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, February 13, 2009

missing the moment

"It's - - - ," the coach said.

I didn't catch the word and wouldn't have understood it anyway.

"That's Polish," he explained. "In French it's 'a propos.' In English it's - something like - the moment. You have to find the moment and take it."

The coach was explaining the remise which was. he said, at the heart of epee. He'd already described epee as a real duelling weapon with such enthusiasm he warmed us all. We almost forgot that his chief loyalty was to sabre. We'd warmed up with hits to the forearm while moving, then practised taking the blade and binding in it in a counter-attack. (There's not much defence in epee. Even retreats are conducted with an arm outstretched, blade to lead ready for the slightest chance to dart forward for the hit.) But the remise is trickier. Instead of sticking close to the opponent's blade, it is, as our coach explained it, a matter of looking for the split second when an opening appears, changing the line of attack from a standing position, and going for the hit.

I couldn't get it. I was too slow. The moment was too brief - I needed closer to a minute. Finally I managed a couple of clumsy hits in a different line, well aware that the coach was in slow motion.

Worse followed. We were to attack, redouble, redouble and hit - at speed. This meant a succession of lunges - reprise after reprise - down the length of the piste. I don't achieve beautiful low lunges and I'm not fast at moving in and out of a lunge. There were four of us. Two have been fencing epee longer than I've been fencing any weapon and the third is a young, graceful, experienced foilist looking to add another weapon. They sped down the piste, moving in and out of lunges till, with the final stretch at the end of the piste, they landed their hits. Then it was my turn.

I lumbered up and down, with the shallowest lunges I dared, fearing my right knee would give way as I tried to recover.but determined, at least, to reach the end of the piste without falling over. It wasn't much of ambition but at least I stayed upright and hurled my blade roughly in the direction of my waiting coach. Not surprisingly, he hit me first.

And then the coaching session was near its end and the coach was promising more difficult tasks in the future. We ended with a quick round of one hit epee. To my surprise, I managed a single hit - on the Man man - and then it was over.

The foilist donned her lame and joined the historian on the piste. (His appearance as a foilist was startling but it's better for his injured elbow.) There was a queue for the electric pistes and the hall was still crowded. I invited the doc to a quick steam bout, assuring him it could end when the Man man secured a box. I just wanted some real fencing before going home. The bout was brief but pleasing.

Then, still tired, I left the hall. Long days at work are still exhausting me. The cold hit me as I mounted my bike. I ascribed it to the tiredness until I got home and tried to open the wheelie bin. The lid had frozen shut. The next day, it was warmer. It snowed again.

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Anonymous Katie said...

Did you make the snowman? He is beautiful.

I hope the historian is still at least a little bit grumpy - if he's transformed into a cheerful foilist it will confuse me.

11:02 am  
Blogger Kathz said...

I wish I had made the snowman but it was made by a small girl two streets away and I couldn't resist takign his photo.

I hope the historian will resume his famed curmudgeonliness but fear his personality is becoming alarmingly Pollyanna-ish. I am tempted to tell him that hearts of gold should always be hidden under gruff exteriors.

11:46 pm  
Blogger The Gray Epee said...

One of the most interesting things about fencing (to me any way)is when your body moves on it's own, with out conscious thought.

What told my body to do that?

I like this especially when it is a target of opportunity.

There are times when I loose focus thinking and being to close to my opponent.

I try to remind my self to do the thinking/planning on the line or out of distance.

I think you are an analytical type of person. Perhaps you are over thinking situations.

When you close distance, try to let your body move on it's own. No conscious thought.

If may not work for you, but it would be an interesting experiment.

11:31 pm  

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