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

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

stop hit

Fencing was crowded (again) and I was tired (again).

On this occasion, the tiredness was assisted by a party on the previous night. The chef was there too and had conrtibuted a splendid pavlova to the proceedings. And, after Pimm's on the lawn, followed by wine with food, she made her speciality cocktail - the Left Bank martini, which has a fabulous drink and the sort of kick you notice at the first sip. I , don't suffer from hangovers, which is just as well, but after a few minutes fencing the chef, I began to flag.

It was crowded yet again and we spent much time in conversation, hoping to get back on the electric piste. Our talk ranged from literature to the chef's planned move to Paris, where she has now found a flat with good kitchen near a large fencing club that is large enough to have four dedicated epee pistes. I am envious. Eventually, as it became apparent that we were likely to wait a long time for another bout - and neither of us was particularly energetic - the chef began to analyse our fencing. She pointed out that we were given to simultaneous attacks, with the result that most of our hits were doubles. "We need to learn how to parry," she declared.

I agreed though I have some hesitation about my ability to parry. For all my efforts, my wrist isn't strong enough to parry fierce attacks, particularly when they catch my blade in an envelopement. Work on feinting and deceiving the blade might be helpful - although my lack of speed is a further handicap. However, practice and coaching are always helpful and encouraging. We headed to one of the coaches who seemed to be detaching himself from the beginners and asked for some help. While waiting we were assigned to a small fencer - a 9-year-old would-be epeeist - and asked to show her some helpful techniques.

I had my usual anxieties - was I holding my sword correctly and could I really show anyone anything? But I looked at the girl's enthusiasm and decided that female epeeists deserved all the encouragement they could get. Soon I was standing with my arm extended, asking her to hit to forearm, upper arm and shoulder - and she was smiling despite the weight of the sword. The chef stood beside the small fencer offering further assistance and advice. That's another epeeist in the making, perhaps, though I think I'd hesitate to hit someone so very small.

At last it was time for the coaching session. The chef is quicker to pick things up than I am but the coach is helpful and encouraging. He decided we should work on the stop hit, which involves taking the blade in various ways (simply, by circling it first) and continuing to control it so that an opponent can't reach your body while your blade, sliding down the other, achieves a hit. (When the stop hit moved into octave, the chef was a little anxious about the danger this might entail for our male coach but I was mainly concerned to fix my blade somewhere in the right region.)

It all seemed manageable as we practised the stop hit in slow motion and then at greater speed. But when it came to fencing a couple of points with the coach, my concentration and blade control went haywire. I noticed that the chef won her points, however. She'll be pretty dangerous in Paris.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think if your wrist is not strong enough to handle some parries, perhaps you should work on strengthening your wrist and arms in general.

Maybe you should work on your parries and arm strength for six weeks and make this a fun sort of goal.

I am willing to bet your speed will improve as well.

OR......slamming down a few drinks with the chef sounds like a good time as well.

Hope your summer is going well.


1:30 am  
Anonymous Katie said...

One of the many things I love about your blog is the way you make me sound better at fencing than I actually am in real life... I'm not sure I remember winning any points at all against the coach, but now that you have said I did -- on the internet -- it must be true.

11:30 am  
Anonymous KarlinPhoenix said...

I was looking up 'stop-hit' and found your blog. I enjoyed the fencing story; it reminded me of the years that I fenced (foil, mainly, knife and boken, too).

Thank you for the fun of revisiting the fun of making 'points' by engaging in opposition. I loved seeing my opponent be 'stuck' with their blade tip being further and further from my torso while I moved mine to the target. Touche!

Work on the wrist strength and you will be a good parry-er.



1:44 am  

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