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

Saturday, March 07, 2009

"run forward as fast as you can and keep attacking"

My evening of fencing began and ended with a crime.

I'm usually a law-abiding individual though lately so many laws have been passed in Britain that it's probably impossible to avoid committing a couple of cimes a day. However I prefer to break laws by accident or for ethical reasons rather than for my own benefit. But I have to admit that, when I last went fencing, I did break the law.

I was looking forward to the epee class. For the first time in weeks I wasn't entirely exhausted. I was worried about work, however, and thought that a bit of stabbing was just what I needed. It was a bit of a rush but I got my kit together, slung my swords over my should and prepared to mount my bike.

I turned on the back light - no problem. I went to turn on the front light. It wasn't there. There was no time to walk, even if I'd had the energy. There wasn't even time to wait for a cab. I thought about the route. There's a short stretch of road - a few yards - before the cycle path begins. The cycle path is well-lit and I'm not sure whether cyclists are compelled to have lights as it's not, strictly speaking, a public highway. And then there's the driveway to the leisure centre. I don't know if it's a public highway or not. I know I can walk on it legally - but I never feel safe doing that as there's no pavement. I looked at my legs. They were bright in white breeches and socks. I decided I was probably sufficiently vsisible. I got on my bike and cycled all the way.

As I arrived in the leisure centre car park, a woman kindly pointed out that my front light wasn't on. I explained my dilemma and apologised. She said my back light wasn't very bright either. I suppose it isn't. I apologised about that too. Then I went to the epee class.

We began with parries. I felt more confident than usual, probably because they were relatively easy: direct parry, circular parry, semi-circular parry. It was like doing foil again except that, as epeeists, we were expected to complete each parry by landing a hit.

The coach was encouraging. I watched the other epeeists take turns. We're not really the beginners' group that was planned. We'd been joined by an epeeist who gave mesome of my first lessons in the weapon. Every epeeist in the club joins the beginners' epee class from time to time - and the coach is a sabreur. All the same, we're learning.

Sometimes we're puzzled about what is required. I was uncertain about a long list of instructions which included the sinister words "reprise" and "redouble." After he'd returned from what looked like a longish bout, I asked my former epee teacher what the coach required. "Just run forward as fast as you can and keep attacking," he replied. I had a few goes and eventually I managed to respond to everything the coach did with an attack of my own. It wasn't great.

I knew I had to leave early - I had a very early start at work the following day. But I managed a few hits against the other (young) woman in the ill-named "beginners" group. She really is a beginner at epee, though an excellent foilist and - dangerously - a left-hander. Her experience in foil gave me a slight advantage since she still tends to pause after parries as though establishing right of way. It was only a knockabout but for once I managed to land a few more hits than she did. Then I packed my kit, mounted my bike and headed - illegally - home.

It's possible that my illegal cycling covered no more than 15 yards if, as I hope, the cycle path and drive-way don't count as public highway. It still wasn't a good idea. I've found my front bike-light now - evidently it fell off when I last unloaded my bicycle basket. But the woman at the leisure centre was right - neither light is very strong. Perhaps I should buy another set of lights .... or would that be bad for the planet?

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Blogger katie said...

In the picture, it looks as though the fencer on the right is simply removing his opponents sword from his hand. Is that allowed?

9:14 pm  
Blogger kathz said...

Not if the referee notices, I fear. But it is epee so almost anything goes.

9:23 am  

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