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, October 15, 2008

"really cool"

I'm becoming a twice-a-week fencer - or, at least, a three-times-a-fortnight fencer. I don't know how long it will last.

One of the coaches at the club has set up Saturday morning sessions at the local leisure centre. I shan't be able to go every week - sometimes I work, sometimes (too rarely) I visit my parents and sometimes there are simply other things to do. But this week I got on my bike at just after 9.00 in the morning, balanced by sword-bag against the basket and set off in daylight.

It was the first Saturday morning session and I was a bit nervous. I thought it might be all the best fencers in the club ... and me. I'd forgotten that there was a competition fairly near - and I think the bad weather had left people tired and longing for a lie-in. There were six of us - three women and three men. All the men were coaches (though only one was officially coaching for the session) and we'd all fenced one another before.

We had one electric piste. There was space for the rest of us to fence steam - and we could do all the fencing we wished. I started with epee and was soon getting helpful tips as well as much-needed practice. My movement and grip were better than usual and I found I was far more alert in the morning than at evening sessions.

I began with epee. Later I fenced foil against the gardener, a foilist who began when I did. Back in the days when I did foil, I frequently found myself fencing the gardener. We were so used to one another that we'd frequently make identical attacks at the same moment. She was more skilful than me, however, and her neat parries and counter-attacks would always bring her victory. It was comfortable to return to fencing her and to discover that her practice in foil and my experience in epee made the fight more varied. It was only a knock-around - we didn't have a ref or try to debate right of way but I think, if we had, she would have won.

Meanwhile the blonde, who a few weeks earlier had sworn undying loyalty to foil, decided that, after all, she'd like a go at sabre. As soon as she picked up the weapon, her eyes shone. She glowed from the thrill of her first lesson - evidently she's found her true weapon and it isn't foil.

I'm not going to be seduced - I know I'm an epeeist. But every so often I like to try something a bit different and it's nearly a year since I last tried sabre. So when a coach (the villain) asked if I would like a short lesson in any weapon, I decided to do some more beginner's sabre. It's certainly not for me, which is just as well since it takes more speed and money than I can manage. But occasional sessions are certainly fun and help me appreciate why the sabreurs enjoy it. Not that I'm deserting epee.

By the end of the session I felt fit and joyful. Cycling home seemed easy in the sudden sunlight.

The fencing was terrific - two hours with as much fencing as I wanted, in all three weapons. There were useful tips and I felt I was improving from the gentle coaching provided. I fenced a range of opponents.

But the highlight of the session came when I was fencing epee and glance towards the door. A group of Chinese students stood at the door of the hall, taking pictures of us on their mobile phones. I spoke to one who looked at my sword with admiration. "Fencing .... that's really cool," she said.

I followed enough of the Olympics to know that the standard of fencing in China is pretty high - much higher than in our club. But I like to fantasise about people in China receiving the photos on their mobile phones and saying, admiringly, "That's really cool."

It's probably just as well I didn't see the photos.

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Anonymous Katie said...

I bet they were great photos -- it's a pity you didn't make them send them to you so you could put them on your blog.

What's annoying, though, is that if I ever manage to come back from exile, you will have got loads better than me, especially with all the extra practice, and then you will just beat me all the time.

7:45 pm  
Blogger kathz said...

You need to join the fencing club! Then you will be able to beat me IN FRENCH - and you could probably dress as d'Artagnan too.

I'm afraid you will still beat me because I am getting old and am still not very good.

8:58 pm  
Anonymous Katie said...

I could dress as D'Artagnan anyway.

9:04 pm  
Blogger The Gray Epee said...

I am glad you are getting to fence more. It is nice to do so and not after a full days work.

Always remember....there is really only ONE weapon!

3:32 am  

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