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, November 02, 2010

twilight fencer

I took two weeks off. Off fencing, that is - I still had to work. A bad cold hit me at the wrong time. I'd have had to be a good deal worse to stay home in the daytime. I sneezed, coughed and spluttered over colleagues through the first week but decided that sneezing into a fencing mask would be too unpleasant.

As the sneezing subsided, I convinced myself I was better. I decided it was my responsibility to take the chef to the Goose Fair, said to be the largest and oldest travelling fair in Europe. We encountered its thrills and horrors with courage, even admiring the terrifying puppy which dwelt in the depths of the Maze of Terror - the pup of the Baskervilles, perhaps.

By the end of the day I was more tired than usual and the following week was exhausting. I was also losing my voice. For a second time I missed fencing and chose an early night instead.

It's hard to go back to fencing after two weeks off. I was still tired - too tired to cycle - and felt flabbily unfit. But I felt that, if I didn't fence a little, I'd never go back again.

When I arrived I was able to congratulate a sabreuse who had fenced in the Commonwealth championships and a coach who had reached the last eight in the World Veterans. But there were many absentees. I don't know if there was an outbreak of autumn illnesses or whether the new Age of Austerity was taking effect - many of us are closing in on ourselves and staying home more as though to hug our worries to ourselves. Enthusiasm was low and there was a distinct lack of epéeists. I wondered if the walk had been enough for me. I had done my best. Now I could go home without having to fence.

At this point a coach offered me an epée lesson. I felt slightly feeble but I reckoned the lesson could end at any time if I was inclined. It began badly but gradually the coach's patience helped me focus on my guard while looking for the best moment to attack. I began to keep my arm steady and slide my blade over or under his guard while angling towards wrist and forearm. Perhaps my tiredness was helping me concentrate - there was no space for any non-fencing ideas in my tired brain. My distance seemed slightly better too.

Back in the main hall, I was invited to fence by a strong, helpful opponent - just to ten. "Be aggressive," he told me, as he always does. "I want to see you move fast, make an effort."

I checked my guard - tried to adjust it, and he told me where I was going wrong. That gave me the chance to adjust to fencing a left-hander.

As we began, I realised I had nothing to worry about. I couldn't expect to win the bout but I was going to try my hardest. Once again the tiredness was on my side, letting me concentrate on distance and varied actions. I continued to make silly mistakes - I wish I could bout without occasionally charging onto my opponent's blade - but I was getting unexpected hits, one to the wrist. "Good hit," my opponent said, encouragingly.

He won 10 - 7 but I was fighting till the end. It was probably the best score I'd ever managed against him. "That's the best I've ever seen you fence," he said approvingly and I glowed with pleasure and exhaustion. I still wasn't used to the exertion.

Then the club president invited me to fence. Epée may be his third weapon but on a good day he can beat most club fencers. I prepared to be crushed - but to do my best. All I could do was take quick advantage of his few unforced errors. I managed a couple of hits, one to his foot - and he managed quite a few on me. But there was something wrong with the electrics. Some hits registered, some didn't. We couldn't work out what was wrong and in the end, fed up, we walked away leaving the match incomplete.

"I gave you those points," he teased - at least, I think he was teasing. Then he changed tack. "No - I didn't - you took them. Your blade went right inside my shoe." He mimicked the motion with his own sword, showing how my blade had glided past his ankle.

Was it luck? Probably. Even if I managed, he wasn't fencing with the determination he shows in competition. But I felt I'd done well, considering the time off. I rewarded myself by cadging a lift home.

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Blogger Littlefair said...

Thought you might like these photos.

Some of them are amazing...

PS. I think the president was rotten (and tactless) to 'tease' you...

9:25 pm  
Blogger kathz said...

Thanks for that. The president was fine.

1:44 pm  
Anonymous Kelli said...

A joyous holiday season to all your blog readers!

4:11 am  

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