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, April 19, 2009

The snail's revenge

Blogging stopped for a while but fencing continued. I discovered that fencing while tired achieved few immediate results other than bruises. I attempted to learn something that might be called the second counter-attack - or was it the second counter-riposte. I didn't achieve it very well - mostly I waved my sword around in a hopeful way, trying to hit the coach's blade a couple of times before attempting to control it, move it aside and move achieve a hit. The coach looked slightly despairing and his attempts at smiling encouragement were slightly strained.

I managed some sleep before the one-hit epee contest.
In a work of fiction, that would lead to sudden brilliance and astounding success. In real life, I'm still unfit, in my mid-50s and, where fencing is concerned, a slow learner Moreover, despite being rested, I had developed a nagging headache which was only partly dispersed by paracetemol.

Still, there were undoubted advantages to having slept. I thought more strategically than in previous weeks and worked out some good ways to win points. For example, I usually attack against one fencer so I decided to retreat and invite him to attack me so that I could use some of the new parries I'd learned. He seemed slightly puzzled, then moved forward, evaded my blade which was probably signalling its readiness to parry, and hit me neatly. Then I launched into a fierce attack on a fencer who points out that I fence him over-defensively. I remembered to get my stance right and moved forward as fast as I could. There were a few clashes of blades before he landed the hit. He assured me I was doing it right and politely didn't add that he was the better fencer.

There were two fencers against whom I thought I stood a chance. But the other woman in the contest, a foilist less than half my age and a beginner at epee, had the speed and agility I lacked and won her point quickly. And fencing one of the coaches - a good fencer but I've occasionally been lucky against him - we both went for a quick hit and scored a double. By the rules of one-hit epee, that's a double defeat.

A new fencer had joined us - an epeeist who had been a good student fencer but hadn't fenced for 21 years. He was causing the experienced fencers some difficulty and
I couldn't see that I had any chance of beating him. I wired up feeling curious and prepared for defeat. My only hope seemed to be a quick attack as male fencers don't expect that from an older woman. I think he was surprised but not as surprised as I was when I realised his counter-attack had landed flat. I'd continued my attack as taught by a coach who makes us go for three successive hits (wrist/forearm, upper arm, chest) and, because I hadn't paused, it was I who had landed the successful hit.

It was my only win of the evening. Puzzled and slightly dazed by this sole success, I initially forgot the routine courtesy of shaking my opponent's hand and had to run after him to apologise. Luckily he's still talking to me - and still fencing me. He has sufficient experience as a fencer to give me useful advice but, as he's still regaining his accuracy, I can gain some hits against him. It won't last. I can see from the glow in his eyes that he's a good epeeist out of practice - I'm just waiting to see how good.

The evening's trophy - an Easter egg - was won by the Man man after a play-off against the club's president, who had donated the egg. And there were small chocolate creme eggs for the rest of us - and enough over for fencers who were practising other weapons.

The day after the one-hit epee, I headed off on a holiday which included the chef's birthday celebration at her apartment in Paris. I'm sad to report that she has not continued with her fencing in France and there was no swordplay at her party (perhaps because the apartment is not big enough). There was plenty of delicious food, however, as well as a lavish variety of gin-based cocktails. As it was my host's birthday the following day, I wasn't sure I'd still fit into my breeches on my return to England. It took a few deep breaths.

I thought the cycle ride to fencing would help me achieve fitness. It didn't. My bike had a serious puncture and I had to walk. At least I could enjoy the birdsong and the scents of spring. And I enjoyed the fencing even though there's no coaching in epee during the Easter holidays (coaches have holidays too). I was glad to see that the new epeeist had returned - there seems to be a good chance that he'll be a regular attender. I fenced a little and walked home. Two days later, I took my bike to the repair shop rather than struggle with the puncture alone. This meant I could have an Easter Monday bike ride as well as cycling to fencing.

It felt good to be on my bike again. The following week I headed off happily and enjoyed the evening, although I spent more time in conversation and less in fencing than I had planned. Now that I'm spending more time asleep I'm enjoying the fencing much more and can even make modest improvements.

I was reflecting on how good the evening had been as I wheeled the bike to it's usual place before locking it. Then, just beside the house, I heard an ominous sound. "A puncture," I thought and looked at the ground to see what I'd run over. I couldn't see anything that would have damaged the bike - just the remains of a snail whose shell I must have crushed. I was sorry about the snail but relieved about the bike.

I was relieved too soon. This morning I unchained my bike and prepared to set off for Quaker Meeting. As soon as I mounted it I realised that the front tyre was flat again. I think it's the snail's revenge. I'm seriously contemplating anti-puncture tyres.

And I'm hoping to return to regular blogging.

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Blogger katie said...

Ha! I beat the Man man last time I took part in the one-hit epee competition.

10:49 pm  
Blogger kathz said...

You must return and beat him again.

11:35 pm  

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