The chef and I left together. and I got home safely, although I did swerve from time to time. Unfortunately my plans for next week mean I'll miss the one-hit epee (again). I was sorry to realise that but pleased to find that August fencing was suggested. As I said goodbye and "see you in a fortnight," I looked forward to more chances of practice - I'm beginning to feel almost fit. Alas! - I heard a day later that the floor of the hall is to be replaced. It will be out of use for some weeks. That probably means no fencing till September.

I'll try to work on lunges, speed and accuracy - on my own. It doesn't feel quite right. Fencing isn't the same without the immediate inducement of stabbing somebody.

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Anonymous Katie said...

I don't think it was a mistake to tell me that you keep hitting me in the thigh, as I could sort of tell from (a) the sharp stabbing pain, and (b) the collection of bruises. I think most of them are from a couple of weeks ago, though, as they have gone a particularly unattractive yellow colour.

Perhaps we could practise fencing together in August, if we could find somewhere not too public to do it. That way I won't be totally out of practice when/if I get round to joining a club in Paris.

12:47 pm  
Anonymous Katie said...

PS: gooseherds: if only!

Or perhaps he was chasing his hat over the hills. It was quite windy.

2:19 pm  
Blogger Kathz said...

yes - let's find somewhere to practice. Perhaps we could fence after you finish running and then we could go swimming and be really energetic.

We could try bicycle fencing too.

Is the comment on the colour of your bruises a hint that I missed a lot yesterday?

7:27 pm  
Anonymous Katie said...

Well there is at least one purple bruise on my thigh, and perhaps you hit me in the same place repeatedly.

I think bicycle fencing would not be a good idea, as *some* of us find it quite hard to balance on our bicycles while carrying swords even without trying to hit anything. Not mentioning any names.

8:33 pm  
Blogger Kathz said...

Some of us don't have neat backpacks designed to carry a sword. I think it would be good for you to attempt cycling while carrying an unsheathed epee in one hand. Of course, it might not be precisely legal.

9:27 pm  
Anonymous Katie said...

I bet I could.

9:46 pm  
Blogger Kathz said...

I look forward to seeing that.

10:11 pm  

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